Elephants And Stick Men


sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Elephants And Stick Men
Synopsis "Now I can give you everything you want."
Date April 27, 2009

Chinatown Someplace — Connor and Teo's Apartment

A shag pad furnished with remarkable humility, if you know anything about Connor Kinney at all.

The rich are starting to filter back to New York, but Sonny's client list has remained small. He only sees a maximum of five patients a day, usually fewer, and Fridays are reserved entirely for business or a day off if he needs it. In reality, that's the day that he goes down to the trailer farm as Kinney.

But today was just a Monday. He did a few rhinoplasties, a tummy tuck and made a forty five year old socialite look twenty again. She'll probably be back in a week to ask to look somewhere around thirty once she starts getting carded and treated like a kid. But, he just does what his clients ask of him and charges for the follow-ups.

He stopped by the condo to change out of his work suit and into a collared shirt and a pair of jeans before heading over to the apartment in Chinatown. Makes more sense to do that than to move his extensive wardrobe to the other side of town. Despite a day at work, he's in fairly good spirits. There's the key in the lock and he steps through the threshold as Connor Kinney. "Tay?"

The lovebirds are talking to each other, good-naturedly ignoring the empty half of their cage as well as their human counterparts, now that there are two of them. Connor Kinney— or rather, Salvatore Bianco, through the front, and one Teodoro Laudani currently crouching behind the kitchen counter with a set of markers that makes the whole place smell like incipient tumors.

"You're home." Without pausing to congratulate himself on stating the obvious, Teo pops his head into view around the corner of the counter, pale eyes skipping up from the level of Sonny's knifecreased pant leg up to Sonny's ringlet-haloed head.

There's a smile. Instant, enormous, a double-layer of white teeth that the older man could have only wrought so much improvement on even with his architectural standards and ability. He lifts an arm, gesticulates in a manner of some authority, over at the slats of walkway floor a little ahead of him. "Come on! Come on, sit here. It's clean. I did something."

Sonny sheds Connor's face like most people would shed a jacket. He moves further into the apartment and kicks off his shoes along way. He can't resist a pause by the bird cage to make kissy sounds at the pair.

But a bright smile from Teodoro gets his attention immediately. He turns and returns the grin in kind, fingers pushing hair back out of his face. "What did you do? It smells like a Sharpie factory in here." He moves where he's instructed, looking curious but a little baffled.

"You have to sit," Teo commands peevishly, gesturing with one capped marker as if it were a conductor's baton. While the other man's doing that, hopefully, the Sicilian retracts himself back around the counter in order to do this thing. There's a throaty knock-click-scrape of hard object against hard surface, a squeaky slide of skin against glass, and then the Teo's prize slides into view.

It would appear that he has stolen a window.

Or at least a wide and empty pane. At some point between the event of thievery and the current moment, however, Teo managed to transform it into something greater or less than that. It has color on it, pictures— inexpertly handled— and words. As Sonny lowers himself to the floor, whether by his own power or from the insistent yank of Teo's grip on his pant cuff, the canvas slides into focus over the actual space of the living room behind it like a transparency over a projector slide.

You have the wall across from the television labeled EAST in enormous sans-serif block letters, a gap of empty space left to fit the outline of the couch. There is, for whatever reason, a mammoth bouquet of blonde and burning-heart sunflowers invading through the window behind the lovebirds along with a frowning moon, and then a dashed-outline elephant— well, it's probably supposed to be an elephant— labeled 'Alexander' peeking out of the guest bedroom, trunk curled around the doorknob. A stick figure Mayor Bianco is having a beer cross-legged on the floor. His wife is on television (according to the arrow that points at it and says 'his wife').

Irrelevantly, there are a dozen small, pointy-tailed fish schooling below a chickenscratch chandelier. Hundreds of ghostly fingerprints eddy the clear spaces.

"Now you can have whatever you want," Teo says, one palm flattened on either side of Sonny's head, trying to position his perspective exactly. It's impossible, to do that, of course. The edges can't all match the furniture, walls, or window slats and the vanishing points aren't quite right, thanks to Teo's lack of real experience in draftsmanship. "I have a shit ton of markers."

