And Lethe Sings Reminisce


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Scene Title And Lethe Sings Reminisce
Synopsis Al goes out to look at something green and finds a gentleman in black instead. Said gentleman doesn't subscribe to the usual particulars of keeping his mitts off or refraining from taking advantage after drinking his guest under the table. Reunion scene.
Date April 8, 2019

The Edge Of The Midtown Ruins

Here, everything is beautiful.

Al has made it into that bright and shiny future. Liz's gotten him clothes, even if at the moment, it's just sweatpants and a t-shirt. At the moment, he's doing his level best to cut that future sort by sucking on a Marlboro like there literally is no tomorrow. He's standing down the block in the one place left in New York that they actually permit you to smoke, apparently. Gazing off into the middle distance, which is now the green haze of the Park, rather than the old ruins.

A dozen different frames of perception splice through the watcher's mind. The cop walking beat two blocks behind, a couple wandering the jungle along a long path with a picnic basket squeaking over one arm, their progress ambling. A restaurant full of patrons, the feel of them a fragmented blur, all knocking glass and overpowering cologne and raucous laughter— makes his head hurt.

Strangely, the world through Alexander's eyes looks no different.

An eye-blink later, and Teo alights neatly back inside his own body again. Footfalls clock fractioned seconds behind Alexander, militarily brisk until they find a halt three yards back. Same register, same language; different word, now. "Bambino?"

Al turns, with deliberate slowness, cigarette knocked to the corner of his mouth with the flick of his tongue. "I ain't your bambino, you wop cocksucker," he says, in that honey-slow drawl, before he holds out an arm to Teo. If there's anything that'll drive home the changes ten years have wrought, it's in the little alteration in his old lover's face. More so than the greening spectacle of the Park.

Never forgot any of it: the waltzing tempo and dragging roll of intonation, red, red hair, the stubborn white of Al's pallor and vulpine slant of the features sculpted in it. There were photographs. Celebrity status had made sure of that, to preserve the young heroes-turned-martyrs, commemorate the tragedy. Teo is staring.

A lot. He's changed. Not a lot, courtesy of the Bennati genetic legacy and Abigail's care, but ten years have offered his features a few more lines and shadows of distinction even as he's gone through the process of refining and minimalizing down everything else. Hair buzzed short, clean-shaven, simple charcoal-colored clothes— peacoat and slacks.

Slower than before, he steps in. Ignores the arm held out for him entirely, brushes past. Steals a hug.

Well, okay. Al spits the cigarette past him, lest he burn his old comrade. It hisses out in a puddle. He wraps his arms around Teo, hesitantly, even as the air *whoofs* out of him. He claps the Sicilian on the back. "Hey, T, hey," It's all a bit much, especially with the memory of Verse dunning in his ear. There's still a part of him so very afraid this is the last and the greatest of the agent's illusions.

There's no smell of cigarettes on Teo anymore; not even a trace inundated underneath the particle patina inside Al's nose, mouth, and throat. His arms are as close a fit as a rock avalanche. The side of his face is pressed against the nook of Alexander's jaw, his nose bent in the hollow of his cheek and mouth constricted around a bloodless line.

It's probably fortunate, that he got over his physical phobia of undead lovers a few years ago. "You're wrong about that," Teo replies, gruff with emotion. When he swallows, it sounds painful. "When?"

It's one of time's little cruelties. That Al doesn't remember summer in Darien. Al smells of soap, detergent, the aura of smoke. To him, Teodoro is a dear friend….and one whom he's just so bitterly betrayed, though it seems to have come to naught. Judas has his place in the story, too.

But not a lover. Under Teo's lips, his pulse skips. "When'd I get here? Not long ago, I guess. I'm confused as to how things happened, but seems what we were working for came to pass."

"Few missing Petrellis came out of the woodwork. Changed the world. String pull at a time." Inadvertently, Teo's grasp tightens when he says these words, his barred fingers clutching harder at the weave of Al's clothing and contracting the body underneath it closer, wolflike in his protectiveness.

