Dead Air, Not Clemency


leonard_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Dead Air, Not Clemency
Synopsis Teo has a hole in his shoulder, a recent orphan, and a lot of explaining to do. Leonard is frustrated in a Variety of ways.
Date October 5, 2009

Old Lucy's — Upstairs

Though one might remember when a certain fiery woman lived here… Now the living area above Old Lucy's has changed hands. The open living room and kitchen are homey, a commingling of two people's tastes. The leather couch sits kitty corner to a one of red suede and a bit smaller. A large bird cage for it's budgie inhabitant takes up it's own corner beside dark paneled walls. Bookshelves with literary pieces of a variety both academic and not take up another small section.

The kitchen is large, with a rolling wood and black marble island to give more counter space to work on. Pots and pans hang from the roof and track lighting keeps it not gloomy. A proper oak dining table has been set up with matching chairs instead of the 70's castoff that the residents have been known to own and a bowl of fresh fruit sits in the center.

Down a hall lay's multiple doors. A master bedroom occupied by the oldest resident and occasionally have a pervading smell of whiskey and smoke coming from it when the door is open. A second door with a cross above it, a third with no marking that is occupied by the third resident of the premises. Two other doors lead to a linen closet and bathroom respectively. A black cat with a red velvet collar and a little swarovski charm dangling from it can be found meandering at will.

He comes home at dinner time, or about half an hour before the pot's put on. The bar's working full swing below-deck and Flint's still at the Cathedral, unconscious, which means that Leonard's roommate, the inimitable Abigail Beauchamp, might be at either one of those locations. It leaves the apartment occupied only by one cat, a bird singing blithe soliloquys in her cage, and a telekinetic, when the bleep-whitter of an electronic MIDI file and a shuffle-through of colored LED lights indicates that Alec's state-of-the-art security system just let a man through. It's Teo. It's been a couple days.

Jacket scuffed, jeans new-laundered, the man himself looks tired, which falls in line with when he'd said he'd be out, all weekened, with Hana. Anemia is gnawing a pallor into the sanguine ruddiness of his cold-bitten cheeks and the swing of his right arm is stiff where it meets his shoulder, the sound of his footfalls uneven if not particularly pained by the task of walking. "Leo?" he inquires, shutting the door with his hip.

Leo's in the kitchen, brooding over cocoa like a dragon over gold. The apartment smells pleasantly of something baking. "You," he says, as he sticks his head out the kitchen door, "Look like you feel awful." His tone is sad, sympathetic, rather than furious - the fit of the sulks has come and gone, for now, anyway. He's in flannel shirt, jeans, boots. "Come in and sit - you hungry?"

"Yeah. That would be great. But— afterward, I could use your help stitching up my shoulder," Teo adds, in a slightly awkward, almost timid voice, as if the request were something about borrowing a vehicle or a shirt instead of injury that ought to be seen to. "I got the front done but there's a small exit wound and I can't reach. Just a cut." He takes his shoes off, the way he always takes his shoes off when he's in a place he considers a home rather than merely some variety of house, those same manners Amadora Laudani taught him decades ago. Thump. Thump. His socked feet make no noise taking ingress.

His hands are half cold and half warm on the sides of Leonard's neck: palms like metabolic furnaces, tapering fingers chilly and greedier for it. It is like Hello, and Cheer up in one gesture, because it's too soon or too late to ask how Leonard's doing.

Leonard's breath hisses in, and he's instantly scrambling to see. Gentle, despite his haste. "What happened?" he asks, and his tone is flat, even as he begins stripping Teo of his shirt. "Who shot you?"

He isn't shot— that's revealed soon enough, when the angry red rip-dash-line of the wound comes into view. He'd been stabbed. Hard enough that the weapon punctured the intervening bone of his shoulderblade and probably jutted through the other end a decent fraction of an inch: a long blade and expertly wielded.

The entry wound's wider, of course. Stitched up by a steady hand, if not nearly as mathematically regular as the work that Sonny or even Eileen could have done for him. Both have been cleaned out since, and minimal exertion means the lips of the injuries are sealed over with neat scabs, unbroken, pus and stickily-stiffened serous residue minimal. Teo's been hurt enough times, between his two lives, to know how to take care of himself. "Fight went wrong and I got stabbed.

"I think it'll be okay, though," he recites, obedient as if he were on a pediatrician's bench, studying the toy koala on his doctor's stethoscope line. "It just went straight through. I'm eating lots of antibiotics. Just don't want it to open up again."

