alexander_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Clinch
Synopsis In which Teo makes a mistake somewhere along the way.
Date November 15, 2008

New York Public Library — An Adopted Room

Al's claimed one of the old offices for his bedroom. At least, he's set up a mattress on a pallet, a battered desk and chair, and a cheap wardrobe. He's strung wire out to power a lamp and a space heater, and the bathroom down the hall works enough to let him brush his teeth. It's a ways away from the relative bustle of PHOENIX business. The windows have blackout curtains over them lest a light at night betray their presence, and the plain walls have those cheap patterned cotton tapestries over them to serve as decoration, and cut a little of the chill of the mostly unheated building. At the moment, he's lounging on his side on his bed in sweatpants and t-shirt, reading an old novel. The Big Sleep, specifically.

Not a discreet animal by nature, Teo is less so when he's gotten through a few beers. There's feet in the hallway. The real reason they aren't drubbing up a storm is that he has no shoes or socks on. It's probably not wise, but he had his tetanus shots recently after working on the Ferryman safehouses left him at a dozen infections and other risks, since then pharmeceutically banished. His step is loud enough with simple braggadocio, before he appears in the doorway, garbed in the collegiate, less-than-chic hoodie and jeans, half a beer in one callused hand. Despite that he hadn't expected to see one, his eyes go immediately to the book in Alexander's hands. "Is that good?" he asks, turning his path to cross the floor.

Alexander sits up, setting aside the book to settle cross-legged, and grins. "Yeah, one of my favorites," he says. "Best pulp mystery ever." Well, the part of hallway that Al uses is swept, at least. He eyes the beer, amused. "You brought a bottle for me, right?"

His spare hand is pulled out of his pocket, the tubed one across his belly. It has Another Beer. Studied, for a moment, with the sort of look that one would use to acknowledge a miracle. "Tadaa," Teo says with just a little crow in his tone. He underhands the bottle down to Alexander's stomach with a sinewy flick of his wrist, before his legs fold abruptly beneath him, gone boneless with sauce, though not enough so that he loses balance before seating himself, neatly, cross-legged on the floor beside the cot. The lampshade just so happens to angle the bulb's electrically-powered glare down right into his eyes from this trajectory, so he squints slightly, cranes his head out of the way. Studies Alexander for a moment. In the yellow cast of incandescent light, he's a little less pale. "What did you do today?"

"I drove. I practiced with my pistol, way the fuck out near Jersey. I scoped out some possible safehouses and ammo dumps, though nothing sat quite right, there," Al says, thoughtfully. And ooh, beer. "Thanks," he says, catching the bottle with his power, and opening it once it's come to his hand. He scoots over to make room on the bed, and pats the mattress with a hand. "I'm beat. And you're drunk."

Teo is aware. His expression denies it: a scowl. As drunks go, he's pretty balanced, alert, neat; if he wasn't, he'd probably be a little closer to dead, the way he and the other football thugs had carried on their business. Beer before war, and some of them had died of it. "No I'm not. Stronzo," he adds, conveniently forgetting about honesty, but he picks himself up off the floor. Sits on the mattress, sideways, one bare foot dangling off the edge of the mattress and the other still sprawled across dust-streaked floorboards. The undersides of his feet show powder-tinged gray before he curls them away. He takes another pull from his bottle and says, "Remember when you played that joke on me— I think, last week?"

"I…," Al says, expression utterly blank. "Whatcha mean?" He takes a long pull on his beer, and looks very grateful after. "Good stuff, thanks," he says, clinking his bottle against Teo's. "Did you come for revenge, or an apology, or?"

After the clink, the rest of Teo's beer is gone by the time the end of the question rolls around with that little upward cant of tone. He leans over to put the bottle on the floor and drag his remaining foot onto the mattress, dragging his fingernails through his hair. Nervous. An unfamiliar sentiment to him, particularly under these circumstances, and especially when he's managed to get through that much alcohol: he's always agreed with the common definition, liquid courage. Sounds— the grumble of the heater, Al's voice, slap sine curves against the inside of his skull, and he can smell the shit and sugar in everything; he thinks of nothing in particular. "Neither.

"More of a favor." He raises a hand, pushes Al's drink out of the way with the back of his fingers, gentle without being especially polite, and in that same way, the Sicilian leans over and takes a kiss. Just one. He can't imagine a man who looks like Alexander would miss it. He says, "If you could hold off the punchline for awhile longer."

