I Do See You


sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title I Do See You
Synopsis In which Teo tries to be marginally less impossible to live with, and Sonny says words that are a little too sweet to be true. Also there are bitchy kittens in the background.
Date April 18, 2009

Somewhere In Chinatown — Connor and Teo's Apartment

A shag pad furnished with remarkable humility, if you know anything about Connor Kinney at all.

Church was very strange for Sonny. Some of what Joseph said resonated, but an equal amount didn't sit well with him at all. It's a very odd sensation, to half agree with someone and half vehemently disagree. But if there's one thing he's fairly sure of, it's the man's motives. And that's something. Anyone spreading goodwill gets a certain amount of credit.

But the idea of being blessed by a higher power and having a purpose? That's a lot of pressure. What kind of purpose could a face-changer have?

Sonny was quiet on the drive back, quiet when they entered the apartment. No doubt Teo's been equally as silent. Once the door is shut behind them, he shifts back to his own face and starts to untuck his shirt. "D'ya want to grab a shower or something? I'm going to put some coffee on."

"Nah. Didn't sweat." Teo had untucked his shirt much earlier, of course; about ten steps from the church's door. Not that the car ride over had made him much more rumpled for wear. The jacket slides backward off his shoulders, snags to a halt on his fingers. He puts it in the narrow closet before the kitchen, shuffling the hangers slightly to make room for Sonny's, for which he leaves the door ajar also. They've been together long enough to manage space together comfortably. Without lots of words.

More than this though, usually. Teo's making an effort. Unfortunately, it remains rather visible that it's that: an effort, whenever he does speak up, drop a nonessential inquiry, remember to tease or take interest. Nothing he'd seen in the church had perturbed him. Not the speedster nor Abigail's lambent hair. He glances around the half-light of their apartment, briefly, before moving off to the spare bedroom where the tinny bitch and moan of kittens is still emanating.

Sonny takes a moment to put the coffeemaker on and to pull open the curtains to let the afternoon light in. He pulls down a pair of mugs in preparation, then ends up staring at them, his face creased into a frown.

He moves towards the spare room and leans on the doorjam, fingers pulling through his hair. "Anything you want to talk about, babe?" Not 'are you all right?' He knows the answer to that question. And there's not a hell of a lot he can do about it. The withdrawl worries him.

The seconds that Teo requires for thinking up an answer are longer than they possibly should have been: an affirmative because it's the kind thing, rather than any deeper-seated need to express— anything. "When is your vet friend coming?" Logical thing to ask. Practical, insofar as none of this undertaking really is.

Turned to the door, his back is a studious hermit's curl, the angle of his spiky head pensive as Rodin could have imagined. He is crouching over the tiny pen of fuzzy babies, where 'tiny pen' is the plastic laundry hamper and the babies number four. He sorts a long hand through the massed blankets, lifts one calico specimen up for inspection. "I think this one is the one that keeps throwing up," he says, raising it higher so that Sonny can see. The kit has green eyes and one orange foot.

"Tomorrow morning," says Sonny as he rubs the back of his wrist against his forehead as he leans on the doorjam. He can't quite hide a smile at the kitten - pukey or not. Hey, it's kittens.

"S'probably not taking well to the food. Might have allergies or something." He's not a vet, but there are similarities between mammals. "Probably just a mattter of trying different foods until there's one he can stomach."

Behind him, the coffeemaker works and sends comforting warm scents through the apartment. He wants to step forward and comfort Teo physically, but he also doesn't want to crowd him or demand contact. So he just stays back and watches, thoughtfully.

Lowered, the calico puffball descends out of view around the size of Teo's shoulder. "Maybe she shouldn't come. I'm going to take them to the shelter tomorrow anyway, and they'll do the checkovers there for free.

"I know you're richer than God, but hey." The man rocks back on his heels, still shod, and drops onto his butt. He starts to undo his shoelaces with pinching yanks of the fingers on his free hand, pulls them off his feet with a thumb in the backs, one after another. They hit the floor with a rubbery thump; go completely unnoticed by the infants stumbling in their cradle. He rubs his fingers into the calico's reassuringly potbellied potbelly, is unable to discern whether the flailing gnawing that comes of it is positive or negative.

