But We Remain, Touching A Wound


sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title But We Remain, Touching A Wound
Synopsis A short, if complicated good-bye.
Date October 4, 2009

Solstice: Sonny's Home

The apartment is large, sprawling and appointed in a cooly masculine, modern style. The entire far wall is made up of windows that reveal the cityscape outside. The floors are a deep hardwood, the furniture leather. The modern, shining kitchen is open concept. There's a winding staircase to the left that leads to a small hallway, with two bedrooms. The space is open and roomy - perfect for entertaining high profile guests.

Given how long it's been since the two of them have spoken, the message left on Teo's voicemail might come as a surprise.

"Hey, it's me." Sonny's voice. His real voice. "Listen. I'm leaving town soon, and I'm going to be gone awhile. I'd like to see you before I go. I'll be home all Sunday night if you can come. Just come right up if you still have your key. If you can't make it, I'll call you Monday." A hesitation. "Okay, bye." Click.

And true to that message, Sonny is at home, in his apartment that somehow looks more sterile than usual. Everything is cleaned up and put in order in preparation for its owner to take a long trip.

The Italians are coming. Well, just the one. He knocks before entering but doesn't wait for the door to be answered, sticking the key in and pushing with his shoulder until he's granted ingress. The apartment's state of emptiness is perfectly predictable but jarring anyway, subject to a long arc of a glance through blank blue eyes.

"Buona sera." He lifts a hand to his own shoulder, closes fingers tight around the join of sturdy canvas sleeve and panel. Shifts, slightly, squirming muscle against bone, nerves under bandage, and testing the ease of joint tissue and flexor before slackening it. On the surface, he looks travel-worn but nothing worse, tired in a way that he rarely used to come back to Chinatown looking like. Getting older, maybe. Less biological capacity for long-term adrenalized mania. By some fortunate coincidence of emotional physics, the worst of his temper seems to have evaporated with it. Or else, Sonny was wise in refraining from leaving any sculptures around where Teo could grab and dash them across the floor. "Awhile's gonna be a long while, eh?"

Sonny looks well. The decadence of his life and the relatively slow pace he's taken up since returning to his world full-time has removed a lot of stress. Sure, there are still terrorist plots, still random chaos on the streets. But back in his guilded cage, he feels a step removed from all of that. He's wearing a pair of those expensive jeans, a similar pair to the ones that somehow migrated to Teo's wardrobe over the course of their relationship. That and a gray sweater with a tinge of blue that seems to match his eyes.

He looks at Teo for a moment, then nods once and motions him inwards. "Nine months. Maybe a little longer. Peru." Where he pretended to go before. "I feel like I need to do some good with what I know best, you know." A pause, "You want a drink?"

Yes. "No, I'm all right, thanks." Teo perches a smile on the rim of that answer to make it a little less plain, tilts his handful of keys with a musical jingle of metal on metal. A flick of his wrist, and the palmful's sent thrown, gently overhand, into the air aimed neatly at the other man's chest. He gives them willingly. One awkward subsegment of conversation averted. "I think you'll like Peru. I'm sure it won't be exactly the same, but I think that's where you went in the other future. 'Found yourself,' or something.

"Even met somebody." There could have been heat or insinuation in that sentence, but both are absent from Teo's voice, now. It is what it is. Relevant information. Good news, hopeful tidings. He doesn't talk about how it had apparently intended. He's sure it won't be exactly the same.

Sonny catches the keys, fingers their jagged edges, then drops them on a hook that hangs in the hallway. He takes in what Teo has told him and considers it with a bitten lip. "It's the right time to go. I feel like I owe them for lying the first time. Also, dad's second term ends in a few months. It'll be nice to come back and not be the Mayor's son anymore." And in South America, he's far away from the imposing shadow that is Harry Bianco and all the expectations that come with being his son.

"I didn't want to go without saying goodbye. And…to say I hope we can work on the friends thing. When I get back." There is a note of hope in his tone, but a sense that he knows that might not be possible. "You said that happened. In that other future. Well, maybe it can happen again. Cause in spite of everything, you still mean a lot to me, Tay. Maybe it hasn't been enough. Maybe it hasn't been in the right way. But I still care about you. And I'd still like to see you from time to time. Even if it's just for something as…inane as coffee." He laughs awkwardly and rubs at his chin.

It takes Teo a moment to remember that he had said that, except he hadn't: the ghost had. The verbal confusion between entities irritates him, and his gaze flattens foully in the pane of his face as he turns these thoughts over inside his head. Doesn't say anything, for a long moment, mostly because he doesn't trust himself to. The moment transpires. Leaves him with his breathing regulated, turning his attention to the content of Sal's actual request with the onerous effort and difficulty with which one might redirect a boat with a broken rudder.


