Don Quixote


teo2_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Don Quixote
Synopsis 'And so, from the little sleep and much reading, his brain dried up, so he came to lose his mind.'
Date May 15, 2019

New York City: transit from John F. Kennedy Airport

It takes some time for Teodoro to construct a satisfactory salutation. He made it out of the airport, took his usual bus into town. An hour-long trip due to the number of stops to make en route and general state of the infrastructure in New York City, but he didn't mind; travel-worn from the long flight from Sicily, nervous about the decision that he's decided he will make, it gave him time to wonder if it was his business, to study the bus route map, to refocus on his busy schedule filled with paperwork and bureaucracy the next few weeks, to remember Francois is in Rochester, figure it's better actually to text sooner than later, get it out of the way.

+39 333 6425

+39 333 6425
It's Teo from Sicily
I'm back in town to visit my family.
But I wanted to check in

+39 333 6425
Let me know if you want to meet up. Just arrived & I'm here for 2 weeks

Not even Teo himself is sure what that last thing is about, when he presses send. Whatever! It's done. The bus has wifi. He stuffs his phone back inside the inner breast pocket of his coat, takes out his laptop, hunkering his head down to peer at the screen, trying to screen the contents for non-privileged projects to work on.

Elsewhere, Francois picks up his phone in a fugue state.

Working late, but 'home', if the half-empty loft apartment in Williamsburg yet counts as home. It's been a rocky relationship so far, not just due to the ongoing comedy of faulty wiring and plumbing, but just because Francois hasn't had much of a relationship with homes in his long life, of treating them as such. Living at the Bunker felt like some kind of temporary arrangement that never ended, and his old West Village house is a bombed out wreckage like the rest of Manhattan.

But this place is home in that he can wallow in self-pity without anyone judging him, after spending a day smiling like a professional throughout meetings with military policemen. Currently, wallowing entails going over the plans for Wolfhound's involvement in watching the protests on the docks of Red Hook, printed out maps overlaid with route and section details, a bottle of merlot, not shaving, and a microwave frozen dinner of cajun shrimp rice something whatever.

And now he's looking at his phone. He doesn't smile at it.

7: 39PM
I'm in NYC
Did you just get in off the plane?

Bloop! Teo has a text. He is not exactly surprised but maybe a little, twisting his head to look at his phone, half-expecting Delilah to have thwarted his half-surprise arrival. He had barely managed to open his E-mails, and the VPN on his computer has not finished connecting. He reaches to pluck up the small device and has a peek.

What is Francois doing in New York City? Plenty of things, probably. Nobody tells Teo anything, that's all. (That's why he's here, listening to the bus grunt to a stop. Pausing from considering his reply in order to get up, help the woman move her roller bag down the narrow aisle.)

+39 333 6425
On the bus from fba. We're passing through Elmhurst

It's a gigantic, wobbly loop, this bus route. Teo thought about going the other way, through Brighton Beach, but after counting the stops, Bay Ridge looked equally distant no matter which way he went. Maybe one day there will be rideshare services permitted to pass through the checkpoints at the Safe Zone limits, but until then, he's too cheap, tired, and concerned with Walter's eventual college fund to try switching modes of transportation. Parennttinnnggnn.

+39 333 6425
Dee & Walter live in BR.

I'd like to talk

These timestamps are embarrassing, but Francois is a half a bottle of wine into not giving a fuck! Looking at demonstration security plans won't force memorisation, or for Wolfhound to become proficient at the eventuality of riot control, or give him invisible points towards being a responsible commander, and so he focuses on his phone instead.

Blinks over his own texts, and the texts proceeding, and lazily presses out another.

Whenever of course
I can stay in town longer over the w/end too
tell D&W I say hello

He reaches, sliding his glass nearer.

Teodoro's VPN connects at almost the exact same instant that the next message pops into his phone. His eyebrow goes up. He looks between the laptop and his cellphone for a moment, priorities warring inside his travel-rumpled head. It would be really strange if he rolled into town to marry the mother of his child and detoured his first night in town to hang out with his clone's husband. But he knows what Delilah would say if he asked her.

She has always trusted his gut about matters of this nature. It's not the same as trusting his gut about everything; he is as prone to misjudgment as the next passably intelligent but graphically flawed dude, when he is angry, when he is bored, when he is frightened for his family. (This one will be awfully relevant, in the coming weeks.) But with a clear mind and a full stomach, he can trace a bad feeling to its roots in reality.

Teo slaps down the lid of his laptop.

+39 333 6425
Where are you?
Maybe you're even en route

Teo wants to ask, Are you okay?, partly because Francois sort of sounds not okay, and partly so that he can have a hard confirmation, some kind of justification however unnecessary, to text Delilah, should he decide to ruin the surprise in the next however long it takes to get there. But it seems like the wrong thing to transmit electronically to Francois, who has done things like, survive torture (if you've read the book) (which of course Teo has!) and keep his shit together when his real boyfriend was kidnapped by evil scientists and now runs top secret paramilitary operations. RRRR UUUU OOOKKKK.

I would be if you 're coming thru from Elmhurst

Maybe if he was at least 5% more okay, and at least 20% less inebriated, Francois would apologise for sounding as though he was in need of urgent attendance, and encourage Teodoro to go and see his family, to put down his things and relax from the journey. Perhaps there's something to that, though — that Teodoro doesn't need Francois telling him what to do, right?

He feels a spike of guilt anyway. It's a spike that kind of emerges out from the quagmire of guilt he is already, as mentioned before, wallowing in. What's a little more of that, in the scheme of things.

156 Broadway

Okay, fuck. He gets up, and he starts putting away work, but not before judging the amount of liquid still in his glass and then smoothly downing it.

+39 333 6425
Looking forward
Be there soon

Teo Googles it real quick and thinks he must have read the address wrong. It looks like an… apartment? It looks like a recently purchased apartment, according to the first real estate brokerage website that comes up on his phone, and also the second one. He studies the photograph, partly to ensure he won't have to wander around in the dark and roll the dice with Brooklyn's unpredictable distribution of urban problems for too long, and partly because he is trying to solve mysteries.

But he is Teo the Thirty-Four-Year-Old Lawyer, not Teo the temporally fractured soon to be private detective, so he gives up soon after that. Shoves his computer away and pulls himself out of his seat, informs the bus driver that he's planning to alight at Williamsburg instead. The bus driver is a nice lady who calls him 'baby' and waves him to sit back down.