Presently, he puts the kitten back in with its siblings, and peeks over his shoulder to see if Sonny's still there.

"She owes me a favour," says Sonny. He does his best to keep any defensiveness out of his tone. "But if you'd rather she not come, I'll call and cancel." He inhales slowly.

"I'm not useful in many other ways, Tay. At least my money might make a difference." He rubs his face, then glances back towards the kitchen. The pot's finished its frantic bubbling. "You want coffee?"
He turns and heads back towards the kitchen to pour himself a cup.

Yes. No. Maybe. Teo's tired, but he isn't really sure what the point of staying up would be. Checking the kittens' milk bottle once to verify the level isn't low enough to require immediate attention, he replaces it, gets up onto his feet with two fingers hooked in the backs of his shedded shoes. He pads out, drops his shoes in the rack beside the closet, a clatter of hard rubber on wire metal.

"She should come," Teo replies, after a moment. "I'm sure the vet techs over at the shelter have too much to do as it is." Half-turning, he squints at the coffee as if it could explain to him in the language of gurgles and subdued steam-whistles, whether or not he wants any. "I wasn't making fun of you."

"I didn't think you were," says Sonny. He tugs out the pot, sticks his mug under the still-dribbling dispenser, fills his cup up and slips the pot back with only minimal spilling. "She'll be able to recommend the best shelter to take them to. She knows which ones have the highest adoption rates and the best staff."

He moves to the fridge to take out a carton of creamer. It's all very casual. Or, as casual as he can make it. The good doctor's trying not to add to Teo's problems with a relationship squabble.

There is always room for a relationship squabble, though it's profoundly worse that Teo is unable to form one out of the available constituent parts.

He's left to squint at his lover for a protracted moment, the way other couples try to skim through a fluid and treacherous sea of conversational exchanges in search of submerged hints, about a Christmas wish list, or some yet-unelaborated error. It takes a few seconds for Teo to reassure himself that Sonny did not, indeed, change his hair; that the carton of creamer is merely a carton of creamer, not symbolic of some unmeasured inadequacy, and that the coffee is only coffee.

Okay. He isn't completely sure about the coffee, admittedly, but— fairly. "You're useful in a lot of ways," Teo says, leaning his shoulder on the wall. "You're a doctor. Who knows cat doctors."

Sonny smirks a little at that. "Yes, I have a vast web of contacts." Perhaps tellingly, his looks towards Teo, though many, do not linger. As if he's afraid prolonged eye contact will reveal how much Teo's state is bothering him, thus giving the young terrorist yet more cause to worry. "Come to me for all your cat doctoring needs."

There's the chime of a spoon as he rings it around the cup of coffee. A little sugar is sprinkled, then he swallows a mouthful. He starts to idly clean up the kitchen. A few dishes in the drying rack get tucked away.

Teo is pulling away from him, retreating despite all of his pleas in the past to be let in. But this time he's not going to push, not going to insinuate himself where he's not wanted. Every time he's done that, he's felt worse for it and added to what feels like a growing imbalance in their relationship. Then of course, there's the redheaded elephant in the room.

Teo's capacity to phrase his thoughts in a way that is at once completely disjunct to yet contiguous with the consensual reality of everybody else is unrivalled among their shared social circles. He hasn't noticed a firecrotched elephant in the room. Sure, catastrophic failures and fugitive's concerns and existential despair abound in maddening quantity, but none of those things sport ginger locks.

He doesn't get it. Not really. "You're mad at me," Teo decides. In a rare show of honest sarcasm, though it lacks real bite, he says, "Great." His socked foot slides soundlessly on the floor as he twists, shifts his weight into a long stride for the bedroom. He reaches up to undo his shirt, thumbs prying at buttons.

