amato_icon.gif lucrezia_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Craquelure
Synopsis After Mad House Party, a trio of hopelessly flawed people have a long overdue conversation… too late?
Date January 26, 2009

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel - Lucrezia's Royal Suite

It isn't too terribly late by the time that the three displaced Italians arrive back at the lone female in their group's suite in the Ritz Carlton. All the same, Amato's first destination is the master bedroom. It is in here, whether he is followed or not, that he not only removes his coat to hang it back in the closet, but also his sweater and shirt. Bare to the waist, the full extent of his medicated yet slowly healing injuries are open to view.

His face drawn beneath the mask of bruises and scabbed over cuts, Amato sits on the edge of the bed and pulls a tube of cream from the bedside table. He opens it with one hand, determined to be self-sufficient, and reapplies the somewhat transparent ointment on his burned chest.

"He killed a woman in a bowling alley two months ago, I think," Teodoro is saying, his shoulder parked against the ebony wall carving into which the foyer's mirrors are inlaid. He is reflected sideways, giving the odd impression that there are two of him leaning, steepled on the marble floor, opposite, their weight in perfect counter-balance. His boots, recently shed, stand on the floor beside him.

He doesn't keep his voice down; can't be bothered to. If the Vanguard was under the impression that murder was rude to talk about, he figures, they could maybe not do it.

He turns two pallid eyes away from the boudoir and over to his aunt. "I was prepared to assume you weren't in deep. Babysitting little girls who like knives and stabbing backs at night, eating mandarins in the morning. Padre used to talk about things like this before, you know. How you dated the fat mafia lords, and were going to ruin him." Padre hadn't said that, exactly, but few of Teo's recollections of his father are untainted.

Half a breath inside the double doors of the suite's main entrance and already her young and precocious nephew is digging in with wee talons unsheathed. Lucrezia bristles briefly but instead of succumbing to the boy's baited words, she takes greater pains to make a meditation of the simple act of coming out of the cold — finger by finger, gloves removed, loop by loop, scarf discarded, sleeve by sleeve, armor unsheathed. Once she's uncoiled and come around the corner, one shoulder exposed to the suite's nigh tropical environs, she says while brushing by her nephew's denim hip, "«Your father doesn't know very much about anything, let alone me…»"

But, now is not the time to linger in the foyer; she has another mission in mind. Slowly, approaching as if the path to the boudoir were strewn with shattered Faberge eggshells, she parks herself in the door jamb and asks the occupant within without peeking, "«Would you like some help?»"

By the time Lucrezia reaches the door, Amato cannot answer. The cap for the ointment is once more in his mouth, and he's doing his best to reattach it to the tube. It's only after he's returned it to the drawer that he does speak. "«I cannot remember which pills I need to take.»" Meaning now, perhaps. It's a difficult regiment to keep track of. But Teo's words did not escape him.

"«Also,»" he says in a slightly louder voice, possible probably only due to the painkillers in his system, "«I do not have leprosy.»" Why is there lingering in doorways?

However gentle the woman kept her touch, it is enough to send the cub tumbling in from the foyer, all stomping socks and fierce scowl, blunt claws and milk teeth haplessly exposed while his firearm and real accusations remain conspicuously absent. Amato's injuries hurt to look at. His wry joke at the expense of his own obvious vulnerability sends the Catholic boy's inculcated sense of guilt tripping as if he were going over a cliff.

"This is bullshit," he informs the other Italians, belligerently insisting on English in his response. He throws his coat onto the couch behind him and goes to put the kettle on, a clank and squeak of cookware and knobs. "Are you going to tell me what's going on? Ever?

"Where the Hell is Eileen?" He's back out again by now, a glass of water held out imperiously in one hand — for the pills, self-evidently, his long-legged stride set straight for the beleaguered priest. He has no compunctions about peeking or staring.

Somehow now surrounded by fair-haired countrymen, Lucrezia concerns herself with picking out the proper pills for her sacerdote to take while Teo crashes into the kitchen and punishes the small stovetop with the teakettle. Her movements are measured and made with precision; manicured fingertips dipping into prescription pill bottles and plucking out a pair of little, round doses of oblivion. She holds out a hand, palm up, but carefully ensures that though she might shadow Amato's somewhat pitiful gesture of receipt, she does not touch him in delivery. Thus cues her nephew's belligerent offering of assistance. So sweet.

"She's not here right now," Lucrezia says, responding in English in kind. Her brown eyes reflect first on the shirtless man's face and then slide over to regard her sister's borrowed son sidelong. "I have something to give you."

The pills are accepted first, and Amato throws them back into his head with a slam of his palm before he takes the glass to wash them down. "«Why,»" he asks on the breath that leaves him once the medication has started its waterpark ride to his stomach and bloodstream, "«Do you wish to know where she is?»" Just as Teo watched Amato with suspicion, so does that same man stare back at him with somewhat duller but no less skeptical eyes.

The acknowledgment of his aunt does something to soothe Teo. He'd been practically bouncing on the balls of his feet as he came in through the boudoir’s splayed doors. He settles faintly, his heels finding even distribution on the carpet and he straightens his shoulders, posture achieving some semblance of propriety. Deprived of the glass of water, his hands go to his pockets.

"I told her she would be kept safe here. It bothers my vanity to think I was inadvertently lying," he tells Amato, again with the disjunct of language. Surly, still, but fractionally less so. He stares at the older man for a moment longer without really seeing him; he's thinking about Lucrezia, her words, even before he raises his winter-rumpled head. Looks at her. And, as tactful as a car wreck—

"If it won't help me kill Kazimir Volken, I probably don't care a lot about it." He watches her face as if he could read it if she didn't want him to, his pale eyes too full with her sumptuous reflection to have grown old and dark despite the crushing aeon of uncertainty, temper, and worry there. He hasn't changed that much.

