Forty Hours


gabriel_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Forty Hours
Synopsis How to grow a better you: Teo sees Gabriel about a favour.
Date July 15, 2010

Old Dispensary

It's the day. Which sounds dramatic, and maybe melodramatic, but it is what it is. Tamara said to talk to the lynx to do what he hears, and in the world where Tamara's world and Teo's world intersects in a nearly coherent language, that means he needs to talk to Gabriel about pooling out a spare vessel for the only copy of his soul that he plans for the world to retain of him. Inevitably, that means a six-pack of beer and a vaguely apologetic look as the Sicilian comes skulking into the dispensary, breathing in that perpetual trace of dust and tracery of sea air.

"Raith?" he hopes not.

"Eileen?" Not too difficult to evade if he puts his mind to it, Teodoro is sure. She's an introspective sort and, not to sound mean or anything, but blind, besides.

"Gabriel?" The door wheezes shut behind him, locking with a fierce tumblering crick of chambering metal parts, a deliberate delicacy of glass rattling faintly in its frames.

Foot steps too heavy to be Eileen's descent down the stairwell, and too blithely confident for her new condition. Could be Raith, until it obviously isn't, Gabriel's shape and details coming into sight with the turn of a corner and meandery descent. A loose cotton T-shirt doesn't do much to flatter him, but the fit of blue jeans are sound, feet bare on the concrete ground. He'd sprained something when he'd punched a wall at one point, but the bandages have been unwound to leave bruised knuckles of his left free to the air.

Teo receives a scoping look up and down as opposed to immediate verbal greeting, sight catching on the six-pack of beer like maybe he knows it signifies more than fratboy socialising, one and the same with the apologetic stoop of Teo's shoulders. He completes the roll call; "Teo?"

"Yeah," Teo answers. He scratches his cheek with a curl of knuckles, the same hand as the beer, before dropping his arm rather suddenly when he realizes it was his ruptured cheek and the vague possibility he might pull down the edge too far and drip saliva someplace somehow disgusting. Or just that that whole combination of circumstances was disgusting. "Me." He steps forward, glass shuffling and clinking in the box. "You have a few minutes to talk about stuff that'll take up…

"…a lot more time than that?" Teodoro comes up closer, toward the foot of the stairs, and despite that he asked that question, cutting to the chase in a fashion that he might have presumed Gabriel would appreciate, his eyes are shifting down to look at the discoloration of the older man's fist. His eyebrows go down an inch, then up one-and-a-half, make an inquiry out of the glance he flits up at Gabriel's eye.

Two hands go out to grip either railing on either side, and Gabriel lowers himself down to sit on the staircase without further prompt, heels braced on the lowest and only one hand remaining curled on a railing, just next to his ear, there abouts, fingers mottled black and blue.

"From the fight," he explains, neutrally, and seeing as they've really only had one lately— for all that fists didn't come into play a whole lot— he's not lying. Knees together, tipped to the side, there is a kind of adolescence to his slouch in his thirty-something frame.

The sitting means acquiescence, rather like interpreting the behavior of a cat, which Teo takes in haphazard fashion to mean that Tamara was right. He stops in front of Gabriel and tilts forward to set the beers down on the step that the older man is doing his just-out-of-juvie-and-harder-than-ever thang on, and then straightens again, his hand swinging to a stop by his thigh. "I was glad you got one in," he says, nodding, agreeing about that. He means: before the little douchebag ran away.

Teo hadn't realized Gabriel had hit his old man that hard, though.

Makes sense. Means something else, that he'd used his hand instead of some other options available to them. "Are you going to look for him again?" He creases a vague gesture in the air, just his hand. "He was talking about people who'd come to kill her 's if he wasn't one of them, and that's a few kinds of fucked up."

The beers are inspected with the aloof distance of the cat already alluded to, before he's roaming his bruiseless hand out and selecting one from the pack, though doesn't set about opening it or finding the tools necessary to do. A hand chokes the long glass neck, judging its lingering if not quite sharp enough chill, eyes down. "Eileen says he was helping her. Keeping her, until she was well enough to give back," he says, voice dull, thick eyebrows ticking up as one in a brief display of indifference when there isn't much indifference to actually back it up.

Fwip, goes leather through belt loops just enough inches to get the edge of belt buckle beneath the metal cap of the beer bottle. Cracks it open carefully. "I didn't get him," he feels compelled to add. "He was ash before I could. Got the wall." And lost to it.

