Great Romances Of The 16th Century


leonard_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Great Romances Of The 16th Century
Synopsis In which Romeo and Julio confusedly resolve to ignore all precedent.
Date November 9, 2009

Manhattan Island — Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connected the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City at the Narrows, the reach connecting the relatively protected upper bay with the larger lower bay. Before the bomb, this vehicle-only suspension bridge spanned the divide between two boroughs as one of the major through-ways, but shortly after the bomb, this bridge, like many others were blockaded by Homeland Security and used as a Government-Personnel direct access route into the city. Only authorized emergency vehicles and government agencies were allowed passage across from Staten Island, as a measure of keeping emergency traffic flow free.

In the months following, the blockade remained despite the lack of necessity in the matter. By the beginning of 2007 it was deemed that the bridge would remain restricted to government vehicles indefinitely until the majority of repair to Manhattan was completed. Currently both levels of the bridge are blocked on all but one lane by concrete dividers that, without the assistance of heavy lifting equipment, cannot be bypassed by vehicles. The bridge remains reserved for emergency use only, though in the beginning of 200, pedestrian traffic was authorized on the upper deck of the bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn. Trespassers on the lower deck could be detained by Homeland Security indefinitely.

For a long time, the bridge was one of the best ways in and out of Staten Island since the Staten Island Railway ceased operations shortly after the Bomb. At the end of January, 2009, it was partially destroyed in what authorities called a "freak explosion" and is no longer operational.

Dinner consisted of a tuberous lump of mystery meat on a bun, eaten in about three bites standing up under the graffiti-scabbed shelter of the bus stop, a refrigerated chicken caesar salad, and then a bottle of beer that he technically hadn't paid for to offset the gratuitous expenditure posed by the salad, conducted over the course of about one and a half hours of wandering around on foot.

He didn't take out the letter while he went, unwilling to risk sullying the paper with incriminating fingerprints of ketchup or dressing. It leaves him feeling somewhat under-prepared, like the last hour of an evening before an exam day spent in enforced relaxation instead of scrambling last-minute through the books, but Teo figures there wasn't a lot he could do to— adequately— prepare— for— whatever this is going to be, tonight.

There's barely a chop in the brackish surface of the Narrows this evening, a windless sort of chill permeating the shorn-off bridge stump and Manhattan's rush-hour bustle, an overcast sunset bereft of the classic peacock colors. Gray and green instead. Teodoro peers over the railing at hooped cabling and ragged concrete, waits, lifts his head at a pang of paranoia here or there.

He's been working on the jumping, has Leo. Those absurd wire-fu leaps that are the closest thing he manages to actual grace. There's the scuff of boots as he doesn't come walking up the expanse that leads down to the road, but scrambling up in a most gravitationally unlikely manner to merely land not far from Teo. He doesn't have that obnoxious air of self-satisfaction he usually gets when his tricks work as expected, though.

Well, if Teo was worried about something sneaking up on him all stealth and malicious intent, that wouldn't have been it. Thump-a-bump. He blinks, straightens on the graceful ball-joint swivel of a horse pricking its ear, reflexively checks if anybody saw, but no one did as far as he can tell; at least, no one's staring or markedly tracking Leonard out of their peripheral vision, leaving his theatrics to the one audience member who would properly appreciate it.

"It looks like a dinosaur's head poking out over the water," he says, a little bit inanely, pointing his finger out at Manhattan's half of the bridge's carcass, remaining column entrenched like a leg, asphalt bent down like the neck of a great herbivore.

Leonard, not so much with the stealth and the ninja'ing, no. "Surely does," Leo agrees, almost inanely. Eloquence, thy name is not Shelby. He's in a hoodie, fatigue pants, boots, same as ever. Not that large a wardrobe, either. "How're you?" he says, with mild friendliness, like they're merely pleasant acquaintances.

"I'm pretty good." Or divorcees, recent, but long ago enough that the worst events have blown away in ash and sand. Teo files his hands into his pockets and leans back, propped up between the boot set on the ground and knee on the lower rung. He's in jeans, gray ones, a black woollen overcoat doublebreasted over it, as interchangeable with his limited subscription to metrosexuality as he is to his tatty starving college student chic, and just as layered up against the cold.

Then, "I read the letter." He sniffs, stretches his nose long, before relaxing his mouth around a smile that's either just small or feeble. "I can see why you were pissed. Kind of managed to write about everything except us."

