Crudely-Drawn Heart


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Scene Title Crudely-Drawn Heart
Synopsis Dr. Kinney discusses Dr. Bianco's relationship issues with Sacha.
Date March 18, 2009


Late afternoon in New York City finds Sacha in one of the area's probably thousands of Starbucks, near his place of employment though it's clearly past the end of his work day. Today, he has apparently opted for an overly expensive and light coffee-house dinner rather than dining at home; well settled-in, he's got himself a grande iced something-or-other, an overpriced sandwich, and an overpriced scone on the side. Overpriced, tiny and strange - very European, really.

He's probably been here for a little while, judging by how comfortably he's settled in - and the fact that the sandwich is mostly-eaten. A newspaper is partially open and sits just off to the side from his food, and he's reading through that as he eats, to pass the time.

Connor Kinney - or rather the man who goes by Connor, has had a very bad day. Even a man with the power of miracle plastic surgery can't take the signs of emotional distress off his face. He hasn't been at work all day, nor has he left his fancy condo. This is the first time he's ventured out, and only because he's out of coffee. He's shifted into his alter ego to make sure he wouldn't face any of the pressures that come from being Sonny Bianco.

So he enters in a pair of brown cords and a blue plaid shirt. He also wears a calf-length lined winter trench. A far cry from the expensive, GQ clothes he usually wears, but this doctor identity is not nearly as wealthy. "Yeah, can I get a…latte. Grande, with a shot of caramel. And this pound of beans?" He grabs a bag from a nearby display and tosses it on the counter. A glance is given around the coffee shop. Sacha is given a double-take.

Sacha glances up when he hears someone enter the shop, though he doesn't give the man very much of a look beyond that. It isn't until Kinney starts giving his order that he actually gives the man a proper look-over and oh hello that is a familiar face. Raising his eyebrows with a certain amount of surprise, he debates his next action for a moment before finally deciding to close the newspaper, set it aside and stand up.

Walking over to the doctor, he smiles and greets the man with a warm, "Good afternoon!" And even goes so far as to offer a friendly, European embrace. Regardless of whether it is accepted, he continues, "It has been quite some time, though I did leave on awkward circumstance before. I hope that you have been well?"

Connor is fairly used to Europeans, considering he's related to a whole mess of Italians and some Greeks as well. So the fact that someone he doesn't know very well who happens to have an accent greets him that way is not overly surprising. However, a muzzy mind stuck on other things is slow to react. A blink and it's only a second or two before he places the Frenchman.

"Oh, hello Sacha. Hi. Sorry, I…I've been out of coffee all day. I've been wandering like a zombie." He attempts a smile, but it's forced. An eye is rubbed at and he steps over to retrieve his coffee. "Uh, can I join you?" He tucks the bag of beans under his arm. "I've been…" well, this is going to be a lie, "I've been…all right. Yourself?"

Shaking his head, Sacha waves a hand dismissively. "It is no matter, I understand. Yes, please, by all means." He smiles again, gesturing to his table and, once Connor's coffee is gathered, leads the way over to it. He sits himself back down, folding the newspaper up entirely and leaving it aside, and he sips from his own cup of coffee while he waits for Connor to get settled.

"I have been well enough, myself. I have made a few unpleasant decisions, but for the most part I have been well." He looks the other man over for a moment, frowning thoughtfully, and hesitantly asks, "If I may pry… you do not seem to be as all right as you say. Maybe it is the lack of coffee."
Connor rather greedily swallows mouthfuls of latte. That's the beauty of coffee made mostly with milk - if it's made properly, you don't get scalded. He shrugs off his jacket and lets it drape over the back of his chair.

"I…" then he twitches a tiny, sheepish smile. He pushes fingers back through his hair. Despite the time he's spent looking like this, it's still strange to do that and not encounter curls. "Honestly?" A beat as he looks Sacha in the eye. The contact is broken before he says, "Boy troubles." And then another mouthful of latte.

Sacha winces slightly, nods. "I am sorry to hear that." Although a small, selfish part of his brain can't help but wonder if that gives him a place to slip in. Not that he'd try. Yet. "Is it something that you would like to talk about..?" He tilts his head curiously a moment, before moving to take a few more sips off his own drink again.