There's one of those incoherent grunts, and there's that sense of pressure in the room that means Leo's power and Leo's anger have combined into that invisible 800 pound gorilla. "Suffering Christ, Teodoro Laudani," he says, tone ironed out flat with anger. "Stay there," He's already heading for the bathroom. "By the way…." He stops, biting it off short in disapproval. Pertinent questions later, after he's dealt with this.

"…Non problema." This leaves Teo with his eyes downcast, sheepish, uncertain of what to make of Leonard's anger. Its trajectory dissipates into the great fog of uneducated interpretation before he manages to figure out its true target. He scrunches his shirt up in his hands and glances down at himself, puts his nose briefly against the underside of one arm. He smells okay. Every tattoo in place, from the iconographed knight on his pectoral to the accumulation of words, tribalized animals and geometry blocked in over the rest. Hale, every inch of him; just tired. After a moment, he closes his hand on the mug of hot chocolate Leonard had been brooding over, and he. Drinks it.

Leo pauses in the doorway, first aid kit in hand, brought up short by a mixture of helpless anger and red lust. But Teo's tired and wounded, and it can all stand to wait. For now. There's the nostril-stinging scent of alcohol as he cleans the wound with sterile gauze, the prick of topical anesthetic delivered from a syringe, and the numb tug of the wound being sewn. For all the his jaw is clenched, LEo's hands remain tender.

The raw black of Leonard's mood isn't lost on his sweetheart, of course. The death of the air in the grip of telekinesis tells it how it is with the subtlety of a foghorn, and there's something wrong with the lock of Leonard's jaw, the warfare between sentiments in his eyes. Teo's stomach knots, visceral unhappiness, demands more of his attention than the nip of needle or dumbed-down nerves. "Hey," he says, abruptly, hazarding a hand back, sideways, finding a knee to tug placatingly. "I'll be fine. These things happen. And not too often. You know how it is. Eh?" There's a slight dip to his head, a glance angled up and the corners of his mouth, too, reassuring like Teo never is.

"Is Refrain how it is, Teo?" Leo demands, even as he stitches, neatly. "We found a syringe of the stuff in your -jacket-." He's got rubber gloves on, the thin latex that hospitals use, rather than housewives a-cleaning. The stillness in the air hasn't eased a whit.

This query catches him completely off-guard, and the reaction is one part recoil— his wrist hooked back, palm snatched off Leonard's knee as if it'd burned— but mostly just stillness. Denial toys with the corner of Teo's mouth, but his throat closes on that before he does Leo the disservice of actually lying to his face about how much he really, surely, truly doesn't, couldn't have known about that. "I don't use Refrain," he rasps, finally. "I've never used Refrain. Don't think I will, but I'd be careful with it: I'd know to be careful with it. Don't be mad, Leo."

There is no vicious poking, despite Leo's anger. "Then how did it get there, Teo?" And now his voice is just sad. "Abby's not Evolved. I don't do it. The….our houseguest….he's a preacher…." Joseph hadn't occurred to him, not until now. But he believes the Sicilian's denial, and it leaves him with the bloodied needle gleaming in midair.

Bizarrely, it's this straightforward belief in Teo's words that compels him to greater honesty instead of reassuring himself he could afford to skew things a little to the left. Or else, the idea of besmirching Joseph's reputation is beneath him. His eyes fall. "It's not Pastor Sumter's," Teo grates, halted and uncomfortable, nothing to fidget with. He checks the bottom of Leonard's drained chocolate mug, studies the patterned eddy and sliding liquid smudge of dark powder across it. "It's mine. I got it. Helped steal it from the Triads. I was thinking about using it, just to see what all the hype was about, take… take the edge of. But I— venuta f— I pussed out. So far, anyway. Do you want to try some?"

That's a weird question. "Teo," And Leo's tone is lost, gentle. "Are you suffering so badly you need that? It goes nowhere good…." He finishes off the stitching, blots the little bleeding with more gauze, all of which goes in a trashcan. "I'm tempted. I am. I'm also not very strong. That's why I don't drink…." He trails off, lays his hands very lightly on the Sicilian's shoulders.

"No," Teo's answer is quick, but not too quick. Hopefully. He reaches up and closes his fingers loosely across the flat of Leonard's hand, curls them slightly so his nails dig, dropping an anchor both physical and sensatory with no actual intent to inflict pain. "I mean — there's stress. I didn't think too much of it until I started— maybe overthinking it.

"It was just for fun. I did a lot of stuff when I was younger, and I guess I didn't care too much, but—" Pale eyes click-shift up, study Leonard briefly from underneath the frame of his furrowed brow. "I get it. I'm surprised you're not yelling." He leans over, a little, the long axis of his spine shifting underneath skin and musculature when he swings a foot up to perch on the lower rung of Leonard's chair, pushes a kiss into the fragrant incline of his cheek. "I am unfamiliar with this 'weakness' you flaunt."