He doesn't literally get any smaller, doesn't hunch his shoulders against the chill literal or emotional. But something there seems to dwindle, nonetheless. "Yeah," he says, simply. "I don't know where your memory of me cuts off. Back when I used to be Jesse, I take it. Before Moab? Do you remember me being taken, after the battle with the Vanguard?"

There's a nod, more like a duck of Teo's head, landing his chin in the stiff curl of his jacket collar. Back when he used to be Jesse. After Moab, though. "I remember going to get you and my aunt, the rest of the Phoenix operatives that the DHS picked up at the end of the Volken clusterfuck.

"We actually—" The right corner of his mouth lifts, seeming more by reflex than light of mirth. "Did our brainstorming at the Lighthouse before it was taking kids. I remember shooting Peter, waking up in Africa. Coming back. Sal telling me you were still gone. And we had a fight when you finally got back from 2019. I think that's the last one I have of you in this timeline. You seemed tired: 's why I thought you left."

There's a bizarrely vague look in Leo's eyes - for a moment, it's as if the one who's changed is Teo, warped into someone else entirely, unrecognizable. "No, I didn't leave you," he says, but his voice lacks conviction, and there's that little frown of puzzlement on his face. "What'd we fight about?" he says, hopeful.

"The fact that I was fucking the Mayor's kid." It still isn't a perfect fit, use of 'I' instead of 'him,' 'other-me,' 'mini-me,' 'Baby Spice,' but Teo manages to do it without stutter or pause. He conjures the letter up abruptly and without ceremony, as if subtly trying to remind himself he shouldn't forget what precipitated this event. Meeting. Thing. He holds it out by one end. "There were declarations and skepticism construed as rejection. It was pretty brief."

Leonard nods, face falling a little again. He glances at the letter, back up again. Doesn't take it, though. "The argument, or the letter, you mean?" Leo says, blinking. "I'm sorry about the doctor. He was a very good man." Likely too good for either of us, he doesn't add.

It's odd that Teo's the one recapping the fight they had, given he's the one who recently had himself brainwiped by evil science organizations that create new strains of supervirii for funsies, but he does so without real hesitation. Like trying new shoes out. Except that his shoes are. His. Brain. Which, stiff and unfamiliar with use, keeps his hand, and the letter, hanging out there. "The argument. I think you're right about Bianco."

Leonard gently nudges Teo's hand down, with his power rather than his own mundane hand. "Yeah. It's not just being unwilling to speak ill of the dead," he adds, lapsing further into his own owlish hunch.

Nudged, Teo's hand falls to a stop at his side, slower than it would have if gravity had been the thing to yank it. The increasingly miserable stoop of Leonard's shoulders drives his attention out and further afield, to make a study of the skyline, brittle and gray with cold and diminishing sunlight. "So how did it happen?" he asks, finally. "How did we get from you storming out of the dispensary to this?" Another twitch of a dust-smudged envelope.

"I don't know," Leo says, quietly. "I…..your future self came back, first possessed this version's body, then merged? I don't understand it myself, I'm ashamed to say. You've been off running around, working with Hana….there were a lot of crossed signals," He sucks in a slow breath, lets it out. "I miss you. I feel like your eyes were always on some other thing. Some other person, sometimes - that cop, the doctor….and then on other goals. You seemed to shut me out of even being your comrade in arms. Protectiveness, I guess."

This discerning analysis of Teo's dysfunctional and psuedo-noble compulsions is brought to you by the letters that spell 'fail.' He glances away, then back again. "I remember that part." Genesis. Sociopaths, psychic puree. "I don't remember how we got together. I miss you too," he adds in, abruptly, almost disjoint. "I'm good at missing you. Not so much the rest."

He's shamefaced when he notes, "In this timeline, we never have." One aborted session of lovemaking slips in under the blanket of 'never', apparently. "I'm not sure how we did, in the future. You got me out of Moab here, though." That does count for something.

"I got you to 2019. And then I came back with you." Dozens of delightfully messy, rough-handed instances of lovemaking fight their way out from under the covers of 'never.' Teo closes and opens his eyes, reminds his friend that he isn't exactly the dear, sweet trainwreck of a companion who tinkered with generators with him and lit his cigarettes last year. "In the future, I didn't have a war to balance out with pursuing my ideal lifestyle of travel, being broke, reading books, and waiting for you to come to bed."

