Had We But World Enough, And Time

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ghost2_icon.gif leonard_icon.gif

Scene Title Had We But World Enough, And Time
Synopsis There's this boy Leonard likes. He's here. He's coming back. He's going to leave. He's— who?
Date July 14, 2009

Greenwich Village — En Route


The meeting had finished. Helena looked about seven times as tighter wound afterward than she had before, Eileen's thin-boned face and lank hair seeming completely flattened down into white-on-black, that made her usual pallor look the picture of sanguine verve and health in comparison. Cat's eyes are so sharp it stings to look at her, knowing Arthur has her parents. Cardinal's idea was deranged, but brutally effective in concept; Ghost's operated similarly. Gabriel hadn't said much, though the specter could feel him there, a lurking presence of impatience and indistinct confusion. Teo had offered a trickle of resentful approval, but mostly he'd sounded tired.

Everybody just wants this damn thing over with. The ghost is different in one small half a respect. He would love to get into Pinehearst, it's true. See Arthur bleed, die— again, and again, and again. However, the translucent time spliced in between now and then is the last he's going to have here, with these people, or so he's sworn, and while he's been a Hell of a liar for years, now, he is honest with himself enough to know that he means it when he sneers and jokes about it. Now it is two o' clock. Returns to the safehouse have been conducted in a dozen different routes, the better to circumvent the various patrols out here, maintaining curfew.

And the ghost is walking Leonard home. It's a little weird, but peculiarly familiar. They are the same height, move at roughly the same militarily brisk pace, share sidewalk with the same prettily spontaneous choreography with which husbands and wives walk and talk around each other in the morning routines in their kitchens.

Leo's silent, after. Drained and tired. Fewer and fewer words these days, really. More and more the dreams press up against the boundaries of waking, more and more he hurls the few things he owns against the foamlined walls in that inchoate rage and fear. Abby can't heal him. Never could. How do you winkle things like that out of the crevices of your brain? "I wonder, when we're done with Pinehearst, what I should do. I've got less control over my power, not more. My head hurts all the time. I can't just go into a VA hospital, i don't dare run into a telepath. I think….I don't know. It's like Verse left something bleeding." He says all this in a thoughtful, matter of fact voice. Like it should be an every day occurrence.

Not every day. Few times a year, by the count of a former terrorist turned spook, though. Ghost's eyes crinkle slightly, bemused rather than amused. He gives it real thought. "I think — there's organic damage, then there's the other shit. Emotional, psychological.

"Once you get Deckard's magic fingers through there and whatever—" Long fingers fetch up through the air, drag nails up the back of Leonard's short-shorn head like you'd ruffle a dog. Casual as anything. "'S just training. Getting your fine control back, then you'll need to study how to fight off telepaths.

"Once you trust yourself, you may be able to forgive yourself. And be less of a bleeding Goth poet in your subconscious." Ghost is blithe, yes, but it comes with the territory of being on the job and a sociopath, both.

Leo grunts at that. Perhaps not what he wanted to hear. "Deckard's the one with healing now? I don't know of I trust him with that. He's a fucking drunk - though I guess that's a hard one to screw up. Bleeding Goth," He ducks his head. "I don't like it when you do that," he says, bluntly. "Not in that body."

"Deckard's the one with the healing now." Ghost drops his arm, elbow folding in, wrist drawn back, collapsible as a cardhouse, stacking fingers, shuffling them away into his pocket and out of offensive territory. Sorry, he means but doesn't say. Habit. "Deckard saved my life the other month. Teo's, too. He can use it right if he has enough calories in him. I'm good as new."

He suddenly looks at Teo, expression fraught. "Is Teo still really in there? Or is this just more of a lie?"

Ah, that breaks his heart, in two or three different places. Ghost holds Leonard's gaze for only a moment before he turns it away, further afield, through the warren of empty side street and alleyway. "He's still here. With Gabriel and I. Sometimes, we talk. Two or three of us. I'll give him back.

