Kiss and Make Up


christian_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Kiss and Make Up
Synopsis An interpersonal relationship, with all its dials and buttons, proves as manageable as Christian's radio rig.
Date November 13, 2008

Several hours earlier, Christian receives via his 1-800 line:

'It gives us strangely little aid,
'But does tell something in the end.
'And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
'Not even stooping from its sphere,
'It asks a little of us here.
'It asks of us a certain height,
'So when at times the mob is swayed
'To carry praise or blame too far,
'We may choose something like a star
'To stay our minds on and be staid.

'— Frost

'Sorry I freaked.'

Reply to sender:

'Message received and understood. Situation untenable for further commo, will contact when aspect changes.'

Cliffside Apartments: Felix's Christian's Apartment

It's a pleasant, airy apartment, with pale hardwood floors and high ceilings. The front door leads into a little entryway with a coat closet on the right and the door to the miniscule kitchen on the left. It then opens out into a living room crammed with bookshelves - there's barely enough room for a plain entertainment center and a dark green couch. Beyond that a short hall leads to the bathroom and two bedrooms, the second of which is more an office and spare room, judging by the desk and the weight bench stored there.

Overall, the decor is spartan at best, with little by way of personal touches. The only decoration in the kitchen is an antique icon shelved high in a corner, where the Mother of God smiles benignly at the infant on her lap. A blue glass vigil lamp burns before it. Over the doorway to the back hall is hung an officer's sabre; no mere trophy, it bears the mark of long and constant wear. There are a handful of posters and prints - mostly landscape, though a few are fencing-related.

It'd take a few hours before Chris would send an address, way into the early morning proper. Chris was still up, of course. His recent activity had pulled him into the underground where he could access the telephone hardlines, and to avoid any legitimate service personell and lenghtly excuses he'd just taken to doing it at like oh midnight or so. So saying his sleep rythm was a little off, well thats something of an understatement.

Right now anyway, the XR500 still needs a little more work before its ready to go back out on the street. Little as in, you know the entire engine and transmission was set carefully out on a large piece of cardboard. Little sharpie outlines and even part numbers had even been scribbled on to assure not a single screw was to be misplaced. There was a similar system that had been used on the 510RR which now sat fully assembled but still on a milk crate right beside it, and of a wall of radio crapola beyond that. Oh what fun: hobbies.

There's a rapping on the door, knuckles against wood. Not a familiar rhythm at this point in their acquaintance, but such as it is, it's early yet and apparently said inchoate relationship isn't dead before it starts. Teo was happy to receive the texts, even if the second one roused him from a nap.

His other plan, vaguely formed, involved Googling a ham radio general interest forum and befriending somebody with his armload of borrowed books, free booze, and impressionably large eyes, and he seriously doubted the likely majority of the hobbyists were not svelte and immaculately-groomed engineering students with fetching giggles. Not that he ever has anything against making friends.

"Hellooooo?" There's a mouth near the edge of the door: Teo leaned in, yammering. "I brought pasta." Trust the Italian to fulfill his stereotypes.

Christian It takes a moment, he was sort've getting into things before the interruption catches up with him. Oh yeah, noise at the door. Slowly he roused, cleaning his hands with a shop rag before grabbing the gauge he kept under the kitchen countertop. There would be a peek through the peep, before he lowered the shotgun to simply hang from his arm limply. His free hand quickly turning both deadbolts and sash locks, before he opens the door and steps aside to let Teo inside.

"I wasn't expecting you so quickly, I'd have cleared some space. You'll have to excuse the state of things."motioning towards the kitchen counter, which had enough room for pasta and room to spare. It seemed the only place in the joint not stacked with milk crates with ziptied shelves, which were all of course labeled. Sure there was stuff everywhere, but everything had a place it belonged.

You put too much muscle into your door-pounding, and people think you're a cop. Teo knows better than that. Thought he did, anyway. Unfortunately, his yelled salutation elicits some dishearteningly ferocious wall-drubbing from one of the adjacent apartments. Where, you know. People are trying to sleep.

Through the peephole, Christian catches him scowling over his shoulder down the way the angry noises came, lips moving around a rude and unlikely undeserved retort, before his head whips around to watch the door open.

"Salve," he offers by way of greeting. He spends a beat staring quizzically at the older man, noting the expression significantly different to the one he'd worn the last time they'd met, and the shotgun dangling from his arm, a moment before Teo summarily drags his carcass in. A glance around, and he directs himself to the small zone of empty counter Christian had indicated.