Teodoro spends twenty minutes of wondering how long he should wonder before completely giving up on surprise o' clock on Delilah, and quite suddenly, he arrives. He puts his shit together and stumps down the steps and into the street, navigating his way to 156 Broadway. This is a pretty nice area. He's glad he didn't unpack his gun on the airport bus, that would have been real fucking weird. Take that, paranoia. He is the functional one.

Willamsburg, New York City: Francois' New Apartment

It's an interchangeable patch of old Brooklyn, with its irregular brown buildings, the occasional spray of council-approved wall art. It's not yet late enough for all streetlamps to kick off, but Teo can spy a few of them showing up early — glowing consistently, as opposed to with stutters, or not at all.

Teo's mystery solving doesn't have to go on for much longer — the lobby is lit up yellow and Francois is idling behind the glass doors, having adopted a restless pace back and forth. Outfitted in old jeans and a sweater, all various shades of blue and comfortably post-work, long shot confirms he is okay! No long lingering injuries, or recent ones, pools of blood, slings, etc. He spies Teo's approach, and moves to get the doors, explains; "The intercom's been down today. Bonsoir."

Close up, details: wedding band still fastened to finger, glinting silver. That he hasn't shaved since prrooobably yesterday is only noticeable because he usually tries to be fastidious about these things, and Teo knows enough usuallys, even this Teo. Hair has loosened from its precisely combed waves, but one would credit the hour for that lapse in grooming.

That he irradiates unhappiness comes down to a matter of instinct.

How does one greet the identical physiognomy of your husband you're fighting with, anyway? Francois contemplates this, and decides to offer out an arm for a hug. Because he can do whatever he wants!

Teo spots the Frenchman and advances accordingly. He slows down just fractionally when the small 'off' details about Francois emerge into view, not making a big production out of it, not staring, not being too obvious, just noticing, as discreetly as possible. Francois makes discretion challenging when he throws his arms out, though.

Well, that just happened. This is happening. It has been years since their last encounter, but Teodoro Laudanis are all entirely aware, as is the vast majority of this man's acquaintance, that Francois Allegre is not a hugger.

Teo smiles, wide and bright and warmly. He wheels his luggage to a stop just by the Frenchman's feet, and he hugs the older man. A squeeze reassures him that Francois is not noticeably underweight or anything, so that's some small blessing. (This Teo is somewhat narrower than the other ones. If they were matryoshka dolls, he would be the insidemost one.) Francois smells a bit wine-y but mostly of shampoo and detergent, which is nice. "Ciao," Teo says. "Ciao. You look good." He releases the older man and smiles at him, clapping his shoulder before he grabs the luggage handle again. "What is this place, company housing?"

Francois has been getting a little bit of practice in. First Abigail, then Elisabeth — twice! — where reunions and engagement announcements tend to make up for disproportionate lack. Also he's been drinking. Short of becoming very drunk, one enjoys a certain uncharacteristic physical gregariousness. One finds themselves with their arms around what one has to tell oneself is tantamount to your husband's brother, while knowing this isn't true at all, and one notes the differences, and similarities, and lets go.

And there's a difference, his Teodoro's lack of casual Italian.

That makes him sad, for some reason. "Non," he says, tipping his head. This way to the elevators. "Wolfhound is moving some operations to— here," gesture, the city, like it's the only city, "and so I have made myself comfortable."

The building is old in the way all buildings that survived the war are old, now. Lots of raw brick and high ceilings and broad arched windows and tile floors, which will continue up onto the fifth level, and also into the two-bedroom loft that Francois opens the door to. Wooden floors, windows, and an emptiness of someone only recently transitioning their life into this space. In-built shelving has boxes of stuff on them intended for shelves — books, mainly. Framed photographs. Even if Francois were to unpack properly, there isn't a two-bedroom loft amount of objects to fill it out.

There is a couch, more antique than vintage. A low table, on which he has roughly gathered up some paperwork and rested his laptop on top of it, out of the way. A heavy book, an old, worn-out copy of Don Quixote, sits hopefully next to all of that.

His wine is in the fridge, glass rinsed.

"Would you like anything to drink?"

"Um sure," Teo says brightly. "What — if you're having something, I'll have the same.

"Otherwise just water, thanks." He wheels his luggage to a stop next to the couch, then immediately starts looking at the books. He was very a nerd before he became a terrorist, and it certainly isn't gone from him now. It has been some time since he read for pleasure, of course; reading so much for work and for study before that, will fuck up your interest in doing so for leisure. But sometimes he remembers how things used to be, in a way that is spontaneous and pleasant and brought back by the smell of old, browned pages.

Don Quixote ends up in Teo's hands, even as he hovers over a box of other tomes. He glances at the photos that have parallaxed into view once he got there. This seems quite nice, if you ask him. Very fashionable living arrangements, the salvaged chic endemic to New York circa 2019. It feels slightly like Palermo, even, for a broad description of 'rustic.' But more industrial, heavier and darker, not enough brightly colored paint on the exterior buildings to bounce sunlight back through the windows, maybe.

"I'm not much one for rural living either," Teo says.

Es natural condición de las mujeres desdeñar a quien las quiere y amar a quien las aborrece.1

That's sexist. Teo furrows his brow and flips through more pages.

Y así, del poco dormir y del mucho leer, se le secó el cerebro, de manera que vino a perder el juicio.2

Hmmmmm. Esto es incómodo. Awkward. Teo glances at his companion, then closes the book very carefully and puts it back down again. He rubs his hands on the outside of his coat, distracting himself from the residual chill, trying to convince himself he's ready to remove the outer layer already. It is certainly warm enough in here.

"I was born on a farm."

This, Francois calls back from the kitchen, which is only divided from the living space by way of countertop island. He considers the hard liquors he has jammed together in a cardboard box, but decides that this isn't very polite, and so retrieves his bottle of wine. There isn't a lot left, maybe two glasses worth and change, and there's barely been time enough for the chill to settle on green glass. "A small one. Vineyard, some livestock. Horses. Which I know sounds perhaps luxurious, but we were quite poor, actually. Everyone was.

"And I was considered very backwards, very uncosmopolitan," he says, now moving back for the living area, offering out an empty glass for Teo to take, so that he can deposit wine into it, "by the time I travelled to the cities. Country doctor's apprentice turned battlefield medic. After the war, the property became a country house for rich people from the city, but I was gone from France by then."

His accent has gotten a little thicker, over the course of storytime.

"But I do like cities," he admits. "Can I take your coat?"