Hard to have too many of those. Coffee, also. "I'm not sure I'll still be here in nine months," Teo says, after a protracted moment's consideration, trying to remember, to pack the excesses of projection and long-term plans into a recognizable and practical timeframe upon which he might actually base decisions and verbal answers. 'I'm going to jail.' Awkward conversational fodder. "But you'll probably be able to find out wherever I went, and that'd be cool, yeah." There's something as awkward, halted about Teo's smile as there is about Sonny's laughter, but not quite insincere.

"Well, I do have more money and free time than sense, so I can probably visit you," says Sonny with a snort of amusement at himself and a twitched smile. He can hope that Teo will still be somewhere he can reach in nine months. But he knows the Italian - knows his choice of life and the risks he takes. That's one of the reasons for this goodbye. Terroristing on the side of good has become a more and more risky endeavour.

He pauses for a moment and lets awkward silence hang like London fog. And then he steps forward and reaches to set them on either one of Teo's shoulders. He squeezes and smiles again. This one is less awkward and more sad. Regretful. "Take care of yourself, Tay. I…wish things could have been different. But there's a lot I don't regret." And then, unless he's met with great tension or an awkward shift, he leans in to press a kiss to his cheek. "My flight leaves on Tuesday evening."

Both of Teo's eyes are angled away when the kiss comes in for its landing, because he's concentrating on… something. A mix of restraining reflex— to turn his face just so, catch the token of affection where it used to always land, bracing against the next twinge from his shoulder, and not meeting Sal's eye. He's always been bad at good-byes. Well, nobody's really good at them, frankly.

It goes without incident. The next moment, Sal has settled back and Teo is still safely inside his skin, bleeding out of no orifice metaphorical or physical, breathing even and his mind as intact as Salvatore's making his heart seem like it's stayed. "Magnanimity looks good on you," he offers, presently. He shifts his eyes back. They blink pale as ice in the warm light from the ceiling. "But I guess that isn't really news to anybody. I think mine just makes me look fat."

Sonny cracks a warm smile. "You're too hard on yourself. You've always been braver than me by a long measure, Teodoro Laudani." Despite being Italian, he still can't say his former lover's name with the flourish it deserves. It's too rough, too Brooklyn.

The longer he looks at Teo, the more his composure starts to break. There's a slight sheen to his eyes he fights against and he draws in a breath that fills his lungs to their capacity. "I uh, I found…a few of your things when I was packing up. I didn't know if you wanted them back." He steps towards the couch and motions towards a neatly folded stack of clothes. A few pairs of jeans, a sweater or two. A handful of books, two in Italian. He fingers the cover of an old leatherbound edition and smiles for lack of any other shape to give his mouth.

"Wasn't talking about courage," Teo replies, but there's an absence of real fight from his tone. He steps forward, obliging to follow the other man through the luxuriously-proportioned space of his house. Over to the couch. Where his stuff is, sitting there, inexplicably, curled up and abandoned in the middle of the living room like children lost in the midst of a custody debate. He stands over them, his shadow throwing down a long bar over the rumpled topography. "Yeah. If you have a box, I'll take the clothes and shit, or else I'll bring something by later.

"You should keep the books, though." He shades a glance upward, sidelong— and his gaze peels away only when it meets Sal's through a visible glister of eyewater excess. He stoops slightly, nudges one tome with a forefinger, flipping it over to check the condition of the back cover. "Keep pretending you're going to get around to reading them someday on my recommendation. How's your family, anyway? I don't know how busy a Mayoral office is in its last months."

"I'll do you better than a box," says Sonny. He steps away, around to a closet. He tugs it open and pulls out a backpack which he hands Teo's way. "If you're sure." Of the books. He motions to them. "I'll never be able to read the ones in Italian. And one is one of your poetry books." With words perhaps, that were painted on him one morning or etched in sharpie on the bathroom window. Bittersweet. Hard to tell what percentage is bitter and which sweet. "I'll probably have time to read now." No press conferences and parties to attend in the Andes.

He clears his throat and shuffles around to retrieve a drink he poured for himself earlier. Whatever was in it, it goes down his throat quickly. The change in subject is welcomed. "Uh. Better. Dad's looking forward to a break, but he won't really rest for long. He'll have his sights on Congress before you know it." And with that, a whole new spotlight. "Things are pretty busy. He wants to go out on as much of a positive note as he can." If that's even possible, considering what horros Mayor Bianco has had to deal with over the course of the last eight years.

He looks to Teo and purses his lips. He wants to ask how he's doing, but he's not entirely sure he wants to know the answer. And any talk of current events is only likely to darken the mood.