"I said I would." Despite his impressive catalog of deceit over the past few months, there's a defiant edge to the ghost's saying so; like there's real temper there, if Leonard's going to try and point that out.

Leonard doesn't bother to try and argue it, point out anything. He makes a mute noise of impatience. He scratches fingers over the back of his scalp, as if he'd wipe away that previous touch. He seems weirdly young in this version of his face, sometimes. Fragile.

Annoyance, now. Underwhelmed, older, fraying in the peripheral margin of Leonard's ignoring him. He scowls. "Hey," he says, fiercely, cutting into the path ahead of the telekinetic suddenly, turning, a scimitar arc of motion flaring the edge of his coat and his arm out, either to block or to touch— depends on whether or not Leo deigns to permit himself to be stopped. "Fucker. I saved you. How many fucking times? You might not like how, why, or how things've gone since.

"But I could have kept you there— in 2019. Let Phoenix stay trapped out of time. What's with the fucking attitude?"

"It's like all this version of you does is destroy. Which is hypocrisy of me, I know. That's all I've ever done, no matter what uniform I wear or what banner I fight under. Ijust….I don't know. I don't believe you when you say the Teo I knew here will be back. I'm just mad I can't have what I want, is all." It's a disjointed and rambling commentary, as he backpedals away from that blocking arm.

There is nothing particularly kind about the twist to the ghost's mouth, now, but it's gentler than it otherwise could have been. Rhetoric is nothing but putting a fine spin to what facts are already there: one thing could be an exercise in the high art of cruelty, or an act of mercy. Well. Either he's thinking about rhetoric or he's thinking about head trauma.

They're oddly alike, when you are from Sicily. "You think it's some adorable coincidence of circumstances that the Teo you knew went from teaching high school to heading up a fucking terrorist faction? He was setting Polizia squadcars on fire when he was fourteen. Maybe you two—" We, he means, but he keeps forgetting to say that, too, "are a match made in Hell. Or maybe you should want something else. We're both as likely to die as the next poor son of a bitch going into Pinehearst, but I swear, untimely demise aside, I'll leave.

"I mean it." Every step the telekinetic retreats is displaced by an implacable stride forward on the ghost's part, something wolfishly confrontational in the lean set of his shoulders and how often Ghost forgets to blink the pale of his eyes.

Spacial awareness, I cannot has, apparently. Leo backs himself right into the warm embrace of a brick wall, flinches a little, though it's no assailant, just masonry, really "And go where?" he says, miserably. "Dissolve into nothing?" And then, perversely, he holds out his hands, like a beggar asking for alms.

"I'll find somewhere to float. Like a genie." Ghost makes playful shapes in the darkness of air with both of his hands, finger-feathered shadows moving across the pale of Leonard's skin, offset by the white of a wicked grin. "Who you or Teo can summon whenever something needs murdering without good conscience. It'll happen.

"Don't worry about me, bambino. I've survived on less." One gloved palm meets the bricking behind Leonard's shoulder, takes the slant of his weight, lazily oblique like the stoop of a stalking cat's shoulder blades above sawgrass. "I killed myself to get you people here. It's not like I have other options."

And he offers, with the spontaneity of illconsidered gallantry, "You could….could ride with me." Like his skull is the same as his old beater Honda. Doesn't fight or shove Ghost away, with hand or power, but bites his lip. Well aware how absurd that offer had to sound.

Abruptly, the other man is even more close than very close. A cartlidgenous point jolts a brief trail up Leonard's cheek: by default, Ghost's nose. The nose on his face is the wrong shape, wrong size, even the wrong color, privvy to that classical Mediterranean tan that Teo's partially Finnish ancestry never quite got the hang of, but that's okay— Leonard's nose is the wrong shape, size and color, too.

"Sounds like a bad way to move on," he points out, an indolent rumble that's curiously indigenous to this version of Teo, and what Leo knows of him.