First Teo takes the wine, puts it down on the table. Then Teo takes off his coat, pulling it off by the lapels. it's a nice coat, a thick, stiff collar he can turn up under his jaw when he is being a weenie about the wind. He hands it over to the older man, and then shuffles over to sit on the couch a polite distance away from Don Quixote. "Grazie. I didn't know you grew up on a farm," he says. "You're right. Horses make everything sound luxurious. Equestrians wear jodhpurs and smart jackets now, or they did, before the war."

Freed from his outer-garments, Teo leans over to take the wine. Try it. It's good! At least, it's not bad, which Teodoro can appreciate. Small victories. Should he be texting Delilah? There's wine, now. What if his Francdar is wrong?

Five minutes, Teo tells himself. Five minutes. Maybe twenty, because that would put us past the point of surprise!!!!! disrupting Walter's bedtime on a school night. "Well there was no chance Wolfhound was ever going to move to the mountains," is the point that Teo was trying to extract, probably. He resists the urge to lean over and peek back into that unpacked box o' books. He thinks he sees a copy of The Hunchback in there, isn't sure if his French is good enough to make it through today. (Everybody made fun of his Italian the first year he moved back to Sicily, too.) (It fades quick, in the small and naturalistic ways, but you can get it back.)

He's probably talking to the wrong Teo. Interposing some point from some other argument.

But Francois did invite this Teo in specific to talk, not just any. He lapses into quiet, settled now on the opposite arm of the couch — lacking sufficient amount of furniture for good hospitality, he positions himself so they can see each other without a lot of effort, and he takes a moment to look the other man over while the other man fails to prevent himself from peeking at his books.

It hurts to even exist, right now. Like this kind of breakdown of a close relationship is the same as a wrist fracture, a constant presence, changing everything you do, even down to minor movement. Not quite as invisible, though. There's no cast for a broken heart, might make for a good country song.

"Do you speak to each other?" he asks, on impulse. "From Sicily, to the mountains. He lives in the city too, now, actually."

Uhhh umm Teo deer in headlights subtly. He has a pretty decent game face but this entire situation is engineered for discomfiture, between the jet lag, the sadness radiating from his companion, the mysterious and inexplicable circumstances of this apartment. He is tempted to lie for reasons he couldn't distill down into a line if he was paid to try.

But it is not a very impressive act of courage, to ignore it. "Yeah," Teo says. "Well, we texted a few weeks back. He," because it's just weird, referring to the other Teo by Teo, "let on you guys were having some problems."

The stem of the wineglass rolls between Teo's fingers, a mild nervous fidget. He remembers that Francois had liked to drink wine before and he stills his mind from the rambling urge to make comparisons between then and now, to check for signs of ageing and specify details that indicate Francois' mood. That is, for example, not a particularly incriminating sadness beard. A beat. Teo thinks to add, "I don't remember exactly what he said," which seems true when he says it, but the moment after he does, he actually recalls. Manages not to wince visibly.

Francois is making his own notes too. Observations. That Teo is uncomfortable. Does he not like the wine? What if he doesn't like any wine? He drinks— he drank wine fairly frequently with his husband, aware though he is that Teo preferences beer as well. Was that an acquired taste, over time? Something he came to like? Or something he never liked, swallowing sour helpings without complaint.

And Francois is aging fairly well. He'd approximated, at some point, an age that puts him physically in his early 40s, but there's no grey, no excess of wrinkles, and he's always had the formal affect of someone with an older spirit.

He nods. There's no ah ha! reaction, or any reaction, at the news they have communicated.

"Right," he says, of problems, shared bad news. He wants to dig a little around the circumstances of that news, and maybe Teo can see that too, the impulse to pry, before his gaze lowers to the wine in his hands. "Is this cheating? If— " Wow that sure was some word choice, causes him a delayed verbal stumble, a knifeish smile cutting across his face. "If I ask you about. What to do, about him. I would understand— you can tell me instead about Sicily, what you want to do in New York."

It's right there, the urge to ramble about everything, but these boundaries are strange and ephemeral. They haven't spoken in years. They have slept together once, when more than just boundaries were strange and ephemeral. It'd be nice, if even this Teo still loved him a little.

Small Teo manages not to furtively look all over the place, despite his immense temptation to do so. He keeps his eyes trained on Francois, as one might after having been told that blinking can be construed by wild animals as a critical act of weakness. Carefully, he drinks his wine, dismissing the hindsight: he should have asked for water. It doesn't matter. What's done is done. And the wine is great!

Oh, I'm getting married in New York City, tiny Teo almost says. Never mind. He has no idea what's going on, but even he can tell this would be the wrong moment.

"I don't think it's cheating," says Teo, who doesn't know any better re: word choice. "But that's a pretty fuckin' broad question, Francois. I don't want to say anything that's going to fuck things up for you guys, so… so — how about this." He tightens his fingers on the wine glass, optimistically, turning his knees further to square his focus on Francois. "How about you tell me what's going on, and I'll interrupt if I'm worried this is a conversation you oughtta be having with someone else. I'll even recommend someone else," Teo adds, seized by inspiration, or at least the vain hope that he'll have inspiration at some point during this conversation.

It's not going to be as bad as he fears it is, Teo's confident. He's being paranoid. He forgets to trim his beard sometimes, too, and he is doing the long-distance thing, kind of, and he does drink a significant amount of alcohol for purposes other than sad. It's not like Eileen Ruskin can die again. Francois wouldn't be responsible for that, anyway. Oh my God. Did F — no. Teo sips wine faster, out of affection though.

At don't want to fuck things up for you guys, Francois' focus goes blank a little, giving a partial shrug at no one in particular. What else! could possibly fuck it up more! Probably a lot of things, but this does feel very close to rock bottom, with the tenor of their last conversation, but he just dully muzzles himself with his glass of wine, throat working down a couple of long mouthfuls.

Brings it back down to crinkle his brow cynically at this fit of inspiration, but doesn't argue.

Sure, why not.

What's going on, then. He's not sure if what's going on is actually central to what he wants to talk about, but he doubts they can proceed very far without it. And maybe Teo should know right away, anyway. Maybe he wouldn't want to entertain the company of The Villain of this story, having been tricked into thinking he'd come to comfort The Victim.

"I slept with other people," he says, finally. "While we were in a long separation. I am not confused that he is angry at me about it," seems pertinent to add. "There are just. It is complicated, a lot of it."

