Errand Boys


teo_icon.gif amato_icon.gif

Scene Title Errand Boys
Synopsis Amato is sent out for fruit and flowers, but is stumped when it comes to the unspecified latter. He calls Teo in for a consult.
Date March 9, 2008

D'Allemange's Flowers

Note: This scene takes place at the same time as Once the Spider, Now the Fly.

When someone sends you out to pick up pomegranates, it's not that hard to locate them, especially in a big city. But 'nice flowers' are a harder item to obtain, especially when what constitutes 'nice' is unknown.

That's when you have to call in the cavalry.

Amato, wearing one of the more subdued sweater vests purchased by his suite-mate with a shirt and tie, stands inside one of the smaller and more elite flower shops in New York City. D'Allemagne's is known not only for it's quality, but it's variety. But of course, each is something they are able to charge exorbitant amounts for. With Lucrezia's credit card in his wallet, Amato isn't too concerned about the price. Even if she's the one providing the funds, he ought to get something she likes.

In his only hand, the Italian clutches a plastic bag with the French-named fruits, and the end of his right arm is tucked into the pocket of his trousers. He's been quiet so far, but Amato alternates from looking between the flowers on display and the window.

Waiting for the cavalry is always the worst part.

Not so bad when they aren't on a mission from Edward Ray to collect heads, though. And here Teo comes galloping now, astride his… well. He's on-foot, dressed in his customarily shabby array of denim and sleeved cotton and padded canvas that ought to dissuade muggers, a green canvas messenger bag slung over his shoulder, promising that he's bound for business sooner than later; no shadows under his eyes, but a few heavier lines to his face and posture that tell the toll that the past few weeks have been taking on the baby terrorist.

"Buongiorno." He throws an arm up, greeting. His elbow clips the edge of the door, sending his translucent reflections shuddering through plateglass on either side of him. Teo breathes deep the odor of countless different species of flower, each strain of pollen and crushed fiber perfume distinct from the next. He cants a look through the small store, past the gentleman at the counter and back to the man who had issued this rather unexpected invitation. "You look lost," he observes, not unkindly.

Amato has been out of touch with his own true heritage for quite some time, but the more time he spends with Lucrezia and her nephew, the more at home he feels. Perhaps it is the tribalistic nature ingrained in all people, but being near countrymen when you've been displaced for so long means a lot. Perhaps that, combined with the recent advancements he's been able to make, is what brings Amato to lean his head near Teo's when he's approached to attempt the customary dual air-kiss.

Still, it's awkward. Personal space issues aside, Amato isn't nearly as close with Teo as he is her aunt. "«Thank you for coming,»" he says in an attempt to reclaim some composure. "«I am, yes. I do not know what your aunt would like most, and I do not want to disappoint her.»"

Either Teodoro has been among Americans too long or there's that obstruction of relative lack of intimacy between the two men— hard to say, but he looks momentarily bigger-limbed and clumsier than he normally does despite that he's merely standing there sandwiched between the delicate halves of Amato's traditional greeting. Afterward, he offers a smile. It is neither forced nor overwhelmingly at ease, but it's obvious as the daylight ambient in the street outside, that it's intended to put the other Italian at ease.

Teodoro got done wishing the ex-Vanguard members facetious discomfort at some point between Kazimir Volken's death and Eileen Ruskin's help with locating his abducted friends. "«My pleasure.»" The rest is between them and God. Or, alternatively, the law, should the law choose to make a nuisance of itself. "«What's the occasion?»" he asks, lapsing gracefully back into Italian; his eyes fall to the roses massed in the box against the wall, before flitting back, upward again.

"«You know Lucrezia,»" Amato replies with a slightly more 'at ease' smile, "«The occasion is that she asked me to run out for some flowers. And pomegranates.»" The fruit is mentioned almost as an afterthought, and Amato lifts the bag slightly to indicate them his eyes once more on the vast array of flora. There are so many things to chose from, both pre-made arrangements and all manner of things that could be assembled. The possibilities are indeed endless.

As helpless looking as ever, Amato returns his gaze to the younger man. "«Does she have a favorite?»" That would certainly make this process much, much easie.r

There's a sidelong smile, crooked, boyish, the sort of expression that's probably temporarily short-circuited a few hearts in Teo's term as a boy who likes girls. And boys, also, coincidentally. "«It changes. From what I remember, it changes,»" he amends, momentarily the limitations of his own memory acknowledgment, even as he segues forward on a leggy stride to look over the shop's offerings. He refuses the storekeeper's offer of help with a slight shake of his head, a monosyllable apology that they're speaking in foreign tongue; he knows that must be disconcerting. "«From you?

"«Calla lilies, I think. If they have them in any color besides white.»" A gloved forefinger pops the button at his throat, and he curls a fist around his jacket zipper to peel the panels loose. Parting from the basins of commonplace baby's breath, roses, and sunflowers the size of infants' heads, he winds up underneath the sheer veil of a misting sprinkler system, droplets catching minute rainbows in the shaven, bristly porcupine cut of his hair. He bobs a long finger past a slender holder full of curly willow sticks, long, narrow, torquing lines through the air that manage to look both torturous and extravagantly lazy. "«These for accents.»

