leland_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Useless
Synopsis Unconventional warfare leaves a cop that's used to doing everything by the books high and dry, and it brings him no comfort that in that particular respect he isn't alone.
Date September 18, 2009

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

One might expect Leland Daubrey to be more crippled by the disappearance of his roommate and friend. Or at least, on a leave of absence from work. But then there's nothing to do but stew in his apartment, to think and to boil in frustration. At least at work, he feels useful. It's exhausting being worried about Felix - and he's already mourned for the man once. He hasn't got a lot of emotional energy left. Not that he had a lot to begin with that isn't simply expressed as anger.

He's closed a few small cases, but he's kept an ear on Humanis First's activities. But the problem of being a by-the-books cop is that his leads in the underworld or amongst the shades of gray are few. He's tried to use Felix's, but many have come up dry. He hasn't got many avenues to explore, and those he has gone down have lead to dead ends.

It's a lovely fall day in Central Park. Leland is on break from work and is getting coffee from a street vendor. One with an espresso machine hooked to the back. The vendor has a thick Italian accent, which, in the chef's mind, makes his coffee superior than stuff served up in diners or slogged by college students.

He passes over a few dollars for the perfectly made latte, then rocks away from the cart to look for a bench to sit on.

"Hi." Teo doesn't have a thick Italian accent, but superficial inadequacies aside his voice probably warrants a little bit of notice— if largely because of the face it emanates from. This time, he's wearing his own, aquiline nose and incurably wintry eyes, both hooded by the shadow of the baseball cap he pulled onto the brackish blond bristle and ragged droop of his hair. It isn't long, yet, but there's an unfashioned midway hang to it that implies that he's been awhile without a barber. Busy. Keeps a man from becoming crippled by accumulated losses; and there have been so many.

He offers a hand. It is bare, square, callused inside his fingers and out, though nothing that stands out in the blur of one's peripheral. "Heard you were looking for me." The other hand, he picks up, flips a wave at the man behind the cart; offers him another word or two, salutation, in Italian.

Leland turns, blinks at the figure that stands in front of him. He squints, sucks air between his teeth, glances past him to see if he came alone. He looks at the offered hand, warily, then shakes it. "Yeah." That one word is murmured gruffly. "I don't wanna ask how you know that." Chances are, it wouldn't be good for him to know. "Do you know what's goin' on?" The big man sips from his latte, gets cream across his upper lip. He purses his lips to remove it, then nods off towards an empty bench.

Advisable or otherwise, Teo had indeed come alone. He is represented only by his person, whatever he's carrying on his person, and his handshake. It's a nice handshake: no effort made to grind matacarpals into one another and squeeze agony out of Leland's larger extremity, something you can rely on. Well. You know.

Maybe, if he weren't the baby terrorist informant on whose invaded psyche and subsequent misdemeanors Felix has begun to cripple his career with. Trust's a tenuous thing.

He's young, though, as inoffensive in person as his polite smile had appeared on the printed flat of paper. "Well," he says, a rueful show of teeth. He turns away, loping toward the bench alotted, and the vendor starts only slightly when he points out frank and cheery: "You're a cop. People notice when you're looking for somebody. Vicious gossips, y'know." He hikes a shoulder. Waits for Lee to sit first, which might be an embarrassing deference to age, or some other, less alarming species of politeness on-ly ev-er so slightly out of place with the ninja theatrics and casually public location. "Are you talking about Ivanov?"

Leland keeps a wary eye on young Teo. He's fighting good cop instincts, to haul him in for questioning, to confirm that he really wasn't the one who went rampaging around on a series of murders. But he needs what the young Italian can tell him - and he doubts he'll get anything if he whips out a pair of cuffs.

The big man sinks to the bench, body angled to facilitate conversation. "Yes." Ivanov. "They've probably already killed him, but I want to know who did it and why. And I want to see them locked up behind bars," baahs. "…and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." There's a quiver to his voice, like he's saying that, but what he'd rather do is pop their heads like balloons. "I've run out of places to look. You were his informant once, so I'm guessing you know things." He rubs at his lip, shifts, brows arching. "And frankly kid, you owe me. If I hadn't reported that I believed you were murdering under coercion, there would have been a fucking taskforce set up to bring you in.