A pause, there, to ensure Teo cares to hear anything else. Or will stop him, and recommend better friends.

Teo is briefly surprised and offended on behalf of his clone brother analogue person, but it's not as deep or bad a shock as you might expect. For one thing, it's always different to hear about it happening to someone else, especially if nothing like adultery has ever wrecked your own family or intimate familiars. At the point which he had diverged from the other Teos, this one remembers being a philandering asshole when he was young, and there's just that. No intimate personal experiences with child custody battles, broken families, anyone he knew or loved crying on weekends about it.

Divorce rates in Sicily are quite high anymore. As a lawyer, he did a little of that before, when he first joined his current firm, but not lately. It's a strange perspective, to know how it works; the 'mistakes' people are wont to make when fueled by emotion, what they'll regret later, with property, with assets, with mediation. With remarrying their exes, ending the proceedings before they've been finalized.

"Don't take this the wrong way if this question doesn't make sense to you," Francois just seems so old sometimes, "but are you polyamorous?"

Actually, Teodoro was going to drink more wine to block the words coming out, but he decides in the end that he should ask! It's a valid question. Everybody is polyamorous now, he did some researching on the Internet about it since Delilah asked him. Or rather, since Delilah… came out to him? It would frame the problem in more directly relatable terms, certainly. "Some people want be in multiple relationships, consensually," he fine prints, helpfully, gesturing with glass.

Francois says, "No," a little like Teodoro had asked him seriously if there was something medically wrong with him, which is very unenlightened — backwards and uncosmopolitan, if you will. It takes him a moment to gear shift, but gear shift he does, in thanks to Teo's earnest eyebrows, the previously ineffectual appeal for Francois to not take it the wrong way, which he rewinds to in his brain. "I mean.

"No," he says again, but less defensively. "We aren't. I'm not."

Wait. Is Teodoro polyamorous? And also doesn't like wine??

No, okay. Focusing. "I haven't in my life had many singular relationships, but when I have— and this one…" He stops, feeling his throat close. He has already cried in front of one Teo this week. Somehow, doing it in front of this one would be more embarrassing. ('Somehow'. It makes sense, actually.) So he waits until he is certain that's not going to happen, and says, "It wasn't about that, wanting people. I wouldn't have, if things had been better, I know it. Which always sounds like I am blaming him, when I say it."

Tiny Teo deflates fractionally. Well there goes that theory. It's fine, really. Would have been a convenient solution, or at least implied one exists. Francois is not very modern. Bit funny, really. Would be under any other set of circumstances. Would it be weird if he didn't invite Francois to the wedding? Delilah seems to wear polyamory very well.

Teo puts these thoughts out of his mind, with small effort. He has a handsome older man to impress with his interpersonal insights and wholesome kindness. And using his insight, his kindness, Teo glances away when his companion's eyes get shiny, taking a mild interest in them books, the semi-circle of condensation that his breath leaves in his glass.

And then Teo looks back. "So," he says, already sensing that the crumbling brink of another weird misunderstanding is coming up under his toes, already knowing that heading it off with a question doesn't make it any less weird, but still unwilling to venture forth with assumptions. "So, when you say you're trying to figure out 'what to do,' 'about him.' You mean…?" He keeps his face soft. Tries to not look deliberately obtuse, to not treat Francois as if he thinks the older man is… obtuse. But people want all kinds of different things, when they're unhappily married.

This time, Francois takes a little while to answer. Thrown, somewhat, with unexpected queries with unexpected natures, with creating disappointment, even though disappointment was an inevitability. With the knowledge that the man he is talking to has, over time, diverged more than he remembers from his identical counterpart, diverged further from the thing that diverged them originally.

Or maybe, even worse, these aren't divergences at all - just shit he doesn't know. More profound than alcohol preferences.

Oh well.

"I would like to make him forgive me," he says. The word choice is deliberate. An impossible task. No one is ever made to forgive. "And after that, I would like us to be happy together. I don't— "

He shifts, then, sliding down the sloped arm of the couch to sit level. It's a long piece of furniture, so they aren't too squashed together, Francois folding a leg beneath him. He does a good job of keeping his glass balanced even as he does so. "I don't know what I'm asking you, really. But you left too." That's probably a confusing statement, seeing as the Teo in question did not abandon even New York State, let alone the country — an overlap of a prior conversation with another Teodoro Laudani. In this context, it's not remotely accusatory, but it wonders. "You left much of this behind.

"I wonder if that's what he wants, a little. If he's wanted that. Perhaps now I have given him good reason."

Teodoro Laudani has a sharp and active mind. And for all that his clone, brother, analogue is very like him, their paths split so long ago. It would be harder for him to think clearly and objectively about, say, Romero. There are enough people in the world that there will exist somewhere someone 'similar to you,' and thinking about their hypothetical problems is still far easier than solving your own.

Anyway, Teo doesn't freak out about helping the Villain. (Half his old friends in this city were like, serial killers and differently-branded terrorists and organ thieves and stuff. VILLAAAIns.) He's silent for awhile, sipping his wine shrewdly! And yes, he's also sitting upright on the couch, still. The lawyer life broke him of his absurd sitting habits, though he does have a standing desk back at the office, maximum douchebag. It's too weird for counsel to stand upright in board room meetings, for example.

"You're asking me how to make him forgive you," Teo surmises, the gentlest possible contradiction. Not so mysterious!

Teodoro floats Francois a sidelong look, wishing to smooth the older man's hair but being too sober and cognizant of numerous relevant factors to dare. (Avi wasn't wrong, all Teos are big ol' hos at heart.) "But I think, to figure that shit out, you've got to know I left for — different reasons. I went back to Palermo. Where I have a family, who were there before you became a candidate to become that. I have mi madre, and mio padre, who love that I'm home. Sometimes I even write to Rommy and he writes back." Teo manages to quite contain his feelings on this matter, but his lips twitch any; ridiculous gratification, excitement at this rekindled relationship, no matter how small. "I hide the real drama, y'know; I'm always lying. Of course." Too much science-fiction, sounds like fiction. "But it's true enough, I love my family. And I only got to go back to them because — three of us in one city is fucking ridiculous. Two were enough for the war on this front.