"She likes accents," he repeats, spinning the pun wryly, over his shoulder. Then, turning his head back, "«How have you been?»"

Amato follows in Teo's wake, eyeing the flowers and other plant life that Teo leaves behind him. The Calla lilies indeed come in more colors than just white, thanks to the skill and variety possessed by the owner. The two men are treated to an veritable rainbow of clean-lined lilies, laid out as if the entire spectrum of visible light had been translated into this particular format and placed in tall pots on one long shelf, the blooms and about an inch of the thick stems exposed.

Breaking away from Teo, Amato moves down the row of flowers with a critical eye. He doesn't let go of the bag of fruit, nor does he remove his right arm from his pocket. The only thing left for him to do to indicate a possible color choice is linger in the section of reddish-purple flowers and turn back to look at Teo. "«I have been well enough,»" is his delayed answer. "«Better than I was before.»" The nature of 'before' is left vague, however. "«Yourself? I'm afraid Lucrezia hasn't been talking about you as frequently as she once did, so I can only assume you have been delightfully bored.»" Or overly active. Just because things are quiet does not mean that they are well, after all.

Seeded eucalyptus will serve the same function as baby's breath, blotting in uncomfortable gaps of negative space with vicissitudes of tighter but still fragile patterns. Kangaroo's paw adds a somewhat more sensual note to the otherwise alternately severe and lacy lines of the bouquet, which might not be appropriate for the ex-priest who will bring the arrangement to his lady, but Teodoro knows his aunt well enough to fall into old habits of default. He taps out his selection with a polite word of request, glances back at the older man searching for the soul of the bouquet somewhere in the spectrum of lilies. The lilies will have to carry it, really.

Knowing this, Teo simply parks himself on the paler end of the array, sliding his hands back in his pockets. He watches Amato rove about in the manner a Tibetan monk might watch a child sort through the objects that once belonged to a holy man reincarnate, as if his choice would tell them both something deeper and truer than the polite exchange of words patterned over it.

And more luck to Amato, that it says something good. The gift is, after all, for Lucrezia. "«I'm glad you're better. Things have been busy with me. It'll be worse before the month ends, but I think, then, things get better. I've been keeping in touch with Eileen — she's doing well. She and several other of your old cohorts are eking out a living on Staten Island. Not exactly surprising, I guess.»" Staten Island has a reputation.

The year so far has brought so many surprises, but this one is by far the most stunning. Amato had counted Eileen among the dead, so to hear her name mentioned so casually as one still living hits him just the same as if all of the vases in the shop had been dropped on him at once. Despite the impact, the only visible sign of reaction in Amato is a widening of his eyes and tightening of his jaw and neck.

Composure. Composure is key.

Amato swallows, and does his best to refocus his eyes on the flowers. He shifts the bag in his hand to his wrist in order to pluck a few of the long-stemmed flowers from their tall vase. Amato then moves toward Teo and the paler versions of the species. Light and Dark. Appropriate, in its way.

But Amato's mind is barely on the task at hand. "«She is… adaptable. Surprisingly so.»" So much so that she survived the horrors that took place on that bridge and God only knows what followed it. He nods, obviously quite tense despite his efforts to hide it, for both Teo and the absent Lucrezia's sake. "«I am glad to know she is…that she is alright.»"

"«She is.»" The casual simplicity of that reply might lend one to think that Teo doesn't realize that he just backed a metaphorical truck over the erstwhile priest's head. He's a bright enough kid, though, and quick enough on the uptake to notice that there's something off. A great deal is off. Composure wouldn't be so key if it weren't. He's watching the older Italian out of hooded eyes, his brow knit in consternation or sympathy and jaw tight to the point of bone geometry. He might understand. Eileen is adaptable. Surprisingly so.

All of his favorite people are that way, but he would be no less astonished and overwhelmed to know they were intact and thriving after all this time. "«She is. I could pass her your number.

"«If you would like to speak with each other.»" There's a deliberate lack of emphasis on any of the words there. Not if, especially; Teo has no idea why Eileen and Amato wouldn't want to, but at the same time, it's beyond him to fathom why the young woman wouldn't have reinitiated contact by herself… but he can guess why Lucrezia might not have shared this precious tidbit of information with her cherised priest. He relieves Amato of the weight of his gaze, hazarding another glance over the array of lilies.

Amato's lips purse for a moment in order to close off the torrent of pleas for contact and queries regarding Eileen's condition. He rolls his lower lip beneath it's upper twin much like a starving man might when tempted with the finest cuisine with the full knowledge such an indulgence would likely kill him. "«My only number is your aunt's suite,»" he offers both as a possibility and a warning. What would happen if Eileen were to call him in Lucrezia's home? If Lucrezia knew that Amato knew… how could she not know that Eileen was alive? Why would Teo keep anything from his dear aunt? The would-be priest's head is awash with such thoughts, and after a moment he shuts his eyes tight in an effort to staunch the flow.