"If Special Agent Ivanov hadn't reported he recognized my face, there wouldn'tve been any kind of taskforce to call off," Teo points out, in his politest possible voice: pretty fucking polite. His mother would be proud. "I know he was 'just doing his job,' but so were you when you scraped hte worst of the dirt off my name. I'm pretty sure gratitude's coming out of my better nature, not any sense of obligation." His lips thin, pale into a smile. At the very least, he doesn't lack for better nature. Despite that they have already killed him, and they continue to evade the law, prosection, baahs, the forcible implosions of their skulls. There'd be no need for saints in Eden, anyway.

The pale of Teo's eyes wavers over Leland's shoulder, maps up the older man's face again, considering. Wary too, of course. "You already know the answers to your questions. Humanis First!, hate criminals. This ex-marine cunt 'Emile Danko' and former military guys were trying to get out in an ice cream truck, and Ivanov—" his mouth flattens, exasperation quarreling with factual neutrality, "jumped into it. You don't need me for that."

"I don't need you to tell me what happened. I need you to help me find the fuckers." For a guy whose voice barks with differing levels of anger on a daily basis, those words are shockingly flat. His face doesn't reveal his anger, but the way the paper coffee mug subtly bends inward, raises the level of creamy brown liquid towards the rim, speaks for itself.

"Can you help me with this? Or point me to someone who can? I ain't getting very far going through the official channels. These bastards know how to hide. And I worry that there's sympathizers in the department who might be blocking my efforts."

That seems like a divergence from Leland Daubrey's regularly-scheduled programming, but Teodoro Laudani isn't supposed to know that, so Teodoro Laudani doesn't let on that he does. He gestures acknowledgment— or sympathy, regret, apology— something nice, politely conciliatory with his eyes, after a moment, shades them downward with a faint stoop of his head that doesn't nudge back up to complete the nod. "Humanis First! has enemies. Not Phoenix— not really, not yet anyway, but there's an interest group.

"I'll let them know you're invested and interested. Off the books from start to finish, I'm going to assume, so— I'll do my best to keep your true identity and all that shit out of it." Which means it comes down to the Sicilian whelp's word, and however that might stand up in the clandestine courts of New York City's vigilante forces, but maybe that's why Teo hasn't made promises yet. He adheres to the practical, procedural rather than optimistic. "You have another name you'll want to go by?"

No, no it's not. But Leland Daubrey's script is old and tired, full of tears and plot holes. And a shining, perfect record of service isn't worth shit if he has to live with the fact that he didn't do everything he could to find Humanis First. "Truthfully, I don't fuckin' care if my name get out there. But if it did, I'd probably be less useful. People'd start breathing down my neck. Right now, people expect me to be focused on finding Felix." He remembers his coffee and takes a token sip. "I wanna get something clear, Laudani. My fucking career isn't a concern anymore. These pricks need to be dealt with. I get my hands dirty in this, then that's what's gotta be done."

He tilts his chin down, eyes up, fixed on the young Italian. There's something dangerous, some spark from his youth long since chained by protocol, policy and law. The choke chain's starting to chafe. "Call me Thibeau." Some name from an old branch of the prestigious and very French D'Aubrey family tree.

"You're either being— coy," the word is halted: no, Teo doesn't really/ think so, "or you're not thinking straight. You started out asking for information, then you wanted in on the action. You either care about your name out there because it makes you less useful, //or it isn't a concern. The anger's good to see: these people have been maiming and killing Evolved for too long, it's not something you can use unless you get your head clear enough to do it.

"If you don't mind me saying so," he adds, after a moment, disclaimer: a gentler one than a different operative might have given Leland, but it makes sense, maybe, that Ivanov's informant would have a slightly more empathetic perspective on Leland's situation than reducing it to the most basic logistics of benefit versus risk. "Mr. Thibeau." He pronounces it right, his accent there as neutral, as cookie-cutter textbook perfect as academic French would be.

"What I mean is, if it comes down to it, information and taking those fuckers out is more important than my badge. I'm not walking on fucking eggshells if it means it takes longer to find them, or if we miss a chance to get 'em. I'll maintain my name as long as it's useful to do so." There is a cracking sound. Leland's knuckles. Unconscious. Maybe.

"If there's people working already to take them out, that I can connect with, then I'll do that. But I also need information. Places to look. People to talk to who might listen to someone with a badge." Or with a really big fist.