"War always fucks people up. I'm grateful I didn't have to fight it here. I'm grateful to you, too." Teo sniffs loudly, looking down at his wineglass, remembering obscurely Ghost's stupid picking over text message; how little he thinks of human rights work, of law, the small insults, dismissals. It's childish. It's so easy to make the ghost shut up and go away. One word about Hana. One. He knows he's rambling; he's never had to talk about this before. "It's a necessary evil. All three of us, that's what we believe. In our bones. That the war was absolutely necessary, and absolutely evil. Which makes for a good poem, but I guess — not a happy marriage to a Wolfhound operative. They don't train the Mossad to think that way either, actually; I think it's why ghost and Hana can't really talk. No military indoctrination, worldwide, in the history of man, uses the rhetoric of 'necessary evil.' Not one. Wrong kind of drama."

Teo puffs out a sigh, his cheeks ballooning. "But I don't have to tell you that." The Great War. Whole museums dedicated to propaganda in absence of social media, the original memetic patriotism, then of course: Kazimir. "We're not as resilient as you. You should know that about us, and you should probably know that about yourself, too."

Denial, for a second, where Francois shakes his head slightly at what Teo believes Francois is asking him. C'est ridicule. Or not ridiculous enough, not false enough, for him to do more than that, because he is listening.

Listening very earnestly. The intensity dulls a little as Teo speaks of Sicily, his family, of the things he has and almost has. It's so odd, the give and take, of the division of life things between the three. Francois is absolutely simplifying it in his head right now as he thinks of the possibilities granted this Teo in Palermo, of people and peace and reinvention, and— whatever it is the Ghost has found for himself, unmoored and operational and seemingly indestructible. And then Teodoro with his Catskill farm and. Francois.

At some point, his heart has transformed into some kind of other living organism inside of him. It has a shell, and crab-legs that scrape the cavity walls in which it is trapped. It retreats within rough plates of cracked chitin. That's all it can do. Francois finishes his glass of wine.

But no, he is listening.

And resists the urge to analyse the mettle of his own resilience, and tries to think of Teo's. Closes his eyes, leaning head on hand, elbow on the back of the couch, feeling the world spin. Finally, "He doesn't talk of it to me. I don't know what he thinks I think of him, but for the record, it is that I think he did more than enough, and that I love him." When his eyes open, they are a little glossy, it's true, but as established: he can do whatever he wants.

Teo feels pretty immediately D: like he's done it again, he said the wrong thing, not unlike drinking wine wrong, setting off his companion in a way that is alarming for the uncharacteristic yet adorable fragility it implies. It's as if perception changes content. Very Kenneth Burke. #books.

On impulse, Teo reaches over to grasp Francois' arm, giving him a squeeze that means to be reassuring. It might matter, that he wasn't privvy to the six weeks of lag time between Francois' disclosure and his current woe. Francois seems so unhappy. How can you be angry at someone who's so unhappy. This is what's wrong with anyone who hates Betty Draper. "Of course. Of course. We've all — do enough. You did enough," seems the moment after Teo says it, like a mistake in context, a blanket statement that accidentally encompasses The Infidelity. But he hastens past that, "But — my point is.

"The three of us," Teo starts again, take two, "we have a tendency to invent extreme solutions for impossible problems. And sometimes," Teo slows when he says this, awkwardly, admitting to this thing despite lacking insight into it, "sometimes I think, that's because we only see problems as impossible." Teo studies the other man's profile with hair-raising focus. The lofty ramparts of Francois' nose, his cheeks, the stubble, his hair having acquired enough fractions of inches of growth to look like a deliberate and contemporary reference to an earlier and more elegant time, as fashionable as his choice of furniture. Nothing uncosmopolitan about it. "It's very dramatic. Normal problems, normal solutions, that's hard for us. Being honest, compromising, showing weakness, small decisions with ambiguous risks, that shit has always felt more difficult than the framework of absolutes."

(Which is exactly why, as we speak, Another Teodoro is driving up and down Rochester stalking your historical sex locations.)

"And," oh god. Teo's going to make him cry again maybe. He hedges. Rethinks. Rewords. Fumbles. "And this isn't advice I know, I'm sorry. But I think, you're kinda like that, too."

Teodoro is being very kind, very insightful, all those gentle things that had drawn him in a long time ago, offering to understand him in an impossible circumstance. He draws Francois' focus with that hand on his arm, and says some words that sort of slide together a little, for him, like maybe this latest release of alcohol in his system is interfering with his ability to comprendre l'anglais. Teodoro also have very blue eyes that are looking at him very intently, and it's not with any anger or resignation or hurt or avoidance.

It should be noted that the difference between the three different times that Francois cheated on Teodoro and the impulse now to rock forward on the couch and put his mouth on this one's mouth is that—

Probably because those times, he thought, somewhere small and petty beneath the malaise of genuine misery, of apathy, of resentment on which he could balance his proper reasoning, he thought he would get away with it.

And knows that's not the case now.

Francois doesn't move, then, consciousness raising out of that uniquely awful spiral to listen to this last thing, and contextualise the rest. He doesn't cry, as if maybe slightly too disgusted with himself suddenly to conjure the necessary self-pity for that particular impulse, and nods.

"I haven't done very much of those things," he admits. Voice textured enough that he clears his throat, slightly, and bends sideways to set his empty glass down. "It's been, how do the Americans say," deliberately laying on that accent thick as he considers a refill of the last half-glass in the bottle, "a shitshow." A beat, and he thinks Teo should know, "It could be too late now, for normal solutions." Any, he means. Any of the solutions.

But alcohol is a depressive, and he doesn't know that His Teodoro is being insane rn, now.

Well maybe if Francois didn't run around confessing his sins spontaneously on mountaintops, he would better get away with it. Tiny Teo releases the older man's arm gently, careful not to recoil even though there had been something perturbing about the look in Francois' eyes a second ago, which reminds him for some reason, arbitrarily, that he still hasn't texted Delilah. She'd definitely get it, though. Maybe she'd be like, 'pfff, monogamists!' or something. No no, more respectful than that. (How do polyamorous people talk.) (He'll have to figure it out, eventually.)

"I don't know," Teo says a little tartly, "that sounds like something a man who assumes there can only be extreme solutions and impossible problems would say."

Ha ha ha. Do you see what I did there. Teo swings his wineglass in a small circle, making the remaining liquid swirl inside the rounded walls of the glass. Hurrhurr. He knows w i n e. Kind of. He puts his nose down near the rim and guesses absent-mindedly at the notes he's supposed to be scenting, but forgets to assign words to them. He likes wine, despite not knowing much about it, okay. "I dunno, maybe you're right. Have you thought about what that would mean, if it was? Like, pretend…

"Pretend it's too late. Say that the affairs were in fact, some kind of extreme solution. Right?" Whatever, Teo's going with it. What does he know! He is one (1) marriage behind in this race. "To an impossible problem. What was the problem? And is there any part of you that seriously thinks, maybe, maybe," don't get mad at me, "it worked as it was supposed to."



