I'll Be In The Sky


francois_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title I'll Be In The Sky
Synopsis Little Europa dreams big.
Date May 18, 2010

West Village — Maison d'Allegre

The brownstone home, number 57 on West 11th Street, is three floors tall, all old brown brickwork as the name implies. A curving stepped stoop leads up to the door, wrought iron barring it off from its neighbours, with the building's number in brass nailed into the painted wood without any glass inset to give a glimpse of the space within.

Once inside, the immediate hardwood foyer offers space to hang up coats and set aside shoes, with a wooden, open flight of stairs curving up into the second floor. The first opens up into three designated areas — a spacious livingroom with a rug of earthern tones thrown in the centre, a generous hearth set into the wall with traditional log-burning capabilities. The walls are exposed brickwork, lined with shelving of a slowly growing book collection. Next to it is a dining area defined as such by an oval dining table, generous and able to expand to sit up to eight people, and usually littered with too many things to be good to eat at until cleared. The kitchen is barred off from the rest with a counter, all stainless steel appliances and a sliding door that leads into a modest backyard. Tucked away to the right is a laundry, cramped but sufficient.

The second floor has more walls, closed off areas — a master bedroom with a connecting bathroom, a hallway that slides between the stairwell and said bathroom, into unfurnished open space that provides linen closets and such storage. The third floor is similar, if reversed, and almost designed to be its own separate apartment, with a bedroom and bathroom at the back of the house, an open social space with a squat coffeetable, and an open, unfurnished space with a balcony hanging off it, street-side. The stairwell spirals all the way up into rooftop access.

The lack of traffic noises is an unusual affect of the blanketing snow — even in the wee hours as displayed on the bedside clock, there'd be at least the purr of an engine or the far off wolf howl of a police siren, New York City being the one that never sleeps. So it's amplified, almost, the sound of wool sliding over skin as a sweater jacket, grey and generous in its warmth, is pulled over bared shoulders. The shadowed outline in Teo's periphery extends an arm to push through a sleeve, but the other doesn't get the same treatment, other hem lazily pulled over his chest with the sleeve left to hang limp.

An incline, too, to the mattress where it dips beneath Francois' weight. Not the even distribution of his usual sprawl at Teo's side — he sits at the edge, feet on the ground, legs pale in what little light is coming through the gap in the windows, the cut off of a cotton hem horizontal across his thigh.

He didn't mean to wake anyone — he usually doesn't. This time, there is no getting up at all. Francois sits — or maybe has been sitting for a while now, it's early and the shadows and time-negotiability of post-midnight hours makes it difficult to tell. His posture, once stiff as if considering standing, has since relaxed, content to watch the glow of the outside world light up pretty much only the gap of curtains and not much else.

Shapes, impressions. His thoughts are formless things, and it's like he tried to explain, once, to Teo, who didn't really have to ask to gain an answer on why he keeps journals: a thought unarticulated is a thought incomplete. He isn't writing, right now, even if there was light to do so by.

Teo is a gluttonous hoarder with certain articles foolish enough to make their way into his possession, given much, and insistent upon more. His critics can probably make a long list, but at least one primary item relatively innocuous is his penchant for heat. Body heat.

Francois' departure is felt and induces annoyance, manifested in a flatworm wriggling of fingers on mattress; his absence familiar thereafter by virtue of his presence and the nature of having separate bodies, and induces a grudging mumble of acquiescence, smothered in the pillow (often Teo sleeps this way, half-suffocated). However, Francois' presence is the only real oddity. Teo tends to prefer operating by dichotomies as often as he fails to maintain them, probably a Catholic thing. Good or evil, stay or go…

Dichotomies require definition rely upon articulation. There's too much slippage, this time of morning, for anything having such clarity. "You're really here, right?" comes the artless and fuzzy question, after a moment Teo spends hauling his head up and out of its nose-shaped socket in his pillow. He doesn't add to that question, despite that he probably should for clarity's sake. I'm not feverish again, am I? Or, Earth to Allegre, perhaps a tangential reference to a salacious dream. None.


"Teodoro." Minimal illumination shows an angle of profile, a glance over a shoulder. His eyes don't suggest the correct kind of paleness to reflect blue would there be enough light, but though one can point to indicators of reality — the exact weave of cardigan and the shape of ruffled bedhead — it's true that Teo has a vivid enough imagination for these things not to matter. He'd smelled grave earth from Eileen's breath, noted to the ironing lines in Deckard's jacket and seen the ripple of needle scars in Logan's throat, too.