"I'm not mad at you, Teo," says Sonny. His tone is neutral and a bit tired. He's not quite sure how to articulate what he is feeling. His problems and concerns always seem small in comparison to what's on his lover's plate.

"I wish I could help you. But I don't know what I can do. Do you want space? Do you want me closer? Do you want to be distracted, or do you want to talk about it?" He steps out of the kitchen towards the bedroom, but doesn't follow closely. It's just so that he's not shouting.

"I've been trying to figure it out on my own, but I can't." He rubs his face. "I want to be here from you, but everything I can think of to say just feels…like it's not enough, you know?" He sounds tired suddenly, and frustrated.

Thin, striped cotton peels away from Teo's tattooed shoulders. He throws the loosed garment aside, drags out a drawer to rifle around for… pyjama T? Hoodie? He isn't sure. Wasn't sure when he came in here. He ends up standing there in a wifebeater, staring into the contents of the railed wooden box as if they owe him money.

Either Sonny has a point or Teo defaults toward assuming that everybody else does: that there are concessions he could make. Irritated by his own indecision, he passes four rough knuckles across his face. His lips seam white with tension for a moment. Not the angry kind. The trying-to-find-words kind. There's plenty of inarticulate disorientation to go around.

"I do not know what to do about anything and therefore I do not feel qualified to offer instruction to anybody else," Teo says, eventually, falling back on that bizarrely too-correct verbiage and grammar that he does when actual fluency deserts him. He glances up. "Does that make sense?"

"You did good, Teo," says Sonny honestly. "Whatever happened that was capable of teleporting you and the others? You couldn't have foreseen that. I know it's frustrating as all fuck, but I hope you're not blaming yourself."

But he's fairly certain he is. Because he's Teo.

There's a rough, humourless laugh. "See? It just…it just doesn't sound like enough. 'I'm sorry,' 'I hope they're all right.' Not the most useful sentiments to express, you know?" He tosses up a hand and lets it drop.

A flick of Teo's hand dismisses that answer irritably, before the chagrined arc of his arm winds up plowing his fingers through his hair. "No, no," he says. "I don't know what to tell you to do. That's what…" That's what I mean, Teo means, but even if he means it when he says that it's not the sort of statement that disambiguates anything when everything is as blurry and shadowed as everything is now.

An instant for decision-making, and then Teodoro extricates a hooded sweater. He pulls it on over his head, hauls out a pair of track pants to go with it.

"At least that goes both ways," Teo offers, comfort offered out on an atrophied and bloody-rimmed palm. His belt comes loose in clinking halves. "Doesn't sound like enough." He looks up. Down again, and this time the gaze he exchanges with the drowsing rows of curled-up socks is commiserating. In the next room, a crying kitten decides to go to sleep instead. There's never anything disingenuous in Teodoro saying so: "'M sorry."

Sonny steps forward in an instant. Hesitation or indecision is left aside. He may not be an extremely talented surgeon, but glory in the medical profession is not what drove him towards it. Even with things disjointed, he wants to care for Teodoro.

His hands lift up and slide over either side of Teo's head. He pulls the young man's head towards his chest and he presses his lips to his forehead. "You don't have anything to apologise to me for, Tay. Okay?" He inhales deeply through his nostrils. "I know you. I know you're flopping between wanting to scream and wanting to give in to the worst things you're feeling. I know you want to blame yourself for all of it. Some part of you, even if you know logically that it isn't your fault." His words are soft and half-murmured. "You're not alone."

Caught between Sonny's palms, Teo's head is an unpretty picture of gravitational misery, downcast, eyelids hooded low over the washed out color of his irises and pupils focused on nothing specific.

He knows he's loved, and that's never exactly come easily to him, either, with the limited exception of a few physical mechanics, and he's lost the greater part of his appetite for even that lately. Disconsolate rage. He's so easy to read. Temper in brutal black bold-weight, and compassion in self-immolating neon. Sonny knows him, but even Eileen had been able to tell.