His knee contracts around a throb of stiffening, so he pulls his foot down, turns to face the tin soldier proper. They don't look like they'd be friends, dressed the way they are right now. "In that future, you hadn't outgrown me, either. Never needed more than the place, the job, me— around." A beat. "Until you did." And then you died, would be the script penned in on the empty line, but he doesn't add that. Neither has to nor relishes the prospect.

"Why do you say that?" Leo wonders, gently. "That I've outgrown you. More like you've outgrown me, if we're going to use that word. I'm the same as I ever was, despite what Bianco did to my face. If there's going to be a war, let me fight beside you." There's a plea in his voice, in his face, now. Don't leave me behind.

Teodoro's turn to shrink slightly. It's harder to see under his handsomely-proportioned coat than it is Leonard's propensity to huddle, however. "No, you're not." The whites of his eyes blink out bluish in the dusk's ambient light, a brief moment, then he swivels them away. "There's always been a warfront and you've always been the first one there. 'S how we met. It's why we're always breaking the fuck up.

"Why do you need to pretend that that's still enough for you?" Lights come on somewhere in the background, puncturing the drowsy langor of overcast skies and flat matte shadows with starburst points of sodium, scraggled neon, low-beams coruscating along the highway. The broken bridge is left to sink into darkness on its own.

"I brought you to Logan." Teo's voice is abruptly louder, buzzing around its original frequency in Leonard's ears. "I pushed you into 2019, dragged you through Pinehearst, almost cost you an eye once kidnapping a girl. All right, fine: maybe I've been a little fucking overprotective, but if that's what you want—" His train of thought cuts a loop, switches tracks, clanks past one station and rumbles past the thrown lever, coughs dust and carcinogens, spumes steam through rusted grilles.

Impatience refines his neatly accoutred silhouette down to a stark rectangle, spine and shoulders straight. The domineering instincts of his internal alpha wolf warring with principle, and the deadly pragmatic courtesy that's nevertheless ruled him since he was seventeen and killed the poor girl. Teo never tells anybody how to live their lives.

Neither Flint nor Abigail in their respective combusting life cycles and personal inclinations, neither self-destruction nor self-sacrifice. The fact that Leonard's mission lends itself to both and neither doesn't make him different, and Teo is crippled by the awareness that he has no right to say anything besides, maybe, "Then that's all you're ever going to get," he huffs, wearily. "I want better things than that for you. I don't want that to be all we ever fucking do."

"What about you? What do you want? What should we be doing then, where should we be going?" It's not the merely truculent questioning of a stubborn child, though certainly has tinges of it. "I'm here, I've survived all that, albeit with help. I want to go where you are, help you do whatever it is you want to do. I'd not mind the peace you spoke of, down in Darien…..but the way things're shaping up for the Evolved, it'll be some years before that's possible. It's 1939. Not 1945."

Questions like harrying gnats. Teo frowns at them, rubs his face. His fingers are cold and callused against the incline of his own cheek. "I don't know. I don't even— I don't know. Nothing in my life makes any fucking sense right now: the Company's headmistress keeps me out of jail, Company's very large cowboy operative is trying to kill me, my aunt's gone, the Vanguard's giving me work, Phoenix wants to clap its pinions over its ears and la-la until I'm ready to jump on command again, and Deckard's joined the possession bandwagon." Unhelpful. Matron windmills her washcloth and tears rollers out of her hair, stamps her heels at the truculent child.

They are almost speaking different languages, concerned with diametrically opposite compartments of their lives. Leonard determined to play soldier, Teodoro forlornly enamored with the luxuries only civilians can afford, no room for love to breathe in either of those places. "Why don't you want this thing?" He waves the letter.

Leonard says, simply, "Phoenix has been shattered. You, I, Helena….so many of us have been captured. Gutted, in one way or another. And we can preach peace all we want - we do, in fact - but our enemies are willing to fight a lot dirtier. Something violent and functional is coming out of that - we may swing back towards PARIAH." He shrugs at the necessity. "I don't know why they kept you out of jail." He looks at the letter. "I know what it says. I don't need to keep it. I told you, in that bright future, that I'd eat my heart out until I won you. That still applies."

Words every little girl wishes a little boy would tell her someday, you know, possibly minus the grammatical and existential complications of alternate timelines and eating one's heart out taken to screaming heights of agonyyy.

