Wicked Tribe


lucrezia_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Wicked Tribe
Synopsis Teo comes to offer the beginning of an explanation to one of very, very few who didn't need to hear one. Paused.
Date June 9, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, Fourth Floor Safehouse

Even in a city that supposedly never sleeps, from time to time there can be obtained an hour or two of something that passes for peace. The wars being waged on the streets cease; everyone seems to have mutually agreed to remain inside for the evening and even the glitter girls and their gremlins do their drinking in the den in lieu of the gutter.

There is an unusual sort of subliminal music that pervades purple predawn moments like this. It finds its way in through open windows and curls around the ears ever so sweetly; it is the song of summer-to-come and the urban jungle is serenaded by beasts it rarely takes the time to recognize — crickets and songbirds harmonizing for all to hear.

Somewhere on the fourth floor of a Greenwich Village apartment building is an exiled foreign national whiling away the hours of the evening by shunning sleep in favor of spiced cigarettes and scripting love letters. Lucrezia is sprawled out languidly in a pose that might appear to be inhumanely uncomfortable at first — head bowed backwards with the almost ashen remains of cancer courted into her lungs still hung between her lips, a few spare pieces of paper in her lap, and an old ink pen currently making the over-under rounds of the fingers on her right hand. Her eyes are closed but, while she may be dreaming, she is not asleep.

From the window, it would be difficult to tell that Lucrezia isn't asleep except that Ghost, long since acquainted with the habits of her neck and hands, is aware that the retired actress never goes to sleep bent around such uncomfortable polygons that inevitably leave more careless sleepers awakening to the feeling that a crucial bolt had gotten jammed in the progression of tender spinal bones.

He has no way of knowing what she's thinking about, though. Or whom. Somehow, this setting seems to suit her: the large bed, the mingled chrome and attractively rosetted rust outside, her letters, the spice of her pretty poisons and the dignity of her solitude. Maybe that is an act, too. He remembers the style in which she liked to dine— or maybe that was the act. Both. Neither. The Bennatis are more adaptive than they care to need to be.

He raps on the windowpane. Her boy: she knows him, though he's been an even longer time gone than the woman can recall. Six foot, hair shaven short underneath the cowl of his hoodie, his rough fingers gripping the nooks of mortar between bricking and knees steepled up and to his left, legs tensed, the weight of him held up in agile defiance to the wuthering drop of the building's sheer facade below him.

Instead of 'waking' from her false slumber as if suddenly subject to an electric current courtesy of someone tapping at her chamber door— er, window, Lucrezia's head slowly lolls to one side and she once again lifts her lids in order to observe the casement and investigate her clandestine visitor. There is, if only for the minuscule of moments, a thought that bounces off her brain which makes her muse as to why on Earth her solemn sacerdote had taken it upon himself to make an entrance from somewhere other than the door. It is perhaps telling — if not outright ironic — that once she discovers her crawler-caller is her nephew, her curiosity no longer aches to be sated with any other explanation beyond identity.

It's Teo. He does this sort of thing every day, certainly. Scaling buildings is what young boys do when they don't have access to adequate trees or tall women worth pursuing, you see.

Rising from her reverie, the Black Widow wanders over to the window in order to unlock the latch and lift it open to a height that might allow for her borrowed boy's entry into her clandestine den. "«Did you forget your key?»" It's hard to tell if she's being serious or making a play for dry but quippy.

"«They didn't tell you,»" Teodoro observes, in Italian and without overmuch tact. At this point, that would probably be unnecessary. He is crouching over her sill like a dislocated spirit summoned to unimaginable cause or arcane nostalgia.

Yes— yes, he knows that it's already a little bit silly and vaguely horrifying for it, but he makes a joke of it anyway, listing sideways to rest his shoulder against the wrought metal and wooden paneling of the window frame, putting his torso at a rakish tilt, which is less dangerous for him than it looks. "«I've made a break from Phoenix to do other things. I attacked and stole from them, and then I took myself away. They don't understand, and I can't let them— yet.

"«But I wanted to see you.»" Slowly, his axis evens out. As if failing to notice the vulnerability he leaves here, his hands occupied by their desperate grip and lean frame torsioned against death-by-sudden stop, he would make her an easy target, if she tried. "«I wanted to tell you. I didn't get a chance in 2019. I've come back.»"