Nearly. Teo twists his jaw, regretting something, but not exactly embarrassed. He probably wouldn't be embarrassed about fucking up in front of Gabriel unless it was a fight, even if he knows better than to think that the former serial-killer's purpose and personality is as simplified as that and nothing more. "Sorry," he says. "Would've been good to feed him some of his own bullshit." He fidgets an arm up and scratches at his jaw a few times. That sounds remarkably perfunctory.

He doesn't take a beer yet, maybe because it is a gift, or maybe because of some bizarrely fuzzy yet personally-maintained distinction between the gravity of Eileen's misadventurous meeting with the parent, and Teo's little science experiment on himself. "Is that a 'No?'"

"You didn't come here to discuss my dad," is part-accusation, part-prod, though without any venom or annoyance. It's simply a swift defense to steer the spotlight from his own issues and onto Teo's, dark eyes glance up to bluer ones and then away as Gabriel takes a longish pull from his beer, glass clicking against teeth.

Okay, Teo will take a beer now. Out of the box. Fiddles with it for a moment, fingers on the cap, and actually pops it right off before remembering that that wasn't supposed to be a twist-top and that is probably why the inner-edge of his hand hurts. "No," he says. "I talked to Tamara the other day about what I want to do, with bringing the other ones back. She told me to talk to you about getting one of those clones started. Not in so many fucking words." A lapsing pause. The good corner of his mouth digs downward fractionally. "Would you mind? I.

"Cleared my weekend," Teodoro finishes, uncomfortably.

That makes him smile, a kind of easy spread of amusement, teeth white like a healthy animal's before it dims again with the ducking of his head. "I think it's more my weekend that needs to be cleared," Gabriel points out, an eyebrow going up as he curls both hands around green glass. "But I could use the guard duty and I figured out a place." He's a planner, this one — if not for everything. "I kind of thought you changed your mind."

"Why?" Teo realizes he sounds defensive, probably in terms of tone of voice as well as word choice. He glances down at himself as if expecting to find some kind of embarrassing physical evidence of spinelessness, yellow-belliedness, perhaps a knockering of his knees, but he sees nothing but beer, two hands, his big feet. No hypo jutting curiously from his clavicle, having been punctured through the fabric of his sweater, after all. "No problem, of course I'll guard and thanks for figuring out a place," he adds, kind of quickly, scooting the words in before his brow reknits in consternation. "I didn't," he adds, unnecessarily.

Gabriel's shoulders go up in a shrug, relax again. Likely after a fortnight of high-strung anxiety, simmering worry, he's pretty much on relaxed mode — even in the face of endangering himself for the next two days for the sake of Teo further doing so. "It's the kind of thing most people would change their minds on," he says, blandly. Beer sloshes around in the glass bottle with another tip back of a swallow. When it's done, he adds, with a tone of explanation, "Eventually. When?" As in, now?

The Sicilian nods, after a moment, accepting that response with the kind of slowness endemic to carefully-considered satisfaction. Okay, well. That works out. "Now, or soon as possible. Where was the place you wanted to do it at?" Teo lifts the beer halfway up to his mouth before pausing, and taking his first draft before he comes up with more questions. He still doesn't feel altogether certain about the nature of this process, but there's a bizarre sort of optimism blinking down at Gabriel's perch on the stairs while beer bubbles die miniscule deaths, breathing carbonation into the dispensary's warm air.

"It's not comfortable but that won't matter much. There's this school, here on Staten Island. Abandoned. I can use the sickbay. When I was— " Gabriel's head tilts a little, hesitation halting his words for a moment before he soldiers on the sentence. "When I was Tavisha, I used to go there. It's still pretty much the same as it was. More writing on the walls, maybe. Longer weeds. But no people."

And up he gets, taking the diminished six-pack with him. "I should collect a few things. Meet me outside in a few minutes and we can head there. You won't have to stay except to check in, just— " He shrugs. "At night, maybe. You have to come back and lie to Eileen about where I am." He'd leave a lying note, and all, but

The rest of the beer is going away, and that turns out to be just this side of distracting enough to draw his attention, for a long moment. He suspects he is about to be in a mood for the rest of the weekend. Funny. Teo has the vague urge to blame it on Gabriel's earlier remark regarding his wussing out, although this isn't doubt, exactly, just a peculiar awareness of smell, the shit and sugar in everything, and the cracks showing infinitessimal in the epidermis-equivalent of the wall plaster. Gaps in things.

He blinks at lying to Eileen. Stiffens. "Really?" he rakes the back of his head with blunt fingernails. "Should I prepare to bring you some food, water, maybe…" DVDs. "A taser? I don't— are you sure that's all you'll need?"