Honestly, Al was half braced for a punch. So the kiss takes him entirely by surprise, and he's just rigid in shock, for a moment, before he lets out an explosive breath like a bull about to charge. "You lost me there," he says, gently. "Whaddaya mean, punchline?" Beer. Beer will help. So he takes a couple of hearty swallows - really, the beer in question's worthy of a slower take, but he needs the alcohol in his system, post-haste. His mouth tastes of the beer, and that close, his skin smells of something resinous, somewhere between sandalwood and church incense. He just eyes Teo, a little askance, gone patient and very still, like the other man is an animal he doesn't want to spook.

Contrary to the various and sundry evidence otherwise, Teo doesn't spook easily. No, really. Anyway, he's not about to run away or laugh or swear or something else equally inappropriate; this was his idea, and he'll stand by it once he's done sitting or whatever else. He raises one shoulder and lets it drop: half a Gallic shrug, and less than half as inscrutable as the gesture is supposed to be.

"It made a little more sense before I said it out loud," he says, the most intelligent out of the answers he could think of. "It doesn't really matter, honestly." A beat of silence, fourteen of the heart, and Teo arrogantly assumes that beer has helped; arrogance that vaporizes about halfway through the distance to Alexander when he leans in, ends up ducking his head to drop a kiss, this time, on top of the other man's shoulder, an arm pressed closer, a breath drawn as awkwardly as a bucket from a well. He can't figure out what that scent is, himself.

Al's still quiet - but the pulse is jumping in the hollow of his throat, and his heart is racketing behind his ribs. He turns his face, rather blindly, and nuzzles at the side of Teo's throat with only barely restrained eagerness for a moment, before he stops himself. "I….you're really drunk. I don't think you really want to do this. I thought this kinna thing offended you, honestly," His drawl's more evident than ever, to his apparent chagrin. But he hasn't really moved back - his breath is warm on Teo's skin, as he speaks, albeit a little ragged.

"I'm not that drunk, asshole," Teo answers in the same tone of protest he'd used before: defensive the way a child is when confronted about a shirt tucked wrong or the uneventful activities of the last fifteen minutes he refuses to account for, petty, irrelevant, distracted. His words are all of those things. And this time, much to the pleasure of God, he isn't lying. Long fingers wind up, wind into, knot into the front of Alexander's shirt, steadying… somebody; his eyelids move wrong when something touches his neck. By default, Al's nose. He blinks. "'S not what offends me. And—" —you should shut up, he means.

By this meaning, he crawls up and presses close, seizes Al's mouth with his own and Al's jaw with his fingers, hungry, stomach clenched, elated and commensurately miserable, smelling of soap and books and a spent battery, a lifetime of ordinary things. That was as good as a Yes as far as he's concerned. He knows how men work.

There's a muffled sound of protest, but Alex only struggles for a token couple of moments before he yields. Teo is not smashed against the far wall by a telekinetic blow, nor does Al break the windows with a shockwave. Which presumably he'd do if he really objected. Or at least just kick Teo off the bed with a purely mundane foot. There's only the clink of his now-empty beer bottle being knocked over, and a little motion of the air, like a momentary breeze, even as he tentatively slips an arm around Teo's ribs.

Teo tends to fail to calculate in the possibility and costs involved with property damage from his antics whenever he does stuff. Figured he might go through a wall, break an arm, dislocate a shoulder, get a knee in the nuts or something, but he hadn't really considered the possibility that the library might suffer for it. All the better that Alexander doesn't seem to mind. Greed's in his hands, working T-shirt up white ribs and palming the scars on Al's side— he'd remembered, of course; a little envy in the eyes that study the redhead's face, when they're open and he isn't doing all his seeing through the teeth on the side of Al's neck, replacing accuracy with extrapolation, then extrapolation with exploration. He glances down: wonders where those scars came from.

Al's teeth are set in his lower lip, as he looks at Teo….when he's broken the kiss enough to speak, or look. "IED," he explains, almost curtly. And then he laughs, a soft, incredulous noise. "I'd no idea you….felt like this," he says, even as he runs his hand over Teo's scalp.

A single blue eye squints up from under Al's hand, rather like a mutt scrubbed behind the ears, blinking a little oddly in the lamplight. Vaguely, he registers the bizarre twinkle and flecks in his peripheral aren't visual artefacts from floaters, but the discarded beer bottle, broken or forgotten. "What?" he asks. His thumb follows the line between red keloid and white skin.