Backpack would be easier to carry with one gimp shoulder. He could just put it on the other. Ingenious. Teo acknowledges it with a nod, a quiet monosyllable of gratitude and takes it in the grasp of one hand. He chooses not to burden Sonny with his stare when the doctor retreats to get his drink.

He moves in the opposite direction, to snag up a folded set of jeans in one hand, shunt it into the open halves of the bag. He decides not to mention Harry's Presidency, once upon a future, but it's probably intimated enough, when he says: "I think that's good move for your dad to make. He'd do well, from what I know of him." There's a guttural croak of the zip scratching up. Teo pauses briefly. Takes one of the books in Italian, the other left on the off-chance his former lover might undertake to learn the language.

Even if the teacher he had originally desired to make up his lessons is no longer a comfortably valid option, or won't be for awhile. The poetry book is left. Poems are important, even when you don't know how to interpret them, quite. "And Melinda? Relieved she'll finally know exactly where you are, even if it's halfway around the fuckin' world?"

"Mom would be happy to see me out of this city. I think she imagines things'll be safer in Peru." If only by virtue of the fact that he's not a public figure anywhere but New York. "I think she thinks everything I did was to get out of the public eye for awhile. She thinks this'll be good for me." He tips up the glass again, but finds it empty. And it would seem too obvious to move and refill it again.

He pauses a moment and looks out the large windows at the winking lights of New York. His expression is hard to read. It's one part pensive, another part sad and regretful. This city is his home, for all its grit and immorality and giant, radiated craters, forgotten islands and evil men in hidey holes. He's born and raised, a New Yorker for four generations. And he's leaving it, and everyone, for a long time. "I hope you can be happy, Tay. I know it seems…hard, through everything. But we gotta hope we can find some happiness, otherwise what's the point of going on?"

None, but you can go on even when there isn't a point. Not to be negative or anything. It's rather optimistic, if you think about it: 'muddling through' works for post-war nations, post-bankruptcy millionaire dynasties, drowned flower bushes, and people caught in blizzards. Why not to New York's favorite Italians? "Thanks. I'm not sad too much anymore. Is nice. You should try it out, too. Of all the gifts that keep on giving, I hate to think existential misery was the one you got from me." That's an STD joke, kind of. Facetious, the way nothing else hanging in the balance is anymore.

Plastic parts click and shuffle as Teodoro pulls the bag up onto his back, stiffly torquing his other arm back to fit. It settles to even with a little tug and a seesawing shrug, ends up with him looking down to check that the buckles hang symmetrical on either side of his torso. He forgets to lift his head. He already knows which books he decided to leave behind, but he is rereading their titles again anyway. "I think we're okay."

Sonny ducks his head, then lifts to look Teo in the eye. His hand goes to his forehead and he pushes back a knot of unruly dark curls. "Good." And then, because it would seem somehow wrong to part so cooly like that, he shifts forward and offers a companionable hug. It's not quite as enveloping as it might have been becaus of the backpack, but the sentiment is there. "I'm gonna be okay. And I hope you will be, too. N'maybe one day soon, we'll be okay together. Over an overpriced latte."

The sentiment is what matters. Teo is a poem guy, after all. He holds up his half of the hug. Arms around Sal's waist, elbows bent around angles that his muscle memory still has recorded intact, a brief squeeze clinching the breadth of his shoulders. The embrace ends with a cupped hand clapping the back of Sal's arm, his extrication a slow and gently metered thing. He stands back, scoring his cheek with the side of his hand, calluses rasping on the faint, quarter-day's growth of stubble.

The kiss he puts up on the corner of Sal's eye is not quid-pro-quo or reciprocation of the earlier one, but a brief break from the carefully quiet, neutral distance of propriety at which he's held himself away from Sal so far. A separate impulse, nudged up on the pink nub of the tearduct, as if asking that it be kind to its master and spare Sonny the indignity of misery for as long as he's in Peru. "I'll hold you to it," he says. He's slow in his pace to the door, in case Sonny wants to be the graceful host and walk him out of it.

For a moment, Sonny can only remember the good times. The touch might be brief, but it reminds him of a thousand other touches, other embraces, in this place and elsewhere. Good memories. But a moment after Teo has withdrawn, he remembers the gulf that now stretches between them. The pain, the regret, the jealousy, the poor choices and the circumstances beyond their control. It is so very tempting to reach out and try to hold on to that dangling thread of lost joy. There seem to be so few new moments these days. As Teo pulls back, his surgeon's fingers trace the line of the Italian's jaw. Then he lets it drop, lets space drift between them.

After a moment's breath, he follows the other to the door, to pull open the handle, as you do in polite society, to bid his guest farewell. "Be well, Tay," he murmurs. He can't quite keep his voice from cracking. Not goodbye, just be well.

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