It takes him a few seconds to apparently remember that little gingers need to breathe; the loop of his arm shucks down torso to waist and his cheek slides up past its paler-skinned counterpart. The first kiss nests in the hollow of Al's cheek; the second at the corner of his coralline mouth without regard for the residual stink of smoke.

The third closes without room for doubt to what circumstances that Teo remembers they had parted on. Judas has company: Lethe singing reminiscence in the shower.

Uh, oh, wow. Al's more or less blindsided by that succession of kisses. The third one has the air rushing out of him again, in s stifled gasp, as if Teo'd punched him in the gut rather than declared his feelings. His hands hover on the Sicilian's back, before slipping forward to turn into a gentle push, as he steps away. Al's flushed and red, try as he might to play it off with an awkward smile.

The red is an uncommon visitor to Alexander's portrait, and this Teo knows it as well as the other. There's an unironic twist to his brow when he lets go. And he does let go, of course, after essaying backward a half-step to follow through with the route of his friend's escape. Empty-handed, he stares through the dark for a moment too protracted for conversational ease, despite all of the redhead's efforts to Act Casual.

"Don't tell me I got a straight version," he says. Good joke, bad joke? He can't tell. Belatedly, he scoots his heels together, straightens, drawing himself up into a reasonable facsimile of polite restraint. "Please."

"No," Al says, more curtly than perhaps he means to. "No," he repeats, more softly. "I'm sorry. I…I don't know how things played out here, but back when I come from, you and I….it's not like that." And he's destroyed his cigarette, which means nothing for his hands to fidget with. He wants to smile, but lips aren't answering. "We're….we're just friends," he says, brow wrinkling. There's no good way to say any of this.

True. That wasn't a good way of saying it. Teo's brow creases for a moment, a look that is neither defeat nor pleasure. "Well," he says, eventually. "The way things played out here, we weren't just friends. So I'm sorry too." The apology has something inscrutable about it. You know: it isn't entirely obvious what he regrets.

Neither the embrace nor the kisses, certainly. Teodoro angles his head toward the way Al has begun to retreat. "Staying at Liz's?"

"I fucked up a lot of things when I came from, and what I had with you was one of 'em," Al says, with his characteristic bluntness. "Glad to know stuff was better here," He jams his hands in his pockets, clearly uncertain as to what on earth to do with them. "I guess for now. I mean, too many of us to stay there for any great length, but I don't know how it'll shake out."

A shrug seesaws through Teodoro's shoulders, soundless underneath the smooth, black-on-black folds of his peacoat and shirt. His aquiline features remain pleasant, though too still with searching; there's the subtle implication that he's ignoring some part of this, a disconnect that is no part malicious. "Some things, not even you can kill, mio amico. Come on, it's beer time.

"Maybe the rest of the herd can catch up in a little while? You should tell me who came along and what the fuck happened and everything." Teo doesn't put his hands in his pockets. They swing free at his sides as he steps forward, pallid eyes running the length of the street before them.

"If you wanna, it's all on you, Teo. I just got outta Moab, I ain't gotta dime to my name," Al says, heavily. "And somewhere not too upscale," he gestures to t-shirt and sweats, sneakers. Like he's going to go for a run. Not be on the run. "Helena. Your aunt Lucrezia. I don't know who else. I….really haven't been paying attention all that good," he says, with a sigh.

To be fair, nor is Teo. Paying attention all that good. It's hard to get around this: having what's his returned to him by some unbelievable trick of karma, and he isn't about to get over it, either.

Money is of no consequence. Nor the costume. He motions with one callused hand, a scar winking at Al from around his middle knuckle, before the Sicilian starts down the pavement with a leggy stride. The invocation of neither name startles him, though Lucrezia's does warrant a thoughtful glance over his shoulder, some thought unfolding behind his eyes. It goes unspoken. Teo doesn't come here often enough to have a good handle on the locale, but one cycle of his ability gets his stride pointed in the proper direction. Someplace casual, a booth free.

"Has Abby already taken a look at you?" A long arm lumps around Alexander's shoulders the moment their footfalls syncopate.