Teo is instantly embarrassed, his features oranging from blush in the sallow light from the street lamps over there. The sensation is, by now, unfamiliar: the heat clouding his ears, the automatic clearing of his throat. "You don't have to do that. You don't need to do that," he clarifies, delivering a shuffled kick at something that isn't there. "That isn't how we are. There's no prizes or dragons to slay." There's—

—Nukes, sometimes. Pie, when Abby's baking.

"Maybe I don't have to or need to," The telekine's voice is very gentle. "It is what it is. It doesn't make you obliged, don't think it does. I'm not your pet or your little brother or the crippled veteran you have to take care of." He raises his head little, watching Teo. "And it's long past a fairy tale. You want what you want, and ….." He trails off, as if not entirely certain where he's going.

Makes the two of them. Teo stares, an unwonted sense of helplessness lodged in his throat, hands curling and uncurling around empty air and battered envelope, respectively. "This won't end well," he says, at length. "This is how it goes. Blowing shit up and killing people— you can't make a… a— relationship out of that. It's the kind of madness that we got away from by becoming friends, so we could stay sane.

"'M sorry." He scrubs his jaw with the back of one hand, roughing out the sound of skin against shaven bristles, as if friction and sensation and kinesthesis could anchor the feathered and fizzing chaos of too much shit going on. "Okay. Okay, then… I'm not under obligation, but I realize— I'm being fucking selfish, or." Teo's face goes blank. He knows a dozen languages, and still, understanding or making himself understood eludes him.

His command of English is flawless. Better than Alex's own, really. It washes past Alex, anyway. "I don't doubt you're right," the blackhaired man says, quietly. "You're talking reason, and I recognize that. I'm not," He shrugs, spreads hands in a gesture of helplessness. "And maybe you will continue to be selfish. I'm not asking you to make me happy, because I don't think that's even in your power. It is what it is."

There's nothing that Teo can say to that, how totally it sidesteps the hardest Darwinian logic he's capable of, shrugs away tangible experience and takes humble admission and the limitations of vice equally in stride, asking nothing, expecting everything. This means, of course, that he'll come up with something to say, presently, but for a few seconds the Verazzano-Narrows ruin is privvy to the unusual spectacle of Teodoro Laudani being entirely still.

He opens his mouth. Closes it again. The second time, it works properly: "Thanks for not dumping me."

It's somewhat like winning the chess match by setting the board afire. Amazing how simple and obdurate stupidity can conquer sweet reason. "You're welcome," he replies, with oddly gentle courtesy. His eyes are sad, but neither angry nor uncomprehending. "You keep wanting to argue me out of how I feel. It doesn't work," he adds, still soft.

"I'm not trying to be difficult, you know," says the least reliable source of this era. Teo wrinkles his brow. "I want you to be happy. I probably wouldn't mind happiness myself, should I recognize it in the event it finds me." The envelope shuffles in his hand, scrubs haphazardly in the panel of his coat before it finally snags a corner on his pocket, slides in, three quarters of the way out of sight.

Leonard's smile is far older than he is. Tolerant of all their foolishness and respective foibles, a little wistful. "I know. We've a long way to go yet," he says, simply.

'Til where? Teo chooses not to ask, discomfitted by the way their exchange has gone thus far, and by the suddenly skewed dig of his Glock butt in under his arm. The only workable alternative to achieving a constructive, conclusive ending to a conundrum like this, as far as he's concerned, is to summarily turn off his brain. Fortunately, he is blond, and has some money. "I need more beer." He gives the broken bridge his back, and starts stumping off toward the roadway.

"Was that an invitation or a dismissal?" Leo says, even as he catfoots it alongside Teo, at least until driven off. He starts to hum under his breath, even occasionally skipping when the beat seems to demand it - something jaunty and martial, with the particular note that only the Irish can add to their songs.

Pale eyes switch a sidelong look at the vet, sharpen, refocus on the way ahead again. Teodoro is making an uncharacteristic amount of noise as he walks, for this incarnation of Teo anyway, a little bit like stomping. It is worth notice that Baby Spice never permitted himself the conceit of such fuss, and Ghost was pathologically ninja in all of his mannerisms; the Teo that stomps is not either of those Teos. "You may have beer too."

He sings - the humming takes breath, becomes a marching cadence in a language neither of them speak. Soft, soft, but audible, in time with his steps. "Thank you," he says, in one of the pauses for breath. He looks almost serene.

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