Sonny's first reaction is confusion. Then he starts to piece together just what Teo's crazy art project has been all about. It's like a crudely drawn version of Peewee's Playhouse in a way. Except instead of Jambi the Genie there's a stick figure of his mother superimposed over the TV.

He can't stop the grin that appears as he takes it in more fully, though he can't help but hunch his shoulders a little in embarrasment at the shape of the elephant. Ahem.

"Just what inspired you to do this, mm?" His tone is fond and he leans against Teo. He's being creative. This is a sign that he's coming out of his funk, right?

Either that, or Teo's about to cut off his own ear. Fortunately, they have a Southern Baptist for that. He gives up on positioning Sonny's head in front of the glass after a few seconds, winds up with his own propped up on the good Doctor's shoulder by the chin. Teo's arms form a circle around his boy's waist, fingers threading through the folds of shirt across Sonny's slouched belly.

From around the pleasant obstruction of Sonny's black poodle-head, Teo regards his masterpiece with a somewhat more relaxed expression now. Less smiling, but nothing bad. "Somebody left a window lying around a few blocks down and there was no one around, so I… figured I'd just—" Rue again. "Ionno."

"So what? Should we hang it from the ceiling?" Sonny appreciates Teo's artistic endeavor, but he's not sure how to contribute. He's a scientist and creativity has never been his strong point. He tries very hard to appreciate it, but in the end, well, that's why he has a stylist and a decorator. If he can't see its molecular structure, he can't see very deeply.

"My father has never sat cross-legged on the floor in his life. And he won't touch beer." His tone is wry and needling. He leans as much weight as needed to counter Teo's lean. He hesitates a moment, then points to the outline of the elephant. "What's this?"

There's a grunt of disagreement which sounds somewhere between troglodytic and disdainfully feline. A broad spectrum to cover, but if anybody can do it, Teo can. "No. We can throw it away some point— preferably before it breaks and cuts our feet to pieces. 'Til then…" His train of thought clanks and tilts around a shrug of shoulders behind Sonny's. Something forges through the arrayed curls and pokes into the back of the good Doctor's ear.

By default, Teo's nose. "You can erase shit. Fix it, whatever. If you don't like the beer, you can change it. You should change it. I'm a crappy artist and I don't know anything." His eyes flick up at to study the glass again, following the trajectory of Sonny's forefinger. His arms tighten. "Al."

"Hah. You're Da Vinci compared to me. At least I know what you're going for. And I think it's funny. I'd like it if my dad sat cross-legged ont he floor and watched TV." Instead of always wearing a suit and sitting on a leather couch with a glass of scotch. Sonny smiles at the little details and shifts to make his lean against Teo a bit more comfortable for them both.

At the single syllable of the missing redhead's name, the muscles of his body tighten, but he forces them to relax. "And he's an elephant. Sort of." He knows what it means, he just can't bring himself to face it directly.

To recenter and counterbalance the shift of weight, Teo props his legs out, buttressing them both with a sturdy grip of toes on carpet fibers. The side of his right foot winds up pressed against the edge of the glass pane, its edge drawing one brief, short-lived an anemia-white line inside the arch, pulling the elasticity of his skin. By now, his soles are hardened from stomping and sparring around Hana's Primatech facility barefoot.

"Not really. Maybe not? I mean, the invisible elephant is definitively unmentioned so he probably doesn't count anymore." The arms folded double around Sonny shift slightly when Teo snags at the pen in his pocket.

Sonny reaches up and trickles his fingers along the bottom of Teo's chin, then slides up along the side of his face, down to his neck. "Mmm. Y'never talk about him." Or any of them, really. But more pointedly not Al. Helena is mentioned more often than any of them. "I know you were close."

He examines the cartoon version of their apartment and can't help but grin. It is very cute. And like many uncreative people, he has to admire it in others.

Teo isn't so very creative. For example, he has a tendency to put fish in to fill negative space when he can't find anything else. India ink on Sonny's back, the swarming on the glass ceiling.