"Yeah, she fixed me up okay. Verse-" Al all but stumbles over the name. "He worked me over pretty good, right before the raid came. But I'm better now," He doesn't sound all that certain, really. Nor does he object to Teo's arm over his shoulders. That's comfort, at least, as he lets Teo steer them both along.

Whether or not Teo's ability to steer in the larger aspects of his life has improved remains open to debate. It doesn't seem like he's been short on practice lumbering around Manhattan's grid in search of a bar, however. He is a strangely solid presence, as tactile with comraderie as he ever had been before. They pass underneath the craned scrutiny of an unlit street light, their melded shadow familiar, either eerily or comfortingly so.

There's no way under Heaven that Teodoro is taking his friend to the Dancing Boar's, of course, not with Delilah and Walter there, but something similar wouldn't go amiss. A different tavern, of similarly modest facade, bearing a painted wood sign overlaid in unlit neon: 'The Brown Bar.' "Tamara killed him," he notes, conversationally. "Verse."

The line of his back is still rigid with fear. "When?" Al demands, looking up at Teo with something like pleading in his face. "And good. I….I don't know how it went here. But back when, he tore me open. Got all of it," He's pale. Paler, tears standing in his eyes. At least he can confess - whatever destruction his weakness caused is long since done. And likely irrelevant in this brave new world.

Unflappable though Teo has seemed, the tension in Al's frame channels straight into him. Brings his shoulders into tight angles. He looks sidelong, reaches up five long fingers to brush back red forelocks that hadn't grown long enough to get in the way of anything except the brusque kiss he chooses to press to the — younger man's forehead. He stops them to the right of the doorway, still outside.

A touch of pressure to his shoulder, and Alexander's tall frame is leaned gently into the wall, his shabby clothes and streaky pallor standing out in ashen relief against the flat brown stone. The grip around his shoulders is brought up by another arm looped around his waist, tight again, "I know," muttered in his ear.

It takes Al a moment to get his breathing under control. "So, she killed him before he could do anything with it?" he wonders, heel of his hand to his eyes, in a brusque, impatient motion. God, still so weak. This time he doesn't fight his way out of the embrace, resting his head on Teo's shoulder without protest.

The situation is familiar to Teo, a startling sense of deja-vu to accompany the red-haired ghost who has brought it with him. He closes his eyes and runs his barred fingers against the grain of those stupefyingly bright tresses at the back and base of Alexander's skull, scritching his thumb into the subtle hollow there. "She did," he answers, a pleasant rumble that reverberates through the circle of his arms and the line of his chest, both. "Right there in Moab. She saved Phoenix."

It works as beautifully on Al as it ever does on whatever stray pound puppy Teo picks up. He relaxes, limp already. "Ah, good," he says, with quiet fervor. "Thank God for that," It's as close as Alex ever gets to real faith. It's a few heartbeats before he detaches himself again, shaking himself into shape.

Shouldn't use His name in vain, Teo's mind pipes up, admonishment despite that it's been eight years since he really believed in anything, either.

When Al begins to remove himself, there's an instant's cringing resistance; removing his hands feels like having teeth extricated one-by-one out of gums, and his blunt, squared fingernails end up biting into the wall behind the redhead for a moment, either clawed with annoyance or anchoring himself. Possibly both. Taking a breath, he steps back, moves toward the bar. "This place has food, too. D'no how good it is, though."

It wasn't, really. Not sarcastic. "It's fine. I been eatin' prison food for the last few months." And not much of it, by the look of him. His features are starker than ever. "McDonald's'd seem laike haute cuisine, at the point." He wriggles past Teo. "Teo, you buy me a meal and a couple bottles of beer, you can hold me all night long, if that's what you're after," he adds, giving the Sicilian an amused look, though it's a shadow of its former self.

The Brown Bar

Not words to be taken literally, Teo understands. Intellectually, he understands. Intellect can maybe fuck off and die? "That isn't very funny, amore." He bangs in through the door behind his friend, pushing it open ahead of them with a palm flat by the hinges around Alexander's shoulder.