His backpack goes up, pasta unloaded. "Nice digs," he offers. It's bigger than his place, a fact emphasized rather than undercut by the clutter.

Christian slips the shotgun back where it goes, and offers Teo just a little smile. He was sort've a prick, he knew it but at the same time was fully aware he lacked the articulation to speak what he felt. So he just let it fade, whatever right."and food, goodness gracious ya'll are gonna up'n spoil me."

He slips past, gathering a trio of ziptied milkcrate stacks (3 tall) and placing a particularly large 'HIGH VOLTAGE!' sign thats about the size of a yeild size, bingo instant dining table. "there, its got enough room to actually eat."and then he simply grabs a few more crates for chairs, modular and spartan. Hurrah interior decoration by Christian."Thanks, if you want I can fire up the radio array. Pretty damned good reception up here."see, its not a radio set or a radio transceiver. Fuck that business, this was a mother fucking array.

"Returning a favor," Teodoro answers lightly, congenially ignoring the fact that 'last time' the meal hadn't ended on any definition of 'good terms' known to man. A tupperware container of bowtie pasta almost as large as Christian's head, and what was formerly a brick of homemade sauce— now reduced to somewhat more manageable consistency and still warm— hit the counter-top with a weighty plastic slap. Teo leans over sideways, pops the microwave open with a long finger hooked around the handle and…

Extracts a box of cigars from it. Peers at his unexpected find for a protracted moment, one dark eyebrow high on his forehead. "Eh, you mind if I use this thing? That thing," he uses the cigars to jab a point in the direction of the microwave, indicating that, there, rather than the smokes themselves. "And yeah. I'd kill to see how that works. It looks like a remarkably canny illustration out of a science fiction novel." He cranes his head over the warning signs and at the collection of equipment parts, inquisitive as a new bird.

Christian waves a hand dismissively as he starts towards the radio wall. "Yeah I just dont wanna fork out for a humidity thing, and the microwave does a pretty damned good job of it. Just shove those puppies back in there when your done." Now he notes the bowtie pasta, but he keeps his mouth shut. He'd eaten pasta but well, this was Teo so he sort've expected the poor guy to have constructed it over the course of seven years od hard physical labor in Siberia.

Now to get full access for the two at the radiowall, Chris moves the 510RR's parts mat and then rocks the bike back off the stand, scoots it around and hoists the rear swing arm up enough to scoot the milk crate back in with a single arm. "there we go, I'm really sorry for the clutter everywhere."

The radiowall is four HF rigs on the right side, 3 wide bands on the left with a dedicated shortwave receiver ontop to even both sides out. Ontop is a string of misc black boxes with cables, boosters, squelches and such. In the direct center is another toughbook, this one covered with apparently russian radiological stickers. Chris pops up the screen, hits a few keys and the array comes to live. One after the other pop on with dull backlights, knobs and dials moving all their own under the command of the toughbook. "Its listening for Chinese resistance radio right now, so we'll just leave it there while we eat."

Food goes into microwave. Pop, clunk, expedient movements conducted in perfect, innocuous ignorance that the Fed has some kind of criticism to insinuate against his choice of pasta. The moment the door claps shut and the numbers are punched in, bleeping, Teo's eyes are back on the project at hand and his still-shod feet take a circuitous route between crates and closer to the radio wall. His stare is wide.

He tilts his head to and fro, studying it, trying to make sense of the innumerable controls and displays. "Man," he says. "Maaan. Oddio. That's a bunch of cool shit. I wish I could articulate more, but I'm sure that would be an embarrassing effort in layman's terms. I won't touch," he promises. Grins, shows teeth, stealing one last glance over the toughbook and the overall setup, before he withdraws a step, hands going into his pockets.

It's still a little cold in here. At least, for his Mediterranean sensibilities. Only enough to keep him awake, likely. "Some point, you'll have to explain to me how you interpret Chinese characters through this. I know enough of it to know you can't get much out of raw Pinyin, and the endless library of radicals aren't anything you could fit into Morse."

A room away, the microwave rotates pasta under convection currents, adding to the quiet, rhythmic ramble of technology; he listens to it a moment. Then, almost idly, "And what'd you think of the stanza?"