Asserting disagreement, because he is Sicilian and has love for this young man who keeps shooting himself down, Teo tucks the marker in behind Sonny's ear. Very carefully, he balances it across the curve of cartlidge that it will not fall out unless something very stupid is done. "Welll. We were fighting for a month before the January showdown, barely managed to slap a band-aid onto the thing and make up before he got caught by HomeSec.

"There isn't a lot to talk about. He's an asshole sometimes, but he's my best friend. Hel's my… fucking liege, Lucrezia's my aunt. Sometimes, you choose who you care about. Other times, it chooses you. In the end, you just care. Y'know?" Teo's other foot slides across carpet fibers, sneaking around the counter to find more markers. Rake them over under the strength of five intrepid pink piggies.

"I'd like to know them," says Sonny in a quiet, rumbling way. "Wish I could get to know a lot of people. But it's dangerous." To let people in, to make friends that aren't palling around with a fake face or his public self. He's two halves, and there's very few people who know both. Sonny know that this private schizm in his life has lead to him leaning on Teo more than he should.

"What's going down in Phoenix-land anyway? Any new fires to put out? How's Abby?" He reaches up to steady the marker behind his ear, but he apparently has nothing to contribute to Teo's windowed masterpiece.

When Teo shrugs, that is palpable too, secondhand kinesthesis channeled through skin and cloth. The blunt of his fingertips scrubs through the older man's hair, separating curls from corkscrew curls. "You're a metamorph and a doctor with a highly private life. And I trust you. That's all they'd have to know and you could build relationships off that, if you wanted to. I mean, nobody knew one damn thing about me when I first started out. Apart from that I could do plumbing and sail a boat.

"You could get to know them later. After they get back." A kiss snicks down on the back of Sonny's neck. "Phoenixland's been pretty quiet. Only disturbances I've heard about are precogs. Nothing specific. Seems Helena, Lucrezia, and Alexander and everybody will find their way home, and— some people I don't know are going to die. Some lunatic running around switched our space-time manipulator's ability with — get this: Nathan Petrelli's. I don't know if that's Phoenixland chaos or just chaos.

"Abby seems okay. I think, a little better since Syl— Gabriel went up on television and asked the paparazzi to fuck off. It didn't do a lot, but I think ordinary citizens are making pissy faces at the photographers outside her apartment because of it. Sympathy helps." Teo's tone goes wry then, needling, perhaps pointing out Sonny's residual ill feeling toward Gabriel albeit only facetiously.

"It's just a big secret to burden someone else with, y'know?" Sonny closes his eyes for a moment and inhales the warm, familiar scent of his lover. "The Mayor's kid, running around playing at being a hero. City Hall'd bring down shit on anyone who was around if something happened to me." But it doesn't bother him overmuch. It's something he's used to by now.

"Petrelli?" See, that concerns politics and that's his area of expertise. "Petrelli is evolved? Do you have any idea how my father would love to know that?" Not that he's going to tell. Because, well, even if daddy knew, what could he do without proof? "How'd he possibly get past testing?"

But then, talk of politics is sidetracked by another little bomb. "That was Sylar, not Abby?" A long pause, a headshake. "Why did he do that?" A beat, then, "I was gonna give Abby some advice. I know a good publicist who'd teach her how to deal with the press and how to keep her life private." If there's anyone who knows what it's like to be an outed Evolved in the public eye, it's Sonny Bianco.

Chaos, just not Phoenixland chaos. Teo's eyes shift before he closes his too, the warm encumbrance of his embrace and deranged metabolism sealing further around Sonny's frame. "Petrelli's Evolved. I can imagine how the world would love to know that. You want another newsflash: Rickham was Evolved too, and he stepped down 'cause he knew the scandal was going to kick his ass and ruin this country.

"Karma wheel seems to've spun off its fucking axis, huh?" His eyelids cede a fractional opening again. He looks at the sunflowers massed outside the window, their petals like heatless flames below the level of the lovebirds' hopping silhouettes.