The shadow of the Spider Queen disappears from the boudoir and into the bathroom, though her voice can be heard preceding her return with a cavernous and accented echo: "What if it will help you and the people you really care about to live…"
When she come back into the room, rounding the corner and returning to focus, she's clutching a pair of small syringes in the palm of her right hand. "…just in case you cannot kill him?" She doesn't dare spare a look for Amato at the moment. Right now, the world has come down to only her and Teo; everything else is out of frame. An offer is made. "Take them," she says, gaze magnetic and unavoidable.

Amato lies down as carefully as he can once he has placed his empty glass on the nightstand. He doesn't move to tuck himself into bed at all, and for several minutes, he fights to keep his eyes open and remain part of the conversation. But the world around him becomes fuzzier and fuzzier before his eyelids finally fall and he drifts off to drug-induced sleep.

The younger Sicilian had been looking at the man with the abbreviated arm and camouflage mottling of bruises before, his brow pulled dark, scowling, with the irritable conviction that Amato's inability to get himself under the linens was the result of either incompetence or further insidious evil he could righteously expend his temper toward.

He looks up when his aunt returns, his own arm half-raised through a gesture that meant, if she would manage the covers, he would help. The syringes kill his voice halfway out of his throat.

Her look, her words, close his mouth as efficiently as a hand clapped to his jaw. The offer is a command, and Teo would as soon dispute the sea was blue or the sun yellow. Which means, maybe, at night, without light — or underwater, with the refractions of waves and the green microcosm of a thousand photosynthetic organisms filtering the color frequencies of visible light, he might have fought. Or maybe if the world was flat.

Maybe if he was Romero, or more his father's son than hers. Despite their gentleness, his fingers are rough on her palm. "It's happening on Wednesday. In two days. It's why I wanted you to leave." He takes them. Then her hand, in his other. His voice becomes embarrassingly small: "Would you want to live in a dead world?"

Perhaps it's because her wounded comrade-in-arms — Kazimir Volken's mangled right hand — is now occupying such a scant portion of her borrowed bed with heavily leaded eyelids; her voice cracks and tumbles down her throat until it is barely more than a whisper. "Non." It then becomes time for her to impart impersonal instructions. The hidden syringes are gestured to with a small lift of her chin as she says, "One is for you. The other you give to your friends. See how much of it they might be able to synthesize before…" Before the world ends.

She slowly withdraws her hand from Teo's grasp and, in fact, even turns away from him, preferring instead to leave Amato slumbering in silence instead of skirting subconscious affection of his drugged up dreams. "I don't know how complicated it is," she confesses, flinging the words from the tips of her fingers as she slinks through the door of the boudoir in order to once again hover in and haunt the living room, laboring under the assumption that Teo will eventually follow in her sauntering wake. "But I'm sure you might know someone who could do something useful with it."

Her words undo themselves, give way only a little pressure like a knot looped out of a single piece of string: she's sure he might know someone. Left behind, his hand closes on empty air, grasping at the residual warmth of his kindred's skin before withdrawing to his side. He forgets to look at Amato. He simply follows her out. Mind you, there is a lot going on and Teo hasn't fully grasped the implications of her answer yet. Still, he might be motivated by more than self-interest, egocentricism, personal tragedy, and there might be some part of him that knows her well enough or believes in her with enough strength to suspect the nobility of her decision, even as he says—

"But there is a worse place." His protest stumbles out of him like he stumbles out after her, the syllables like the strides; he doesn't fall but there's something catching, halting, desperate enough to attempt insistence even as the ignoble awareness that this is the noble thing turns inward like a diseased thorn recurved into the stem of its rose, threatens to cancel itself out completely. "«You told me so. To be more afraid of that.»" He banks at the corner of the coffee table, blinking at her, raw in the incandescent light.

There are few absolutes where they come from. Hell is one of them.

Lucrezia climbs into the corner of the extended couch as if she were a small child of no more than six instead of a grown woman six years shy of half a century. "There is… which is why I want you to go to confession before Wednesday." You wicked sodomite. She grips the overstuffed arm with both hands but leans her head back at such an extreme angle that her bare throat is exposed in an arch while her bedroom eyes mind the handcrafted craquelure of the shadowed-strewn ceiling. "«I have made a great many mistakes in my life, dearest, and I am sorry to say that I very frequently repeated some of them. As have you. But, I have been given the opportunity to atone for what I have done… and I cannot in good conscience allow such an opportunity to pass me by.»"

Finally, after her slightly extended diatribe, her head once again squares itself on her shoulders and she returns her eyes to her nephew; a face she doesn't have to imagine. "«For your sake… and for mine.»" Um… why does this sound like a 'goodbye'?

"«I should burn these.»" It's nonsense, of course, illogical, a waste of breath and ridiculous sentiment, but Teo gets that way sometimes. When his beloved aunt's words go right through him. Out the other side and leave red all over the wall behind him, his face scoured white. He'd probably be a happier boy if he was a little slower on the uptake, but he might not be her boy if he was. He comes across the carpet at a broken tempo, p-pp-padding to a halt across the rug from her end of the couch.

"«I could hold you down. Put the needle in your neck.

"«Honor is in living,» zietta." How capricious the little man she raised in her image. So spiteful one moment, all disgust if not cruelty for the one-handed murderer across the room; determined to bring all of his love and forgiveness for her to bear the next, on the pinning force of his elbows and the weight of his knees if he has to. He looks at her out from underneath knotted eyebrows and fights the growing conviction that she's watching her slide her voluptuous frame into the black-knuckled grip of certain death.

Almost done, but not quite.

January 26th: Mad House Party
January 26th: Murderers Quarterly
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License