All God's Children Are Evil


amato_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title All God's Children Are Evil
Synopsis In which Amato and Teodoro talk about everything from sin to virtue, angels to demons, Alexander, Eileen, and Lucrezia, and agree about only one thing alone.
Date January 27, 2009

The Ritz Carlton — Lucrezia's Suite

It is hard to say what has called the Spider Queen away from her web, but she has left two of her somewhat snagged flies in its clutches to be watched by any number of compounded eyes. Amato doesn't seem to mind as he lounges on the chaise. One leg is bent and acts as a prop for a copy of the Gideon Bible. (And you thought that they only stuck them in the drawers of motels, not Royal Suites.) His left hand both holds and occasionally thumbs through the pages of of the New Testament.

Through the numbing haze created by the drug regiment he's on, Amato squints at the black and red type on the thin pages, then over to Teo. Despite dinner and his visits to the suite, Amato doesn't know much about Lucrezia's nephew. "«You're Catholic?»" he asks rather than assumes, unaware of the boy's upbringing despite his family ties.

"«Pathologically.»" It takes Teo time to form his answer, leaving one perhaps to suspect that he was considering offering something ruder or less wryly-humored in response. Instead, there's the single word, a loll of the young man's head against the sofa's fat arm and jacket scrunched up into a pillow, the tumble of his hair exposing dark roots and white-blue eyes.

His socked feet are sprawled out onto the coffee table, the sleeves of his sweater pulled down over his hands, implying some latent timidity that the unabashed — size of the rest of his posture openly contradicts. It won't be long until he has to go away again, but his impatience is as erratic as the sincerity of his conviction that he is going to die. "«Not a very good one, though. And you?»" With the Bible splayed out on Amato's hands, the question might be snide, stupid or, even judgment aside, acknowledging the obvious complexity of— you know.

Murder. There's a Commandment about that, somewhere.

"«I was going to be a priest,»" Amato confesses, letting his eyes drift back to the book in his lap, though it is more to not look at the boy rather than read again. "«Hand-picked from boyhood, you might say.»" He swallows, his neck tightening for a moment before his good hand closes the good book.

When he returns his icy eyes still rimmed with purple back to Teo, there is a hesitant quality about his expression. Still, it is written..

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

"«Perhaps once.»" It takes a moment for the blond, battered man to eek out the initial words of his own admittance. "«But I did not listen to the right words. I should have been more discerning. I was young…but that is no excuse.»" Blinking, Amato lays his head back to regard the younger man from a more comfortable position. "«She loves you very much.»"

At least, the two Italians can commiserate on that level. The absence or rejection of excuses. Not that Teo has ever managed to extricate himself from that fully, of course. He's twenty six years old. He can accept a portion of responsibility for the lives of five-point-five billion lives and the destruction of civilization as we know it, but taking responsibility for himself lingers outside his grasp. His eyes flatten; he glances up and into the bar of sunlight gapped out of the curtains, trying to determine the time from the position of the solar orb in the sky.

Not to be rude. "«I know. I love her too. That doesn't seem likely to fade. She has a good heart.»" Truth might have been lost in translation there.

He might mean merely that she has his heart, like the carnelians in her scrimshaw jewelry box or the spiders hidden in the gorgeous strangeness of hair; they might sound like the ignorant words of blind affection, but the squint of Teo's eyes insists on a little more intelligence than that. Then, perhaps pointedly following that train of thought, "«My brother would have become a man of the cloth, but he was in love with a girl. He could have chosen any path, but he could only see one.»"

"«Both are righteous.»"

No, Amato has no similar temptation or sin to admit to Teo. Not today, at least. "«Though I cannot imaging making a different choice if I were given the ability to change the past. I was too proud of what gifts I had been given, and I thought myself…»" But the line of thought is extinguished like a candle, and Amato closes his eyes and rolls his head so that his face is turned toward the ceiling. "«But perhaps my own sin, like the First Sin, was part of some greater work. The likelihood that I would have met your aunt, for example, would have been greatly diminished had I not shaken his hand that day. I would have never gone to the Tower of London.»"

A spate of incipient temper dilates Teo's pupils stark against the icy pallor of her irises, jumps his knee up out of its boneless laziness, a reflex suppressed before it etched out a discernible course of action. He doesn't say anything for a protracted moment. "«I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't analogize your errors with the Original Sin.