He nods politely at the bartender, glances over his shoulder at somebody who he had noticed looking at them outside, sets a smile onto his face and snatches two menus off the slot in the rickety front counter. Tramples off to the corner booth as if, ten years in, he still hasn't learned how to tread softly. It isn't a bad parody of the boy he used to be.

That's another of the eerie points. That Teo has gone on and left him behind, like one of Pan's Lost Boys. "'s the truth," he says, simply, following Teo to the booth, tread soft in the borrowed sneakers. God only knows where Liz found them. The name? It makes him hesitate, for another of those fractional instants, embarassed, before he seats himself across from Teo, holds out a hand for the menu.

One menu is handed over without hesitation, the other dumped out on the table in front of him. Teo flips it open, leans his jaw on his other hand and peers into the page with bright eyes. "You went to Darien," he says, non-sequitur but not irrelevant; answering a question that hadn't been voiced aloud. "I still have the place. You can go see it, if you want. I wouldn't mind.

"You can hire teleporters these days. 'S how I got here from Israel so fast." He goes with a fried chicken basket thing. Beer's the ale advertised tonight, unless Alexander particularly objects.

"Steak," Al saysa, without hesitation, barely bothering to look. "I….grew up south of Savannah. Not all that far from Darien," he says, gently. "Very quiet. I had a house there? It's still there? I…" he glances out the window, at the streets still busy. "I suppose I woulda left it to you."

Poultry, cow, and Alexander doesn't want to see the bottom of his pint glass: the waitress gets it, clicks her pen nib back into retraction, smiles at both men before stepping away with a cluck of wedge heels on age-scarred floorboards. Teo's beatific grin follows her away.

Doesn't soften until he looks back at Alexander again, and then the coyote's array of bright white teeth fades to something else. He looks at the salt and pepper shakers despite that they are commonplace receptacles, ribbed glass topped with steel. "Yeah, you did. Guess you probably would've even if we weren't living together at the time."

That earns Teo a faintly skeptical look. "Darien's the backest of backwaters. You were livin' with me there? Did I chain you to the bed, or somethin'?" He reaches for the salt shaker - with a purely ordinary hand. No powers, yet. It'll be a little. Fruitless fidgeting - Al looks like he wants to pace. So tired of being confined. "And likely so. Got no family. You, Helena, the other folks in Phoenix."

"No. Sometimes," Teo acknowledges, a quaver-beat, half a smile; no figment of a blush in sight. It's a strange era the world has come to, when Alexander's the one cornering the market on self-conscious shades of pink. "I liked it there.

"Probably not to spend a solid decade in, but it was great. Lots of sky, lots of water. I liked having people around, but…" He wanders around the proper phrasing for that; winds up shrugging, leaning back into the broken skin of his padded seat. "You counted as 'people.' You were a cop. I think you liked it a lot."

Alexander ponders this, lips pursing. "I guess I would. Quiet woulda been nice. People are kind, down there. Huntin', fishing," Both of which Al did - more often than not any meat in that house was venison he'd taken himself. "Hell of a change, after New York."

Al's thinking face invites Teo's happy one back on, the line of his sanguine mouth going wide enough to move his ears up on either side of his head. "It was. Verse fucked everything up, and the war before that. It was awhile before you could talk about it." Any of it, he means. He glances up, shows the waitress half a smile when she bears the pint glasses to the table. Froth seesaws on the top; Alexander's spills slightly, a broad white stripe painted down the cold-misted edge of its shape.

Oooh, beer. Al takes a couple of good pulls before he can respond, all but licking the glass lest anyof it be wasted. "Unh," he says, eloquently. "Don't tell anyone what I told you," It's not a request, it's an order, clearly. He sits back with a contented sigh. "Well. Maybe you could take me there."

Oddly enough, Teo can remember taking orders from Alexander — perhaps even more often than the reverse was true, despite the architecture of Phoenix's hierarchy. Supplying cigarettes, lighter, paper towels, water bottle or sandwich, companionship as requested. He remembers the bars, long walks, rowboat, hunting. He remembers everything. "I'm not sure I want to go," he hedges quietly. "But I'll try."