Lucrezia remains within arm's reach of the window but not quite next to it, having made an allowance of space for the person perched on the windowsill to climb inside and occupy as an equal the apartment she happens to be hiding in like a refugee — yet, he doesn't and so she finds it somehow deceptively difficult to disguise her lack of reckoning for a reason. What is he waiting for? Perhaps, not unlike other creatures of the night, he now requires some sort of formal invitation in order to invade the domain of the living. So comes the gesture, a fine-fingered hand fanned out from her hip. "«Come inside before you take a tumble,»" she bids him gently.

But, then… what words. What words! High arching eyebrows bow boldly and foray upwards into intrigue as her sister's son spews out more than his fair share of strange secrets in so few words. All at once. He can't be serious. Or maybe he is. What difference does it make so long as he's speaking? After all, it has been so long since she's seen him…

"«Are you a demon, then? Did you follow me home so that you might drag me back to hell?»" Because that is what the future told ten years from now most certainly felt like for an aging Italian actress who watched her legacy diminish to dust mixed with bastard blood. "«If so, you certainly picked a very compelling shape. I might even be of a mind to go willingly…»"

Not likely.

Unseen overhead on the outside, her own dainty devils are descending on silken strings…

"«Not likely. Then I'd have to go back, myself. No,»" the improbable revenant answers, dropping one foot in toward the floor without yet alighting on both, "«No, I'd rather change all of that. I don't think you liked it either, so— well. Here I am. You have another second to change your mind about inviting me in.»"

Except, you know. Not really. The ghost— demon, vampire, genie, whatever, fails entirely to wait out the allotted time. His boot connects with carpet with a straight-edged thump, weight transitioning with a certain self-assured celerity that seems to have only increased with age. He looks up at his aunt's face, and his own is shadowed with a brittle, not bitter sentiment of knowing that she can remember from May, but never before.

He wouldn't make the mistake of thinking that she will remain unarmed for long. "«No room in Hell for goddesses,» zietta. «If you'll pardon the sacrilege.

"«I need to talk to you.»"

To be both an Italian and a Catholic could be considered a strange and amalgamated fate, as Teo's slightly sacrilegious mixed metaphor so aptly illustrates, though the would-be demi-deity doesn't disagree with his declaration; it somehow would have been even more blasphemous had he said she was a saint.

"«You are talking to me,» carino. «Say what you have to say.»"

Familiar fingers pass over the equally recognizable topography of Teo's face. Scratchy sounds, over the day's growth of stubble. He closes and opens his eyes and stands by the window instead of finding somewhere to sit, either ignorant or cunning in his tacit decision to keep himself standing between the lurking hordes in the sky and their mistress.

When he drops his hands, they hang empty at his sides. Shadowed by the rim of his hood, the light from her ceiling picks his eyes out of their pits in lambent relief that would look faintly sepulchral, if Teodoro didn't look like he was in remarkably good health, otherwise.

"«For years I kept this stupid Goddamn secret, because telling it would have completely fucked all of the good that came of it. It probably doesn't even fucking matter now, with the way history's skewed off from the course I lived through and I'm going to change it more— but I think it might make you understand why I'm here. Why I am this way,»" and I know that you were disappointed. Uncomfortable self-awareness hangs in the air, lugubrious, stretched out by unfamiliarity. By 2019, Teodoro Laudani has been by himself for a very, very long time. "«And I would like you to understand.»"

He lifts his head slightly. Scouts the area once, his mind swift as the palpitations of wasp's wings though he sifts past the faceted perceptions of the insects circling in the sky. "Arthur Petrelli «had the Columbia 14 killed. Likely, also you.»"

If Teodoro isn't inclined to make himself at home, then she isn't apt to twist his arm. Let him linger by his improvised entrance then; the better to behold him from all sides as six small spinster sisters, daughters of arrogant Arachne, swing their way onto the windowsill and begin to weave a webbed tapestry together if for no other reason than because it brings their black-eyed titan mistress some minute measure of pleasure.

Speaking of which… it's about time the air they now share was once again filled with sweetly-scented spiced smoke and so the long-legged Italian takes this opportunity, while whatever it is that insists of wearing Teo's face explains a situation she still hasn't fully come to comprehend, to strike up a match and burn the business end of another brown-papered cigarette.

One could hardly ever accuse Lucrezia Bennati of doing much of anything with simplicity but, if only for the sake of this particular conversation, she proceeds to behave like a grade school girl being tutored on the answers of a test mere moments before it is administered — in other words, she's silent but attentive and keeps the queries to an amazing minimum. It is a mien that she wears remarkably well. As she proceeds to evacuate the exotic curl of a carcinogenic cloud from between her lush but unpainted lips, she asks only one question:

"Chi รจ Arthur Petrelli?"