He also starts to idly pluck at his scone, tearing pieces off but setting them aside without eating them. A fidgety sort of gesture; has to do something with his hands, but figures it'd be rude to eat and talk. "I would like to listen, if you would."

Connor bites the edge of his lip and stares at the frothy cloud that his his latte. "It's…I hate to dump on you." He leans one elbow on the table and rubs at his neck. "It's pretty fucked up, really. It was my idea to get serious. He didn't really want to. And…" he lifts the mug to his lips, sips, and says as plainly as he can manage, "…he cheated on me."

That's the problem with living a secret double life. He's got no one to confide in. Which is the primary reason Sacha gets to hear this. Connor is still something of an anonymous face. It's safer to let down his guard while he looks like this.

Sacha shakes his head again, waving a hand dismissively. "It is no trouble; I know how hard it can be not to have someone to talk to about things." But as to the actual explanation, he just nods sympathetically, a pained expression on his face. It's one of the options he expected, at least. "I… am sorry," he finally replies, again. "I can only imagine how terrible you must feel about all of this."

He shakes his head slowly, bites his lower lip, and looks off to the side for a moment. "I.. this is none of my business, I know, but maybe he is not right for you if you do not feel the same way about being serious?"

"I could use another perspective, honestly. I've gotten wrapped up in being with him. When it's good, it's really good." A little smile appears, then flits away. "But he's got this big wall up. We've been together for months and there's still big chunks of his life he won't let me in to." Connor addresses most of this to his coffee. It makes it less awkward somehow. But that coffee is getting drained fairly quickly.

He sits back in his chair and puffs out his cheeks. "Look, I'm really sorry. I hate to air my relationship problems to you. You barely know me. And god knows there's bigger problems in this city right now than one guy struggling with his boyfriend's infidelity."

"Please, do not apologize." Sacha shakes his head yet again. Very disagreeable today. "It.. I do not have many friends in the city," he admits. "To be honest, I can think only of one person who I would think of as something like a friend, and I see him very rarely." Little Italian boy, you may have met him. "To burden you with my own problems, I have come to realize of late that.."

He pauses a moment, frowns. "I am not certain how to say it. It is just that I tend to have brief and fleeting liasons with people… and that isn't working for me." Another pause. "I would like more friends."

Figures poor Sacha would end up talking about friendship with a man who doesn't really exist. "And the role of friends is to listen to their friends bitch about relationship issues?" Connor manages a small, twitched smile.

It's a good thing Sacha didn't say anything identifying about Teo. Howing he's sitting across from one of his boyfriend's former lovers would just make his day that much worse. "New York can be a difficult city to make friends in, yeah. Specially these days. Everyone's got their guard up."

Sacha manages a faint smile. "As I said before, if you need someone to talk to, I would like to listen. I do not like to see others in distress." He sips at his coffee, then picks up a piece of his scone, eating it slowly. "It is not just even the city, I think. I have.. certain relationship issues. It is hard to explain. I have difficulties getting close to people."

He shakes his head and lets out a long sigh, resting both his elbows on the table and briefly running his hands through his hair. "I am very choosy about my company, most people are not "good enough" for me, and those who are… I often find reasons not to get close to anyway."

"Sounds like my boyfriend," says Connor in a wry, but slightly unhappy tone. "Maybe you can help me. I…feel like I'm doing too much pushing. And I'm worried that me pushing him into a committed relationship just means he's going to keep cheating. Or he'll start resenting me. Fuck…" he chuckles and presses his palm to his forhead. "Somehow I thought having a relationship with a man would be easier."

He picks up his latte again and sips. Suddenly, he wishes he had a beer. "Starting to wonder if he really wants to be in a serious relationship, or whether he just didn't want to lose my altogether." He looks up at Sacha. "I…feel like it was my fault. Like I can't be mad at him for doing something he never wanted to give up in the first place."

Sacha nods quietly as Connor speaks, but finally he lets out another sigh. "I think.. maybe he does not know what it is he wants. I myself, while I do not like commitment.. if I agreed to it, I would stick to it. I would not cheat without first telling my partner that I wanted out." A small smile there; trying to make Connor feel better, though he doesn't realize that in the process he's speaking poorly about his only other friend.