"«I'm sure it wasn't your intention, but you kind of made enabling a viral apocalypse sound like an acceptable venue for meeting beautiful women.»" His features are all over scowling now, stark lines emancipated from steep shadow by the bright glare of daytime; his annoyance looks more skeletal than it is normally wont to. He can't help it. The presence of a priest makes a Catholic man feel judged. The fact that this one fell

Complicates matters. It's hard to say whether it improves them too. Still, Teo knows that, at the very least, criticizing his aunt's guest and patient, however new he may be to the process of redemption, is off-color. He schools his features, the stoop of his shoulders, to something milder. Apologetic. Refrains from saying, Here's to not fucking up again, signor. Instead: "«What will you do now? If you survive?»"

At Teo's outburst, Amato sits up as much as he can given his injuries. He watches Teo not with the calm and placating face of a priest, but the somewhat confused yet repentant face of the parishioner. Still, the expression is muted. Amato does not lie back down when Teo calms, but rather adjusts himself so that he is better propped against the lounge's curling arm.

"«I know now that it is unseemly and foolish to presume any knowledge of any greater intention beyond our control.»" The would-be priest's voice is a whisper of sorts, choked by fear of judgment by this man so close to one of the only friends - the last remnant of an old life - that remains. "«That was the flaw in Kazimir Volken's plan.»" With a sigh, Amato closes his eyes. "«Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.»"

"«We're Catholic. Of course we presume knowledge of greater intention, but it isn't supposed to excuse anything. I—'m not being kind,»" Teo observes, after a breath, staggered on the gust of a cough. He realizes what he's done, lets it catch up to him like a winding fist in the gut. He's made the beleauguered Vanguardian sit up at a time when doing so is undoubtedly uncomfortable, if not painful, thanks to the chemistry of pharmeceutical pain suppressants swirling through his brain and veins.

He's a jerk. Even if the details utterly escape him — the value of his own regard to anyone including himself — he knows he's being a jerk. Frowning, he pushes himself up off the back of the couch, dragging his feet to the floor. Contrition weighs his eyes down to there too. "Mi dispiace."

The book in Amato's lap is abandoned so that he may simply lift his hand to wave off Teo's apology as politely as possible without speech. It does hurt to sit this way, and moreso to speak while in his current position, but Amato doesn't move.

"«Repentance beings with confession of sin, which begins in turn with the acknowledgement of it. Forgive me in that I have not yet found a way to repair all the damage I have done.»"

But as much as Amato is a Catholic, he is a scholar, and certain things have never been able to rest on indoctrinated foundations with any security. Maybe he was never a good Catholic in this respect. He shakes his head, letting internal troubles remain internal while seeking out a distraction that is equally productive. "«Why did you not want me to shake that man's hand, at your dinner party?»"

It would do their recovered truce little good if Teo were to say something terribly discouraging, like: You won't. So he doesn't. Though he's thinking it, less as disparagement to the cripple on the chaise than the phantasmic aftershock of concerns far more egocentric, closer to home. Fringy eyelids shutter once, twice, and he breathes steadily inward before lifting his head. He doesn't smile because his mother taught him better than that. He wouldn't mean it if he did it. Instead, he answers simply:

"«You're forgiven.»"

He has no way of knowing how much or little that would mean to the older Italian without knowing how deep Teo's involvement with the ragtag band of heroes opposing the monster Amato helped to make, the loss of one hundred children, the death of one Danielle Hamilton, the knife in Brian's lung, the sheer madness of Eileen's captivity, or all the terror and pain ambient between. It may well be worth nothing— but Teo is content to give it for that little, as it was requested.

The other thing is easier, even if it takes him longer to find words. "«He is my friend. I have heard you read the past through touch. I didn't think it would do harm,»" he allows, slowly, once he is sure it is true. Lucrezia wouldn't have brought him if Amato — Benjamin — would have done harm. "«But I did not think it was right. His mind ought to be his own. Or so I judged. I might have judged wrong.»"

Amato simply shakes his head, though Teo's description isn't that far off. Not really. "«I read hearts, though I only see…I only see the faults.»" Not sins. But he might as well have used the synonym. "«But you are right,»" he adds, closing his eyes once more. "«It is not my place to do so. Only God may see into the heart of men.»"

"«You refused at first,»" Teo hedges. It's an approximation of the truth, he thinks. At the very least, the ex-priest had avoided touch at first. He remembers looking for the signs, the coat over Amato's hand, the hesitation of the final reach. "«If you don't mind me asking—»" and his hesitation is considerable, there, obvious as the drag of shoes. If Amato is experiencing some sort of territoriality over Lucrezia, well. He isn't the only one to suffer that occasional twinge or like while looking at the Spider queen and her consort. "«Were you looking for something specific?»"