Alexander makes a vague little gesture with one hand. "No hurry. I don't even know if I can or should stay. If we got work to do back when, then likely we should find a way back." He eyes Teo. "If it's got too many memories…." he trails off.

"Between the two of us, yours temperament always lent itself more easily to being haunted," Teo points out. It isn't exactly a 'No,' but it's an answer that serves in lieu of a real one. His eyes close briefly, open again; it isn't only an eye-blink, but it passes easily enough for normal. Most things about Teodoro do and have.

"I probably miss you back there," he acknowledges, reluctantly. His eyes hunt across the table, toward the kitchens. "The Moab raid made me fucking crazy. Pretty sure there's only one thing I've regretted more than failing on the eighth of April."

"Southerners are very fond of their haunts," Al says, matter of factly. "What makes you think the one left behind'll even have time to, if we go back? Might be that we show up moments after we left. If we can even go back. What's that?" He's demolishing that beer - most of it's vanished down his throat.

A shrug moves through Teo's shoulders: no gesture of uncertainty. "The one left behind already was before you left. If he was anything like me, and that's how the story goes, right?" He turns up the corners of his mouth. Relaxes, after a moment, his spine finding a supine slump to which the right angle of the booth bench is tangential.

He doesn't elaborate on all that, inquire further, or suggest. There are a lot of things to talk about before he even wants to think about Good-bye; he's only allowed this margin of discussion so far for pragmatism's sake.

He's disciplined enough to get past a few difficult words. "Oh you know. Didn't get around to giving you enough maudlin poetry before you were gone. Fenton, Lewis, the Bard. Or 'I love you,'" slower now. Teo is looking at something else. "That shit."

Al's shamed into silence at that, hand wrapped around that half empty beer glass. "I love you, too," he says, after a moment's thought. His tone is matter of fact. "But I told you, I fucked up a lot. We had fights. You had some cop you were sleeping with, your aunt took me to bed a few times, I don't know why. I think it's more or less spoiled me for women. But I ain't the boy you had here, Teo. Don't be breakin' your heart against that now."

The empty beer glass is replaced during the interval of silence that Teo spends examining those words. Either that, or he's examining the enormous baseball poster pinned up on the wall there, his pupils indistinct, his expression gone thoughtful but without quite that ridiculously grim earnestness he'd had when he was younger and taking something seriously.

At length his mouth quirks with conclusion. Something he doesn't say, though he does remark aloud: "I've missed mia zietta, too. Felix is still kicking, though. Fagging it up with another ex-comrade of yours.

"I fight with everybody. I'm Sicilian."

Conversation volleys back and forth a few rounds. There's a fat steak, home fries, fried chicken, sliced pickle and collard greens with their spines crisp and intact. Not exactly cheap, but nothing in Manhattan really is— especially not in this age of economic vitality and renewal.

Teodoro leaves a handsome tip anyway and nightfall accepts both long-limbed companions back outside, sauntering. In the distance, the Midtown jungle still glows, a deeper shade of green with the onset of ambient blue dusk.

The hotel room, when they get there, has two broad beds and cream-colored pillows on both of them. Teo levers his friend onto the mattress. "Your alcohol tolerance doesn't improve," he notes, one knee up on the sunken edge of the bed, one peacoat panel lipped over Al's sprawled knee.

A Hotel

Pretty decent.

"Ah grew up Baptist. Ah didn't have a drink 'til Ah was inna army. And then I served in a country there they didn' allow liquor. Never did drink much," Al's voice is a breathy drawl, dreamy and insulated. A little hard liquor to chase that beer. He's utterly limp as Teo helps him down, kicking off his shoes in a couple of puppyish spasms, and letting his hand curl limp just above his navel. "Thanks for dinner," he adds, stretching his head back on the pillow, and tugging off those sweatpants, which get dropped limp to the floor. New boxers underneath, happily, plain blue stripes.