"I'm just…a little surprised, is all. Not in a bad way," Al hastens to reassure, even as the visible skin exhibits goosebumps. He grins, sheepishly. "And I didn't say you could stop. Carry on," He even leans back, obligingly.

There is nothing special about Alexander's remark just now. Similarly, there's nothing particularly extraordinary or fucked up about the answer he gives to Teo's monosyllabic and equally unexceptional question. There's no particular reason Teo ought to be staring at him like so, before he glances back down at what he's doing, examining the pinprick bumps of gooseflesh as if seeking reassurance in the regularity of the pattern and the simple process of its conjuration. The sympathetic nervous system, spine, nerve endings and configuration of muscle; he'd gotten an A on that exam, so he has a lot of junk information still memorized.

Giving himself a shake, almost visibly, Teo sniffs once, loudly, and pulls his sweater— sweaters off in a movement. Tattoos stand out like brands on either bicep, symbols of some bygone era: a coat of arms and a skewered ship with a lettered banner unfurled underneath, hair too short to go truly recalicitrant settling when he crawls onto his friend again. Bites his chin. "Hit me if I'm doing it wrong?"

The redhead's grin is positively blinding. Christmas has arrived early in Alex's world, apparently. "You're doing just fine, honey," he says, stretching with feline luxuriance. "You keep on, I'll advise as needed." Though he glances aside, as one of the empty beer bottles bobs up to eye-level for a moment. Apparently Al wants to take note of the brand for further reference. He leans back,and pillows his head on an arm, eyeing Teo expectantly. And then there's a question in his face. "Am I…'ve only ever been with girls, before, right?" he wonders, frown furrowing his brow.

Right. That would be entirely right. Teo's a mainly pragmatic creature; never really saw the point in doing the boy thing, initial aversion aside, because it's altogether less convenient and… Alexander needs to learn to stop talking. He's stopped.

Hands on either side of the redhead's torso, bridged, holding the better part of his weight off, face close by and breath making jagged-edged eddies on the other man's skin, gaze twitching saccadically this way and that. The line of Teo's shoulder hardens, muscle shifting, prelude to some movement that never reaches actualization. He doesn't know what's worse: the possibility that Alexander might be making fun of him, again, or his heart, residual patina of introspection left from his earlier question-remark-thing. One should try to avoid talking about feelings when having drunken sex.

Teo's face darkens: red, a scowl that's almost half-hearted, another expression forced underneath it. He sits up with an apology that doesn't sound like English, but is unmistakably from its tone, the striped flush his fingernails leave on the nape of his own neck. Fuck. Except, you know. Not. He snags his sweater and needs the wall to get up.

Al could cheat, and grab him with his power. But he contents himself with reaching out with a hand, trying to snag Teo's arm before he gets out of range. "Now, hold it," he says, crossly, "Where you goin'? I wasn't objectin', fool - I'm flattered to be the one you'd try it on with," He tugs at Teo with his power, urging him back with unsubtle nudges, like an invisible sheepdog with a particularly recalcitrant sheep. Al sits up himself, hitching up to prop his back against the pillows ranked against the wall on the back edge of the bed.

Teo's more dog than sheep, and more boy than either of those things under the best of circumstances. The hand on his arm draws a sidelong look that's difficult for him to give. His line of sight intersects with the faint, greenish bruise on Alexander's shoulder, out of some coincidence of subconscious; the one he'd put there the other day with a bag of wonton and his own temper. He was going to say something just now, but forgot, until the telekinetic bump on the leg comes and knocks the corners of his mouth down into a frown. Makes him look as young as he does smiling with all his teeth. "This is wrong for me to try to do with you," he says, the fabric of his sweater wringing in his hands, near as tight as the twist in his throat. "I'm sorry. Really. I'll— uhh." He glances down. Up. Squints. "Buy you a hooker?"

"Why?" Alex says, simply, letting the power fade away. He draws his knees up, drapes his arm over them. The door, however, drifts shut. Apparently Teo doesn't get to leave until he at least answers the question. His grin has faded, and he's actually faintly red with embarasment, lips thinned out. "And no, don't," he adds, drily.