Francois picks up the bottle to check its contents at an angle. Side-eyes Teo's glass where Teo is performing liking his wine, very suspicious, and then goes and tips the contents into his own much emptier glass. Hardly three tablespoons worth, but why let it go to waste. He kicks back, after that, installing himself into the corner of the couch with a leg folded up beneath himself, and tries to allow this latest Insight to settle itself with any comfort.

He thinks Elisabeth had implied something like that too. Like philandering could constitute a cry for attention. He didn't like that idea then and he doesn't love it now, but—

"A state change has occurred," he pronounces, slowly. A glance, to ensure the Teo in front of him didn't lay some kind of trap just now, but that was never really. Teodoro's tactical approach to conversations. Sounds like someone else, but can't imagine who it'd be. He thinks that maybe: being angry, maligned, hurt, lonely had been exhausting. He'd been exhausted by the time he'd made it to the farmstead that one evening. Exhausted by the effort to decide either he would be at peace with all of those feelings or express them again to little to no effect.

Being wrong is very painful. He does not like feeling helpless, sad, guilty. Scared, very nearly, in the moment of being walked away from. But he is not exhausted by it. He could do this all fucking day, even if it drives him maaad.

"Perhaps," he allows. He thinks of reasons, not excuses.

"Alternatively," and this is the part where Teo starts to perform youth. He extricates himself from his shoes and then lifts his legs up, turning his bottom on the couch. He puts his feet up on the cushions instead, facing Francois directly now. "Alternatively," Teo gestures with his cup of drinkies. "Or additionally, it didn't work was it was supposed to."

Teodoro is a lawyer not a psychoanalyst or a telepath, but he's seen people do things. Some form of learning and data collection is endemic to having a job where you meet new people so regularly, and they tell you something about major stressors ongoing in their lives. You develop your own theories of mind, if you're paying any attention at all.

"It could be either, neither, or both. Maybe you meant to hurt him, maybe at some point you wanted all of it to just end. Maybe he was never meant to find out. Or maybe he was, and some part of you really truly thought he'd react differently. Whether or not it's reasonable is beside the point." Teo thinks about the infidelity that he has seen at his work. In spite of every sound logic, you will see a partner ask their contemptuous spouse, 'E 'davvero ciò che vuoi?' Is this really want you want? 'Sarai felice?' Will you be happy? There are no good answers, when happiness no longer seems an option, when what they really wanted had started to fade years ago and the newest acts set fire to the canvas that remained.

Sometimes Teo wonders how his parents stayed married, through all the shit with their kids. But that makes sense, of course. Of course they did. They were all each other had; their fuckup sons had been a problem they shared.

"But to your original goal, I've gotta say. I don't think this stuff, what I'm saying, is that important. This is just for you. Since you're the one who's here, and I care about you." Teo is referring in part to how Teos tend not to talk about things, but he is also referring to: how he cares about Francois. Not a little; a lot. That sort of love, not the married kind, that is perfectly capable of flourishing on a conversation once every few weeks. People have friendships like that all the time. Intrinsically balanced, moderated by necessity, nuanced by absence. Just not the married kind.

Francois isn't ungrateful, or anything, about this information, these insights, these kindnessessss. He would probably be someone who takes well to therapy, in that he can imagine talking soberly and honestly about the intricacies of his own expectations, actions, and reactions with a professional in the ways he struggles to do so with people who are friends, for exactly the reasons that Teo has already elaborated on.

There is a slim sliver of a smile for this last disclaimer.

"For me to know," he supplies, "and Teodoro to suffer through." He brings his glass up, tips back half of it in a smooth pull, and brings it back down, ready with questions. "Let us try this— "

Because in love and war, ethics are what you make them. "Pretend this has happened to you. What would it take— " Francois stops, unsure of that phrasing. He is pointing at Teodoro where his hand is gripping his glass and his index finger extends past it, hovering, finding the point. "What would you need to know, to make peace with it. Nothing, or everything, or some things? Or perhaps, would you— is apology enough, and is it possible to have trust, after. Or do you think it would all be different."

These are like five different questions he is asking as if they all amount to the same one, but the switch in lanes seems to express some uncertainty about the worth of each one, of Teo's capacity to answer them on behalf of someone very much like him, or perhaps, just himself. Francois could ask Elisabeth Harrison these things, too, and maybe learn something.

Teo doesn't laugh at the older man, but there is a smile on his face, boyish, genuinely amused. But if he's laughing (which he's not), he's laughing with Francois, or gently trying to urge Francois to laugh with him, at. The situation. Somewhere mid-interrogation, Teo sucks down the rest of his wine. Not fast, just going through the rest of it at once, which is not very much at all. Giving the questions enough time

exist? There are a lot of them. They need a minute.

"C'mon," Teo says afterward, leaning over to put his glass on the nearest thing that looks wineglass safe. (If there are coasters, he respectfully uses a coaster.) "I mean I know it's gotta feel like you hit the motherload when you have clones to talk to, but we just talked about how you're a little like him, yourself. You've definitely spent more time with him than me. You chose each other. You understand this problem better than me. I think, I think," for some reason he is still nervous about making Francois mad by failing to break under interrogation to he is repeating himself a bit, orbiting, eye out for clear signs of danger, he finishes:

"I think you should answer those questions. And do that."

Tadaa. Was that good enough. Teo looks at Francois and tries not to appear furtive about it, keeping his face sincere. As gently as possible, he also reaches out over the peaks of his own knees, flattens a gentle palm on pointy-finger and moves it down to Francois' lap. Maybe he even thinks this is a little, what Delilah is doing, with him. Maybe he hopes she got it right.

Francois' hand drops obediently.

And then he spends a second or two indulging in dissatisfaction. He considers joking, like, well I could have gotten this advice off a bumper sticker, mon cher, but he thinks it'd probably come out meaner than he wants, and Teo's face is doing that thing it does where Francois' impulse is to kiss it, but not like that, more along the lines of wanting to land kisses on an impossibly adorable puppy you are holding.

His mouth skews sideways, and he looks down at his wine, in which remains only a mouthful.