But this doesn't share quite the same texture and rhythm of when Francois is not real. It could be enough to go by. Little late, is his response back. "I am." A hand rests down on the lumpy bed linens between them, arm sleeved and knuckles misshapen, but he doesn't slide it all the way to touch, simply lends sleepy reassurance that doesn't mean he has to get back into bed. "I can't sleep. You should."

Teo doesn't think so. Apparently. 'Think' is probably somewhat too generous a term, possibly, as the resolution regarding this course of action seems to be established primarily through a bunch of muzzy blinking, shuffling, and then eventually a knee dragged along an arc on the bedspread to puddle him halfway into a fetal arc. He has a pair of track pants on, too, the left string adjusted to the point where it is two handspans long, the right shrunken down to like two inches before the knot.

Bedsprings divulge a fractional whinge of protest as Teo sidewinders over. It is made okay that Francois isn't particular compelled to touch him or to sleep, perhaps, by that Teodoro can sleep on him? Something like that. Not exactly like that.

His shaggy head winds up pitched against the side of Francois' hip, fails to find purchase thanks to the fact his hair is too long and the Frenchman's trim waist, attractively sweatered. If this were a hallucination, probably, he'dve managed something slightly more elegant, a gesture properly completed and an overlapping share of space claimed. Hallucinations, like nightmares, are about that as often as they exist in the unguarded spaces between sleep and sex, paperback chapters and chores. Teo is rather like a dog sometimes! Reinforcement in contact. His scalp nudged up against Francois' thigh.

"Don't tell me what to do," Teo suggests, struggling like a tot against the lassitude of compliance. His fingers skitter gamely near his own scarred cheek.

And suddenly he has company, but Francois isn't made self-conscious easily. Except sometimes in relationships, but now is not that time, a pressed smile in the darkness and his hand coming to rest on the side of Teo's head. "You like when I tell you what to do," he says, voice still gravel-quiet, vocal tones shining through enough for it to not be quite a whisper. Fingers comb through the thatch of scruffy hair at Teo's crown, then just behind his ear, fingernails hinting through enough to tingle, not to hurt.

He's quiet again, orbiting the moon as freeform as Apollo 13, at mercy to the gravitational pull of pressing thoughts and anxieties, hurtling along their trajectories. Anyway, his words could do with a qualifier of sometimes. He could also ask how are you?, but he's managed not to— too much— since the bathroom.

"I won't be sorry I woke you."

Sometimes. It is true, sometimes. Teo, like as many maladjusted young super-soldiers you have read about on the Internet, can use some instruction sometimes. He is not desperately short on sleep, however, and apparently finds something about this situation compelling enough to keep trying, his temple butting up gently on the top of Francois' leg while the Frenchman's scritches violin pleasantly on his nerves.

He is okay. Not awake enough to be dramatically not-okay, and suspecting that Francois has that department covered. "I will be if you don't tell me th' fuck is goin' on," he slurs pleasantly, angling an oblique glance upward at the Frenchman, with difficulty rather than deliberately askance. "Words. Beaucoup of them, per favor. Wo xiang tingzhe nin… My Chinese has gone to shit. I'm listening, though." He inhales, a doggish whuff of air that creases his nose faintly. "'M here too."

He drags his elbows up to lean on, which takes only a couple seconds to translate to 'prop up.' The bicep tattooed with struggling sailboat and cross squeezes up against the back of Francois' kidneys.

"I ache."

Those aren't beaucoup words, an answer succintly stated, although perhaps there will be more, once Teo props up and Francois can change his mind about his own positioning. His legs come up onto the bed — rather than sweatpants, he's in boxers. Even in this dim light, the stand out of the dead-black handprint on his shin comes up when spied, the slight braille-texture of raised skin, hair white where it grows. His sweater, only half-pulled on, is tugged to cover his chest. His better shoulder raises up.

Comes down. "I am not very good at being mortal yet, that is all. Lingering pain will keep me up." Mangled hand comes to find a resting place on the slope of Teo's stomach, palm still warm from where he'd had his hands tucked beneath him during sleep until he couldn't. "I do not enjoy revenge — Dreyfus' death doesn't take away what damage he managed to inflict while he was here.

"But at least he gave us things to do," is wry and bitter, the wrong side of humour for all that his smile is always young look in contrast to the years behind it. "I do not know what tomorrow will be like. Except cold. Mm. You did not desire words strung into sense, did you?"

