Be Good


sacha_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Be Good
Synopsis Sacha owes Teo a lecture and a slap upside the head for cheating and being a miserable, emotionally useless coward to Sonny. Ghost fields both the slap and the lecture on Teo's behalf. Nobody dies!
Date June 7, 2009

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

It had taken some time for Sacha to work up the nerve to call Teo about this particular issue, moreso to be able to do so and not just explode at him over the phone. Initially, he had planned on taking care of the matter directly after speaking with Sonny, but that was ultimately dismissed as not the best of ideas, and so he opted for a cooling-off period.

During which he has ultimately opted for a meeting in Central Park, by Alice and the Mad Tea Party. Suggested via phone, he sounded fairly cool over the airwaves, if perhaps a bit tense. «Can we talk in person? The phone is just so dishonest, I think.» Central Park, Alice, this evening. Dinnertime, the kiddies will be at home with their parents and their potato salads and such. Not that he planned anything overly violent, but it's still better to have conspicuously public Adult Conversations when there aren't kids around to hear you being foppish in European tongues.

He's seated on one of the smaller mushrooms, in any case, drinking an iced something-ccino out of a Starbucks cup, and periodically checking his watch.

In between kidnappings and maimings and whatever, the ghost makes a point to pick up his phone. Who knows! Maybe Phoenix has something important to say, other than the normal and annoying if perfectly understandable barrage of questions and perplexity.

He shows up early partially in order to try and remember how exactly he related to this Sacha character once upon a decade, and partially in order to case the joint, which makes sense given his recreational activites as of late. The latter objective, he accomplishes before the former. Despite being reassured that all matters tactical are taken care of, he's still making his way back from doubling back along the path instead of being right there to greet Sacha.

Teo isn't helping. The baby one, he means. 'Don't kill him' is instructive but not particularly valuable to Ghost's perspective. Regrettably, neither incarnation of the Sicilian has any real idea why the Frenchman would want to converse with him after the workday, given the apparent definition of choice of 'conversation' doesn't involve the nether regions and the public address otherwise precludes a quickie.

Hoodie over his shaven head, the ghost is a leggy figure sleeking in under the dappled shadows through spring's refurbished canopy. With not only grace but aplomb, he slings one leg over the mushroom opposite Sacha, then the second. Seats himself. Smiles with Teo's face, his fingers curling loose on his knees, arms relaxed around the habituated bulk of holstered firearms. "Bonsoir, Sacha. Ca va?"

"Don't you ca va me, little mouse." Angry contractions, always a good way to start a discussion. He takes a long sip from his drink, then sets it up on the larger mushroom, letting it go by the wayside for the moment. With just a hint of petulance, he shakes his head at the Sicilian, running a hand over his own hair, and lets out a sigh. Pinches the bridge of his nose. "No. Not like that. Apologies." Hand is waved, idly, though it likely does not do much to dispel any sort of possible confusion at the scene. He does seem to be under the impression that Teo knows what this is all about.

Though at the same time, he knows he can't. "I.. I feel very much like you have been using me." Words come out in a hesitant staccato, followed by a brief pause. "Have used me, in the past. It upsets me to be angry with you because I try to think of you as my friend, «but I have another friend who brought this to my attention»." The switch to French is smooth, and comes with a similar transition into a more comfortable tone of voice.

Nonetheless, as he pushes himself up to his feet, though doesn't yet approach his older friend, he switches back to English. There may be some symbolism to this. "Some time ago I met a doctor named Connor who had troubles with his relationship. I tried to help him, and I think perhaps things were better, but again they seem to have gotten bad, and then it seems that this Connor is a different doctor than he says. The mayor's son. I think you know him."

Despite the fact that Ghost had made some emotional provisions for the possibility that bungee-roped snipers would be arrayed in the trees, that is surprising. He blinks his eyes several times to acknowledge this, and squares his shoulders firmly against the urge to reach across the table and shake Sacha until he's offered some panicky verbal assurance that Salvatore Bianco's person and reputation will come to no harm.

Love's a funny thing, they say. After a moment, the Sicilian gets his eyelids back into the usual cadence of slow, moisturizing beats, a thinking expression creasing his forehead. He lifts his hand to scratch at the nape of his neck with blunt fingers, watches Sacha askance as the Frenchman rises to his feet.

"Using you," he repeats, uncomfortably. "You sound offended, which is at odds with the—" He's fucking this up somehow, Ghost can tell already. It would say something poor for his professionalism, if his ability to keep the ruse were to crack here of all circumstances, even if he has been caught off-guard. Christ's sakes: he's hacked bleeding to death on a church floor while staying in-character, before.