Now is not the time to lie. "«I was.»" Amato takes the book from his lap and stretches to rest it on the coffee table before he lets himself slide on the lounge into a more comfortable position. "«But I only found it at the expense of seeing so much more.»"

It is difficult to feel territorial over a woman like Lucrezia, whose beauty is only intensified by her will. She will do what she pleases, regardless of what Amato wants. It is only his inability to put much of a timeframe around her indiscretion with Alexander in line with his own refusal of the Spider Queen's intimate affections. "«I trust you would vouch that he as your friend, is a good man?»"

Difficulty has been an issue that stopped Teo from a sense of territoriality before. Irrational thoughts or unreasonable feelings — all the worthwhile ones are. If love or righteousness were to suddenly become reasonable, they wouldn't be that, he is pretty sure. He doesn't know much about either, but Luca taught him that much.

"«The kind that angels ought to envy and demons should be afraid of,»" he answers, squaring his shoulders with the tactless conviction of somebody who will probably never be too old for that. "«I've never heard of…» psychometry," the term invoked experimentally, "«limited like that. Is your feedback limited to your target's self-perceptions of guilt?»" Intellectual curiosity doesn't make Teo look particularly gentle, but nor is his manner particularly obtrusive.

"«Killing children is not something any angel would do, Teodoro,»" Amato grunts, his words muffled. "«I used to think the same thing of my friends.»" Amato takes a deep breath that soon turns into a sigh and lets his leg straighten on the lounge.

"«Do you remember what is written in the Gospel of John, chapter eight?»"

The younger man's pale eyes flatten, and sharpen again. Two heartbreaks and an encyclopedia's volume of curses later, and Teo still doesn't take kindly to criticism of his best friend. It's his own flaw, he's aware, and that awareness lashed to the persistent ugliness of Amato's injuries stop him from saying anything or in a tone that he would regret.

This wouldn't be the time to be making new regrets. His contradiction comes without a harsh note or thrown objects. "«As I remember, sir, angels would have done it with intent and justification instead of remorse.»" He shifts his weight forward, scooting off the lip of the sofa's generous proportions to alight onto the floor. Crosses his legs, tucks his socked feet underneath him.

""«Not as well as I should..?»"

"«And as I remember, young man, there are no angels walking this earth. Your friend is a mortal man. To think otherwise is too prideful, and will lead to ruin. I have walked that path and know it far too well.»"

Despite his posture, Amato's eyes are intense when he opens them and watches Teo's little explosion. Anyone else would have something to say about the merits of controlling one's temper, but Amato merely observes and retorts, doing his best to give the appropriate weight to the lesson.

"«In the beginning of chapter eight, John writes of the occasion where Christ saves a woman from being stoned by writing in the sand. Scholars have always wondered what was written, but many believe that Christ listed the sins of some of the men gathered to slay the adulteress.»" Amato pauses, and that icy fire in his eyes dulls, turning more introspective than preachy. "«I always looked at the latter end of the story - the ability to see sin without bias, the sin within every one, regardless of gravity or number.

"«I neglected to see the log in my own eye, focused to heavily on the specks of those around me.»"

Despite an almost visible click of Teo's teeth, he refrains from jutting his jaw. Listens. A little defensively, but listening nonetheless. His eyelids drub a steady rhythm, timed to the cycle of breathing, and if he betrays a twitch slightly out of the proper order of things — that must be excusable. He's young. Trying to save the world.

"«They washed away,»" he observes, after a protracted moment. The words in the sand, he means. "«If Jesus wanted us to know, he would have picked a different medium. We're predisposed to suspect he wrote about sin. Maybe we should think more about virtue. I wasn't saying he's an angel, anyway. He isn't perfect. He is what you said. Angels should envy him, and demons ought to fear him.

We'd be lucky to be such mortal men.»" Stubborn. Teodoro might have inherited that from her, as well, and the ability to weave conflict out of thin air. If not the strains of crystal-bottled fragrance that hang gossamer and silk in it.

"«Why would writing the men's virtues send them away so frightened?»" It's rare that Amato, in his capacity of teacher, gets frustrated, but Teo is testing him. He shakes his head where it lays against the cushion and sighs again. No, he shouldn't press, mostly because he doesn't want to hear another thin argument for the man's goodness, though Amato could only see himself envious of one aspect.