"Maybe it is that he did not want to lose you," he adds, after a moment. "I am sorry; I did not mean to be insulting before. If you chose him as a partner, I am sure he must be a good person in some ways if not in others." He idly taps at the table for a moment, shakes his head. "It is not your fault. If he did not want to be just with you, he should maybe have said something…" A shrug, and then he adds, a bit abruptly, "Is this your first relationship with a man?"

Connor rubs his jaw. The faint bit of stubble there scratches lightly. "I think he wants to commit. But hell, I don't know. Apparently he was depressed over something with his family. He never tells me anything that's going on with him. It's like he wants to keep me separate from the other parts of his life. I think, in his mind it's protecting me. Or he's just really used to keeping things…" he makes a motion with his hands to indicate separation.

Another sigh and a shake of his head. "I'm worried that you're right. That the only reason he got serious with me is because I kinda…gave him an ultimatium. He was coming home smelling like strange soap with bites and scratches…it…it made me jealous." He exhales through his nostrils. "Despite the fact that we agreed to see other people. I hadn't been. I was the guy sitting at home. Because I was happy with just him. I didn't really feel like I needed to sleep with other people." He chews lightly on the edge of his lip, then answers Sacha's question. "First serious one, yeah."

Sacha bites his lip, running a hand through his hair. "Jesus." He shakes his head quietly and is just silent for a long moment. Ultimately, though, he pulls his chair a bit closer to the table, and extends his arm across the table top, holding his hand out in an offer to Connor for some degree of comfort. Human contact and all that.

"It sounds to me like you were trying very hard not to lose him." A faint smile there. "But… it is hard not to say anything without being judgmental, but it sounds to me… I have a hard time hearing things like this without thinking that it sounds as if he was taking advantage of you. I do not know if that was the case, of course. But… that is just so heartbreaking to hear." He closes his eyes and sighs quietly. "I wish I could do more to help than just say he sounds awful."

Connor is tempted to take the hand, but instead he gives Sacha an apologetic look and glances around the coffee shop. The last thing he wants is some homophobe venting rage in their direction. He does however, touch the other man's hand briefly, to show the gesture was appreciated.

"He wasn't. It's…I can see why you'd think that. But he's very poetic. Very…passionate. And also very guarded and tortured. He takes everything on his shoulders and seems to think he has to do it by himself." A beat, "Uh, shorthand for that is that he's Catholic." A brief chuckle. "I don't think he's capable of taking advantage of me. Not intentionally, anyway. I think he makes himself hurt, gets himself into stupid situations because he feels like he doesn't deserve better. And fuck me, I'm a doctor. I can't stand to see people suffer."

Sacha does tend to forget that people can be a bit less accepting of physical affection here than Europe. He is momentarily confused by the response to his gesture, but does figure out the reasoning behind it after a moment. Hand is retracted with a brief smile, after Connor touches him, and he drinks from his coffee cup as the doctor continues his explanation.

…And the more the doctor talks, the more familiar this description sounds. The Frenchman's expression turns a bit uncomfortable as the man speaks, but he doesn't say anything to explain that discomfort - hey, really, he's got Teo on the mind so he's probably only making the association because it's someone who happens to match some of those adjectives. "Maybe that is the case," he says, with a quiet nod. "Maybe… still, though. You would think that if he is Catholic, he would not go back on a promise, non?" A small smile. "Have you talked to him about this?"

"I honestly believe he didn't mean to hurt me. It…just happened. Same thing I love about him drives me crazy." A fond smile appears on Connor's lips, but disappears just as quickly. "Passion. Spontaneity. This…crazy capital 'r' Romantic hero thing he's got going on. Sexy as hell, but sometimes I just want to shake him and pull him back down to earth. Make him realize he's got some shit all backwards."

He leans an elbow on the table and presses hand to forehead. "I haven't. He confessed what happened day before yesterday. I…walked out. Told him I needed some time to think. I still don't know what I'm going to say to him." He tugs at his ear and inhales slowly. "Maybe it just isn't going to work." There's an ache to those words.

Quietly nodding, Sacha lets out a slow breath through his nostrils. "This really is a difficult situation." He smiles helplessly. "My thinking is still that maybe you are not right for one another… but I give up easily. Still, though, maybe he is not good at commitment. Maybe he does not know what he wants. Maybe… maybe you just cannot change him to be what you hope he will be." A helpless shrug, there.