Teo shakes his head, obligated to say No even if Yes would be easier. His stomach tenses briefly beneath his lover's hand, before relaxing fractionally, smoothing in the same the corded pattern of musculature. The silhouetted chess piece on his chest shifts with his breath. "They make drugs for that kind of thing," he says. He is not being entirely facetious. "Glass of wine, or Ibuprophen. Marijuana. I know how to get marijuana. We could do it for a couple hours. Or…"

He runs out of ideas as soon as there are no more banal, unimaginative ones to volunteer. It's not entirely a loss. Newly propped up, he stilts a few inches closer to the edge of the bed, and the rallying point where Francois' feet have fallen back to. Lifted up to. Higher ground is advantageous in a lot of tactical situations. He blinks unsteadily in the half-light filtering through the window pane's frost patterns. "I think you're good at being mortal. You have no simplified 'nd tangible goals. Fear pain, but not enough. Get more friends, subtract enemies from your life. Familiarize yourself with low-traffic routes to the hospital. Penchant for turtlenecks.

"And you worry about me," he says, wiping his left eyelid with his fingers. "And my seasonally variable bullshit. It's supposed to be Spring; that's two seasons. Don't think immortals do that. Not sure what immortals do." This last admission comes with slight discomfiture, partially because he isn't sure that's true. "Probably: not use medicine." One eyebrow swoops, and the other inclines. "I guess?"

There's a soft sound of agreement around when Teo says the words 'glass of wine', mild and originating at the back of his throat, and a mildly abashed smile by the end of it. Medicine. "For infection," Francois offers, a glance down and away. "For infection, I had to. Not pain. Abigail told me she never used it on herself very often — you may notice that I did. And I was thinking about it," he adds, on the subject of medication. Hand lifts up from Teo stomach in a vague gesture that's meant to communicate how his train of thought got derailed.

"I will only need low-traffic routes to the hospital for when you wind up there, inevitably," he says. "I've been looking through journals, procedures— " His hand stretches, an implicit suggestion that his wounds are enough to get in the way, but it's never verbalised. "There is too much, I think, for all that I want it to not to be. Being able to sew people back together is not the same as being a doctor."

He slides down a little further, relinquishes his hand from Teo's stomach to angle that elbow into the bed to lean, other arm folded across his own midsection. "I will be a homemaker. Learn to cook like you do, and not break washing machines."

"My mom's a homemaker. And bulletproof. That's awesome, in a Freudian kind of way." This assessment is not to say that Teodoro is being facetious, and nor should it indicate that he thinks that Francois should settle, if in fact Francois isn't joking about that, and as Teo starts to inchworm his torso into a semi-upright, he finds himself wondering if the Frenchman was. Lest he make light of dreams, or of Francois' capabilities, and things. Francois Allegre is no skinny community theater actress from the boonies speaking with shy wist of making it big in the city. Motivational supportiveness would be easier, then.

The absence of sensible precedents for his relationships rarely affects his day-to-day life so obviously. Teo rakes his hair out of his eyes with spread fingers, crouching over Francois' shoulder now, trying not to breathe morning breath in his lover's face. His eyes widen with deliberate effort, squeeze shut again, blink to normal, his brain recalibrating in parts. "You want to be a doctor?" he asks. "That's what you wish you could have out of this life? Like to work in pediatrics with kids, or to deliver children, or to reattach skin, tuck tummies, prescribe medications for sorry fuckin' AIDS patients, or what? Which kind?

"There's no 'just to kill time' kind. I don't think. This comes from somewhere." He reengages Francois' fingers with a splayed grasp of his own, determined to resettle train on tracks— or at least to coax it back on course. Into motion, however hazey the destination seems.

There's a certain kind of enigmatic silence that goes with the usual listening kind — immortals don't need to take painkillers, and they don't need to figure out what to do with this life. The idea of only having one — hell, being at the centre of one — is like a trap, and there's a derisive exhale at the question, for all that Francois' fingers also link up with Teo's. It's nice, that he's keeping Francois' insomnia company. Talking is a little like writing, too. "I might have been a medecin generaliste, had the war never happened. Or even if I had no ability to begin with. General medicine — house-calling, family care. Things change. Medicine is not like that anyway, now.

"It does come from somewhere. I have knowledge that I would like to use — healing taught me other things. Trauma surgery, if I had better hands. Or emergency nursing. I don't want to retire and be idle — I want to heal. But perhaps I can settle for looking after you," is added, a ghost smile in the dimness. "The pay is not as rewarding, but it is a full time career."

"The pay is fucking huge, grazie," Teo answers, with all the aplomb with which one ought to deliver such vulgarities. He tightens his fingers, relaxes them again, then once over, pulsing two, then three affectionate squeezes through Francois' captured digits. He hoods his eyes, a subtle difference from his sleepy-face that his lover probably knows him well enough to recognize by now. He isn't falling asleep on the conversation.