"Well no this isn't Morse, most of it isn't Morse actually. Only time you use Morse is if either your rig, or your partner's rig is super low power. Its a dying language, sorta like Latin I reckon. Yasee years back, yaknow alla these boys grew up with radios. Amatuer radio used'ta cover shit like building a big pine wood Am/fm set for the whole family to listen to, and so durin like world war one and two you had alla these soldiers who knew enough about radio to build a basic rig from a pencil, a paperclip, a razor-blade and a little wire. So if ya'll got lost or whatever, you could build one and listen in. Well ya'll cant hear much with a rig that's so low power, that its whole damned operation runs on the energy of the same radio waves it gathers. No batteries or nothin' right?"

"Well over here on the right, are all the big highpower rigs. These are all the same radio actually, having more radios means they can work together though. That covers both sending, and receiving or I can split them apart and listen to different channels. Now one of these, will do everything else any of these other radios ya see here will. "he motions to the left. "Them thar are useful because they listen locally, and broadcast locally. Sort've like local radios, and on top there is a normal short wave so I can listen to normal radio channels from all over. Uptop is just filters and shit, ain't nothin' special. The one on the right there is a digital encoder, if you had a digital encoder on another rig in like..wherever I could send computer info to ya'll that way too. "he steps back, motioning towards the simple folding seat infront of the array. "Everything runs off the laptop, just tell it what you wanna listen for and it'll scan channels or zero in on one. Hows about a number station, fore you and I sit down to eat?"

A ting! from the microwave indicates when the food's done. Teo rewinds his course through the room to retrieve the food, his work-roughened fingertips bracing against piping-hot plastic and the oil slick sizzling somewhere in the lower recesses. Whether by virtue of protective dermal growth or a history in the food industry, he manages not to burn himself badly enough to drop everything everywhere and arrives at the makeshift table. Pasta goes on, and sauce.

Christian's beeline for the table implies to him a lack of cutlery or plates; fortunate, he'd thought to snag paper and plastic off the table of some frat party that had featured pizza the other week. He yanks that out of his backpack in passing, leaving the canvas folds to droop open around the corners of Christian's books, still inside. "Eh, I don't listen to a lot of radio," he admits. "Number or otherwise. The other kids make fun of me at school for it.

"You pick?" Teo takes a long step over a lower-slung box, one visibly empty, settling himself awkwardly around its straight edges before he sits down with a ginger expression on his face. When it doesn't collapse under his weight, he looks relieved.

Christian has sporks, not just any sporks. Christian has titanium sporks in sufficient quantity to proove more than realistic, but no proper glassware so he sets out s squishybowl for Teo and then another for himself. Now at this point, if you were starting to wonder if he had perhaps been in the field too long? You may be right.

The display the toughbook offers, isn't that difficult to understand after a few seconds. it had a little display to gauge levels of signal strenght, another one noted cardinal directions and bearings and below a huge list of little boxes that were empty and awaiting text or maybe even plain frequencies. "try, Lincolnshire Poacher. Hit enter, and let the rig do its thing it'll find the signal. all by itself, why don't you sit down and ea..shit I knew I forgot something."he slips from the quickly produced table, easing into the kitchen for a moment to procure Sapporo. A tallboy for Teo, and a tallboy for Chris. "Anyway, lets eat and we can talk radio. Poacher ain't always talkin' anyway."

This would be why Teo keeps a day job and goes to classes, raises a bird and occasionally waters his cactus. Tying himself down, lest the other life lift him by the edges and tear him apart in the storm, leave him a battered and abbreviated soul who… No, Christian isn't that bad. When he isn't making threats and bleeding disappointment in your apartment, anyway.

Teo would just rather not get that way. "Do you ever consider talking about something other than radio?" he asks, distinctly amused though not cruelly. Wields his steel spork and grips the tupperware container, angling them just so to slide a pile of bowtie into Christian's squishybowl atop the paper plate, before shifting back to portion out some of the staple for himself. "Not that I mind," he adds, unwilling to corner the other man in any fashion. "Just— you didn't answer my question from earlier."

Sauce, next. Fragmented vegetable, ground meat, enough fragrant spices, appropriately proportioned, to satisfy any flame-eyed matron from the homeland. His mother gave him a few things. His eyes and his temper were only two of them.