"I think you should maybe tell him some of what you have said to me. That you love him for some things that he is, but that you cannot be with him if he cannot only be with you. That is probably harsh," he adds, with a sigh. After a moment's thought, he continues, "But I think… no matter what happens, it will be best if you just say what is on your mind."

"I did say that to him. And that's when he agreed to stop seeing other people. But it was only after an ultimatum. I didn't ask him to get serious, I told him I needed to or I couldn't be with him." Another sigh. Connor's done that many times tonight. He sips from his latte, even though it's gone mostly cold by now.

"That's the funny thing about caring for somebody. I know we're not right for each other in a lot of ways, but I sure as fuck would miss him if we broke up." He stares at the table where someone has scratched in a pair of initials surrounded by a crudely shaped heart. "He needs to stop blocking everyone off. It's not just me he does this to. I'm…sorry. Really." A small smile twitches as he looks up to Sacha. "I really am dumping all over you. But it's appreciated. I…we're not exactly open. So I haven't got anyone to talk about this to."

Sacha returns the smile, equally small, and runs a hand over his hair before rubbing the back of his neck. He finishes his coffee off, setting it aside, and idly wraps his sandwich back up in the plastic it had come in. Fidgeting again. Giving himself an excuse not to respond quickly. The scone is left for now, crumbs idly picked at every so often.

"Is being with him worth going through this sort of pain? For all that you know, it sounds as though it may very well happen again, if you stay with him." He sighs faintly. "I mean.. if you are not getting back what you're putting into it. It just.. it is not fair to you to have to have that kind of situation."

"That's what I'm trying to decide." Connor shoves his mug of coffee out of the way. He stares at the wall for a moment. Clearly his mind is somewhere else. Then he blinks and focuses his gaze on Sacha. "Hey man. Thanks for listening. I mean that. It's good to know I'm not totally off base here. I owe you a couple beers. How's that?" His smile now is more genuine.

Sacha's smile is a bit more genuine as well this time - or at least, less forced. Depends on how you look at it. "However things do turn out, I hope that you make a decision you can be happy with." Somewhat of a lame answer.. but it is what it is. "That will not be necessary, however," he responds to the offer of beers with a chuckle. "I think perhaps knowing that I have someone else I can think of as a friend will be enough. So long as you do not mind if I come to you with troubles, should I have to."

"That was my way of saying we should go out for beers sometime," says Connor with a lopsided grin better suited to his real face than this fake one. He stands and reaches his hand across the table to Sacha. "Anytime, man. I think I gave you my number last time, didn't I?"

Sacha blinks, then shakes his head with a quiet laugh. "My apologies. English," he says, by way of explanation. "You did not, however, I did leave in somewhat of a hurry…" A blush, there, but he shakes his head again, more quickly, and reaches into his pocket to pull out a small business-card holder and a pen. Removes a card, puts the holder back in his pocket, and on the back of the card he scribbles down a number.

"There," he says, sliding the card across the table. "The front is where I work," a card for the business itself rather than himself specifically, "and the back is my mobile. Mobile is best, I generally should not take personal calls while working, of course," he notes with a smile.

Connor pulls out his cell phone and enters it in. Or rather, it's the cell that belongs to this identity. It's blue and shiny. "Cell's best for me too. I bounce around to a few different clinics. My schedule changes week to week."

Once Sacha's number's entered, he reaches into his jacket and pulls out his own business card. He repeats the ritual of scribbling down the personal number on the back. "I should head home. Thanks again." Once he gets home, he'll remember their first conversation and feel guilty for the whole alternate identity thing. Nothing like starting a friendship off with a lie.

Sacha takes the card and looks at the number, but for now he just slips it into his pocket along with the pen. He can put add it to his phone later. In the meantime, though, he replies, "I probably should go myself; I have been here for some time now." With a hesitant smile, he admits, "That was my third drink. They cost too much, but they are quite good." A sigh, at that. "If you feel up to it, call me after you speak with him? If things went well I will be happy for you, and if not.. we can have those beers, non?"

