You Meant Never


hana_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title You Meant Never
Synopsis Well, she didn't say she'd never leave.
Date January 23, 2009

Grand Central Terminal

Though Phoenix bears the brunt of responsibility in these final days, the Ferrymen have not been idle. The plan for the Foxhole was expanded upon, and a major subterranean base is now in the first stages of transformation — once the subway tunnels and platforms of abandoned Grand Central Terminal, and now somewhere between that and what they will someday be. At present, they are more storage space than not — and this particular corner has become Hana's personal staging area, secluded from the chance gaze of a passing firebird.

Which is why Teo's request for a meeting was met first with an unusually long silence, and then the barest-bones of directions by way of reply.

The boxes are unlabeled, and there are few of them, compared to other sections the Sicilian will pass through on the way here. Lengths of wood and metal, bags of cement mix, blocks of concrete. Cords, fabric, lights; all merely waiting for the attention of the few people presently moving around, who make little attempt to initiate conversation. The subject of the world's end has already been hashed and rehashed to death.

The corridor is very well-lit, artificial illumination unkind to the dingy once-white tiles of wall and floor. Hana sits square in the middle of an open space with the fine parts and pieces that properly belong in a rifle's internal workings spread out around her, cleaning those which need it with familiarity's patient haste. A packed bag rests atop one of the closed boxes; it takes no great mental leap to determine she's going somewhere. Right after the gun is reassembled, most likely.

Which would give Teo somewhere between seventeen seconds and a few minutes, but the understanding he had gleaned from watching Christian Powell do similar once upon a time. The trip through the subterranean facility-in-making was long enough that he lost most signs of the weather on the way, having walked off the ordinary stiffness of limbs and shattered loose the riming of crystal frost along the winding floor. He had made sure not to trip over things or pry into places. This project looks important, every object either in its right place or with a specific destination location purposed. Also, Hana hadn't sounded like she wanted to tell.

Not a good time to fuck up, period. Despite the even measure of his step, he's still reeling slightly. Deckard is to be captured in a few hours, Edward's running off to the political capital with a gun in his coat in just a few more, and there isn't much more time after that before the other parts of the man's plan are scheduled to go off in four-part explosion of simultaneous crazy. Leaves Teo a shade paler than usual and more raw in the eye than hard wind can account for. His footfalls stop once his shape emerges out of the corridor. From behind, the corridor lights pick out the edge of his head in a duckling's halo of down yellow. "Buona sera.

"Where are you going?" As segues go, that wasn't much of one. Rude, but he couldn't help it: gaze shifting right on past the arrayed rifle parts, he hadn't expected to find a bag there.

Though she hears him coming, the steady tread of Sicilian feet on concrete, Hana doesn't look up from her work. Seventeen seconds is a time much too short; she's taking enough critical, scrutinizing care with her work that 'several minutes' is closer to the mark. The Israeli has slept, but sleep was some time ago; there are suggestions in the set of her face that she has been up and working for an extended period. Perhaps all day. Perhaps more than one.

"Not your concern," are the words Hana yields to Teo, as stiff as the directions surrendered previously. Where her student often wins explanations with his queries, today the simple meeting is the only concession Hana appears inclined to grant; it is less the project and more her project that is being veiled. "What do you want?"

Her hands never stop their work, testing pieces, wiping them down, fitting them back together.

He tends to forget to cower. Which is only particularly strange if one tends to associate respect with a flailing terror of rebuke. Mistakes are for learning from, however, and Teo has never been one to approach the classroom that with that much ceremony: call it ego or practicality, hard to say. Which isn't to say there isn't a certain amount of consternation in his face when he moves his attention back from the thing to the woman seated in the nimbus of glistening firearm parts. This is what Minea had felt, he thinks. Not unlike anger.

If this feeling had a sound, it would be the dismal raspberry buzz of air escaping from a balloon. "Edward's plan," he answers, presently, hoping vaguely that it isn't so dark in here that his expression is entirely transparent. "For Wednesday. I wanted to know what you think about it."