They used to fight— no, not fight, now that they are actually fighting, it puts all those little scuffles into sharp relief. They used to banter about Francois and his housekeeping skills, or lack thereof. How it could be that a man of over seventy doesn't know about dusting air vents or replacing smoke alarms or the trick to getting red wine out of carpet instead of just despairing guiltily over it. They both knew the answer, which is that in all of his over-extended life, there are certain things that Francois never had to think about, ever uprooted, ever in motion. Never homebound, never moored, never married.

He does know better than to cheat on his husband, of course, that's not the point of that divergence. But fixing a marriage, that feels like one of those obvious things he does not know how to do.

But it's only a second or two — the dissatisfaction. Tentatively, he tries it out, the inner belief that he knows Teodoro very well. It manifests as: wishing he were here. "I should do that," he concedes. "If he will let me, I will do that."

Whatever 'that' is.

"And I sense you have places to be," he adds, very gently. Francois could talk all night, honestly, about more than just the disaster zone of his marriage, but he has only been pretending up until now that he doesn't notice the subtleties of a Teo with his mind partially elsewhere, context cues of luggage and texts aside. That, and he is himself miserable fucking company right now, he knows.

The smol dog/big dude looks pleased at this. Optimistic! Why not. He's always been like that, even when he made friends of genocidal terrorist paramilitary lunatic cult followers, even when his friends became organ thieves who preyed on strangers, even when his friends preyed on each other. For better or worse, he's arrived at the decision not to point out to Francois that he is pathologically incapable of withholding forgiveness anyway; that wouldn't seem to help the other man actually get what he wants, constructively, for that forgiveness to be good, true, organic. Better simply to believe that trying will work.

"Actually," Teo looks around as if trying to remember where his phone is. It's in his coat actually, which Francois took. Whatever. "I was thinking I might go in the morning." He has been developing a plan based on screenshots of Francois' drunk sadness. He will go after Walter's at school, so that the boy won't be distracted all day, focus on his studies. He'll talk to Delilah if she's available, wait at home if she's not. Luck might have it that they can tell Walter together. "If you don't mind. Maybe I could sleep on your floor, or this couch?" It's a bit presumptuous, not something he would typically impose, but they've shared safehouses together, meals, he's tried to be helpful tonight, surely it won't blow up in his face soon enough for the imposition to appear truly imbalanced.

Teo hesitates. He thinks about saying more, laying out further details of the plan he has set in motion in his mind. Ends up saying nothing, peering at Francois hopefully from across the furniture.

Something about the request unwinds some element of tension out of Francois that he was not entirely conscious of, like it is a relief to know that— that he hasn't compromised a friendship, or become too immediately repulsive in the wake of exposure of mistakes, vanities, honesty. "Of course," he says. "You might as well have the bed, though, as a guest — I can sleep anywhere."

Francois steers his mind from the murky, conflicted territory of matters of the heart, of motive and desire, and tries to think of what he has in the kitchen to feed an entire Teodoro Laudani. Frozen dinners and some meagre sandwich materials don't seem very hospitable, but he dimly remembers retrieving a handful of local delivery menus from his mailbox a day ago, almost all of them amateurishly printed on white paper with black ink.

Also now he doesn't have to contemplate very carefully driving his car to Sheepshead Bay, and what he would say when he got there.

"What is the morning?" he asks, lifting his wine glass to finish.

It's not that Teo has any reason to fear judgment about his marital decisions from his clone's husband of five years

except that obviously, he does.

And even the fact that Francois and the other Teo's marriage is having Some Trouble at the moment only seems to throw that into sharper relief. Minimally, it makes the situation more awkward. He expects, from both Francois' reaction earlier and the text message he had with the other ones, that he will meet with disapproval. He expects that Francois will doubt the wisdom or even relevance of his own objections, which again: awkward. He doesn't need anyone's approval, which he has said many times!! but it seems a bit defensive and preemptive to come swinging right out of the gate, so

"Delilah and I are getting engaged,"

sounds about. right. or. fine! "We have to go through a whole ritual where I refuse to let you sleep on the floor three or four times before I'm allowed to accept," Teo adds, relevantly.


says Francois,

"I intend to sleep on the couch."

And then he gets to the end of that sentence, all too quickly, and has to pick a sane and normal reaction to this first part. He is not having very many extreme ones, but— there is the predictable stumble into self-centred woe about his failure to marriage in sharp contrast to how these two young things will probably be successful at it, and that all too familiar twinge of old, old dismay about all the confusing implications of the three-way-Teo-split despite having just now reaped the benefits of it, of feeling like the Teo he loves most is losing out on certain kinds of real estate, like fatherhood, or letters with his brother.

Deep breath. But also, "I'm happy for you," is said without being a lie, not exactly. Kind of like a raincheck. Francois will be happy once he has the capacity to do so, for Teo. "You've asked? Or you will be doing the asking soon." Oh god, did he really interrupt prOPosals with his BULLshit, and also why are all his friends (two friends) getting married, now, of all times.

This is bad. Teo says, "Number two, number three. Number four," to just take care of his doth protest too much, just get it out of the way. He feels the urge to reassure Francois, which as demonstrated by: this entire evening, is not exactly new. He balances on a metaphorical fence for a long moment, trying not to stare at the Frenchman's dissolution into woe, because that seems rude somehow, like an averted gaze would afford it some privacy.

"I asked before. In January. She had, uh. She's polyamorous."

It just kind of comes out of Teo's mouth! Not exactly unpremeditated. He could have bet he was going to say it. Absurdly, half just to make Francois feel better. Why begrudge a very sad man his judgments, petty, uninformed, old-fashioned, or otherwise, when he is that sad. He was either going to say nothing of it, or he was going to tell at least this much. "It's not something I'd thought about before, so I took a few months to think about it." See? Pobody's nerfect. But also we love who we love, is supposed to be how it goes. Benefits and costs aren't so easy to calculate. Ledgers to balance, savings to hoard. What's bankruptcy in this case? Clearly, not a broken heart. Francois might as well be bleeding gold coins, keeping diamonds brimming in his eyes.

There's probably a book in here with a good poem about it, even; love as wealth, no matter how painful the permutation. Teo swings his socked feet back down, setting then on the floor. "I don't think it's what either of you would want," he adds. It's boundary-setting a little, maybe.

Teodoro uses that word and Francois has the distinct impression that he only thought he knew what it meant until this moment, mostly due to the way Teodoro places it in this sentence. His thoughts rest on it only very lightly, shutting up and listening with an expression he is hoping conveys only a polite amount of confusion. He is drunk enough that he could say something stupid, inadvertent and fumbling, but not so drunk that he cannot recognise this danger and prevent it by just not. Saying anything.