"Three coffees? Man, if I had that much caffeine I'd be vibrating like a cell phone," Connor grins, then reaches back to tug on his jacket. Sacha's card is tucked into his pocket as well. "Careful. That stuff isn't good for your blood pressure." Then he realizes the irony of his words when he picks up the one pound bag of beans. He tosses it in the air and catches it, then grins lopsidedly again. "I…try to limit my doses. Hey, what's a doc without a vice, huh? I'll talk to you later." As he passes, he pats Sacha on the shoulder and then heads for the door.

"The first two were smaller," Sacha says with some mock-defensiveness. "And iced. Watered down. Not as potent, oui?" He adds, with a grin. "I do not usually drink so much, but I found myself very thirsty. Not to worry." As Connor pats his shoulder, Sacha lifts a hand to touch the doctor's, briefly, before watching him leave. "See you," he replies, waving idly before getting his own things together. French guys really shouldn't hang out at Starbucks.

Another Place And Time

Bzzt, bzzt, says Sonny's cellphone. There is an inimitably familiar name in the caller ID. Somewhere in the distance of the state, there's a Sicilian boy expecting him not to pick up.

And the New Yorker nearly doesn't. It's only a ring before the voice mail clicks on that Sonny hits the 'receive' button. The greeting only comes after a beat, "Hey."

"Oh." Insipid as that sounds, it probably isn't nearly as much so as the look of him. Teo. On the other side of the line. There's a thud when his head hits something in surprise. Furniture, probably; twenty six years in, he still hasn't figured out how to operate the standard issue pieces. Wherever he is, it's quiet, but for the incessant beep of electronics faint in the background. "Bu— hi. I— how are you doing?"

"I'm…" a sigh is exhaled into the other end. "I…we need to talk, Teo. But not on the phone." He sounds exhausted. "Not tonight."

There is a moment of silence that registers fairly blatantly as disappointment of some species. Then Teo agrees, quietly. "Yeah, it'd be stupid to do that over the phone. Umm. T'morrow, maybe? If you need more time I understand," he adds, automatically.’

"Tomorrow," says Sonny. "But I need to sleep." There's the sound of him moving around. Might be that he's crawling in to bed.

Beep. Beep. When Teo remembers to breathe, it's audible, burying the background electronics in a low sweep of static. "You pick the time, I'll pick the place."

Sonny wants to ask what that is, but he really doesn't want the conversation to last longer than it needs to. Besides, he's afraid Teo wouldn't tell him, and that might spark a fight. So instead he says, "Six. After I'm done work."

"Battery Park, eagle statue?" Salvatore probably knows the one. Black metal, its broad, stylized wings swept back in impossible angles, ribbed neck bent low into a stoop and claws extended. Though a number of design decisions differ it from the tribal bird tattooed on Teodoro's back, both designs were obviously inspired by the same underlying sense of majesty. "Don't stop by the apartment."

Although it might be ill-advised to ask, Sonny does anyway, "Why not?" A beat, "And…I think this is a conversation we have to have somewhere private, Teo."

There's an audible sniff, characteristically rueful. "'Cause I made a logistical error and I'm not sure it's safe." His choice of words is sterile as he can make it, but it still sounds difficult for Teo to say. Logistical error. That's the kind that gets terrorists dead, after all. "I'll take you somewhere private from there, I promise."

There's a sigh and further shuffling. It's quite obvious now that he's in bed. "All right. Should I come as Connor?"

"You have to," Teo agrees softly. He hadn't honestly thought that Salvatore would do anything else. Beep. "Six o' clock." Beep.

Another long exhalation. "All right," a pause. "Good night, Teo." The exhaustion hovers in Sonny's tone. The beeping is bothering him, but he just doesn't have the energy to hear the no doubt complicated explanation.

It might not be. It might not be long, or all that strange; still, it's telling in and of itself, that Sonny won't. Teo is left to languish in his quiescent ignorance, too wired to be tired but that much Sonny already knows. "God bless," he replies.

Sonny doesn't have the energy to fight for another peek into Teo's life. Not over the phone. Not right now. "Tomorrow." There's a breath, a shuffle, and a click. His side of the line goes dead.

March 18th: Finding The Path To Normalcy
March 18th: Enjoy The View
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