Dr. Science Ventures The Zoo


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Scene Title Dr. Science Ventures The Zoo
Synopsis Sweet surprise, Sal takes his boyfriend to see penguins and hyenas and iguanas wobble along their boughs. His boyfriend mentions there's a drug from the future that can give him mutant superpowers. Teo can't seem to leave work at work, ever. :/
Date May 17, 2009

Queens — The Zoo


With everything that's been going wrong lately, all the ups and downs, beatings, time travel, relationship issues, arguments, alternate identities - the list goes on - Sonny, Sal, thought it would be a good time to be romantic, or at least attempt to be.

It's about two in the afternoon when Sal (as his new identity) urges Teo towards the cab and tells him to shut his eyes. If he peeks at all, he'll find a hand up over his eyes. "Not much longer. We're alllmost there."

Then the cab slows to a stop and there's a brief conversation as he pays the driver. "Stay where you are. Keep your eyes closed." There's a smile in his voice. Despite the different pitch, he sounds surprisingly like he did just before he revealed the lovebirds. Pleased with himself, happy.

He rounds to Teo's door and opens it, then reaches for his lover's hand to pull him up out of the cab. "Okay, you can open."

And there they are, standing at the gates of the Queens Zoo.

And he ceases his complaining in order to open. Blinks those eyes that are blue like the summer sky smelted into currency.

There's a sharp draw of breath, first; second, a twitch in Teo's elbows, somewhat reminiscent of an inbred and overweight farm-chicken attempting flight. His eyes close and open very abruptly, once, thrice, and pop big on his aquiline face. His right hand spasms outward, closes callused fingers on the point of Sal's elbow, twitchy, in a reasonable facsimile of a thirteen-year-old girl's seizuring squeal of delight. "Oh my fucking God," he mumbles, the color rocketing to ruddy on his cheeks.

He hugs his boy, very suddenly, very fiercely. Sal's shoulder collides with his chest with a percussive thump, and his arms contract their circle until Sonny's arm bones grind up perpendicular against the slats of his ribs. It's excusable as idiot frat boy affection; the milling families outside the gate glare at that, but only at that.

It's very freeing to not give a flying fuck who's looking at them. Sal laughs, deep from his chest and claps his hands against Teo's shoulders. Blue eyes shine with undisguised pleasure. Animals: The way to Teo's heart. If the Italian doesn't care about public displays of affection, he doesn't either. It's not his reputation on the line - not permanent, anyway, so he'll take his cue as to how much is revealed from Teodoro.

"I realized the other day that I promised you this a long time ago. Figured we both could use a day out." His hand runs up and over Teo's hair. He very briefly gives a handsqueeze, then slaps him on the shoulder. "C'mon." He heads towards the admission booth. "Feeding for the sea lions starts in ten minutes."

"I love fish," Teo says brightly, slinging a long arm around the base of his lover's neck. He leans into Sonny's shoulder, lopes along in easy parallel to the other man. "Also sea lions. Which smell like fish.

"But in that clean way." Twisting his head around, he squints through bars of sunlight and a fluttering flag with a penguin on it, a plastic koala suspended from a tree bough. "Tesoro, if you didn't bring a camera, I'm going to kick your ass ten ways past Tuesday." He slants a grin, shows teeth. His hair rasps underneath the grate of Sonny's fingernails. He's jigging faintly on the balls of his feet as they trawl the queue to the tickets and make the purchases. His own stub, once they're through the turnstile, is carried clinched between his teeth. "We have to have some serious conversations, too.

"Not bad ones," he's quick to reassure, glancing sidelong. "Just serious." Which correlates, Salvatore knows, with the fact that Phoenix's missing operatives, spare a psychotic biker or two, have finally returned home.

"Aw, fuck. I knew I forgot something. Oh well. I suppose we'll just have to remember all of this." As Sal says this, he has his eyes tilted up and away. His free hand reaches into his pocket and produces a small silver rectangle with a flash. Then he glances sidelong and gives Teo another pleased grin. He really does love it when the Italian is in a good mood. He pressses the camera into Teo's hand.

"Serious conversations? Well, if we have to." Dramatic eyeroll. "Can we at least do it over funnel cakes after sea lions?" He knows he might not like what Teo has to say, or that it might complicate their lives. That's why he chose today to go see bison and macaws.

BISON AND MACAWS. It is no laughing matter, except that Teo's whole face is bent around an enormous shit-eating grin as the bison squeeze out turds as big as his feet and the macaws hurt his ears with the dreamy shriek of their love songs across their vocal chords.

The sea lion feedings are unequivocally wonderful, how the silver bellies of gutted fish trace perfect parabolas through the air— and the wet-whiskered snouts snatch shut on them in easy acuity out of empty air. Pounds and pounds of fish swallowed this way. Skimmed out of the air. Teo tries the same thing with the plastic red baggie of miniature pretzels and his lovely assistant, later. Winds up braining himself on a lamp post, before they stop for lunch.

It's probably true, about animals. The way into his heart. It certainly appears lighter after the first few hours reprieve from— whatever the Hell his job entails, or the interlocking mess of their personal lives.

Afterward, there are funnel cakes. Partaken on the low bricking that holds in the decorative shrubberies and defines the paths. Teo had practically inhaled his own pastry, so now he is picking at Sonny's with the curving tip of his plastic fork. "Talked to Hel," he says, intelligible despite the smear of sugar on his lip and the knot of crust rounding out his left cheek. His mother would be ashamed. "You should meet her. She brought back something from 2019 for me."

Niles enjoys the animals too, but he enjoys the zoo more for the way Teo's reacting to it. It's sort of like loving Christmas more because there's a little kid around who believes in Santa. He acts as photographer so that Teo can give all his attention to the variety of creatures they visit as they make their rounds. Used to be that the zoo largely housed domestic species. But with the Midtown explosion, the zoo's become more diversified.