Leonard shakes his head. "No, you're not. I drink, I get drunk, it's a problem. It's not…not fun or sociability or whatever." There's a shaky sigh, after Teo kisses him, before he returns it. He smells like his usual aftershave, and soap. "I'd yell at you, but it doesn't seem to work. We just fight, and we're angry. I'm…." And here is when he pulls out the card usually reserved for Southern women, "I'm just hurt. And afraid for you. I don't want you to do that stuff. But if you do, then you have to give me some, too."

The card is studied. Turned over, then rotated upside-down and examined under different light, and some form of sorrow touches Teo's face, folds down on the line of his brow. The expression is aged like this body isn't, one part nostalgia, stained through by the runoff and filmy patina residue of other things that had come before. This relationship in a different incarnation, other relationships before their crumpled car-wreck conclusions. "And then what?" he asks, presently. He glances over Leo's shoulder, partly because their faces are too close together that he can focus on eye-contact properly, but partly not. "When we're stitching each other up and have all our grisly paramilitary secrets halved, you'll feel better?"

"Yes," Leo says, entirely ingenuous. "You love me, Teo, and you've done a lot for me. For which I am grateful. But…..the day to day stuff you leave me behind on. I don't know how to get through to you. You won't give up your crusades, and I can hardly ask you to, you do a lot of good. You do. But I want to help. I want to be with you. Not the one you wave your hankie at before you go tilting at windmills." He cups Teo's face in his hands, withdraws a little so they can make eyecontact.

Their eyes make contact. Teo's eyes blink. His irises retain their eerily under-saturated pallor, as inorganic as ice, reflecting Leonard's face back to himself in its only faintly tinged sheen, miniaturized and mathematically distorted over the faint convex. "I don't have crusades. I have stuff I do because I'm asked and sometimes because it's useful. I have inertia. Obligations that are like my memories in the sense that they belong to other men you know, they aren't mine, and I don't think I should have to carry them, but I do.

"But you can have some of it, if you want," he says, and his voice is gentler when he says this, softening from the tone in which he'd made his psychological review. Stiff, undecorated, seemingly factual even if it was undoubtedly no less weird or easier to understand. "I didn't forget my promise. Next time. I know you could use some windmills to tilt at. And some dirt on your hankey." Is what this is really about, isn't it? He doesn't add that on, but it's there, implied by the gentle tug of rough digits on the point of Leonard's chin.

"Yes, you do," His tone is amused, tired. "This whole thing is. You should be home in Sicily, playing soccer, courting some black-haired girl, married, fuck, I dunno. Not fighting terrorists or being a terrorist in the US of A. Sleeping next to a mutant when you condescend to sleep at all. No more Refrain here, Teo."

The argument is neither unexpected nor welcome, though Teo hesitates to elaborate on the subject. It takes him a few seconds to answer, seconds that he whiles away with the intricate and absorbing exercise of curling his fingers around and away from Leonard's jaw, fitting his thumb into the little cleft that Sal had sculpted into its middle. "For one thing," there's a lazy upward flick of one brow, pointed, scholarly in its pretension: "It's football." The brow levels. "For another, I wasn't born in Sicily. I was born a stone's throw from a nuclear meltdown in New Jersey. I probably need to stop forgetting that." Pause. He lowers his head an inch, acknowledging. "No more Refrain here."

"Good," Leo says. And punctuates the statement with one of those brutally eager kisses, mouth on mouth. There's art in him, sometimes, but not now. Maybe lust will win out over both anger and sense. God knows it happens, with Knight.

The point of Teo's nose winds up bent, almost painfully against Leonard's cheekbone, the rest of him tilted backward on an oblique angle, hipbone and the ligaments in his tattooed arms standing out under his skin, lit by a tension that's all that keeps him mechanistically from summarily crashing into the floor under the physical force of Leonard's advance.

If 'advance' is the right word. There's enough muscle memory and recent memory that he meets this all right, lips and tongue matching push for pull and bite for scrawl. It takes him one or two moronic seconds to figure out that this is a little different to the other 'stuff' they've done recently, though, and then there's coloring, a guppy-finned flick and nudge of eyelashes blinking on the bridge of Leo's nose, a hand on his shoulder, hesitation, then hesitating to hesitate. He knows what happens, with Knight. He remembers, and despite all his rhetoric, that's what matters more than who those memories belonged to.

But the hesitation is telegraphed through, even as Leo puts his arms around Teo. If he had drunkenness as an excuse, that might be one thing. But….not now. Just anger and frustrated desire. And he freezes, makes sure of Teo's balance, and withdraws, red in the face. Just a little distance.