Breathe in, breathe out. He straightens, scratches his forehead with a thumb. Looks like he's feeling foolish, and he is, a little bit. When in doubt, as Teo— "«I'm sorry you regret sleeping with me.»" Apologize.

Unfortunately, it's that slip-up that Sacha latches on to — it sounded rather like an implication, and not a particularly friendly one. "At odds with what?" A quick glance around, and then, "That I have no problems with casual fucking? It should mean nothing to me that you made me part of your troubles by not telling me that you were cheating?" Arms are strewn about with angry apathy as to how they may fly, and this is the part where the foppish tiny Frenchman stalks over to the Sicilian terrorist and slaps him across the face.

"Are you listening to what I am saying or are you trying to escape the conversation? That is not an apology, you are blaming me somehow for this. I did not say that I regret." And there, his tone softens a bit. "You should have been honest. It may not have changed my mind," he notes with the smallest smile, "but I do not like to know after the fact that I am being used for… whatever reason you would choose to sleep with someone else when you have someone waiting for you. He did assure me that you were being more open?, at the time.. but he has told me many things you have done that.. I am angry on Sonny's behalf, not my own. He is also my friend, and you hurt him. I do not like having to be angry with you."

Bizarrely, the verbal string, the scolding, results in two problematically lecherous Italian boys squirming slightly on a mushroom, sparking figmentary guilt where prodded. He finds himself grating his fingers down the line of his jaw. Stubble catches on his pragmatically shorn nails. He frowns at the wrought iron tea set in front of him. And then Sacha comes over and hits his face.

Probably, he could have dodged or something. Comes with the ninja skill set, but doing that would have somehow made an insufferable concession. So would breaking Sacha's offending arm. His head snaps sideways on its axis, cycles around to study the bottle-shaped blue cornflowers growing on the brush beside the table. Even without the uncertain squeak and querulous note of the younger man in his head, the cognitive dissonance would be schizophrenic.

What are you going to do? his analogue asks, small with a weird mixture of consternation and trepidation. Surely, not even Ghost would—

Tell the truth, Ghost volunteers after a moment, blankly.

However improbable that may seem. He gets up too, after a moment. Having forgotten to be angry somewhere in the midst of the shock, this is less in order to retaliate than because he would rather not get hit again. Teo's cheek flushes where the younger man's palm had pressed it. "I don't like hurting him either," Ghost says. "And I know I do. I was confused. He scared me. I have— self-esteem issues." If he had eyes inside of his head, Teo would be using them to glare at him.

"I am sorry," he finishes, sincerity scrawled on his face around the red patch. Those aren't his words to say, either, but this time Teodoro is silent. Both regard Sacha out of frost-lensed eyes, uncertain if Sacha is quite done yet.

Knowing nothing about the older man's past makes Sacha a less than reliable witness, but nonetheless— "There is no reason for that. Issues. People like you. More, if you did not hurt them. Or their friends." Turning to face Teo a bit more fully, a folds one arm over his chest, the other scratching at his own stubble, albeit somewhat shorter and more ginger. "I still like you," he notes, assuming this is some sort of reassurance. "I did not know for the longest time who he was having problems with, but.. something he said made me think of you." A small shrug there. "And sure enough."

"He did not want to tell me, and will probably be upset if he knows I have yelled at you. Why could you just…" There, he closes his eyes, shakes his head. Bridge of his nose is summarily pinched once more, and he steps forward again.. though not for a slap, this time, but instead a loose embrace, should Teo allow it. "Teodoro, you are a difficult boy. It seems to me that you do not talk things through enough. You need to stop running."

Teo does not move to dodge the hug either, but it leaves him looking, feeling even less comfortable than the slap had. Or the autocrash, the broken arm, tongues in his mouth or penises going other places, or any other of sundry lies he's managed to catalogue over the course of the past few weeks.

Ironically, his younger self would have responded the same way. The Bennatis don't hug much, except in greeting; lounging categorized in with a separate subtype of embraces. It occurs to both of them that Sacha's forgiveness comes too soon. Gingerly, he closes his hands on the small of the redhead's back, bends his shoulders into a roughly inclusive concave. Affection looks this way. He has read about it in books.

"You're probably right," he gruffs into Sacha's ear. Patting the younger man's hip, he lets go, squares himself at his full height; only a few inches superior to the Frenchman. "You'll be happy to know I recently decided to make changes. I'm trying to hold my ground these days. I think it makes people like me less. I'm not sure. I don't have lots of time, and I don't think people really want to hear what I have to say, anyway. Sal, least 'f all."