He fork-jousts Teo for bits of his funnel cake. Hey! But he's side-tracked by lifting a hand to wipe the corner of Teo's mouth. Sure, they've gotten a look or two, but they haven't done anything so obvious as to make someone accuse them of being lovers. With the exception of a few gestures, their interactions could be called brotherly, or the 'frat boy' affection of earlier.

He swallows a mouthful of water to carry down some of the sweetness of the fried dough. "I want to. I want to meet all of 'em, actually. There's a lot of your friends I've never met." And then, an eyebrow arches. "Oh?" He's trying to think what could be brought back from the future that Teo would be discussing with him.

"Yeah." Not a T-shirt with a catchy slogan, either. Teo holds still despite a fussy face while the flat of his lover's fingers wipe his mouth clean, deliberately focusing away from the sluggish traffic of pedestrians. Partly because his old-fashioned Catholic upbringing is forming faint hives, and partly because of the subject. "Uh— there's… there's—" staccatoed by uncertainty he doesn't know the origin of, he blinks down at the plate and abbreviated pastry.

Then past that, to his foot on the pavement, the bear paw print painted beside it, before he raises his head, suddenly, squinting under the bright of the afternoon. Their path is momentarily empty, so Teo pitches the words out in a mutter: "There's this drug that could give me superpowers."

Come again? Sonny doesn't ask for it to be repeated, but his confusion is there, plain on his face. "From the future?" There's a brief pause as he too glances around to make sure no one's listening. "You're…not going to take it, are you?" He passes the rest of the cake over to Teo. He can finish it if he likes. The doc's never been one for a lot of something that's overly sweet.

"Tay, you have to let me test it before you even consider taking it. Can it control what ability you'd get? How does it work?" You've woken up Dr. Scientist, Mr. Laudani.

Dr. Scientist elicits an exasperated sigh from Mr. Laudani, who is generally wont to do things like snoop around Staten Island with two guns and a knife and get crucified by a kinetically animated sea for his trouble, and rescue pretty healers, blow up Federal prisons, and make all manner of unsavory acquaintance. "I say I could get superpowers, and you talk about running it through pH droppers.

"There's some kind of cognitive dissonance going on here, amico," he says wryly, stabbing through his pastry with the bendy point of cutlery. "That doesn't sound like a bad idea. I'll ask Helena if she'll let you. It would probably be a good idea, anyway— we don't know enough about it for anybody's use. There's just a few samples."

"So there's more to be gained by studying it than rushing ahead and turning yourself into a human guinea pig. Teo, some powers aren't worth having. I've read about abilities that made it impossible for people to touch, that have caused deformities. Not to mention destructive abilities that people have little control over." Which is why people end up in Level 5. Sal reaches out and squeezes Teo's shoulder. "If you want it and there's a way to do it safely, I'd be happy to help give you an ability. But promise me you won't do anything until I make sure it's not going to backfire."

He takes a deep breath and wipes his fingers off with a napkin. "Drugs are tricky things, Tay. They can seem to work fine for years. Then ten years down the line, some side effect we never thought was going to happen, pops up. Hell, look at cigarettes. Or showers that used to dose people with radiation. People used to think radiation was a good thing. And opium was a-ok to use recreationally." Dr. Killjoy, too.

Joy lays dead on the pavement in front of Teo's shoe. "Fine. Fiiine. I don't know if I really want to do it anyway. You used to make cracks about how you'd be a little less worried about me if I had like, forcefields or some shit," he points out, wresting a half of a crust free with his fork. He wedges it between his molars to gnaw on. "But I don't really mind being Phoenix's mascot.

"And I always thought— you know me." His throat works down the mouthful of sweetened carbohydrates, a shrug seesawing through his shoulders, more diplomatic than philosophical. Despite the strength of the day sunshine, Teo's still wearing his soft onion layered mass of brisk weather clothing. "God chose your gifts. He just…" he shrugs again, which makes one time too many. "Didn't choose me."

"Teo…" Aw. Sulker. Sal rocks against the Italian and gently pokes his elbow into the young man's side. "There are a lot of gifts other than shooting fireballs out your hands." He squeezes his shoulder again and gives him a little shake. "Besides, how many people do you know who's lives are worse off for having powers, huh? It's not all it's cracked up to be."

He gives a gentle smile. "But I understand why you'd want them. And I would feel better about you being such a damn hero if you could defend yourself with laser beams out your eyes or something. But that doesn't mean I want you to take this risk."

Or, alternatively, Teodoro could quit Phoenix and leave off this life of superpowered crimefighting. Not something he's mentioned aloud in awhile, if mostly to Sal of everybody. His eyes hood briefly again, before he blinks them wide, glancing down at the dimple in his jacket panel that the point of Sonny's arm had dented into it.

"Ah, shit. I'm not that," he points out in a mumble, even as he picks himself and the plate of the recently-vanquished pastry up. Such a damn hero, Teo means, but he doesn't clarify aloud; doesn't want to get into that discussion. What would be fishing for praise for most people is like dipping papercut fingers into piranha tanks for Mr. Laudani.

Still, he brightens when he looks down at the brochure in hand, remembering the schedule. They have things to do. More immediate, and no less important than the acquisition of preternatural abilities. He frisbees the paper plate and plastic cutlery off into the mouth of a trash can with a flick of a sinewy wrist. "C'mon.

"There's an orangutang who can speak ASL." He yokes the other man by the neck again, locks his elbow and drags Sal upright, capturing an earlobe by a pinch in order to secure his grip. "And fuckin' crocodiles. Do you know how you tell the difference between a crocodile and an alli—?"

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