"«I can only be me,» he remarks after a moment. "«And try to make that the best that I am able. If the slate gets washed clean after all of this, perhaps I will have a chance to begin anew. If not…the soil I will till will be my own.»"

Elbows hit the lacquer of the coffee table in tandem. Teo props his head up on the heels of his hands and stares up at Amato like a recalcitrant pupil… which he might well be in this case, how frank his stare and pointed his words: "«Maybe he wrote the virtues of the adulteress. God knows the reminder has spared a sinner or three a stone in the head in my time.»" He's yet to shoot his aunt or Amato in the head, demonstrably.

Pressing probably wouldn't do a lot of good, it's true. The younger man's mind lends itself more easily to forgive others than himself. One beat of silence, and Teo's head tilts sideways, a temple to the flat of his knuckles. "«Do you have a plan? Does she? I—»" his finger twitches in his fist. And perhaps unbelievably, if not grudgingly, "«Do you need help?»"

"«A plan to what?" is Amato's question, asked with raised eyebrows. "«Survive? Yes. And if Lucrezia has any sense, she will do as I told her to do. As I shall do. I can only assume she will include you, since you are so dear to her.»"

A pinkie curls into the corner of Teo's eye. "«A plan to redeem yourself,»" he clarifies, helpfully. The oblique reference to the antidote is not lost on him, but he doesn't pursue that thread of conversation to its knots or severed end.

Amato nods in understanding and thanks, but is silent for a moment. "«Not yet,»" he finally says. "«Other than to strive to be human. We were already set apart by God when we were given the divine spark. Having abilities beyond that should make no difference. If I…if I were able to ignore the second separation, I could focus more on the initial one.»"

"«Money, papers. You have no trouble with that?»" The practical items go directly after the existential speedbump of, you know, immense spiritual redemption. Teo is a practical creature at heart. Whenever he isn't playing chicken with imminent, oncoming death with his own physical wellbeing in the middle, anyway.

He is also pretending to be extremely optimistic about the probability that Phoenix is not going to catastrophically screw up defeating Kazimir Volken, apparently; his words are dry with the default assumption that they'll be here in three days to trouble themselves about forgeries and currency. "Eileen Ruskin «is an illegal immigrant. I know that much.»"

The same passion that flared in Teo when Amato voiced doubts about Alexander can be read in Amato when Eileen is mentioned. The muscles in his neck and arms tighten, and his eyes open only to narrow. It takes him a moment to calm enough to speak, but even then his words are noticeably clipped. "«She is skilled at living on the streets, and I imagine she would prefer to be…left alone there.»" She is a sensitive young woman, after all, and may not wish to be reminded of her sordid past with the Vanguard, should she survive.

"«I have nothing,»" Amato finally admits. And it's true. He came across the pond just as Kazimir and Eileen did, without the need for papers and whatnot, but with his apartment compromised and his own betrayal of his source of funds… "«If it weren't for your aunt, I would not even have the clothes on my back.»" Though technically, Amato is only wearing pants.

The edge of Teo's face slides the flat of his palm, parks under his jaw. He isn't surprised by the ex-priests reaction to the invocation of the bird-whisperer's name. You'd have to be dumber still than this Sicilian is, not to know that the Ruskin girl meant something to the monsters who kept house with her. Not merely that they fought and killed for her, but the way they did: not dispassionately.

"«Best of luck to her, if that's what she wants.»" There's no rancor there, none of the quivering alertness nor subtly malicious acuity of a hunter sensing proximity of his quarry. He lifts one shoulder, drops it: a half-shrug, intended to be reassuring for the wide berth it entails. "«And to you. If you can find what you need on your own. Mind you, my people probably hate you anyway, but I could try for a few favors if you need.»"

He's as damned as Abigail Beauchamp is in his own way, ever compelled to offer aid to the sinner even should he loathe the sin, to help whomever it's needed. He excuses it by expecting some show of repentance, slaps together a rough screening process, avoids feeding them enough rope to hang him with, but that's all, really. It's nothing at all. Catherine would spit.

"«The blonde woman is one of them, isn't she? One of your people?»" Amato doesn't wait for an answer to this questiom but rather just shakes his head. "«You all mean well to help, or try to help. May you be blessed for it. But I do not know what that will cost you in the long run. I would not want to tempt you to do illegal things on my behalf - that would be counterproductive to my efforts.»"