Bedsprings whimper faintly somewhere deep inside the weave and struts of the bed's composite parts as Teo leans off his back foot and onto the bed. His center of balance— goes off-center the next instant, tipping his shoulders down, down until he catches his weight with a hand pinned down next to Al's head. He peers down at his friend's eyes. Slanted vulpine, numinous like someone had crystallized stars to composite irises. Familiar. "Tired?" he asks.

Al nods, once. "'s been a long few days, even if I was too out of it to do any of the fightin'," he says, shifting restlessly, made unhappy by that confession. His eyes are still a little red-rimmed, but clear enough, as he looks up, blinking sleepily. "I feel….drained. I guess it'll take a while for this stuff to come outta my system."

The curve of Teo's mouth widens fondly. He pulls up his other foot off the ground, long since bared. Kneeling, he keeps his balance between the three points with ease, sparing his left hand to scout the flushed rims of Alexander's eyelids with a forefinger, deft for pretense's sake, although pretense is cracking and he knows it's cracking. He looks sad.

"Two days," he says. It's a simple answer to the simple question, but it comes so tardy that it sounds like something else.

He drops his head, closer, manages to look rueful doing it, while the blur of distance and the corner lamp glows somewhere off behind the axel of his shoulders. His thumb trails the convex bow curve of Al's bottom lip, gentle — as if that is the same thing as discreet, sliding an ambiguous contour down to prick a blunt fingernail into his friend's throat. The next instant, Teo kisses Alexander again.

That is different. Greedier, more sudden, some obscure fear massed up behind it.

For some reason, this time, Al does not protest. Or shove Teo away. Perhaps liquor is the excuse. The convenient one, anyway. His hands don't move from where they lie limp at his side, on his belly. But his lips part eagerly enough - there's the taste of whatever dessert he demanded, greedy as a child, and the burn of alcohol. Welcoming, if not with Teo's own eagerness. Waiting to see what he'll do, perhaps.

This Sicilian is different to the other one. Selecting one long tongued kiss out of the various that Alexander has held hostage in his mouth, Teo then lifts his head, shifts over, skims the talon marks that notch one eyebrow before he presses his mouth to his erstwhile lover's ear, and there's a sigh that speaks greater volumes than all of the filth in all of the languages he could mutter as he scoots up, seats himself, and his hands move, both in tandem, quick now and slow then, unknots Alexander's long torso out of crinkly T-shirt cotton and prying narrow hips out of slicker fabric than that.

Other kisses come: so profoundly intent they seem almost vacant, pinpointed along the large vein and thin skin inside Al's upper arm.

This is forgiveness, and absolution. Al hooks an arm around Teo's neck, hitches himself up so he's no longer lying like the sleeping princess in the crystal bier. Kisses the top of his head, his brows, seeking his mouth with stupid desperation. No bruises on the pale skin, just the smoothed over scars from the IED, as he pulls at Teo's coat and shirt.

Unexpectedly agile, there's a knee propped up in the middle of Al's chest, stopping him from rising further than the oblique angle he'd pushed himself up to. There's a dent you could match exactly to the fit of Teo's teeth in his skin, just above the thorny lightning trail of the IED scar. Teo enforces space between them— albeit not for long, and only for apparent purpose.

Dense, black coat weave comes open underneath the worrying of his own fingers, pushed back to show a shirt as dark, though that's stripped loose, too, exposes a Mediterranean tan and tattoos and other scars— more of them, newer ones, brindled close over a cut of muscle and bone much like the other Teo that Al had known, but fractionally denser from calcification and leaner still from long months and rough training. Teo hadn't stayed in good shape; he had gotten into better shape.

And nor was that merely from pushing iron or heavy lifting. Every deadly new talent he picked up or refined honed others: an intimate acquaintance with human anatomy, a nostalgic longing for Alexander's above all. Teo skews his leg out of the way and traps Alexander in an abrupt yoke of arms, carding bright hair with rough fingers and squeezes his boy tight with his other arm, noses in for another languid abrasion of lips and tongue, eyes open.


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