"You can tell her the truth if you want — this isn't my plan." Gabriel is ascending the stairs, now, but pauses at the questions being angled up his way, making a half-turn to glance back down at Teo, brow tensing before relaxing. "No taser," he says, voice pitched into a timbre that could be described as dark, or at least solemn, more cloudy day than nighttime. "But no, it's not all I'll need." They can have this conversation here, he supposes, patiently leaning his back against the railing as he thinks about how Teo could make himself useful.

He shrugs, glass bottles clinking with the movement. "You can bring some more water tonight. But I don't want you— in the same room. I won't need food." And maybe it occurs to him then that— he could explain. He pauses, and does so.

"I go into a trance, mostly. I won't be aware of much for however long it takes, which seems to amount to around forty-hours, but I can drink water, hook up a new saline bag." Likely a much more ponderous and annoying process to do on one's own in this situation and without assistance, and Teo might be able to make that kind of conclusion, but he's already drawn that line clearly in the sand. It's a private party. "You can bring some zipties and a leash if you want to take it for walkies yourself, after," is more acerbic than strictly necessary.

But not a taser, which technically— based on what he knows of the clones— well. Teodoro stares, blankly, for a long moment, and then squares his shoulders in what appears to be a resolute fashion. "Okay," he says. "Non problema. I really appreciate this." He gestures at the alcoholic beverages that Gabriel has pawed over to his own keeping, and then lets his arm fall, wonder shading at his brow. He trails a slow step toward the door, which makes him have to duck his own head slightly to track Gabriel framed in the rectangular hole up the ceiling. "All right. I'll be outside in a few minutes."

Satisfied, Gabriel continues his trek upwards. If there's more to discuss, it can be done on the way. For now, Gabriel allows the upper level of the Dispensary obscure his top half until he's a set of fastly disappearing legs on his way to gather the necessary supplies, the arrangement of needles, plastic tubes, the sedation drugs with their complicated syllables, Scrabble winners one and all. He doesn't look forward to it, but there is an inherent need to get it done with too.

By the time Gabriel arrives with the stuff, Teodoro is already to go with—

— himself, looking slightly chagrined for the lack of having more to contribute other than the fact that he's standing here, peering into the vast, wrinkly cyanotic elephant hide of the ocean, hands in his pockets, no cigarette in his mouth despite a certain urge, and no beer left, either. Teo looks up when he hears footfalls, a chuffed monosyllable of greeting before he twists his head around in search of the Jag. 'Course, he could bike too, but—?

Staten Island: Abandoned School, Formerly St. Joseph Hill Academy

8: 34 PM

But why take a bike when you can take a Jag.

Some second thought and a modicum of generousity had Gabriel pushing the remaining four glass bottles into Teo's hands by the time he'd come strolling out of the Dispensary, with a black duffle bag slung over a shoulder that would wind up dumped into the backseat. It is probably that the time he actually took up there was longer for him than it was for Teo, judging by an indistinct change of wardrobe. Maybe a slight change of demeanor.

An ensuing change of setting is a location that has something of the Dispensary about it. Less lived in, less clean, which seems like a bad idea, but as with tasers, it didn't appear to be much of an issue for Gabriel as he led Teo through the wooden doors of some private highschool left to rot by the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Charity. Echoing corridors and a direction away from classrooms, gyms, past offices and help desks. Dead leaves in a state of decay on the ground from when the wind had blown them in through broken windows high up. The sick bay, at least, is intact.

Gabriel had taken the help, of pushing the two steel-framed cots together. And then he'd told Teo to get out.

Nighttime is warm, in this time of year, but Gabriel's body isn't much appreciating this. The cot shudders beneath him from the violent tremors wracking his body, torso bare to the elements with a sheet drawn over his waist, one leg kicked free of it. If he can dream during this state, it's nothing that he mentioned to Teo.

He left for awhile. Really, he did. Made a few circles around the building, straining his ears through slow-moving dust, picturing the place with children's echoes and daydreaming faces in the windows, supposing that Tavisha had probably done the same as he walked across the playground's wind-burned tarmac before. The basketball hoop was still uncorroded enough to hold the whole of his weight up by his fingers.

Groceries, errands, breaking up a fight between Ferry laborers outside the Sweat Lodge, and wondering in the long gulfs of silence between Francois' sexts took up six hours.

Sue him for being curious, after that— six hours, then sue him again for being concerned that bad-wracking shuddering isn't part of the normal process. "Gabriel?" His boots are loud on the floor, but the meet of hand to the bed-ridden mutant's hand is oddly understated, hesitant, palm flat and fingers splayed. One does not 'grab' Gabriel Gray. "Can you hear me?"