"I know," he answers eventually, glancing up with effort. Too much effort, it turns out; his gaze drops back to Sonny's clean-shaven chin the next moment. He can picture the curly black hairs emerging from the pores there in timelapse camera. He closes one hand around the doctor's wrist, not to push but to hold. "I'm sorry anyway," he repeats, slowly, ginger from knowing that isn't, probably, what his lover wants to hear. "I'm not trying to be difficult.

"Really— I know the only thing worse than dating a cop is probably dating a self-absorbed depressive jackass." His eyelids fold shut wearily, thumb tracing the arc of skin spanning between Sonny's and Sonny's forefinger.

"You're a hot-blooded Italian and a Catholic. You feel and act with the volume turned up to eleven. It's who you are, and part of what I love about you." Sonny's face shifts against Teo's forehead. "But I hate what you do to yourself. And that I can't seem to touch you when things are chewing at you from the inside like this."

He purses his lips and swallows, adam's apple bobbling like a fishing lure. "You are your own worst enemy, Teodoro Laudani. If someone was hurting you, I could get in the way. But I don't know what to do when you're hurting yourself."

Some vestige of denial shifts through Teo's features, unsettling the flat melancholy that had taken up the canvas before. "Tesoro, that sounds fancier than it really is." His face is out of sight the next moment, leaned forward and stuck into the nook of Sonny's throat, the lure taken, if only with somnolently sealed eyes and an enervated sigh. "I miss them. Hel to tell me what to fucking do, Al to have my back, Brian's complete and unsubtracted set of bitchy."

There's a stilted quaver-beat's silence. And as much because he means it as because he's uncomfortable under Sonny's adoring scrutiny, he starts again.

"I know I'm not very— you— you're the only one I've ever met who can say shit like that, you know. Honesty that transcends virtue. I—" Hot air breaks against the line of Sonny's neck, uneven waves: an uncomfortable cough. Sometimes, making statements with the volume turned to eleven is just easier. "I do… see you," Teo says, hazarding words that probably only make an approximate fit around his meaning.

"I know you do, babe. I know how much they mean to you." Or Sonny has a pretty good idea, at least. He's never seen Teo around any of them. Except for Al. "And I know how frustrated you are that all you did to plan that attack still didn't bring them home. I know, I know how much that must be eating at you. But it was not your fault. There is no way you could have planned for what happened."

"It seems…odd to me that the ones who disappeared were all prisoners. That none of the rescuers were lost, but many were thrown to odd places. That to me suggests there's something weird going on, something to suggest that they were taken somewhere, for some reason." Or at least, that's the idea that gives the most hope. So he'll give it to Teo with conviction.

Teo's words do strike a chord with Sonny. It is, in fact, easy for him to feel a bit invisible, peripheral, when so many other things occupy the Italian's mind. His response to that reassurance is to press his lips to forehead once again, and to move fingers in a slow stroke through his hair.

Uncertainty keeps Teo stiff on his feet until his scalp registers the tingle of fingers roving through the unkempt bristle of his hair. He decides not to point out that Trask is gone too, because he likes the story, the idea, and he figures there is enough shit coming down in buckets to ruin the parade without him being a turd.

It's better to think that there was agenda, that there are reasons. Good and helpful ones, even; that his sensibilities and concerns were merely ignored in the great cosmic ledger when those were racked up. Teo could deal with that.

"You're at your best when you're not afraid you're getting in the way," he says, gruff from the nagging suspicion that he's going to regret those words someday. One of those truths that baby terrorists might do better keeping to themselves, particularly in light of the well-remembered fact that that's the sort of thing that's nearly gotten him killed a hundred times, albeit for worthy causes.

Even with that one little hitch, it doesn't invalidate Sonny's hypothesis. The majority still were prisoners, and something strange most certainly happened on that night. He chooses to believe that. It really is the most comforting thought among a slew of highly disconcerting possibilities.

"Nf. It's hard to not be afraid of being in the way, you know. Up until very recently, a lot of what you were doing was a total mystery to me." Because Teo wanted him to stay out of things. The only reason that changed is because he pushed.