"«The one who tried to stop you all from coming back here. Chief Executive Officer and owner of Pinehearst, father and in-law to friends of mine, patron warrior-saint of the pro-Evolved cause. Probably the most powerful in the world. You watched Gabriel Gray kill him, in the end.»" The recitation sounds precisely like that. Teo keeps his hands at his sides and his feet evenly balanced across the carpet, his spine straightened out of its characteristically lazy, hooligan's question-mark curl.

It matches what the woman had seen of the tall billboards and unforeseeable jungles of 2019. It matches the coruscation of radioactive energy that had blighted then sucked back into the skies over her final minutes there.

Either this stranger had done a great deal of research, telepathic inquest and inimitable hours of surveillance, or he is what he says he is. Doubtless, it could be harder to tell which would be of greater or uglier consequence. He shifts his eyes, watches smoke unravel from her mouth. "«Do you believe me?»"

Perhaps it's the word 'watched' that she takes the most exception with rather than the verity or validity of the recounted register as a whole. After all, she was far more occupied in maintaining her control over a merry many lot of her miniscule minions and facing off against those who might strive to do harm to that wayward band of old relics that she was a part of in the future past.

Dark eyes look over the black-clad boy as she continues to traffic in cloven tobacco in lieu of conversation for extended periods of time. Once his words have sunk in to her skin and permeated her veins, run her blood cold and iced over her heart, she opens her mouth again to exhale and expound on the situation they both seem to be facing from opposite sides of the same page. "«It does not matter if I believe you. What matters most is that which you have yet to do… which is, presumably, to ask something of me that you do not think I would be otherwise inclined to consider.»"

She is either very wise, exceptionally observant, or astoundingly presumptuous, neh?

It is based on pattern and grown expectation. Aunt and borrowed boy get along fabulously, mind you, and enjoy each others' company but they have so rarely needed each others' companionship. Not that that stops Teo from scuffing apology and the lacquered stones of her fingers from pinching chastisement when they come back to each other. Not that that lessened the pain of her return or his willful ignorance in their anemic conversations during 2019. It's strange, isn't it? That they have more to say now. That things are better with Midtown in overturned bricking and hunchbacked ruins, and spiders sieging the flat of the ceiling.

For better or worse, she does understand him.

"«If I die, I don't want you to avenge me. If Petrelli or any other government scion come to you offering gifts of redemption and renewal, I want you to refuse— those gifts are never gifts. I would like you to find honor in living, and if you do, they will never destroy me.»" Poetry was never this frank. Poetry should be. "«And I would like you to trust me enough to help me when the time comes, between the Company, Pinehearst, and Edward Ray. I don't— I don't really believe in villains anymore, Lucrezia. The Company's destruction was symbolic, as was the assassination of Phoenix.

"«And the hunt for Humanis First! afterward. As were the Bomb and Union Park, the development of the Formula, and the enhancement and cures that come into development afterward. It's all choreography, and I won't have your deeds, or Phoenix's, be discarded like so many fucking cardboard set pieces and plastic lights.»"

What sort of Sicilian would she be if she allowed herself to be so easily released from what would surely be an incredibly bloody sanguine-sworn revenge undertaken for the sake of her sister's son? Something less than stereotypical, perhaps. But, if it isn't going to be the Biancos than it may just as well be the Petrellis; all other Italian families are interchangeable beneath the blade.

Lucrezia carefully considers the profane words, half of which she doesn't fully comprehend with anything akin to a rhyme or a reason for their revelation, all while lounging languidly and smoking her spiced cigarette with the same degree of detached curiosity that she might afford a foreign-language soap opera.

"«Is that all?»" she queries quietly.

The Ghost is given a glimpse, however, of just how practiced his aunt is at wearing a mask — for though her expression appears simple and serene, her thoughts are dubious, at best, and wild as rapids… not to mention crowded with the shared sensations of some several dozen insects in their immediate vicinity plus a pair of absentees stationed somewhere far away.

"«It is,»" he answers politely. "«Unless you have questions.»" It seems both likely and unlikely that she doesn't. Incisive curiosity would require a certain grasp of the context, and thus far, Lucrezia seems to be either having difficulty, disinterested in, or doubtful of the greater scope of this. To be fair, the scope is pretty fucking great. Ghost knows that, of course. He has been operating on this uncomfortably esoteric plane for weeks, struggling to root abstract intent and principle in the physicality of bombs and swords.

Strange days. Ghost turns his head to study the light richly-buttered yellow on the walls and the faint, thready shadow of a spider walking along the panel. "«I have only one. How have you been?»"

Paused (again).

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