"«I would like to speak with her,»" he admits in a voice that is very nearly a whisper. "«I would also like to make your aunt happy.»" Can two such things happen at the same time?

Yes. No. Yes. Probably not. Maybe. Teo's gone all rueful again, a slight duck of his head placing his eyes, coincidentally, in the plethora of pristine white lily petals. Their pale throats and deep curls draw his gaze further downward, thoughtful, guilty, or — perhaps even obscurely apologetic on Lucrezia's half, though Lucrezia can do no harm.

"«I'll send her my aunt's suite number labeled as that,»" he offers, quietly. "Eileen «will know what to do. And I'm sure she'll call.»" The latter is added in some default effort at reassurance that doesn't lack for sincerity, though Teo's features threaten to cloud, briefly, recalling that the young woman hadn't been unequivocally accepting of Tavisha back into her life.

Never mind. It doesn't matter. "«You can do what you wish to.»" People do what they want. Teo squeezes a blink out of his eyes, and snatches his head back upright. "«You aren't a priest anymore, after all. Are you?»"

"«I told you that I never was.»" Amato is sullen as he looks at the flowers, but he reaches out, not for the innocuous blooms, but rather those that look as though they have been slightly stained. Ivory. Clean, crisp, yet soiled somehow by the weather or age. "«I am nothing much now, really. Though that is not necessarily an unwelcome state. I would rather be nothing than something cruel and inhumane.»" Better nothing than what he was once, in the eyes of so many.

It doesn't particularly surprise Teo when the older man reaches for the flawed flower among the many. He sincerely hopes that he has no plan to actually purchase that one for the bouquet, but that aside, he too finds himself privy to some bitter trace of sympathy for the bloom that would otherwise never make it to sale though, from a distance, it still looks uninjured, whole, perfect.

"«All right.»" He grates blunt fingernails down the side of his nose. "«I apologize. I had thought for a moment you might begin to feel that way about my aunt, and she wouldn't worry about your loyalty if you… It's none of my business.»" Apologies are worthless if you can't stop, anyway. Teo does, squares his shoulders and drops his hands back to his side, so much the chastised schoolboy. Blankly, he agrees, "«There must be worse things.»"

Beside the darker brethren, the ivory lily doesn't look too out of place. Compared to the bloodstained flowers, even a slightly soiled looking one is pristine. Not everyone is perfect, and it is utter foolishness to believe such a thing. When Teo rattles on about Amato's relationship with Lucrezia, the man lifts his head from the bouquet in progress to regard the boy with a quizzical and somewhat offended, narrow-eyed stare.

"«I feel nothing but gratitude for all the good will your aunt has given me. I have not deserved it. No one has ever deserved such.»" There is some almost primal part of Amato that wishes a present such as these flowers were actually a present, planned and purchased without Lucrezia's knowledge. Without her money. The need to provide is quiet, yet deep. He swallows, then shakes his head. "«I have no reason to be disloyal. I owe her much, but I am still my own man, if ever a man I truly was.»"

"«That's not what I'm talking about,»" Teo answers, at length. "«But I don't have any right to talk about it. You wouldn't hurt her if you could help it. That's enough.»" And it might even be enough for Lucrezia, he doesn't know; aunt and nephew are oddly alike that way. They need to be loved, but can only stand so much companionship.

There's no need to blame his personal tendencies or shortcomings on blood, though. "«Those are nice,»" he adds, after a moment. He's looking at the rust-colored plumes about halfway down the spectrum. The bases of the petals, where they merge out of the stem, gradiate out of the sanguine shade and into off-gold.

Amato follows Teo's eyes, and for all accounts he approves of the choice. All he does is nod toward them before he moves to pick up some of the willow and eucalyptus. The conversation is treading so very close to extremely awkward. "«Thank you again for lending your help,»" he says after a moment of silence. "«A vase, or shall we let her have the entertainment of finding a home for them?»"

That elicits a thoughtful noise in the bottom of Teo's throat, underneath the bleep-bip of his cellphone out in his hand. This conversation is treading so very close to extremely awkward. He is going to pretend to be doing something discreetly, politely on the side lest it tarry too close for too long.

Not that sending Eileen a quiet reminder of his aunt's suite number isn't definitively awkward in and of itself.

Teo lifts his eyes from the small LCD screen, watches as Amato's reedy figure lopes along the smooth-swept floor and long, thin fingers pry eucalyptus and willow out of their slender holders. "«I think she would like that,»" he agrees, after a moment. "«That's a good idea. She would do a better job of it than either of us at any rate, I think. It would be her way of…»" his bristly jaw bobs in empty air for a moment, searching for the word. "«Answering you.

"«You're always welcome.»" There was a quaver-beat's hitch on that second word before Teo locked it out into open air, no take-backs. His shoes tread up behind the former Vanguardian, an audible tap-tap, before he's brought to pause. Reaches out to help

March 9th: One Night In Pawn Shop
March 9th: Once The Spider, Now The Fly
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