Right. Wrong proposal. Teo's eyes shift toward the door a moment before it begins to close and he hackles a moment, too slow, half-hearted, disliking the fact of having been cornered but too drunk-reckless to register anything greater than that very slow half a heart. He looks at the redhead for a long time. Finds himself surprised again, as he's been surprised before, about what a handsome fuck somebody can be after having been blown up by an improvised explosive device, hunted across Manhattan by Sylar's specter, and squatting in a shithole for however many years. Alex makes his knees weak. It's the most stupid thing; one he'd sort of hoped to get out of his system. Instead of answering, he pulls his sweater on, tattooed arm through one sleeve, head through the top, straightening it with a yank at his pockets.

"If you want to go, you can," Al says, brows drawing down again, "But first you gotta answer my question." He's going to be obdurate about it, apparently. The room's warm enough that he doesn't feel compelled to don his t-shirt again immediately - instead he lazily scratches one arm, and sighs, dropping his gaze from Teo's to the clean swept floor.

It annoys Teo on multiple levels that he phrased it that way. If you want to go. Of course he wants to go. It wouldn't make sense to stay. There's no point. This is awkward; it's making his head hurt a little, his left temple, where he has metal bolted into his skull. "I don't know," he grinds out, finally, ignoring the urge to pull his hood over his head. That wouldn't make sense either. That would be the easiest thing to ignore. "Not really the best time to think about it. Besides, it doesn't fuckin' matter, does it? It's not going to be pretty to listen to, whatever… I'm not trying to 'be difficult' or anything. Seriously." He looks at the book on the nightstand for a protracted moment. Offers a figment of humor: "I could break the door down." That wouldn't make much sense either, acknowledgedly.

Al reddens further - that complexion makes it damned hard to hide any sort of reaction. But the door swings open. "Right," he says, rather dully. "Off you go, then,"

He wasn't really going to. He wouldn't do that. Humor fades from Teodoro's angular face the way the telekinesis had withdrawn from the air. He hates that look. It's even worse than Al's various and sundry other ones. His right foot skews toward the door but his left remains in place, quizzical, unmoved by whatever sentiment or compound mix of hormones happens to be tormenting the rest of his person. "I would've done this eight years ago," he blurts, finally. "I don't want to be that asshole anymore. So—" So now he's a different kind of asshole, he means, but doesn't finish the sentence. Expects he doesn't have to.

That doesn't seem to parse, really. Because Al looks puzzled and blank. Not to mention a little weary, again. But he's finished the one beer he was brought, and there's not another to hand. So Teo just gets a quizzical raise of one brow, and no comment, as he crosses his arms at the wrist, and leans back.

"You know. I screwed around a lot when I was a kid." Teo's eyes shift across the wall to the heater. It is warm in here, enough so to go around without your shirt— if your cold tolerance is a little better than his, anyway. There are vast and tedious essays written on 'the Catholic psyche' and its obsession with the construct of forbidden fruit. It's bullshit he tries, in general, to avoid subscribing to. Doesn't know why he's thinking of it now. "It's trouble. And…" Beer makes thinking hard. He hadn't been wrong, earlier: this isn't the best time. He rubs his eye with a callused forefinger. "Does that make senes?"

"Not much, no," Al says, flatly, letting his lids fall, as if to veil his irritation. "What's that got to do with now?" He slouches down, and then lowers himself to his side, as if to hide those scars, propping himself up casually on an elbow.

One eye squints, the other doesn't, a twinge of reaction inside Teo's head. Ow. He's momentarily at a loss, uninspired, confronted with a dozen answers that could make Al hate him. The next moment, blankly, "I should've taken you out to dinner first?"

Alexander just lowers his head to regard Teo from under copper-colored brows. "Did I look like dinner was that I had on my mind?" he wonders, in that slow, acerbic drawl. "I don't know who you're tripping yourself up over, but it doesn't have anythin' to do with me, kid. I'm twenty seven, not some teenage girl."

"I know," Teo says, which is entirely true. Al doesn't look like a teenage girl, never mind some teenage girl. He blinks slowly, thinking not for the first time, of the peculiar pointlessness of knowing more than ten languages and being able to express yourself in even one. "Buona notte." Catching balance somewhere between turning and clearing his throat, he goes to the door.

This is a really good word. You might want to know it too!

–verb (used with object)

  • to settle (a matter) decisively: After they clinched the deal they went out to celebrate.


  • the act of clinching.
  • Boxing. an act or instance of one or both boxers holding the other about the arms or body in order to prevent or hinder the opponent's punches.
  • Slang. a passionate embrace.
  • Archaic. a pun.

November 15th: Plants and Dreams

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 15th: On The Parting Of Ways
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