Sheepish again: Teo finally reaches up and yanks the cap off his head, fluffs his fingers through the ragged strands of his hair. They're still short enough that they resume their upright bristle without too much attention. The plastic-banded accessory is mashed up in the palm of his hand, the next moment, thumb wound down against the curvature of its brim.

"I think there's some information like that— around," and not even Teo knows whether he's being deliberately vague or general. He hadn't been lying: Humanis First! has a lot of enemies, a lot of operatives, "but people who'd answer to someone with a badge aren't going to get you any closer to the people who actually took your friend. Street-level thugs, armed civilians, it's a grass roots movement and it shows in the numbers they have of that demographic. Too fucking many.

"You're better off staying with the cops and doing informant work from inside the PD if that's what you're after— and that's good work, mind you." A skateboarder grumbles by, wheels spinning orange below the garishly graffitied plank that bears him. "It'll be important long-term, weakening Humanis First!'s hold on the island. Danko's cell, though. That's a different level. No names, no addresses, no easy trail.

"No one you can haul in and ask questions. There's just a few crazy people with crazy superpowers, scant forensics, and long shots in the dark. For that, you'll have to hurry up and wait. I mean," his smile looks tired. "If it was any easier, we wouldn't be sitting here."

"You misunderstand me, Laudani," Leland leans in. The look in his eyes grows sharper. "I'm not here to fucking sign up for the cause and feed you information and hope you give me something to go on. If he's still alive, they are not being kind. If he's dead, they've got to fucking pay."

The mask is cracking. The one that makes everyone in the department, makes his superiors and friends think that he's handling all this a-ok. He's not. He wants to fucking murder someone. And what Teo's telling him is not speaking to that urge.

"I don't care about the long-term. I care about the next five days. You don't have anyone to point me at, you don't have information to give me? Then maybe if you ask me and I know something, I'll pass it along. But I ain't going to sit on my fucking hands. I've been doing that for weeks. I came to you to actually make shit happen."

The size of Leland's shadow exceeds the size of Teo's shadow, but it isn't bigger than the Sicilian himself. He sits still as the skewed shape of darkness flattens over him. It's a few degrees cooler in Leland's shadow, maybe enough of a difference to warrant — to explain why his own mask is threatening to unseat, the mild-mannered pacifist activist almost, not quite subsumed by the well-mannered not-pacifist-nor-terrorist former mass murderer sixty-two-year-old psychic hybrid creature thing. A canine shows below the line of his lip, hides again. He doesn't snap.

Glances away, instead, skirting the path with a weary blue eye. There's another brief false start, a twitch in Teo's jaws, but he reconsiders what he was going to say then, too. It takes him another moment. Three, before he finally looks back at the older man. It still isn't a very long distance to where he's being stared at through Daubrey's tiny, shiny little pitbull eyes. When he finally speaks, there's the weight of considerable consideration to it, but Teo doesn't honestly expect that's going to make the words any more palatable.

"You misunderstand me, Daubrey. I can get you information. Just not on that fight. For now," his speech slows, fractionally, not for emphasis but for clarity. If he's going to get punched, it might as well be because his meaning was understood in excruciating high-definition: "you are useless in that fight."

If he were Evolved, one might expect the near-physical darkening of the cool blue of his iris was something more than an illusion. That it was some sign that a power was about to trigger. But he's not. Right?

His gaze snaps briefly to those around. Witnesses. Public place. It is the only thing that stays his hand, that stops him from taking out all his frustration on a certain Italian face. A vein begins to throb in his forhead. His jaw is clenched so tightly that it seems that teeth might crack from the pressure. Broad shoulders square, then roll back. He stands.

"You're the one who's fucking useless."

Those words are said with eerie calm, artificial like the gates that hold back floodwater. He turns and starts to walk off. As he passes a garbage can, he whips the barely touched latte into the garbage, sending a font of caffinated milk high into the air like a fountain spurt.

There are worse things than a broken nose, and watching Leland storm off suffering from the same crippling sense of helplessness that's had them all lately might well be one of them. Teo watches the bigger man's back turn on him, and the stolid march of legs away, with a curious twist of regret on his own spectacularly uninjured face. He glances down, splays thumb and forefinger into a V, maps them up the oblique bones of his jaw. Exhales through his teeth, a sigh that doesn't mean relief. He picks himself up off the bench. He knows better than to tell the man We'll be in touch, even if it's true.

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