His fingers slowly work through Teo's hair in what he hopes is a comforting manner. His other hand encircles the Italian and his palm flattens against his back. He starts to move his hand in slow, massaging motions.

"'Ntil very recently, you'd said you didn't want to know," Teo points out, though he lacks the energy to sound specifically defensive. "And I shouldn't ask about which terrorists or government agencies abduct and blackmail or beat you into changing faces. Bet you regret asking, sometimes." Rue angles the Sicilian's mouth, hollows his cheeks briefly.

The circles palmed out on his back stirs a noise of something like gratitude. Teo lifts his head, presses his thoroughly kissed forehead to the olive-skinned one that Sonny wears under a rakish drove of ringlets. His hands fall, fingers squeezing the weave of the still-folded track pants. "I'm going to take a nap. What are you going to do?"

"We're hitting bumps on the road to full disclosure, it's true," murmurs Sonny. "But that's not important right now." He doesn't want to argue. Nothing seems worth arguing about at the moment.

He closes his eyes for a moment and tilts his head so that the sides of their noses touches. "Well. That depends. Do you want some company?" Those words are punctuated by the hand stilling on his back so he can administer a gentle squeeze.

The pause feels just barely short of indeterminable. Teo has trouble telling these days. Though lying down alone in the dark seems to be the default recourse, he is too pathologically restless and aversive to the cold to want to keep that up for any real length of time.

"Sure," he decides, when that pause is over and done with. He closes a kiss on Sonny's lips, and then another on the point of the man's conspicuously furless chin, sniffs at residual cologne once. "Probably won't be fun though. You'll be caffeinated, I'll be drooling. An analogy for our relationship that probably makes up for a lack of poetry with some accuracy." Teo's pretty sure that's a ridiculous joke, if it even parses as a joke, but— it's what he can do for now.

Sonny lets out a little whuff of laughter. It acknowledges the joke, but the situation is too heavy to devolve into guffaws. "Mmm, I only had two sips of coffee. Takes more than that to caffienate me. Sides," he pulls back, looks Teo in the eye and fondly trickles his fingers over Teo's left temple. "…you're the one with all the energy."

He leans in again, far enough to peck a soft kiss. "Go on. Get into bed. I'll get out of this and into something more comfortable." It says something about their relationship that he can say those words and mean them in a completely casual way. He reaches back behind him to close the door, then separates from Teo to find sweats from the same drawer his lover fished from earlier.

Sex can be casual too!— but Teo takes his point with a half-smile, stepping away. A little rocking of his hips and pull of his hands, and he sheds his suit slacks into a double-socketed heap of cloth on the floor. Sticking his sock-softened feet into his track pants, he tugs them up, catches his discarded trousers on a toe to relieve them of his cellphone before he sends them into the laundry hamper. The one without kittens in it. He walks to the bed. Hits it, facedown, with a faint, rodent-like protest of springs, and rolls onto his half of it: the right.

Already sluggish from his impending coma, Teo grapples the comforter down without getting up and buries his bristly head underneath the pillow, effectively vanishing. There's a sing-song MIDI chime as his phone comes back on with a button-press, muffled by heaping piles of cloth.

Casual, yes. But usually the words 'let me slip into something more comfortable' are followed by a striptease or sexually revealing clothing - not the sweats that Sonny pulls on. He chooses a black pair - doesn't matter who owns them, and a soft, long-sleeved shirt made out of bamboo fibre. His church clothes are discarded on top of Teo's, then he flicks off the light and moves towards the bed.

He lifts up the edge of the duvet and quickly burrows his way in, a blind hand reaching for Teo as the other tugs his pillow into place. He's not tired enough to sleep, really. But he won't pass up a chance for a little intimacy, especially after how distant Teo has been lately, and the shock of not knowing where he was for days.

He coils tightly against Teo in whatever configuration his lover seems like he wants to lie. This is an ideal Sunday for him. Not sermons and prayer and songs, but quiet and warmth and intimacy.

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