There is a minute shift to his expression at this last thing. Closest to amusement. A slight deepening of lines at his eyes, which also narrow.

He doesn't have to agree out loud. It is something he believes goes without saying. So he says, instead, "It is what you want," and he doesn't uptick that with a question mark because Teodoro has spent months thinking about it!

But it is totally a question.

"I always do what I want," Teo says, careful not to sound defensive about it. As pointed out by everybody involved in this conversation at least once so far, he has definitely thought about it over the past few months. Why people keep asking him about it when they wouldn't ask if the sky had clouds after he just said, 'The sky is cloudy,' is a point of great confusion for him. Minute rewording of things never helped clarified anything for anyone, except that people are clearly being dingdongs. Or condiscendente, as they say in Italy.

He doesn't describe the circumstances of the revelation, the evening Delilah shared it with him, the unspoken reasons why she chose to. That she is doing it, he thinks, to make herself happy certainly — but for him to find room for greater happiness too, someday, with what seemed like an awareness that the marriage might not last without it. He doesn't want to get into an argument about how to make space for happiness, the effort required. It'd probably get fucked up on both sides.

"May I take a shower?" Teo asks instead.

Francois experiences a moment of true double vision when his gentle nudge towards inquiry is sharply slapped aside in the most amiable way. Immediately, he says, "You can tell me if I have asked something offensive," because in his immediate memory, he did ask, instead of state. In spite of that warm flurry of annoyance, his tone comes out more incredulous. That he wouldn't be so quick to speak if he were sober is—

Relevant. "Or if you are unsure of the answer. Or if it is none of my business."

Shut up, Francois, some part of him is desperately advising himself. But it is more than just a misplaced argument with the wrong man, even if it is mostly that — it is also the unfairness of having allowed vulnerability in front of someone he would prefer not to be vulnerable with if possible only to be met with the same glossy, well-oiled defense mechanism for sign of conversations that could be difficult, could be unpleasant, could even be hurtful.

"And oui, but it takes a minute to warm up." Because he doesn't mean to withhold showers for emotional forthrightness.

Teo chris-evans-chris-evans-press-conference-avengers-age-of-ultron-2589.jpg for a split second but it's fine probably. It's fine in that it's not that fine. "It didn't really sound like a question, the way you asked it," Teo points out. It is worth noting that in most topics, outside of adultery, Teodoros Laudanis are hardly incapable of confrontation, just selective about it. "And I answered."

'I always do what I want,' Teo means; the equivalent of 'Yes,' except that because Francois didn't actually put a question mark on the end of his sentence, he would have. "Some of it isn't your business," he adds, after a moment. "I already had a bad experience telling a few people. I didn't want to say something like that when you're already hurting." And drunk, Teo is too merciful to add. "If I weren't a clone," and he is also too merciful to point out, instead, that technically Francois' husband is his clone, "I don't think you would've — necessarily wanted to talk about the problems you're having. And what I'm trying with Dee isn't really related to anything like that either."

As far as he knows. This is Teo at his most polite, of course; skirting the pain of being truly vulnerable, balancing his secrets with his necessarily being very stubborn. "I also want there to have never been a fuckin' war, and everyone I ever cared about here to be in Sicily." He's leaning aside to drag his luggage slightly closer. "I want my hair to stop thinning a little. Right here?" He pokes himself in the temple, looking at Francois, willing him to be content with these answers, about the nature of wanting. "I want all the Walter Traffords in all the timelines to end up happy and whole.

"Your question's more complicated than you think it is, that's all."

Defenses begin to mount, in Francois' mind. Here they are, in chronological order, as Teo speaks:

  • it is pedantic to treat Francois' non-question as anything other than an invitation to elaborate, in the way conversations work, and just because he isn't of the Elisabeth Harrison School of obtaining personal information doesn't make that not the case;
  • and all the while not acknowledging the clear decision on Teodoro's half to decisively close the said conversation as if it were a question;
  • the answer was clear, topic changing frivolity — if it was yes, it would be yes;
  • he knows his husband is a clone;
  • why does this Teo's life, its intricacies, have to be connected to Francois' own shitty drama to be discussed, why is that off-limits to be talked of and alighted on separately, what is this friendship!!!;
  • he's not stupid, and finally;
  • he's not that drunk.

This last one, not wholly triggered off anything Teodoro says in specific, but volunteered to himself anyway.


Maybe he is that drunk.

And some of it isn't his business.

The last thing that Teodoro says gets a look, kind of like: he expected it was complicated, that's why he asked, young man. But perhaps the advice or concern of a drunk sad Frenchman who doesn't know very much about polyyyaaaamouryyy is not particularly desired, and it is this conclusion to which Francois arrives that stops him from being a bitch about it. If he cannot return the favour Teodoro has granted him tonight with something in kind, it can be instead with tactical retreat.

He responds with a noise at the back of his throat.

Then stands. He does so in a way that kind of tips him forward, placing both hands on the crown of Teodoro's head, just lightly, as if to impress through the warmth of his palms both exasperation and affection and perhaps a cure for male pattern baldness, and says, "I will get you towels. Are you hungry?" And then lifts his hands, so that they can collect up glasses and empty wine bottle.

Teo immediately bends his head up onto the warm ceiling of Francois' hands. It's really nice! He is happy enough to not have to field more arguments; starting with that, 'I always do what I want' is an entirely valid response to 'This is what you want,' and less redundant than 'Yes.' He also likes to not get ugly in an argument. And not having to admit that he totally does, when time comes. Particularly where his marriage(s) are involved.

Teo's hair is fluffed up and crooked by the time Francois takes leave of it. He smiles beatifically, not ignoring the argument narrowly avoided, but in light of having avoided it. "I could use a snack," he says. "Grazie." He is reminded, irreverently, that his parents are friendly with him like this when he goes to their house. They're sad he doesn't sleep over more often. You're so American now, they complain. Why aren't you eating more? You talk so quietly now. You're like a Northerner. He had to think about it before he said, 'snack.' Francois will neither be offended nor bring a bucket of pasta to the couch.

Teo isn't an American. Among other things, he knows he's too Sicilian to get divorced, even if his partner sees other people.

"Are you mad at me?" he calls after Francois, in a register of voice designed to be told 'No.'

"I am never mad at you," says Francois, calling back from somewhere behind Teo.


See what he did there.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License