Pride: As A Virtue


elisabeth_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Pride: As A Virtue
Synopsis Minor exercises in love.
Date February 20, 2010

Upper East Side


Despite the exuberance of the sun today, the weather is still cold as ass. Makes Teo feel cold just looking through the boutique window at all the dresses, sheer or opaque, halter and sleeved. He is not altogether sure why he told Elisabeth he would wait for her outside. Probably, she would not particularly care to suddenly find himself on the reverse side of the plateglass as required; no doubt, she has thoughts to keep her warm on the drive or bus or subway over, merry thoughts at his expense. Li'l gay Sicily's going out dress shopping for his girl friend.

He exudes a lugubrious sigh, leaves a translucent sheen of white up against the generous bodice of the piece he was staring blankly at. Tightening his fingers in his pockets, he steps back, listens to frost crunch under his heel and turns his head to squint through the obnoxious glow of the sunshine and down the street.

A lone hotdog cart is squeaking along in the push of a master who is, apparently, only just now coming to terms with the fact that neighborhoods that put up three-thousand dollar gowns are not prone to residents who purchase mystery meat and styrofoam-textured buns. It is time for the seller to evacuate, and there's vague envy in Teo's blank, scarred face. The things that a man will do to make up with a beautiful woman after slapfights.

He's…. where? Elisabeth gets the call, stares at her phone with a confused expression, and then simply sighs. It's Teo…. where the hell else would he be but…. outside a dress boutique. What?? Christ.

Elisabeth approaches the place with her hands jammed into her pockets. She's not wearing a uniform or anything, just a pair of jeans, well-broken-in combat boots, and a heavily lined denim jacket. Her hair's loose. It's regaining some of the length lost when the back of her head was blown away, so all she needs right now is the fleece headband to keep her ears warm — it's long enough to shield her neck. She spots the crazy Italian by the window and alters her path enough to bring her up behind him.

"Hey there, stranger," she says quietly. And she waits until he turns to face her before stepping forward to kiss his cheek — the mangled one — gently. "How's your mother holding up?"

His ffface. Teo stiffens slightly when kissed at the edge of his scruffy beard, his brows falling into a slightly darker knit, but that is the beginning and end of his injured vanity. Apparently, even a man of Teodoro's stubborn sense of body can eventually, albeit gradually, adapt to changes like getting his mouth ripped open by Russian psychic lunatics. Though the leer is permanently twisted along its diagonal course, there's a perceptible shift of his mouth underneath the off-blond fuzz framing his mouth.

"Good. Maybe better, now she's seen me. Guess that's how family works, isn't it?" A beat. "Your Padre?"

There's a bit of a shrug and a faint smile. "Making himself at home in my apartment until I can either get his place upgraded on security or else find him another place to go. Chafing at the fact that I'm sticking him under what amounts to house arrest. Pissed that some Russian asshole's coming after his little girl. About what you'd expect," Elisabeth replies with a rueful smile.

She steps back a bit and studies him. "I'm glad to hear she's okay, Teo."

"So was I," Teodoro answers. For a moment, he thinks that sounds incomplete, somehow, and that he should elaborate but he doesn't rightly know what to say. Russia's over, but the Russians are stil here. One who's a sociopath, perhaps another seeking vengeance for his dead son, and there's that child's blood between them too, even if you can't see it out here with the bright light and the white snow.

Teo starts to shift on his boots, and it's then, in absurdity of timing, that the words come. "Although the truth is, I only really—- recognized her face, and I'm pretty sure the opposite was true, too." His mouth stops moving about then, half-open, an unspent breath hanging out of his teeth without visible condensation or anything, yet. He shuts his teeth with a click, then finishes, "Shit happens, eh?"

Weak ending. True words. He turns his head to look at that dress again. The moisture from his breath has long since faded from marring its shape.

Tilting her head, Elisabeth offers softly, "It's been a long time for you." So far as she's aware, Teo hasn't been home in all the time she's known him. Granted, that's only a bit over a year, but … it's been a really really long year. And in that time, Teo's gotten 10 years worth of additional memories in his head. She reaches out absently to touch the unmarred side of his face, a gentle stroke of her fingertips. "Shit happens," she agrees softly. "So what's on your mind? You don't often just call me out of the blue anymore." Not unless he wants something specific.

There's a vague objection in the tilt of Teo's eyebrow, albeit only to say: "I didn't used to call out of the blue a lot, either. Too poor for big cellphone plans." When he was a teacher. When she was a teacher. It's only a little over a year ago that Washington Irving blew up. Less still that he was telling her to never mind Trask or Wozniak and their protective cubbyhole. And then she found out what he did with his free time, the calls he'd take on his other cellphone.

His cheek twitches under her fingers, the beginning of a smile or a scowl that never quite makes it to full realization. "I wanted to tell you some things," he says. "And then I was going to ask if you'd strut around and test out some dresses so I can pick one for Abby. This is my penance for… I don't think we've actually talked about why she's mad at me, but it's probably about— a guy."

Really, you'd think after he's tumbled through bed with the other half of their mutual acquaintances— where Liz took the first half— he'd be able to spit that kind of thing out a little easier, but.

She coudln't have heard him right. Could she? He wants her to strut around in dresses?? "Aw, Teo," Elisabeth whines a little. "C'mon… I gotta go to this stupid gala in dress uniform. You're going to make me find Abby a fabulous dress? You suck." She heaves a sigh, and then shoulder bumps him. "Do I even want to know what exactly you did to tweak Abby? I mean… seriously." Looks like she's going to give in, too. She gestures to the dress shop with a resigned look. "Wanna talk in there or out here?" Cuz either way, it'll be private and he knows it.