The quiet sounds of metal and plastic puzzle pieces clicking into place fill the moments of silence after Teo's statement. "We don't have many options, at this point," Hana allows, each syllable a grudging admission of their limitations. No time to spare. Helena has chosen to trust Edward, and her choice binds more than the girl herself, or even the people she leads.

Hana lifts her gaze, finally, to Teo's face; the discontented anger beneath the surface of her dark eyes is more than familiar to him. The final piece snaps into place audibly, and the woman sits quiescent for a moment longer before climbing up to her feet.

"What are you looking for, Teo? I don't like it." She doesn't like Edward, though they've never met. She doesn't need to. "But what else can we do?"

"You said you'd come up with something else in case. A back-up plan. You said." Wrong thing to say, probably. One day that will get him shot. For now, Hana hasn't finished putting her gun together. Teo is well-aware that she hadn't verbally said any such thing; hadn't promised or committed herself to coming up with a back-up plan, but by now — or right now — he's belligerently confident that he knows what she had been thinking, those couple times he asked her to meet with Doctor Ray, and those few times she answered agreeing it would be a wise idea despite all of her skepticism.

Apparently, there is no Santa Claus. Merely a widening hole in the ground — no offense to the Foxhole, too little time and too much anger, no valid targets anywhere within immediate reach. At least Teodoro refrains from stomping his foot. He merely meets her eye, before dropping his gaze to the sweep of concrete below. Unable to retract his initial answer, he merely adds to it, flatly: "Fine. Nothing. That's all I wanted to know." He had known it the moment the theater doors closed behind them.

The curl of fingers that hold nothing but air, the tensing of the grip upon her reassembled firearm, the narrowing of dark Israeli eyes and the stiff line of her mouth — Teo knows all these signs. Yet he fails to experience a sudden and painful reacquaintance with coarse concrete or ceramic tile.

Hana turns away, collecting a strap that had been coiled atop the bag and attaching it to the rifle, slinging the firearm across her back.

"Helena's made her decision," Hana answers the intemperate child behind her, the words clipped into unnatural brevity. "And I've made mine. I'll do what I can."

By leaving? By listening? By playing radio relay station while she takes a gun and a bag of clothes to fuck knows where? Teo stares at her back. There are no straight lines in nature, but this isn't the first time — though it may be the last — that it occurs to him there's something ever so coolly man-made about her, the way she holds herself, her shadow a distended line, her hair a line, her long arms lines, the brutal black gunmetal slash of rifle a line, her steps mapped around severely angled joints.

The only arc to her, now, seem to be the flippant flip of her hair as she humorlessly flips him off. "Fine," he repeats. "That's all anybody can expect, right? Only five-point-five billion fucking lives—" he shuts his cakehole abruptly, hotly aware that it's stupid anyway. She already knows. There's no point in pretending they have anymore options. There's no point in sustaining a concussion this close to go-time.

"I'm sorry." He sounds it. Barely. His gaze darts restlessly between the wood supports and unplastered plumbing, everything exposed, borrowing a few seconds to locate his manners again, and flatten his fists into hands. "May I ask when you're coming back?"

It appears that even Teo can cross the line, his venture into accusation, self-pity, anger, frustration, fear — all of these, and none — pushing a button that is always safer left untouched. He has a slight edge in height over the Israeli woman; more of an advantage in body mass. She can still slam his shoulders into the wall.

"I have neither the time nor the desire for this, Laudani!" Hana snarls, face to furious face with the Sicilian. His apology, such as it is, does little to ameliorate her ire; dark eyes fume, nostrils flare. She doesn't let go.

"No." You may not question me. Now Hana releases him, turning away to pick up the duffel bag. There's a moment of still silence, stiff as the woman who stands with her back to Teodoro; it is weighted most by the sharp bite of lingering anger, but hints at the tang of regret, the muted quality of an uncomfortable and half-formed apology. "I'll be back after Wednesday." Or not at all. Hana doesn't say it, chooses not to look closely at the possibility that what she's doing might get her killed.