Of course, it's not really the hand of Gabriel Gray — down to the whorling fingertip marks, Teodoro Laudani lies almost fetal on the bed, his skin cool to touch, slick in the low light. Scarless, too — or free of Teo's scars. Gabriel has his own keloid and ink, in the form of two starburst bullet wounds on a chest bare of tattoo, a stab shape beneath his ribcage, and then circular patterns of ink on one arm and the sprawling mess of tree on his back, to curl towards and around his shoulders and up to his nape of shaggy, off-blonde hair.

"Nn," can't be no, if did hear him to respond. In the shadows, there's something disturbing going on. A pulpy, mishappen line of flesh that seems to begin at the small of Gabriel's back, tubing out beneath bedsheets to only appear again, snake-like and strangely pale right now, where it connects to something in the same way, on the second cot. Smaller than Gabriel, but in a similar kind of postured curl, hairless, mostly obscured in bedsheets.

It appears to be breathing.

His hand twitches beneath Teo's, and blue eyes blink open, glassy as if hallucination, and his face turns up. Lips parched, he might not have to put all two syllables together to verbalise what he might need.



Super fucked up, Teodoro realizes, staring down at—

—the fuck

Disquiet reigns alongside the quiet for a protracted moment, the Sicilian's eyes big in his head. His throat moves uncomfortably without any memorable intent to make words. His fingers are curling in against his palms before he is cognizant of why, exactly, or even that it is visceral. "Non problema," he says, and the words seem ridiculously trite compared to the macabre scenario unfolding. Well, fuck. Whoever's problem this is, it isn't his.

He gets a water bottle out out of his bag, deftly, unscrews it, then realizes that he doesn't want to touch either of the things on the bed, thieves, duplicates, replacements that they represent. He reaches up, yanks his fingers through the straggling thread of his bangs, once, hard enough to make himself blink. Then there is a hand under Gabriel's head, a trickle of water.

The strength in Gabriel's fingers is probably a surprise, at least until it dwindles from its initial squeeze around Teo's wrist. From there, it's just a clammy clasp, as weak and clinging as wrapping seaweed, and his eyes close shut as water flows past parted lips and teeth. One clear rivulet of the stuff slides down the side of his face to wet the bristle of facial hair surrounding mouth and lining jaw, but most of it is swallowed, throat working. He'll be mad about this when it's over. Maybe not at Teo.

For now, he seems grateful, in the silent way a dog might be when given dinner — focused on the prize as opposed to shows of thanks. He doesn't stop when half the bottle is emptied, but does choke, once, face turning.

Maybe he just looks doggish because he looks like Teo, is what Teo thinks for a moment, obscurely embarrassed for the other man.

He looks up at the saline drip, straining, and stands up to cap the bottle again, without stopping to wipe the splatter and mucous-slickened runoff away with his hands. Steps closer, squinting at the IV drip. He turns it up so the ticks go quicker, tick-tick-tick, before reaching to grasp the bag, study its contents. Running low. Tick-tick-tick. He wonders if the small thing on the bed by Gabriel's belly has its own heartbeat, yet. "I'll bring some more saline. PN bags, maybe. Don't," he adds, when he realizes Gabriel isn't going to actually answer, "So don't worry."

Gabriel turns his reshaped face into the pillow, sweat-stained by now, damp from water spill, and gives a low, rumbling groan into that rises muffled to Teo's ears. This sucks. More than he remembers, and likely to do with the new intake of drugs he only knew would work in theory, bandaid place on the inner of his arm from the injection, and the pills leave no evidence save for this strange mix of fever and thirst. Coming up for air again, his eyes are shut, brow relaxing, tongue touching the still dry feeling corner of his mouth.

Better, though. The shivers reduce as if minor comfort were enough to stave them off, for now. Teo doesn't get a response in words, but he does get that response. Behind him, the thing remains unmoving save for that breathing motion, skin thin enough to show the things growing beneath it, spine and ribcage defined in its arching back like xylophone keys.

You shouldn't smoke in a maternity ward, so it stands to reason Teodoro shouldn't smoke now. He wants to, though. Maybe pot would help. That thing looks awful, and he has to be careful to do his staring from an angle that Gabriel-him can't see. He doesn't know what to say after promising that things will be better, which seems terribly, uncomfortably him, somehow. He releases the IV tubes once the drip seems to be going in at a rate that's comparable to what he saw back when the Bomb hit.

He has no idea what drugs Gabriel had used. Starts to cast around, a little, pale eyes traveling the stick of bandaid to the older man's back and the— if you'll pardon his thinking so— incorrect tattoo, over blankets, onto the floor, his fingers curling, uncurling, curling again, around air empty of all but the most minimal motes of dead matter. And sound.

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