Fine Felice


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Scene Title Fine Felice
Synopsis In a few days, Leonard is going to take a page out of Tolkien and road-tripping into the West for his own private pilgrimage, and Teodoro is going East on another crusade to save the world. It means 'happy ending,' and that's only a little bit exaggeration.
Date November 20, 2009

Manhattan, SoHo — The Animal Haven Shelter

The Animal Haven Shelter isn't quite the same with Pamela Brown gone, but there's the remote possibility that some of these veterinarians are strippers in their free time and the staff have been personable enough in the time that Teo spent fatuously lurking about waiting for Leonard to bring to SoHo his bird.

Pila requires check-ups once a year. Possibly once every eight months, now, given her age is progressing, and Teodoro thought it would be nice to be able to oversee the process in person before going off to fiddle with a nuclear holocaust. He had delivered the instructions across the phone. Cloth cover for the cage, with one of those little palm-sized warmers that people generally microwave for their boots the day before a hike in the snow dropped in so she doesn't freeze on the way over.

Characteristically dressed in a knee-length coat and jeans, Teo is the picture of cold-numbed nerves, eyes blinking wide in his head and the jitter of his fingers pressed into his pockets.

There's Leo coming in to the waiting room, draped cage carried like it contains the Host and not merely one perfectly healthy budgerigar. He's in his army parka, hood up, gloves, fatigue, boots, that same army surplus gear. He's red-eyed and weary, apparently just off a nightshift, lips thinned and gray. There's a cup of coffee in his free hand, as he casts this way and that, looking for the birdling's owner.

Would be the one loitering across from the receptionist's counter, listening to the phone ring for— he's counted— the thirteenth call in the past ten minutes.

The Christmas season is a good or a bad time of year for animal shelters, depending on how you look at it. Traffic increases, with families looking to adopt a gift for a child, or families hoping to get rid of a beast that proved too much trouble in the year since the previous holiday season in hopes that a new home might open up soon enough nobody has to go home feeling too bad.

Fuzzy little lives commodified for the commercialized holiday industry. "Hey, Leo." The sight of the enervated redneck registers. Teodoro lists away from the wall, steers a leggy lope toward Leonard with one arm up to hoop a hug, his other hand prying at the budgie's cover. Hi, lady.

She offers him a sleepy piping in greeting, apparently healthy tucked under all that upholstery. No chill. Leo, for his part, looks nervous, as if what he'd just handed the Sicilian was a live grenade, rather than a miniscule avian. "Hey," he says, returning the hug firmly. "Mornin'" he adds, having set the cup of coffee down on the counter. "You want me to stay - you need a ride back to Abby's, or somewhere else? Got the car." Because Pila's too good to travel by public transport.

Getting beat up in French words by Deckard has left the Sicilian a little paler even than winter manages to induce in his sanguine complexion by itself. He's healthy, though, managed not to catch cold over the course of plunging evening temperatures and unsympathetic weather. He puts his nose into the collar of Leonard's coat, breathes in myrrh and frankincense, huffing a lungful of warmth against the fold of the man's coat. He accepts the cage. "Appreciate it if you could stay. Need to get her back to Abby's."

Almost the right time of year - he's the gift of two of the kings, though the third's will take a lot longer. "Sure," he says, affably. "Split that coffee with you? You look like you could use it, and I sure could," He settles the cage on the counter, leaves it up to Teo to do the actual checking in.

Checking in is easy, goes quick, has them scheduled to wait another ten, fifteen minutes before Dr. Sasaki opens up for a visit. Teo finishes his name in a loop of pen on paper, sets the writing implement down in favor of grabbing up the coffee cup and steal it down for swallows. He holds the cage higher in his other hand. Looks, for a moment, like he's trying to offer it to some invisible third party, but in truth he's merely clearing the way for—
"Give me a hug." Another one, he means. It isn't very little to ask, not with the fat ethnic fathers sitting idly on the lank upholstery so nearby, the receptionist who looks up at irregular intervals to sweep the waiters, the lone working mother sniping fiercely on her cellphone, and the sensibilities Leonard was raised with.

Well, okay. Leo doesn't seem much bothered by all the possibly critical eyes that are looking on. He sets both arms around Teo's ribs, squeezes like he's half-pondering starting a wrestling match right here and right now. It softens before it becomes one of those pissing contest bearhugs designed to squeeze the air out of a packmate, and drops his head to Teo's shoulder in that canine and confiding manner he has.

"Tighter." Teo's eyes crinkle with a gusty, desperate laughter, despite that the sound itself stays caged behind his teeth. His weight teeters on the balls of his feet, streaking the floor with grit shaped in the geometry of its treads. "No; tighter," he repeats, his shoulders curling in his friend's arms until the right one begs pause with a twinge, scoots his elbow high on reflex. Determinedly, he exhales to make more room, puddles airy warmth in the hollow of Leonard's cheek. He blinks his eyes, a tangible nudge of dirty blond fringe against the incline of Leonard's cheek. "Hey.

"Do you— want to borrow the bike, while you're gone?"

Leonard tightens his grip, using all of that wiry strength he has, though it's still never meant to hurt. He ponders that. "Might be worth doing," he says, as he slowly lets the air back into Teo's lungs. "I've got my crappy car, though, and it holds more. Not to mention, I can sleep in it, if I need to." This'll be a great experiment in mobile homelessness - it's like he's too much a Lost Boy to be comfortable sleeping in a real bed in an enclosed room for long. "Though my tent does fit on the back of a bike…."