Christian chooses to let it cool abit, though he seems more than just a touch impressed already. It smelled and looked like the best meal he'd had since home, well ok maybe best period considering maw's cooking. "Well ok new subject then, considering -I'm- getting tired of listening to me talk about motorcycles we'll skip that one too. You said you had some family business to attend to, how'd that go?" he pauses, right before digging in good and proper too. "What question didnt I answer?" Brow furrowed in thought, before he takes a sporkfull of bowties and his mind completely derails. "Woah…"

Teo likes his own cooking enough to be mildly embarrassed by it. Peers steadfastly down into his plate as he eats. It's not something that he generally advertises: the fact that he can feed himself well and cheaply, though that has a lot to do with his general good health. "Non a niente, 's nothing," he mumbles abashedly, even as he stabs himself a stack of bowties and eats. His appetite isn't what it was a few hours ago: sandwiches at the library, courtesy of Jennifer Galloway, but he can always eat a little more.

"Family business could've gone better. Family reunion of sorts. I'm estranged from my little brother, so it was the first time in awhile."

His throat moves oddly against his meal; he coughs, covers his mouth with the side of a hand; moves on. Wrong pipe, that's all. "It could have gone worse, too. We didn't talk about the past. Things might improve. Thanks for asking." His elbows hit the table — an informal posture if not quite rude, and he skewers another mouthful. "The question about the Frost poem. I texted you."

Christian shrugs some, taking another sporkfull. "well, to be honest poetry never found me. Proverbs and such always did so much more, or that quote I returned to you. I was going to key up a big piece by Musashi, from the book of five rings but about three words in I remembered how much I hated trying to key whole words over a civilian radio. I tried to get into it, poetry I mean but it never quite found me. "he pauses, taking another bite before recalling. "I think his name with Torsley, Torsely maybe? Anyway I had my first tour of duty with him in Afghanistan, he something of an obsession with haiku. This one night we're all huddled under these big concrete tubes cuz we're taking mortar fire and yaknow there he is with his notepad, scribblin' away just as happy as can be. I'm fairly certain he was completely out've his mind, like literally."

"I'm ninety-percent sure that's bullshit, but I'm not rude enough to say so to your face," Teodoro answers lightly. He bends his spork this way and that, picking up the fragmented halves of a severed bowtie, glances up with an expression that fails to put weight behind the criticism. "Nobody I know doesn't 'get' poetry on one level or other. Song lyrics.

"Roses are red. Even just the one favorite— maybe some blatantly intellectually available Billy Collins piece. Whether it's something that's 'just pretty' or manages to sum up your entire worldview in eight lines. There are some good haiku out there. If I remember right, the real artists are supposed to get hit by inspiration in one brainwave in any given situation and suddenly evoke the poem, all three lines, crystal clear.

"Anyway—" he slouches more. His mother would slap him upside the head; elbow on table, jaw leaning on fist, grinning whenever he doesn't have food in his teeth. "The Frost lines reminded me of your situation. And— you know. American politics in general. Principles, symbols, wars and… all that shit." Teo reads poetry; he doesn't write papers on it, especially when uninvited. "That's all," he meant to say.

Lifts a finger to the professor of poetry. "I didn't say I didn't get it, I do. I can appreciate it, what I said was that it never found me. Which I maintain it hasn't, I don't dislike it but while I can appreciate a poem I will never seek it out as a subject of particular interest." Pausing to eat, before he finally deems it necessary to drop his weights.

"I was a prick, and I'm sorry." Yes, this was absolutely genius. Patton would be proud, an ambush apology. "There's no excuse, I have nothing I can say to sufficiently explain any of that shit I said away. So, I'm sorry you had every right to pitch me out on your doorstep."

Well, this is a touch awkward. In general, Teo doesn't know what to do when given an apology; a side-effect of quantifiably endless self-loathing. He sort of examines it, warily from this angle and that, feeling the sides of his head getting slightly red while he considers that and the festering pit of guilt so long past germinating in his stomach. He doesn't like lying. Vaguely resents that he's as good at it as he is, and he isn't the best. "Oh—

"It was okay. Kind of scary, but hey, I live in Harlem. Don't worry about it. I'm sure it just means you're good at your job," he answers, awkwardly, scratching the side of his head with the end of his fork. "You know, being on edge and stuff. Keeps you alive, doesn't it?" Or the opposite, he's vaguely aware, but as long as there's room for optimism, Teo's bound to subscribe to it. "And I'm sorry I said those things.

"…Maybe we should talk about radio," he trails off, abashed.

November 12th: Repercussions
November 13th: Strangers
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