Might get him killed, so much the worse.

Not to be self-absorbed or anything, but Teo would rather not die. It is one of his deeper fears. The flagrant recklessness with which he courts injury may seem counterintuitive to that point, but courage is one of the more valuable lies glorified by man, and a hopeful if half-hearted coupon out of Hell for one who believes, as sincerely as he does, that he's bound for that: he had never really doubted there was a line to be crossed, even if he hadn't expected to get there so soon. So soon. Maybe he's just getting everything in before there's no more time for anything at all.

Hana's rage hurls dust and fire at his face and colors a concrete-texted bruise into the back of his head and the bony tip of one jarred elbow. He doesn't catch himself. Waits until she lets him go It is too hard not to be angry. Easy to blame her for these bitter terms that they might permanently part on, sharpened by the awareness that she had come so very close to choosing not to see him at all..

It isn't hard for him to tell that she's about to go away and do something brave. He understands that that she would only go away for that at all. Knowing that she must have wise cause and noble reason does absolutely nothing to assuage his own relative lack of importance in things or the embarrassment of his own weakness exposed. He stays mushed up against the wall for a few long breaths, his jacket still seized upward and backward by the yank of her hands, both his hackles and his color high. After Wedesday.

"Okay." Sullen. Unmistakably sullen, for all the acquiescence is there. And then the retreat: he peels himself off the wall, and yanks the lines of canvas straight around his shoulders, walks for the door. "You heard Doctor Ray. Don't forget to say your good-byes." Sullen. Petty. He means, 'If you have anyone you care to see.'

She walks, one step, two steps, three. Stops, as he speaks again; bitter, angry, childish. The resentment in the words doesn't fan the embers of Hana's anger; it doesn't cool them, either. She doesn't turn around. She would have left, without a word, without a clue. Just gone, and neither Phoenix nor the Ferry would likely have noticed, because distance doesn't hamper Hana's capacity for communication and direction.

Only things like this.

"You're here, aren't you?" Soft voice, but not gentle; there's too much in them for the difficult words to be anything but odd-shaped and angular. The emotions Hana's good at expressing; the ones she isn't. Her head half-turned, face visible in partial profile, she stands for a moment more, fixed in place; frozen.

Then she moves on.

Her profile finds itself mapped— so briefly— against that of the younger man's, jerked sideways to look and see over his shoulder, despite that he can not bring himself to slow or stop doing it. The only thing that could conceivably be worse than going without one's good-byes would be to go with. He'd made that pact with Abigail for a reason: salutation feels too much like condemnation. For the duration of a single frame, snap-shot, strobe-blinked against the unmarked wall, Teo sees her in a different light.

One frame. The next, she moves on. His shoulder scrapes past the doorframe and he swerves around it, hanging one hand on the board of wood, unafraid that splinters might torque into the flesh of his palm in doing so. Despite that he didn't tell them to hold, his fingers refuse to release as soon he has rounded into the corridor. Anchored, he snags to a halt. Long enough to say, subdued, a mumble shunted around the corner, with only four piggies brave enough to stay in the room: "Buona notte."

Teo owes her more than that, he knows, but, he can't… he will—

After Wednesday.

As no good-bye is given, so is none offered; simply the shape of a tall Israeli woman departing on some unspecified errand, a self-assigned necessary mission that happens somewhere other than here. Perhaps the mumble was missed, overlooked amidst the arching tunnel and empty, dead air. She's taken her leave, and so she walks, with neither ceremony nor hesitation.

But as Hana passes beyond the brightly-lit tunnel into the gloom of an unreclaimed stretch, black-clad form blending into the shadows, an incongruous sound protests their mutual tense silence: the chime of a cellphone proclaiming receipt of a text message.

It contains a single sentence, a simple promise, words which could be interpreted a dozen different ways, but every one of them is some glimmer of light amidst the looming, forbidding darkness cast by all things Wednesday.

Wireless: I -will- see you again.

January 23rd: The Date
January 24th: Vespertine
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