Yes, Leo's a dark little thing now, like a faun kicked out of Arcadia, no longer with the classically Irish red hair. "I miss you. I miss what we had in that future," he says, miserably, laying a hand experimentally along the Ghost's shoulder blade, neither pushing nor pulling. More as if verifying he's there, and solid.

"It wasn't that great." Now Ghost is just making fun! Probably. He has bad humor: it's symptomatic of being a sociopath.

Alternatively, he's being entirely serious, which would be similarly bad humor, unhelpful in the light — or shadow of recent intimacy. "You didn't know what to say to me. You never know what to say to me. We have sex, or else there would be too much quiet between us. Our relationship was grinding apart under its own weight. Darien was too small. You'dve followed me anywhere, but I'm not very good at leading; I don't know if you've noticed."

Ghost's tone registers as— caustic. Wry. Light as the air over Midtown, as sterile in its poison, playful and dark.

Leo blanches, as if Ghost'd simply stabbed him. And then he simply brushes the Sicilian aside - not violently, but firmly, and steps out past him. He does not, as accused, have anything to say.

Scuffing, a snatch, and long, callused fingers lock on the crook of Leonard's elbow. Ghost pulls on him. Not violently, but firmly, urging the telekinetic to look at him again. "Hey," he says— not for the first time tonight, but privvy to a different insistence, a flinching heat. Hey. "I missed you too."

Which Leo staunchly refuses to do. The fingers on his arm are pried off, slowly, one by one, by power rather than hands. Too little too late, apparently.

Despite training and conditioning that's left Ghost's hands battered, callused, one of his fingernails literally riven into ragged two, Leonard's gift has no particular trouble pulling them loose. One by one. This results, perhaps unsurprisingly, in a renewed grip the next instant; Ghost's other hand on Leo's other arm.

"You seem to be under the impression that happiness is just going to change its mind and fall on your lap because you were making sad eyes at it from across the room. Trust me: if it worked that way, I'd be a damn sight saner. Jesse." There's a peculiar scratch to the last syllable where it's shoved out there, in a tone coarser than the rest.

It's going to end up the mother of all mutant slapfights - Leo sets about prying Ghost off him again. "What should I have done differently?" he asks, tone dull despite the intensity with which heworks.

The buck-toothed gnaw of work-rough piggies shifts, nudges up in favor of the fold of Ghost's arm around the telekinetic's ribs. "Don't die. Don't leave me alone. Fucking—

"Talk to me?" Exposition is so very droll, and rare from the ghost without irony, but there's an utter dearth of that, a certain, sickening shortage of distance both physical and emotional. This is not unlike wrestling a poltergeist on any number of levels. What could and should have been dry instruction comes off clawed with ginger urgency.

"When have I ever been good at talking?" Leo's genuinely perplexed. "I….there's a reason I'm just the bludgeon, not the wordsmith. There's not a lot to me, Teodoro, I'm sorry. I love you, but that never seems to get across in any useful way. I don't know how to make you happy, I don't know that I ever have. I don't know that I've got anything to offer you besides sex."

Perplexity is one way to get an angry Sith kid to stop plucking your bits with telekinesis. Ghost acquires a grasp. Secures it, five fingers dug into the lapel of the younger man's jacket, his other arm yoked around his throat, not for the first time; familiar. "There's plenty to you," he replies, sourly, perhaps some ridiculous vestige of protective. "I like your voice.

"I like your war stories and your stupid fucking preferences in toast and paperbacks and recipe websites and the routes you choose for your crazy fucking weekly six mile runs." Twelve. Whatever. "It frustrates me when you say such reckless things."

Reckless was the wrong word there, maybe, but it's been a long night and Ghost had made a small mistake, earlier; invoking Italian. Trips up his fluency in English, his mind's been working without subtitled tracks so long.

His pulse thunders under Teo's hands, and there's that shivery, crystal on the edge of shattering sensation that vibrates in the air when he's uncertain, or upset. Telekinesis aimed at no one thing in particular. "Why do I never say the right thing to you?" he wonders, in a whisper. He doesn't fight, however - there's that subliminal yielding in his body, where some sixth sense insists that this is Teo, this is safe.