The red in Leonard's face invites reciprocation on Teo's. How awful, how embarrassing, how horribly unfair. He swallows, a visible bob in the apple of his throat, and uncurls a finger out of the hand he'd somehow levered up onto its perch on the telekinetic's shoulder. The smooth flat of his fingernail trails up the line of his jaw, and the first two segments of the digit flatten out gently above the curl of his knuckle, a ridiculously timorous touch, from a hand that could paralyze a man with but a flick. "I'm taking care of a kid," he says, suddenly. Sounds like he swallowed a salamander. "I don't know what to do with him. He saw Hana kill his mom. Almost watched. That's where I've been all these evenings. I don't know what to do."

"Bring him here," Leo says, diverted, and very gratefully so. "I can take of a kid, and Abby'd make an excellent mother." He smiles, tentatively, at the touch, licks his lips.

She would, wouldn't she? Teo's silent a moment, his features troubled for a few seconds before smoothing back into simple uncertainty. It's a good distraction though, it's true. "I'm not sure that's a good idea. He's a smart kid. Intuitive. Intuitive children are so much trouble," he says, before stopping sharply, suddenly, disliking the way he said that: it's what Ghost thought, maiming and sabotaging his way through the spare furnishings and already-scarred walls of a little girl. "He might think to go to the police or something. He already hates me. I'm sure."

Leonard eyes Teo, patiently. "What are you going to do with him, Teo? Place him with his family? Why did Hana kill his mother? Who is with him now? How old is he?"

"He's eight," Teo answers, carefully. 'Hana killed her because she was with the Company." Was. The word covers an equal spectrum of guilt and relative innocence, and the slight change in the Sicilian's face, this close, is unmistakable. Teodoro Laudani rarely exhibits the audacity enough to truly disagree with Hana Gitelman, and when he does, it goes against the grain. "There's a Ferryman with him now.. Doesn't know anything, but I don't think he'll talk to her. I don't know what I'm going to do." Doleful as his younger analogue ever was, he closes his eyes. Squeezes once. Sets his forehead against Leonard's. Sighs.

Leonard turns the question into a statement. "You find his family, and you take him there. ANd if he has none, you make one. You give him to the Lighthouse, if he's Evolved. Or bring him here."

That seems like the right answer. That seems to make sense. Acknowledges that this kid is indeed a real child, not— evidence to be buried, a scar to be hidden away, a secret or irrelevant. Teo hadn't been sure. He was hanging out with Hana awhile, before he went against her, and his perspective's been turned into a mess of overcompensation and regret since, unsure if his heart had got in the way or if unnecessary cruelty had been diverted. "Okay. Okay, I'll do that. Good idea.

"Here, or the Lighthouse." His eyes disfocus and his mouth moves again, once or twice, silent, like he's repeating that in his head. 'Here, or the Lighthouse.' Making sure he remembers. "What should I tell him if he asks me—?" He doesn't even know; can't even conceive of what Jared would ask. Where his mother is, who his rescuer is, the woman he was with. What happened. Why.

Leonard suggests, bluntly, "The truth might work. If he saw Hana kill her, and you were there…..he won't believe a damn thing you say, anyhow." He breathes out, slowly, one of those impatient bull breaths.

"Okay." Teo's elbow thumps the table at an odd angle, braces, pushing him up, closer to upright in Leonard's arms, his knees scissoring briefly to help him on this endeavor. Ahem. If he had more hair on his head or clothes on his person, he'd probably need to straighten them out, but as there is, there's nothing to occupy his hands except the telekinetic and a modest but tasteful selection of nearby furniture. "Thanks. I'll… I'll go do that. Maybe the Lighthouse, uh? Good to have kids around him?"

Leonard puts his head on Teo's shoulder for a moment, an oddly canine gesture. And then sighs. "What a wonderful capacity for getting in trouble you have," he points out, drily.

That seems slightly unfair. Teo pushes his nose into the other man's cheek, even as he unthreads his legs, pulls himself back onto his feet. Snatches his shirt off the floor, when he realizes that's where it had ventured off to. "I don't think you have the right to say that about anybody, bambino," he points out, wryly. By the time his head scrunches out through the collar of his shirt, his face is the proper color again.

Leonard just eyes him, and folds his arms. Then pushes himself back up. "You're hungry." It isn't a question this time, either.

"Only a little. I'll eat some fuckin' food after I drop him off," Teo says, like it's a promise, which means that it is one. He flattens his shirt down over his belly, leans over to rub a kiss into the plushy thread of Leonard's hair, claps his cheek, once, gently, before snaring jacket and the leather webbing of his shoulder holster.

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