"Gabriel was trying to do her a favor. They— get along okay, I guess. Now. They didn't used to." Teo doesn't elaborate. He still remembers the night he came home to find the young healer gaunt, terrified, shotgun at the foot of her couch and Dr. Seuss playing on television, blood dried in her hair where she'd healed back the slice-line Sylar's telekinetic forefinger was opening across her forehead, inch against inch. "I think she'd appreciate the advice.

"Dr. Chesterfield's gonna try and encourage her to go further into the public, I think. I don't like it, and I don't think she will either."

"Nnnno, Abby's not someone who should be further in the public eye. She'd have no end of desparate people lined up at her door. She'd never get any peace, and she has too good of a heart to turn away those who are genuinely suffering. That's the problem. S'bad enough with an ability like mine that's not really able to cure anything life-threatening." Sonny finds Teo's overheating a great comfort now that he's used to it. He presses his cheek against the other's and exhales.

"Rickham, huh? Well…dad'd be less happy to hear that. Or not publically happy. Privately, I think he'd realize it was a brave thing to do." He goes silent for a moment then murmurs, "We should move to the couch. Would be more comfortable."

Cheek to cheek, Teo's incipient beard is smooth instead of rough; past the stage of stubble, but light enough that it doesn't look quite as dense as it is. "You're right. I think you're right. Or more assholes like the Staten Island parasites will come for her.

"You're also wrong about the couch," he decides glibely. His embrace shifts, widens abruptly as a bubble distorted by wind out of its wand, looping wider, arms wrapping around Salvatore's back and the underside of his thighs. Spreading his feet on the floor, he lifts. Sonny comes up with him, carefully swerved out from underneath the precariously angled edge of the counter.

There's pause, staggered, wary, when Teo's weight seesaws onto his other foot so he can sliiide the glass into safety around the back of the counter. The birds quirk their heads toward the two men, studying them for a brief moment until it becomes apparent that no food or attention is forthcoming. "I'd appreciate it if you talked to Abby."

"Oh, jesu…" Sonny stops himself from 'taking the name in vain.' He doesn't believe it, but he has enough respect for Teo's beliefs that he tries to keep his blasphemy to a minimum. It was just a reflex. "Didn't we have a chat about sweeping me off my feet, Mr. White Knight? Like, oh, a few months ago?"

Sonny trusts Teo, but he's tall and they weigh pretty close to the same, so he flails a little bit to try and keep from falling to the ground. He laughs and paws at the Italian's shoulder. "She should come over. Think the conversation'd go better if you were here."

Football hooligans make good practice of carrying each other around. Sometimes at a fast pace, in the opposite direction of police on-foot. So Teo has practice with that, and with girls, and also a small bit with Salvatore besides. He experiences little difficulty making his way from the counter to the couch, rights the good Doctor out when he reaches the furniture and stoops to slide him back down again.

Straightening again, he blinks slightly in the translucent lances of sunlight through the windows proper, his gaze flitting briefly past parrots.

Next time, he thinks, he's going to add anthropomorphized monster trucks behind the birds. Liven things up.

"Sure," he says, after a moment that may or may not have been constituted of hesitation.. "I dunno what I can contribute, though. I don't know that much about dodging publicity." Swiveling on his feet, Teo drops himself neatly onto the couch beside the older man. The cushions seize underneath the childishly careless bounce of his weight. He reaches up to check whether the marker fell out from the side of Sala's head.

The marker was just starting to droop when Teo reaches up to snag it. Sonny digs it out of the nest of his curls and passes it over. "Nothing gets outta there," he murmurs. The Italifro has staying power. The birds will discover this soon enough. He'll probably lose a ringlet or two the first couple of times.

"Still. Maybe we could have dinner? We could call it 'catching up' rather than 'coaching Abby on how to be in the public eye'?"

He shifts up closer against Teo and throws one leg over. He flattens his palm against Teo's chest, then slides down to lift up the edge of his shirt to rest his fingers there. It's not starting anything yet, but it's just this side of lecherous. His other hand scrapes along the length of the growing bristle of a beard. He explores the texture with blunted nails.