"'Cause you stop talking, I think." Ghost's reply is the shape of a mumble flat on the lobe of Leonard's ear. "Some kind of self-esteem issues." The Sicilian hasn't harbored anything like that in years, so it's somewhat abstract, his saying so, almost conceptual, would be if he weren't being entirely sincere and gripping Leonard like an exhausted swimmer on driftwood.

Ghost's breath on his ear tickles, raises goosebumps. "I never was very clever," he protests, but it lacks a certain force. "I don't know what to say. I should go away from here, leave this place. But there's Helena and the fight. AT the same time…I've seen more of IRaq than I've seen of America."

Paranoia itches the back of Ghost's mind, driving his attention into a sharp-angled circuit off the walls and the ground, brief, slightly scowling. They are making no kind of progress toward the safehouse, and while the nearest patrol isn't for blocks and there's a gun digging into his hip at the small of Leo's back, one of the many they have between the two of them— and not the most dangerous of the weapons they have, this disconcerts him.

It's no small effort of will that keeps him standing still, but one he gives gladly. "Helena wouldn't blame you if you had to go, but she wouldn't want you to."

And that paranoia communicates itself to Leo, in return…and he starts edging them to the shadowy mouth of an alleyway nearby. "It'd just be running away. Maybe when this fight is done. I have nothing else, I have nowhere to go, and if I can't see what I want to see with my friends then there's no point. I'm afraid of being alone again."

Sometimes, Ghost gets lonely too. He understands. Is lazy and unhelpful anyway, allowing Leonard to do most of their walking, lurching foot over foot, a hitchy parody of bachata, the slant of his weight borne steady across the axel of the younger man's shoulders while he rubs his breath and its sweet and empty redolence over the back of Leonard's neck like skinned fur. He doesn't look at anything in particular with his eyes. "Which fight?"

"Us versus Pinehearst. I don't think the whole Phoenix versus the world will be done in our lifetime." He doesn't counting his own lifetime all that long, seemingly. "C'mon, if we're not going to get to the safehouse, let's at least go off the streets."

Makes two of them for abbreviated lifespans. "I'm walking," Ghost points out. He isn't being entirely truthful in his assessment of this, given he is more like leaning on Leonard while Leonard walks and managing to shuffle his feet underneath him, but at least they're making some horizontal progress into the relative privacy of the alleyway.

Hardly the most luxurious accomodation that's ever been afforded the lovers, but Ghost has made do with less. The former soldier, as well. Soon, his ankle is banging into brick, and his arms are prying Leonard to turn around in a squeezing, hiccupy corkscrew of pushes and pulls which put them face to unfamiliar face without ceding an inch of space. "You'd make new friends."

It looks like a mugging, really. "Not the same," he murmurs, closing his eyes, letting his head roll on the brick as if it were a pillow. No cooler than the ambient air. His heart is still pounding as if this were a race, and he's begun to react to Ghost's nearness despite himself, which has him pushing at Ghost with his hands. More or less a token gesture.

Faces, even the most tragically unfamiliar ones, require less acknowledgment in the dark. Even differences in voice and the contouring of skin on skin can be dismissed. Squint a little and Alexander's hair is still red, his ear coral pink in the blocky clinch of Teodoro Laudani's teeth, Teo's fingers scratching down the front of Jesse's trousers, T's funny grin big on his face when Al lets himself be still with him.

Though Teo wouldn't be pointing out, quiet with something like regret, "He'll be annoyed. He'll forgive you— he always does, but this would bother him."

"I don't understand," Leo says, and he's gone still, attending like a hound to its master's voice.

Despite that the ghost should probably know better, he says what he thinks anyway: "I think you do." He doesn't go anywhere, though. Stays his hands, loose on the oblique muscle of Leonard's stomach. He sniffs the soap off skin he can't clearly see, swallows behind a sardonic twitch of his lip.