There are millions of Abbys, Teos, Elisabeths and Francoises in the world, and Teo honestly thinks that if the Russian ninjas were ninja enough to accost tactical intelligence from a discussion of who's been doing who in a dress shop, then the Russian ninjas probably deserve to successfully kill everybody they want to. Teo opens the door with his knee, holds it open by a grip of long fingers around the brass handle.

Ladies first. "I bet you get to go to the gala for free," he says. "And you'll get other gala shit and shit you get to blow a wad on. Come on," there's the briefest pause, borrowed to huff a warm breath at the blond of her hair. "I'm sure there's enough princess to go around.

"Just looking, grazie." That lattermost remark was, no doubt, directed at the woman who's sweeping forward around the counter, drilling the ex-cop and scarred terrorist with the most unimaginably skeptical of stares from between eyelids encrusted with mascara. Solemn colors and pragmatic cuts, both of them. They don't look like they have a lot of money, taste, or occasion. After a moment, her plum-colored mouth thins into a line, twists into an artificially brittle smile, and she moves away to leave them do what they will.

Elisabeth actually smirks faintly at the attitude. She hates places like this. She heads for the racks, already something in mind for Abby quite honestly. No telling exactly why, but hey… vicarious shopping experience! "I do… but I gotta wear a uniform that's almost as bad as my cop dress blues. Very … formal. Not pretty at all." She sighs theatrically.

Flipping through the racks, she murmurs quietly, "No… you usually call when you need me for something or something's gone really wrong. So… information that's important sort of fits that bill." She slants a glance at Teo and pulls one dress out. It's a deep midnight blue with black lace on it, a small train attached. "Not sure it's exactly her style," she admits. "But perfect for the evening."

A modest white A-line, then another ivy-curlicued thing sheer over the torso. Both of them are studied on their hangers, held up for Teo's perusal, a long moment before he dumps them over his arm for trying.

He doesn't need astral projection to sense the woman leaning out to see them around the lacquered wood of the wall. Possibly, she suspects them of thieving. "It is very important," he says, his eyes on the sequins and horizontal rainbow of hanging garments. Ruffles flitted by, a scandalously-plunged halter refused after a moment taken to remember that Abigail is not, in fact, his aunt. This whole place smells of some indolent fragrance that probably costs more than all of the blood in his body could fetch on the black market.

He lets his gloved hand fall. Turns away from the woman at the counter, then scratches at his leg through the dense fabric of his trousers, briefly. He resists the urge to clear his throat. "I'm proud of you, Liz."

Elisabeth is in the process of picking up another gown and she stops mid-motion, surprised. As she turns toward him, it shows in her face. "For…. what?" she asks, genuinely flummoxed.

"You work hard, you play hard," Teo answers, steadily despite the rocky start he'd gotten off to. "Within those two categories, there's like fifty kinds of work and play you do. Friends, family. Country, principles. Leadership here, follow there. Stuff. The whole fucking world's dichotomies and you straddle them all. Nor's that— a— lewd joke, of any kind…"

The Sicilian's eyebrows nock downward. Anyway.

"I know sometimes I come off hateful and angry all over, and it's hard to see I don't mean to… it's not for you," he finishes, finally, slithering to a stop like a driver unused to iced roads. He glances down at the dresses over his arm.

There is a long moment where there two of them stand facing one another, dresses draped over each one's arm, and Elisabeth takes in a quick breath. Her blue eyes flit away from his face, down to the gowns in her hands, and she seems at a loss for a time. When her gaze comes back up to him, there's a fine sheen of unshed tears. Her voice is soft even within the bubble that she slips around them almost instinctively.

"I don't think you come off hateful. I think… what we do is hard. At the best of times. And somehow… you and I rarely find ourselves together in the same place except in the worst of times." The smile that quirks the corner of Elisabeth's mouth is somewhat self-deprecating. "And in those times, where you don't have quite the right words, I seem to have a tendency to fly off the handle and take everything you say the wrong way." She's not blind to her own faults, clearly. "Thank you," she murmurs gently. "Maybe it sounds stupid, but… what you think of me …. means a lot." Even in all the strange and unusual and difficult conditions they've been in.

"I'm not very good at partying anymore," Teo answers, after a moment. As if that's what she'd meant, and maybe it is. He has more talent for the worst of times than the best. Languages and guns and things. Also fucking, and they've never done that, not in this timeline or the other. Well: not except by proxy. "Saving the world is kind of what I do with people. Also, fucking." Hey, it warrants mention verbal as well. "Shit doesn't stop, but…

"'Least there's this." He says this with a flippant little flick of his brows, a crooked smile. Comes toward her, dresses over arm, the one on top held up by the hanger to demonstrate. "Frilly parties. Me, I'm going on a date that night. First one in— years, I think," and his brows draw together faintly, in a wry parody of Dread at the thought. "Depending on who you ask. I get the sense that that evening's going to end in a disaster that'll make fucking Antarctica look like cake, for one of us, but that's probably just pessimism as a defense mechanism. This is my positive voice.

"'Least there's this." He pushes aside the long white curtain of the changing room, holds it open with a gallant hand. Makes an invitation out of the tilt of his ragged head. There's an 'outfits montage' waiting within, and maybe another acceptably peaceful and happy moment or two, some conversation: about the girl who used to heal, and Francois, of Cardinal and that Leonard finally came home. You know. 'This.'

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