helena_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Vendetta
Synopsis It's the same word in Italian as it is in English.
Date December 11, 2008

An Undisclosed Location

Eventually, Teo will set foot in a building that has a name and government registration that matches up to its actual purpose. Until then, he lets time find him at or between the homes of rogue agents' and Ferrymen property. Dusk has long since turned Brooklyn black and blue blue outside.

In here, through that doorway, Eileen Ruskin is sleeping and Teo is eating something out of a plastic bowl, his fork scraping away in strokes too expedient to imply that he finds anything to savor in the meal, despite that it smells good: stir-fry, a better sauce than average, the vegetables that were tossed in showing a fresh shade. He's been here awhile, it seems like.

Water on his shoes instead of crystals, and he has actually started to discard some of the dozens of layers that he normally rallies against the insult of winter. He looks less anemically white, less bizarrely bruised, less pathetically tired than he had the morning before. Enough sleep and quiet will do that before that, too, takes its toll.

Helena had found a corner and a vaguely lumpy stuffed chair and a throw, the combination of which allowed her to sleep for a few extremely fitful hours. She looks a good bit worse for wear even for the sleep, and now, huddled in a shirt and sweater that are too big for her, Samsonites resting underneath her eyes, she tries to look for some food. Sniffing led her to Teo, and peckishly she looks to see if there's anymore.

There is. Peas, carrots, a few last slices of squash and chicken tumbled around grains of rice. Wordlessly, Teo props fork against the convex wall of bowl and proffers it to the young woman with one hand, leaning over far enough that he ends up actually dragging his ass a few inches closer, a graceless snagging sound of denim on the rough padding that tops the bench he's taken up. His thumb on the rim keeps the food from splatting unattractively on the floor or into Helena's shoe. He does this with a smile small enough to be sincere.

One might think she'd refuse to steal his last bits of food, but in the time they're allotted, one has to take opportunities. So Helena takes the surrendered bowl with a grateful nod of thanks and quietly begins to eat. Her table manners are dainty despite the incongruent and severe setting. One hand fits itself to the curve of the bowl as if the nature of the shape is a comfort, eyes drifting down to her food as if she were full of something that had nothing to do with the contents of her stomach. Remorse. Frustration. A little tiny drop of despair. Hungry, and yet food rests uneasy in her stomach.

At night, when Teo sleeps, he sleeps soundly. It is sometimes awhile getting there, but once he does he stays without difficulty. He has no problems with indigestion, and when he thinks of what's to come, he merely frowns. He's never been in a situation like this before, but there's a continuum of measurement when it comes to determining how shitty one's day is and, somehow, this still isn't the worst. That is his personal derangement, he knows. Looking at Helena makes him more aware of it than he is when studying clock hands, the grave sites of school children, or Eileen's wracked figure.

She makes him aware, also, that he isn't being very useful right now. After a moment, he moves. Off bench, onto floor. Sits cross-legged at her feet and stares at the slender bones in the backs of her hands in search of inspiration.

Helena blinks a little in surprise, the sudden twisting of her feet, like an awkward debutant in her first dress as her ankles turn to and fro. She sets the fork down in the bowl, and bowl on the table, staring into its much emptier curvature while her hands still remain wrapped around it, the shape still an inexplicable comfort.

"What's wrong?" she asks softly, the first one to break the spell of silence. He's sitting like a supplicant, and she's long past being anyone's Lady of the Lake.

"The look on your face," Teo answers without overendowing the words with any prepossession of meaning. The look on her face is wrong. He can't stop the world for it, and wouldn't do her the indignity of doing so if he could — they both know there's a woman short on five fingers and thousands of sick or dying out there who could use that favor first, but it is what it is. And there's something to be said, or he wouldn't have. "I can think of something to do for most things. Something.

"Not things that most people agree with me on, but that I feel confident about by myself. Unfortunately, for this — all I have is news that could either renew you your sense of purpose, or only hurt some more. I'm really not sure which. It's shitty." His eyes move off her hands and across her face, suspecting he looks slightly idiotic with sincerity and as indifferent to that as ever. The way he looks.

Her first instinct is to laugh. It bubbles up from someplace inside her, but doesn't come out of her mouth; there's a shake of her shoulders instead. She bites back the urge to ask how things can be shittier than they are now, and instead her eyes half lid a moment as she steels herself before her lashes lift once more and she looks him squarely in the face. A hand reaches out, fingers held tightly together rest on the crown of his head in benediction, in forgiveness of his shitty news. "Tell me." she says quietly, hand curved in less comfort than they had around the bowl, to his skull.
Phoenix> By Popular Demand, Diego returns triumphantly.

As her hand descends onto Teo's head, he goes squinty, the instinctive wariness of something as yet only partially domesticated. Both blink wider again, the next moment, fishing her face out of the shadows, his pupils blooming to search out her expression, stark against the contained frost hue of the irises he had inherited from his Finnish father, where he had taken so much else from his mother. Never one to take his poker face away from the poker table, it is visible when he hesitates.