Leo grunts at that, drops his gaze to the grotty floor of the alleyway. "I suppose I do, now that I think about it," he concedes, shoulders drooping a little. "Can't win this one. I fuck you again, the original version's mad at me for who knows how long. I don't…..god only knows when I'll get a chance to again."

"Do what you want," is the recommendation of one whose use of that principle has facilitated a fuckload of pain and angst for the vast majority of his acquaintances. Ghost means well, despite this. Which isn't to say he's entirely without bias; there's a five-fingered crawl presumptious and warm up the underside of Leo's shirt, calluses snagging skin, a thumb in his navel.

"Not always useful advice there, hoss," Leo notes, with a self-deprecating lift of his lip. Weird how the expressions remain the same, even if the body is different. He makes a little involuntary noise, muscles tensing under Ghost's hand. "I want you so bad," It's a grudging admission, squeezed out between gritted teeth.

'Adorable' probably isnt' a word most people would attach to Leonard, but then, to most people, Leonard is on the A-list of American terrorists, an ex-soldier, occasionally wont to wring a man into ragged halves with his psychokinetic gift.

"Then," he prompts, slouching against his other elbow, propped up on the brick, "maybe I'm something you should do." It's meant nicer than it sounds; is accompanied by a kiss on the olive slope of Leo's cheek. It's a little like reserve. Except— you know: not really. "Want a cigarette?" he asks, irrelevantly, into the crook of Leo's neck.

The answer is apparently 'no', in that Leo latches on to him with the fervor of a vampire seizing its prey. It's too hot out for these kind of shenanigans, but that doesn't keep him from kissing Ghost with that brutal fervor, and more or less trying to climb him like a et of monkey bars.


Yyyyep.


Afterward, none of the ghost's touches are questions anymore. His hands are diligently corporeal, the rough of finger-pads and knuckled palms self-assured; they do not slow as he does up Leonard's pants, securing his person as safely unto its own premises as you can do so with only a few layers of cloth and commonplace fastenings.

He doesn't let go, despite that frenetic activity and the sweltering evening make a clumsy situation uncomfortable. He tugs Leonard back from the wall, gentle without tremoring, indifferent to the sweat drying inside his sleeves.

Leo is limp, wrung out like a rag, and trembling despite the heat. It happens to him, after, especially when the power's gotten involved. It happens sometimes, those little storms of dust and debris that betray a particularly intense reaction, either to pleasure or fear or anger. He's still trying to get his breath under control, head leaned back against the brick he'd been all but biting at a few moments ago.

Leo's left to breathe. Not left alone while he's struggling with that, mind you, but permitted to do so without being taunted by long fingers or rougher mockery. Ghost merely laps a warm kiss on the back of his ear, feels the weight of Leonard's body spine-slack against his chest, the hoard and trophy of a battle dirtily won.

He spares a small margin of his attention for listening to Leonard while the rest advances through the further distance of darkness. Checks in on dreamers in the clumpy Lego blocks of apartments above, stalking wary circles around the patrolmen trailing between checkpoints.

He's still rubber-kneed, when he pushes himself away from both Ghost and the wall, checks to be sure that he didn't break glass or set off car-alarms in turn. Leo peers at Ghost, much less tense and much less sure of himself.

Ghost peers back. After a moment, he also forks his shoulders up into a shrug, despite that this makes his shirt scratch slimily on his skin, somewhere inside the open panels of his loosened coat. "I know you're not going to call," he offers, a gentle sort of dry. Forced open and left empty, his arms take their sweet time falling back to his sides. "It's okay. My name's Teo, in case you forgot—"

"Don't leave me," Leo says, voice suddenly on the edge of breaking. Sex occasionally leaves him that way, fraught and vulnerable, washed up on the shore. "I can't lose you again."


Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate
.

But at my back I always hear
Time's wing├Ęd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace
.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run
.

Andrew Marvell,
To His Coy Mistress


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