He isn't taking too seriously the implication that he could use a nursemaid, either. This is his thinking face. It is nice to be able to root about one's mental resources for plans for somebody that do not equate summary execution. "I learned a lot of stuff without having ever spent the time. I can fight. I can speak Sicilian, and the national dialect of Italy, some Chinese, Spanish. Radio, and how to configure an AR-15 so it's illegal in California but not Oakie-homa. There are psychic ways to get knowledge into your head, skills and things you can bring to the field.

"And I know one woman who can do it. Probably has a whole pile of doctors' brains stashed in her cranium, too." This is the kind of offer that should only be made with no pressure. All aspects weighed on an objective scale, articulated with great precision, and even sentiment rhymed to logic. Teo puts both tattooed arms around Francois, bunches him up tight. "She's a Linderman goon, but little and old and pretty smart. Kind. Lemme get you her number."

Francois' hand drags with it some sweater material to drape on over Teo's waist with the length of his arm, sharing trapped heat and embrace both. These actions of getting comfortable are compartmentalized from thought and consideration — closed mouthed seriousness, careful and studious study on Teo's eyes. It's the same doubt he might cast on touchscreen phones, in that it sounds like it works, has tangible evidence that it works, it just doesn't stop it from being witchcraft, or— "Cheating," he says out loud, contemplatively.

A little mockingly, with a hand running smoothly up Teo's spine, another quick smile. "But you earned a right to do so. Maybe I have too. Is it…" Expensive? His allowance is running out, and from what he hears of the Linderman Group, there are always strings. Faulty? His lover hallucinates after receiving his bill of health. Worth it?

Probably. So he settles on; "Weird?"

Teo lets two lines in between his brows, thoughtful creases, his thinking face turned up another few increments ont he dial. "Probably feels a little that way," he says. "Takes some time. You've earned it. Doesn't mean there won't be strings, but you knew that." Strings. He doesn't bring up Francois' allowance; doesn't seem to imagine that he needs to. "She might work independently, too. I don't know.

"She's old. Not too pretty. Maybe that's why I think it's a good idea." His jaw clicks shut atop Francois' shoulder, like a nutcracker. His arms are already doubled around the older man's waist, so he makes a brief effort to make that thirds. Doesn't succeed, of course. He isn't a stick. "Better than wading into the pool of accomplished residents and nubile, impressionable interns." The scar in his exposed cheek stretches like toffee when he gnaws at the corner of the older man's shoulder through the wall of his other one. Ang, ang.

And then he raises his head. "Wouldn't call it normal," Teo admits.

Obligingly, Francois breathes in as Teo's arms viperwrap around his waist, head listing back to lie against the pillow, exhale flagging along a chuckle near the younger man's ear. Agreement, brief and wordless, and he curls an arm around Teo's, settling closer and comfier without regard to shedding his sweater that was never completely worn anyway, tangled now in bedsheets and embrace. He will forego a glass of wine or two pills or both for the sake of this, and a hand flops up to loosely grip at Teo's hair, half-scritch, half-tug.

"After the snow," he suggests, because it has to end sometime. Or they will have to leave. 'After the snow' still stands, either way. "I would be very grateful for her number. Merci."

The Sicilian's mouth flattens into a smile, except for the fish-hook weal going up. De rien. Five fingers flatten on the point of Francois' knee, and he bends his knuckles back lazily, before curling his fingers slightly against that. Relaxes again. Retracts his hand, folds it back into the full-bodied squeeze he has going on. He is wont to agree, that this is comfortable and better than wine or pills, but then, he was the one content to walrus on the mattress and Francois had been the one driven out and up by discontentment.

This is a good development. "Si, that makes sense. After the snow." It's nice. Helping someone build something. Novel. Teo is wary of looking at it too closely, lest details divulge flaws, and something in that levers him over the fragile fulcrum back into hallucinating evil bullshit. Keeping his arms around Francois is kind of like keeping one's extremities inside the safety bars, or the yellow line. A beat, and reluctantly then, "Do I have to get a job too?"

"Mm. A real one, you mean?" Francois' palm smooths on the top of Teo's skull, tilts the young man's head down enough to nudge a kiss against hairline, and mutter against it, "Only when you want it." It's not everything — rarely can a single conversation fix everything. But it is something, and something has an added benefit of reassuring productiveness, balancing an uneasy dichotomy between a blank slate future and resisting its definition. "Promettere."

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