You slimy little fucko, Teo observes elsewhere, dully amazed.

"'M glad you still like me," Ghost adds ignobly, squinting unevenly, as if the sun hadn't set yet.

Sacha's gesture is not necessarily one of forgiveness, as much as he realizes it seems that way. Nonetheless, he doesn't really want to keep being angry. It doesn't help things. So unpleasant. So. "I think if I did not like you I would have asked you to my home where I could throw pans," he notes, wryly. A solitary digit plays up along Teo's spine, almost enticingly— and once he realizes what he's doing, the embrace is abruptly broken.

If he wanted to be really indignant, he would blame the Sicilian for that, but it was his own fault. Facial expression contorts into one of vague confusion, irritation at himself, then finally smooths over. He lapses back into French. "«It's immature not to like someone anymore because you're angry with them. For some things, yes, but.. I suppose this isn't a big enough thing.»" A shrug.

"«What do you mean, you don't have lots of time? What are you talking about?»" There, something seemed off. Of course, Sosh had spent much of this conversation having decided upon Teo being a cowardly sort of character, but somewhere a puzzle piece doesn't fit right. He frowns. Obvious concern, but he doesn't voice it. Maybe he's just still mad.

Necking would be easier, it's true. For Teo, necking generally is. The gait of Sacha's forefinger up his back doesn't go unnoticed, but he predicts its sudden interruption and the younger man's consternation a few seconds before it comes, is unsurprised when it ends tinged by temper. Obscurely, he wishes it hadn't. Not merely because necking is easier.

He might have tried to hold Sacha closer, if he were slightly less armed. Restlessly, his hand fidgets its way up to his own face, rolling a thumb around the round bone of his cheek.

"«Well,»" there's something hilariously juvenile about his clumsiness saying these words. If asked, Ghost would say it was all ruse. "«I'm a busy man in a— dubious kind of industry, I'm sure you've figured out by now. Between Staten Island and the Wolf. I was a member of Phoenix until just a few weeks ago. I'm sure you've seen the news— don't be scared,»" he hastens to reassure, knowing that that, too, is absurd. Teo barks objection. Ghost ignores him. "«I have desperate hopes that my intentions were honorable.

"«If they weren't, I'm sure I'd feel more conviction.»" It's a joke, a little, gentle as the step that Teodoro takes backward, affording his friend, jewelry salesman and well-meaning relationship counsellor, a margin of space he might exploit for retreat or accept as proof. Not that kind of terrorist.

There's been at least one time in the past where Sacha had preferred necking to talking— and that incident is what prevents him from going down that same path now. Sometimes, the easy way is the wrong way to take, and this would be one of those. Sonny is his friend. And Sacha is unaware of anything unsavory that has gone down between the couple since he spoke with the mayor's son. So far as he knows— well. It isn't his business to step in between things.

"«You did kind of make.. suggestions, before. The Wolf.»" The name sounds far less threatening in French. Le Loup. "«And you brought guns to my apartment. I may be a stupid frog, but I do know most people in New York do not have guns if they are not police or.. doing bad things.»" The last bit comes out stilted, even despite being in his native language; hard to face that particular aspect of his friend's identity, so he won't address it at all.

"«I told you before that so long as I am not involved, I do not care what you do. It is your life and your choices to make.»" He frowns. "«Indeed, if not for my having met Sonny, I probably wouldn't even be here to reprimand you for this. It's strangely difficult, being angry when one doesn't really want to.»"

Bluntly, and in English, The Sicilian replies: "I hadn't noticed." Ghost could be referring either to the fact that the younger man had tried to cave his face in with his palm just now, or maybe he is angry a lot even when he doesn't want to be.

Could explain a few things. Guns, wolves, burning birds, Sal's oft-broken heart. He steers his hands up at his own face suddenly, scraping the sides of his neck with his thumbs, dragging red lines into the column of his throat as he goes.

Maybe to match his cheek. After a moment, his hands fall. When he blinks, his eyes stay closed too long. "«I'm glad he has a friend in you,»" he remarks at length, after a digesting sort of silence. He cracks Teo's pallid eyes open again, flits a glance over his shoulder, rides through the vicinity through the sensory systems of a dozen vespertine perambulators. He breathes in, then out again. "«He doesn't have as many as he needs, never mind those he deserves.»"