There's a nod of agreement, though Leonard's been saying a bunch of things so it isn't clear exactly what the Sicilian is agreeing with, exactly, only that he is giving his generalized approval, unconditional affection, and his long nose up against Leo's cheek. The bruises are fading from where Ethan gave him the knock in the front of his head. It'll take more than a few sharp glances and flustered glances-away from those arranged around the waiting room to deprive Teo of the final, short-lived, canine, and separately peculiarly animal-themed chapter of this romance. "Don't feel like you have to. Just thought I'd offer," he says, loosening his punctured shoulder with a rolled half-shrug. Pila chirps.

"It's kind of you, too, thank you," Leo says, gently. "But I think the car's best, considering it's winter travel." He glances at the receptionist, the doctor who has care of the little bird, and suggests, rather bluntly, "Let's go outside." He steps back enough to put his arm heavy over Teo's shoulders, as if his friend needed to be steered outside.

Secure in the knowledge that he can use his deep and mysterious brainpowers to slip in, and then his gun and kung-fu to correct the problem should any arise, Teo reluctantly relinquishes Pila's cage to the veterinarian who comes to take her. Lifts a half-smile at her, nods her head. It's okay! Sasaki has a good reputation. Yelp said so. It's okay. Pila is going to be okay. 8( O tiny blue bird, if only she could share the secrets of ensorcelling Sicilians with his human counterparts, Teodoro's life would probably be that much more stable.

They go outside, passing by purse-sized dogs and a bewildered-looking girl with a fishbowl wrapped up in a scarf. Most of the reluctance that Teo manifests in leaving a shelter is the absence of the boa constrictor grasp of great asphyxiating adoration. It's how adoration is supposed to be, according to the Bennati school of thought. Outside, it's snowing, but only the light and feathery sort that vaporizes before connecting with the concrete.

It's okay. Leos will keep you warm, He tucks an arm around the Sicilian, solicitously. Like Teo's old and needs help across the street. This, however, is somewhat contradicted by his immediately nuzzling at Teo's ear.

Teo's ear responds by going pink, which spreads to his cheeks in a reciprocal waft of heat. He scrunches up the purple-clouded line of his nose fondly. The dull reflection they cast in the animal shelter's window has too many heads and too many arms, merged together where it is. Inside, Pila is obliging her doctor with silky good manners. Teo looks in only briefly, before his eyes slide back into focus at Leonard's temple. "If you meet somebody and decide to get married and shoot out some dwarven ones, you invite me, right? Italian tradition. Even if you think it'll be awkward because her mom doesn't like gli omossesuali, eh? I don't mind lying. That's what you do, for family."

That's a hell of a jest. Leo leaves off his attention to Teodoro's ear to slap him on the back, as if Teo were a recalcitrant colt. "I'm not getting -married-," he says, like the very idea is patently laughable. "Promise me you'll do the same," he adds, a little more serious. Since Teo is far more indifferently queer than Leo is.

Far more indifferently queer? Teo would call that into question if he were a mind-reader, not that he'd have much of a leg to stand on, what with the various offspring scattered throughout timelines— "Okay," the Sicilian scoffs. Then, because he's like, fourteen, "Whatever."

Teo is abruptly kissed, and with force. Leo cares for no onlookers, not now, anyway. HE's all brutal, adolescent enthusiasm, nevermind that he's about to be a step closer to thirty in just a few days.

Teo is abruptly kissed. With force, that surprises him and rolls an eye sidways in its pit, meeting the squinting scrutiny of a woman with an enormous baguette poking out of her backpack, before he falls easier into the rhythm of things. Two years after 2011, one exsquisite (drunken, endearingly tawdry, initially awkward, cheap motel) evening in 2009, and a few other episodes he may or may not have gotten summarily wiped out of his brain— the muscle memory catches up to him, easy, warm, the quiddity of Leonard's pubescent passion both familiar and new in the curl of his tongue.

The scent of his skin never changes - Sonny never altered it, really. He, too, gentles after a little - it remains passionate, but there's a lot more fondness to it. Like he's saving up memories for his own absence, even as he settles a hand proprietarially on Teo's hip. Let them scandalize the onlookers.

Now the critics can speculate that the bird in her cage constitutes a surrogate child, wish fulfillment that two dudes can't make babies, or some shit. Whatever-shit. With less outright physical force occupying his mouth, Teo has some of it left over to bend around a smile. He lumps an arm around Leonard's shoulders, fingers grating blunt nails along the grain of his hair. It's too short to find real purchase in, but hey, there are maybe twenty more seconds until they have to worry about cops, and he's found a timed equilibrium between kissing and snatching breaths of air.

Leonard finally steps back like a diver surfacing, and gives Teo one of those grins, shy and delighted and smug, all at once. "Thanks," he says, in his old drawl, as if Teo had merely stopped to help him change a flat tire.

"Non problema." Teo's fingers finish in a curled pinch on the other man's earlobe, and he gives him a tug once, twice, before he taps the man's cheek with another kiss. This one's platonic, almost European in its casual warmth, though never of course insincere. He takes his arm down, puts his hand in his pocket, and has the grace not to try and make eye-contact with anyone who's avoiding it with him. "I'll go in and wait for Pila," he says. "It should only be a couple more minutes. You'll be able to drive her back?"

"Of course," Leo says, amused. "Did you have any doubt? Did I forget to drive in the last few minutes, or something?"

Teo's turn to deliver a mock-blow at his friend's stomach. "No fucking jokes about that shit, thanks." He jack-knifes his fist open, vices a fold of cloth at the flat of the vet's stomach between the knuckles of his first two fingers, delivers a playful shove that sends Leonard one way and tips him back toward the door. "I just need you to take her home after. And then…"

Teo's face goes pleasantly blank.

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