This side of lecherous isn't as much fun as the other side of lecherous, but as long as they're getting close to the line, Sicily isn't going to protest. He peers at Sonny's face in mild distraction instead. The sort of distraction where he is paying attention to Sonny's face instead of at what his hands are doing, which is altogether less unflattering than other kinds of distractions. "That could be fun," he agrees. "I think she'd like that.

"We have extra plates and shit that we never use." 'S what happens, when you're the Mayor's son covert-opsing around with a terrorist dude. You know.

Teo closes forefinger and thumb around the foot Sonny had flung over him, palming the round bone of ankle. He turns his fingernails inward slightly, scoring skin in lazy sinusoidal, like a sidewinder etches across the surface of sand. The marker finds itself played idly between the fingers of his other hand. "We'd cook and stuff?"

"Do you think we could actually make anything edible?" Sonny's tone is lazy. His brow furrows and his face sets into an expression of disbelief. "Spaghetti, maybe? Barbecue some steak?" Barbecuing is one thing even Mr. Silver Spoon can handle. His dad never did it, but his uncles are masters of the grill. "S'getting warm enough now."

Fingers trickle up the side of Teo's jaw. He tilts the Italian's face towards him, close enough so that he can press a kiss just below his ear, on sensitive nerves. "Store-bought potato salad unless you know how." He may be talking about a barbecue, but his mind's clearly going elsewhere. And so are his hands.

And Teo's heart starts to drum away at a rhythm that declares on unequivocal terms, that peace is over. They aren't war drums, though. The corners of his mouth pull in and up, curtain rising over a faint flicker of enamel that vanishes when he turns his face down into the shadows of the crook of Sonny's neck. "We must be able to figure out potato salad," he points out, despite the distinct shortening of his breath. "You went to med school. I spent years at Columbia, for Chrissakes.

"And I can do Italian, although I haven't had barbecue in months since—" Christian died, but that's a whole other conversation that really does not need to happen now. His fingers walk up off Sonny's foot and over pant leg, squeeze the strained line of the thigh the other man had flung over his hip. "Fucking forever." Which isn't actually some kind of adorably lewd pun, or not on purpose.

One blue eye blinks out over Sonny's shoulder, the next moment. Though hazed by distraction, he notices the stolen pane once more in the blur of peripheral. Without the reality of the living room propped up behind it, the drawings are truly bizarre, negative spaces implying depth and physical objects, a perspective of reality that is not quite there.

All reality is a perspective, though. But reality doesn't usually involve stick figures and outlines of elephants. "Well, we can try potato salad, but I can't make promises about how good it will be. I fail at any kind of potato other than 'mashed.'" Sonny rests his head against Teo's shoulder. For now, his hand is sedately splayed out across the musculature of Teo's abdomen. But he won't be able to exercise self-control for too long.

"I'll buy us a grill." There's one at his condo, but that one's extravagant and could never be taken off his deck. "Promise I won't go overboard."

Back in Italy, they don't really do barbecue. His family didn't, at least. There's interest there, in— more than the just the idea of sinking his teeth into a slab of meat or pineapple that was cooked over an open fire, but that, too. Reality may not involve stick figures and outlines of elephants, but Mayor Bianco's wondering where his son is somewhere out there and Jesse Knight is still a Hell of a long way from home.

Dutifully, Teo turns his eyes back to the matter at hand. Allows himself be sat on and toyed with, knowing Sonny does either without malice.

"I can't think of anything else to say about food," Teodoro says, after a somewhat awkward period of silence. "Maybe dessert. You should puree some of that weird fruity sludge stuff that you prescribed to her."

Sonny grins brightly and lets a warm chuckle vibrate against the side of Teo's neck. "Mmm, you ever tried it? Stuff's actually pretty good. Might bring the blender over here. Used to make that kind of thing for breakfast all the time."

But he hasn't got anything else to say about food either. His hands are getting bolder and more insistent rather than teasing.

If daddy only knew what his golden boy was up to. On a personal level, Harry would likely be able to accept it. But the effect on his career - well, that's another story.

Thankfully, fatherly approval is the last thing on Sonny's mind as he slides the crooked leg completely around Teo and slides up into his lap.

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