"Kazimir Volken." The name emerges in a croak, rougher now with something that isn't merely the damage dealt to his throat by Deckard's poor aim. "He's the shithead who murdered Cameron Spalding.

"I'm sure of it." The roof of his head nudges higher into the hollow of her hand, softened by his hair, its even symmetry disjunct with the roiling soup of Teo-thoughts and a history of head injuries. Tbere is no way to touch flesh and read mind, not between the two errant children who lead Phoenix; Teo is left to merely strain his eyes at her face, and she to watch his face before her mind's eye replaces that image with another.

There's a rapid flutter of her lashes. No, she didn't understand him. He didn't even speak English. But her eyes flit to the door - the door that leads to the hallway that leads to another door, and behind that is a girl who's carried Kazimir's banner. She wants to get up and follow that path, push Eileen against the wall and scream in her face, demand to know why, when Cameron was everything brave and good to her. Her hand begins to slide away from Teo's head, drops to her lap to meet her other one, and she bows her head. Right now Ethan has them by the short hairs, and she has enough sense of purpose to realize now is not the time. Those hands squeeze into fists in her lap, and two hot tears spill into them. When she speaks, her voice is hoarse. "What do they call it in Sicily?" she asks. "They call it vendetta, right?"

She asked for this burden, in her way. She took up Cameron's banner when he'd have had her stay to the rear. When Peter told her to lead, she obeyed (and therefore, ironically a follower). But where does one settle, between the need to lay down one's burdens, and the burning desire pursue one's goals large and small? Helena is trapped in the middle, not so much a struggling fly as a baby spider who hasn't mastered her own spinerettes yet.

"Yes," Teo answers quiettly but with clarity, looking at the bowed crown of a girl who was never taught to do such a thing — certainly not by the leader who they had lost. "That's what we call it." It comes out of the dictionary the same both ways, vendetta. Which has nothing and everything to do with this, he realizes.

The larger war begins with the smaller battle — and he's uncomfortably aware that he needs to leverage this, in a sense, that Eileen is a stepping stone toward Ethan is an intermediate point to someone whose vast and horrible deeds boast that they are worse than all the men that they command; that what could come is worse still than what has before. "Hana has been looking into him further.

"He's been doing something with biochemistry and hazardous waste. I'm going to speak with her soon. We'll get our girls back." There's a rough hand on top of hers, touching her out of impulse, then holding her with hesitation. His hands are rough on both sides: inside and out. A lifetime of sailing and construction work, fighting and falling have left him with round calluses and grainy scars. "We'll have Eileen. We'll get him."

Helena nods. "We have Eileen." she repeats, and only sounds half-convinced. Her hand turns so palm meets palm, and she curls her fingers around his hand. "This - it was a mistake. Taking her in the first place. We need to be better about what we choose to do, or we'll be finished before we really begin." Her fingers tighten. "Maybe I - " she stops. The next word would have been shouldn't, except the truth is, that word should be must.

The doubt in her voice echoes the skepticism in the faces Teo's had turned from him for days. Knits his stomach, tightens his throat. Sets his teeth. Practicality could make him brutal, if regret hadn't done it already. "If we hadn't taken her, we wouldn't know most of we do now. Volken's name, description, ability, recent investments. The scope of his operation. Other names. What we shouldn't have done was let Cat and Dani get caught. That can't happen again. I don't know how it did — how they found those two; they shouldn't have known about Catherine. But — what happened before. What's coming.

"More than one hundred dead kids, Hel. The girl at the bowling alley. Now Cameron — those kids in the Bronx he killed. How could we've not taken her? When she walked right up, and we knew?" He doesn't sound like he's trying to convince himself, which might be worse than if he had. Stubborn; sure of what he sees. Every bit as hot as Italian blood's supposed to be, his hand turns and he grips his long fingers through hers. Teo's stare doesn't waver, nor his faith: not in her, at any rate. "Maybe you..?"

Teo may never know how in this moment he unwittingly saved her, even if it will only last for a moment. Every death he mentions makes her flinch, and Cameron's name makes her clench his hand uncannily tight. She lifts her eyes to his. She's both bleak and determined, there's zeal in her voice. "Must." she says. "Maybe I must." Her hand starts to relax in his, and her eyes dart to the side. "I feel so ashamed when I doubt. And I'm doubting constantly. How can I look Cat in the eye and say this was worth it?"

Teo can't answer that. He doesn't think he could do it. He can't afford to admit to doubt, not now, but to tell a woman whose loved one was tortured that that was worth information, even if that information says the stakes are the whole fucking world as they know it. That's not fair. "I'd hate me, if I were her," he says, in a voice little louder than a whisper. Harder to hear for it, the words themselves almost lost under the hoarseness of the voice that seeks to articulate them. "I'll talk to her, if you want me to. It was my idea, anyway. I asked you and Hana afterward, but I knew we were going to do it.