There is an exasperated sort of sigh. "Stop scratching yourself," he murmurs, though with a vague sort of French indifference. "«I think you avoided my question. You're talking in very.. 'final' terms. You aren't being very like yourself.»" And here, Sacha slowly enters into that embrace again, hesitating for his own sake rather than out of concern for Teo. No desire to let hormones take over, but something has chased off the last vestiges of irritation, allowing for concern to slide in and take over.

He had suspected something was wrong, a moment ago, and has apparently either gotten some confirmation of that, or at least something that adds weight to his suspicion. The embrace, while a bit more intimate than before, is nonetheless weighted firmly in the zone of 'familial caring' rather than being rooted with any lusty intent.

He looks up at the slightly taller Sicilian mouse, worry fairly unmistakeable at this distance, and works to find a way to word his question that doesn't seem… insensitive. It's a difficult task, and one he eventually abandons; his eventual means of addressing the problem culminates in one hand gripping the sleeve of Teo's hoodie, a biting of his own lower lip, and finally, "«Are you dying?»"

This startles the ghost though it shouldn't. It alarms Teo, too, who falls sharply silent, listening, warily expectant of the worst case scenario, which is probably the wise and mature thing on several levels. Good things rarely come with the corporealized specter of his future self.

"«You've said a lot of things,»" and that might even be a little bit, half-heartedly teasing. It makes the hug a little easier. No more gracefully met, but easier to— ignore. He stands there woodenly in the circle of Sacha's arms, rests his nose on the incline of the other man's forehead. Inhales the pastel notes of shampoo and lets his mind wander, though Sacha's obvious preferences keep his callused hands from following. "«I don't remember your previous question. Though as for the lattermost—

"«Probably.»" Frank as he used to always be, albeit about allll the wrrrronnng things. "Nothing definite; only the usual staple of occupational hazards. I have already started on my good-byes, however underappreciated."

'Probably.' "Oh." Same in both languages, fortuitously enough, but the lack of a definite answer proves Sacha's concerns to be … entirely misplaced. "I asked why you were running out of time. You… worried about Sonny not having.." He flushes a deeper shade of red than usual, gaze turning down and thus breaking contact with Teo's not-unwelcome nosing, hand releasing the hoodie and coming forward to toy with hoodstrings. Fidget.

"I was afraid maybe you were dancing around it. Cancer, or something." VD, while briefly thought in inappropriate jest, is not suggested. "Someone after you for.. something. Revenge. J'sais pas. «I'm just used to you being vibrant, today you seem much more sedate than usual.»" After a quiet pause, during which he leans forward just a bit, forehead landing with a thump on Teo's shoulder, though he goes no further than that. No nuzzling, just resting. "…I suppose my shouting may have contributed."

"«You also hit me in the face,»" Ghost recalls, without any real vestige of rancor despite the implications of their recentmost discussion. Whatever his anger is about, for now, it isn't very much here.

In his head, Teo shifts uneasily and tries to herd him to the sea with soft words about the other things he has to do, dimly aware that he has been casing the Rookery for a few days now. Whatever Ghost is inclined to do next, he'd rather it be done in the vicinity of the Happy Dagger and those who work there than his erstwhile lover, and his erstwhile lover's only known true friend. This guilty goodness constitutes the mainstay of his concerns. As usual.

As usual, Ghost ignores him.

"«That's sad, I think,»" he adds, presently. "«He mentioned infidelity with a 'difficult boy,' and my name comes to mind.»"

"«I condensed things a bit,»" Sacha explains without really thinking. "«It wasn't the infidelity, I never even thought you had a boy. You're so shy.»" He smiles at that, turning his head a bit so that the side is resting on Teo's shoulder, now, looking at the Sicilian's face at extreme close-up — so, more to the point, stubble. He lets out a breath through his nose, closes his eyes a moment, sighs.

Getting rather more comfortable than he would have otherwise intended to, this time he doesn't pull away from the intimacy, although at the same time he still doesn't press as far as certain biological networks would prefer.

"«Just.. things he said. You being secretive, disappearing. It sounded, to me, like Teodoro. A long-shot, but I asked..»" He shrugs. "«I was worried about hurting him, but he insisted he was fine. I don't know how true that was. He didn't leave on a bad note, at least, and no one glares at me when I buy pizza, so I suppose that much was true.»" Bad joke. "«But now you know that he knows; I'm not sure if he would have brought it up himself. He was so worried about making sure everything stayed okay between you two.»"

Bad joke. Ghost is a big fan of those. His sense of humor is maybe not what it used to be. He crooks his mouth and, with his mouth crooked, he looks a little more the part of the bashful, awkwardly sincere sojourner that Sacha had taken home months ago.