The Sicilian's cheek twitches once. Twice. Illegal things on Amato's behalf. He has no idea how much of this ignorance might be pretended and how much is sincere; can't know how much Lucrezia chose to tell her pet, or why she would have withheld one thing and let him put his soul-searching paws all over Alexander the next. "«I'll ask her how you're doing later,»" he offers, finally, letting go of the subject as adroitly as if the offer had been like so much cat hair or so many dustbunnies swept underneath the couch.


Whether that's Lucrezia or Eileen might be hard to tell, but Teo either forgets to disambiguinate or allows both as potential conduits. His fingernails grate cartlidgenous semicircles on the sharp bone of his cheek. "«The blonde woman is my friend. There's nothing illegal about what she does.»"

No, of course there isn't. "«She's registered,»" Amato muses with a nod. As far as information goes, ever since these 'phases' began, he's been the last to know almost everything. And now, hobbled and confined to Lucrezia's suite to recuperate, there is little chance of him falling back into the loop with those whom he still holds the thinnest of ties.

"«I am going to sleep, Teodoro. Thank you for your company.»" Though the words themselves are strikingly formal, Amato's gentle in their delivery. Of course, he can't force the younger man out the door, but letting him know that he needs his rest seems polite enough.

"«Stay safe,»" the boy — sorry, young man replies, amiably enough. He raises his head off the props of his hands and removes his elbows from the furniture, unfolds his long legs one by one, his sweater haphazardly skewed and pant leg creased, a puppy's scrappy dishevelment as he plucks himself up out of the grasp of plush carpet fibers and gravity's gentle hands. "«Will you tell her I did as she asked? And there will be more, if she wants some.

"«Not much,»" he admits. Turned away, the light flung in through the narrow opening of curtains limns his profile in a brief fire line, gold and luminous, before he passes into the neutral shadow of the wall, finding his shoes, his jacket. "«But enough for her. I'm sorry to be vague,»" he adds, slowed by the distraction of boot laces. He thinks, but doesn't add, But I think you know what I mean. Maybe you could…

Amato had assumed that Teo would be reciveing one of the syringes he gave to his aunt, but…both? If there's none left for her…

Amato is on his feet in a matter of seconds, fighting past the pain in his chest as he gets there. He stares at Teo from out of that purple mask, blue eyes once again afire. "«Why didn't she keep one?»" he asks, his neck and voice equally tense.

There's none left for her. There's none left for Teo, either, ever doomed as he is to parody his aunt in all of her decisions, if not all of her mistakes.

There isn't enough yet. He straightens to watch the former priest find his feet, a frown working a dark thread into the knit of his brow. That's bad for you. Not as bad as a supervirus, granted, but— "«I think,»" hesitantly. Hesitantly, "«she believes that if the world burns, it was she that held out the flint that lit the match. I…» He draws his mouth into a pale line, and shunts his other foot into his boot, snags his jacket off the wall by its collar. When he looks up, there's a ghost of a plea breathing mist on the panes of his eyes.

There's nothing that Amato could do to Teo. Nothing that could make him reverse the actions he has already taken. Instead, he stalks forward, his joints stiff from lack of use. "«What did you do with them?»" he asks, carefully annunciating each quiet yet intense word.

"«I had it copied.»" Teo watches that stilted, pained approach, as if expecting the older man to do something to him anyway. He looks more distant, now. More tired, less full of life than a man his age ought to be. Slowly, he works a hand into a thick sleeve. "«If she changes her mind, she knows how to find me. She should do it before tomorrow. Before noon.»"

Amato can't really argue with the action, be it of Teo's doing or Lucrezia's. He stops his advance, his left hand curling into a fist at his side. Teo is regarded carefully, like an adversary one knows cannot be immediately fought.

"«Even if you prevent devastation,»" he states slowly to ensure his words are heard, "«If she dies as a result, I will avenge her.»"

Italians don't do their revelations with subtlety. Teo appreciates that illumination finally finds Amato when it is important. Lucrezia is. He is pulling a glove on, fingers onto fingers, inflating the scrappy cotton of this second skin. There's a flare of exposed tooth under the line of his lip, the beginning of a sneer or a snarl, a perceived threat almost returned in a retort: So, you're saying, you will kill yourself?

It goes unsaid, in the end.

Teo wouldn't, even if he could. He drops his gaze to the lacquered floor. "«I'll help you,»" he replies, tonelessly. Sealed away from the cold, his hand finds the lock and opens the door.

Title refers to the lyrics from Rock Kills Kid's 'Life Is A Bitch'.

January 27th: Worst Lunch Ever
January 27th: Like A Woman Scorned
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License