"I'll talk to anyone you need me to. I know there are questions." And that she's been the one fielding them, catching Hell for the crazy notions that get through the density of his skull and emerge in the currency of blood and deceit. A month in, and she is still the figure they look to.

Helena shakes her head a little. "Right now I just want to get Cat and Dani back." she says. "Let's worry about having to deal with explanations once we do." She lifts her chin, but angles her neck so her face jutts forward a little so she can catch his eyes. "Teo - you know whe can't pull stuff like this, right? Not out of the blue. Things need to be planned."

"We planned," Teo points out, just as gently. There's nothing defensive in his tone, though his words are functionally exactly that. He is as unafraid to hold her gaze as he is her hand. "It was only a matter of hours before we lost her tail. We watched, waited, and looked at logistics for as long as we could. Eileen fell on us out of the blue. I'm sorry we didn't speak to more people before it happened, and that we weren't as quick to afterward. That was a mistake: we need to be able to trust each other.

"But any other call would have been the wrong one. Law enforcement's busy hunting down PARIAH this week, and no one else was going to do the work for us. I'm beginning to repeat myself. Sorry," he winds down into a desultory mutter, turns his head down, away, runs a half a hand down the edge of his face. "I think Sylar found out it was us from the birds. There was nothing else in the area except us, and Hana scrubbed the traffic cameras as soon as she was done tracking. Somehow, that stronzo took Eileen's ability without killing her."

Helena nods. "I remember that being said." Unlesss someone's lying. "I won't disagree that the information we've gotten is valuable - but elements of this have gone out of bounds." She takes a breath. "I'm going to be making some pretty distinctive statements about what we do and what we don't do once this over." she says with quiet steel. "And after I do, I expect we'll lose some people. I don't want to come off like a dictator, but I feel like things are coming apart. We've got to fight, but we need to start fighting smart."

Puzzlement takes Teo's features, before surprise. She isn't talking about… She's talking about other parts, then. Brian, maybe. He isn't sure. The handling, if not the intial decision and overall agenda itself. Which is— havoc, considering how much trouble the initial decision and overall agenda has already started. And those were the right decisions, as far as he can tell. Practically speaking. Practicality aside, they were tough to make, horrible to carry through. His brow furrows slightly in consternation. "I get the feeling you're referring to someone I know," he hedges.

Helena shakes her head. "Everyone." she says. "We all depend on each other. We live and die as a group. If one of us falls, it risks the entire organization. People like Elvis and Alex are reactionary, but I'm pretty sure Elvis is less inclined to commit to extreme options. But torture is unacceptable. Taking risks on the fly even if we get something from it, in the end? They're not acceptable."

Je-sus. That derails Teo's train of thought like an earthquake just yanked the tracks. The torture. He remembers. Can't even talk about that; it's his fault, he knows, that Alexander's temper is gradually getting the better of him. The Sicilian's coloring goes off, for a moment. "I don't think it's the risk we have to be wary of taking. I believe we have to be better-prepared to cope with the risks.

"There's a difference. Leaving knives with prisoners, going to ground, communicating quick enough, getting the war room together. We need to do that better." He is utterly incapable of broaching the other subject, so he doesn't, until guilt knees him hard enough in the gut that he has to. "I should have told you about what he did. I'm sorry." It isn't lipservice. Teo recedes into himself slightly, shifting back with a scuff of cloth; he bneds his head low to press his mouth to her forefinger, apologetic, before letting her go.

Helena studies him. "It is what it is." she says wearily. "We deal with the now. We don't torture, we plan our moves ahead of time, we set up our protocols, we do it all better, and if people don't like it, they have the option of the door." She rubs the side of her face. "Could you do me a favor? Call Owen and Sergei. I want them to be my second and third. If one of them isn't available, try Elvis. I — " she trails off. "I'm tired. A few hours sleep, and I'll be okay." She says it like an affirmation. A few hours sleep and she will be okay.

Teo will hold her to it. He doesn't like to see her not okay, and he needs her to be. It's her that the mob can't do without. "Owen and Sergei, or Elvis," he says, nodding. He doesn't want to think about who they would lose. Prefers to think of the upcoming statement, the new plans, changes, as a unifying order rather than a dividing one — mostly because of whom they would lose if it wasn't. He gets up in an ungainly mess of long limbs and layered clothes, his hair the only part of him better-ordered now that her hand had tamed the rumpled strands.

"There are empty rooms." He points down the hallway with one hand. Stoops to gather the empty bowl with the other. He'll bring her breakfast later, but that isn't the sort of thing you mention to the sort of girl she is until then.

Takes place late at night/early in the morning on the 11th.

December 11th: Jumping at Shadows
December 11th: The Devil's Due, Part I
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