"They d— haven't," he says. Swallows, an oddly involuntary motion that takes bad in the back of his nose. "It's been bad.

"I'd appreciate it if you stayed in touch with him. I don't think I can, for awhile. «I have things that I need to do, and that isn't me trying to be difficult.»" That isn't a joke, which might make it worse, really. The point of his nose bends slightly when he roughs it along the flat of Sacha's brow, a canine kiss, too unrefinedly animalistic to pass for purely platonic but nothing salacious, either.

He straightens his arms to pry himself loose, twitches his fingers in reflexive repression of the compulsion to scratch again. If he weren't deliberately avoiding thinking about it, Ghost would realize that that, too, is more like Teo.

"Sonny is not the only one with few friends," Sacha notes, wryly. "I have my own difficulties with getting close to people, I am sure you have at least guessed." Given how most of the times he's been with Teo, he's been flirting either with the Italian or with someone nearby. "I do not like things that are too difficult." He lingers in the embrace for a moment while Teo wrestles loose, but does free him after only a moment of resistence. Very French.

"Anyway. Since Sonny is a friend, I had already planned on trying to better keep in touch with him. It will at least give me some interaction that does not feel dependent on sex." Another word that's the same in both languages, so no point in trying to hide it behind a foreign facade. "I do.. I do still like you, Teo."

While he had said those same words earlier, the tone, here, suggests something a bit more. He pronounces the name correctly. "Not enough to try and make things.. difficult. Sometimes I'm not really sure why." And with a sigh, there, he backs away from his friend, runs a hand over his hair, and looks at his feet before looking up again. "Y.. that doesn't have to matter, anyway, I'm sorry I mentioned it. I will try and make sure that Sonny is okay."

Another surprise. For Teo because he resents himself and finds people who like him delightfully deceived, for Ghost because, uh, Sacha hit him in the face sort of recently and, despite his solid sense of self-worth, is obscurely aware that he doesn't warrant such affection. Which makes sense: it isn't really meant for him. Teo knows it, too. Prowls the periphery of his mind, faintly jealous, long past useless embarrassment, eerily silent.

Ghost regards the little Frenchman with an indeterminable expression on his face. There's enough dramatic irony in this whole situation to break even his heart.

"«It's a good thing to try,»" he replies. "«I can't say I've succeeded too well, but— I'm too young to be talking like this. I don't know what I'm talking about. You're a good man,» Sacha. «Maybe more importantly, you're a good friend. Things might not be as difficult as you think.»" He'd said he doesn't know what he's talking about, and it's showing and wearing on him now. Finally, he requests, "«Take care of yourself.»"

By now, Sacha is feeling altogether somewhat embarassed about this entire meeting; the anger bit wasn't so bad, the slapping perhaps over the top, but things went downhill when he started letting remorse in. Cancer speculation was the icing on the cake. He's going through a few of these things in his mind, now, but that doesn't stop him listening to Teo's points— though it does stop him remarking on the slight oddness of his words.

"«Right,»" he finally answers, forcing a small smile. "«If things have been as bad as you say.. I'm sure he will need it. I always mean to keep in touch with people and never do; if nothing else, I could use the company.»" Reaching forward one last time, he takes hold of Teo's hand, squeezing it gently before releasing.

"«I'll take care of myself; that's one thing I'm usually good at doing, barring a few examples.»" The Wolf and subsequent existential dilemmas, no doubt. "«I might even try dating, if I'm feeling particularly masochistic.»" Pause. "«Not Sonny.»" And another small smile, though this one is a bit less forced. "«I will let you know how things work out. Be good.»" Perhaps a valediction less likely to lead to its desired conclusion, but you can't blame a Frenchman for trying.

If he didn't have a sociopathic pimp to visit on Staten Island this evening, maybe Teo would take the younger man away for drinks to commiserate over the masochistic aspect of dating. Probably not. Being good sounds hard, too.

'Not Sonny.' His eyes twitch a squint that comes dangerously close to rueful approximation of, 'Why not?' Automatically, his hand curls around the fingers that slip briefly across his palm, holding up his half of the handclasp, brief though it is. It's acknowledgment as much agreement, acceptance over that, though the lattermost is a lie, of course. One can hardly make provisions for death and separation and hold someone to keeping in touch in wholehearted certainty.

"Bonne nuit, mec," he says, simply, turning. His shadow briefly blots out Alice's face, before slipping it back to her again. He holds up an arm, waves. "«I probably should have said, 'Stay out of trouble.'»"

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