La Vie En Rose


francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title La Vie En Rose
Synopsis The first Teo to be engaged is coincidentally the first Gabriel as well, but firsts are firsts— and so is it too for a rather pleased Frenchman.
Date April 28, 2011

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.

It's a very nice roof, and somewhat improved by the telescope that Teo acquired although he probably could have donated the money to 'the movement' or to buying twenty-percent of a good gun guns, or kevlar, or a knife, or to bribing the ghost into stealing some more stuff that doesn't have serial numbers or anything embarrassingly incriminating. He got a telescope instead. It's black, rather shiny for the tube part but the stand is matte, tipped skyward at a forty degree angle, the lens slightly purplish, iridescent, making a convex reflection out of the—

"I probably should have fucking thought about the way I live in an armpit of metropolitan pollution before investing in this shit," he announces to himself, putting a hand over his forehead. He squints up toward the sky, the pearlescent and textured tesseraction of cloudcover, and sighs loudly. A moment, then he stoops down to put his eye against the eyepiece again, muttering. There's a squeak of hinges, squ'k-squeak. It may also be of some consequence that it isn't fully night-time yet, the sun set on a brisk wind, but a gradiated glow coming from the Union Square. Or Greenpoint, or whatever.

Philosophically, he begins to tilt the tube down, down. And a few degrees to the right, discreetly, toward the row of nondescript houses across the street, seconds before a light flicks on behind one of the little dominip chip-sized windows, his mouth twisting off to the side with furtive curiosity.

Since he broke his ribs, Francois has been doing far less jumping on and off trains and shooting American soldiers, and a lot more— everything else. Making breakfast, reaquainting himself with Greenwich Village and its antique, food, and/or jewelry stores and markets. Reading. Getting stoned, occasionally. He hasn't been bored, either, because say what you like about his heroism or villainy over spans of decades — there was a lot of downtime too. Ascending the stairs to see what Teo is occupying himself with is just as liesurely, trying to be reasonably quiet, and is — enough to be able to watch the stooped back of his boyfriend and the swing around of the telescope.

It would never have occurred to him, to buy a telescope. He moves closer, fingertips skimming along where a film of water has gathered on the outdoorsy table that often goes neglected in the shifty weather, a silver spray turning flat grey on the concrete, hand wiped on a sleeve enough to be dry by the time it finds a perch on Teo's back.

Only then seeing the angle of the telescope. "Now I understand."

There is a violent squeak like a mouse being shattered at the spine by a trap shutting on it. Teo straightens as if kicked and turns around, pushes the eyepiece away from himself with his palm, as if pretending he doesn't know the telescope, that their encounter was purely coincidental. His arm immediately goes back to hanging down the other side of him, and he regards his boyfriend with a look that's nearly opaque from wariness, like a one-way window, trying to see if there's any real serious judgment or alarm on Francois' face.

No, right? Not really. "It's new," he says, automatically, a little guilty and looking it. "I got it for cheap. Overstock— some online company closing down. It's for stars. Was," he says. "When I went sailing you didn't even need a telescope. Do you want to try?" He scoots sideways, his heavy rubber-soled shoes scraping concrete as he makes a margin of space wide enough for Francois to fit between himself and the telescope, but no wider.

No, not really, but he will anyway. Hands go out and arbitrarily angle the telescope in a vaguely skywards direction, as opposed to spying on the heterosexuals just yonder, and Francois bends like it's a formality to peer through the eyepiece. Squeak, go the hinges, and then the soft complaint: "I only see eyelashes." There's a lot of things he's not great at, including astronomy. Readjusts though and gamely tries again, looking at a sky that's blurred, both out of focus as well as cloud cover.

The lens makes the taletell dip, then, to regard the more interesting— if you asked Francois— earthly things. Their neighbours, or the city skyline. "I saw the lunar landing," is his defense, where live is the implication, just— probably not through a telescope. He doesn't need to watch the stars, you see.

A long-fingered hand falls atop Francois' shoulder, completely unnecessarily as far as operating the telescope goes but pretty nice, hopefully. Well hopefully Francois thinks so. "A lot of people think that never happened you know," he says. "The argument is pretty compelling. When you look at the footage, the dust blowing up from his feet literally seems to fall like gravity's too strong, and there seems to be a wind moving it, or something. I don't know. I saw a docum—

"—errr, sorry," Teo backtracks hastily, then drops a hand around the cylindrical body the the telescope. Tightens his fingers and turns it, scrolling the lens before Francois' eyes into hair-raising clarity, so he can make out the white bib of the baby on the unlit shopfront sign three blocks down, before things squish into a blur again. "This is how you focus it," the Sicilian says. "Here, like this. Can you see? You have to adjust it if you look at something nearer or further away." He takes Francois' hand, the nearer one, and moves it up onto the ridged ring around the scope.

Obediently, Francois' fingertips rest upon the dial, fidgets with it. Lines are developing subtle at his eyes, started doing that in the fifties and kind of stopped for half a century, and they deep at the slight headache inducing effect of focus unwinding and coming back into clarity again, but determined, suddenly, to work the object to do as he wishes. He bodily nudges into Teo in an attempt to track the telescope around. "The lunar landing was real. I saw it." He is being a little facetious, playing the vecchio, but he also never saw no documentary. The conspiracy phase was more of an early 2000s thing.

He makes a sound. Finding something, or failing too. "There's a— it is a bar, I think, but American pizzas too. But expensive. I think at least two apartment complexes are hiding it." Now he straightens his back, a small head toss to clear his head and fix his hair, a bit, and in neurotic anticipation that the telescope will collapse if he doesn't hand it off, he offers the tube he's balancing back to Teo to do with what he will.

"But it is real. We should go to dinner."

The telescope pats against Teo's hand. He pushes at it with his thumb, thinks about looking in it again just to try and pick out which one Francois had seen, but then Francois says that and he says, "Oh." Glances out into the street for a long moment, looking with just his eyes instead of the scope, but not testing his sight so much as anything creepy that would be hanging on the coattails of anticipation. He scours inside his head for a few moments, and hears nothing except the uncomfortable pounding of his heartbeat. 'You weren't in space. You couldn't have seen it.'

He wishes he'd thought of that line a bit sooner, laugh it off. "Tonight? I'm kind of tired," he says. Then also, "The telescope gave me a fuckin' headache, sorry." He rubs at his jaw, the rasp of short hairs against still-callused fingers. He doesn't work out like Ghost does, but he keeps busy, somehow. "And I bought things for dinner already that could go bad. Ahi tuna. I was going to make a roll for me and do your steak medium rare?" It would stay good until tomorrow for lunch, probably, but Francois' doctor instincts could probably go either way on that. "I mean.

"If you want I'll take some NSAIDs and we can go," he adds hastily, reaching up to touch his knuckles to his temple, which is purportedly throbbing. Teo is pretty sure his head doesn't feel completely clear, anyway. "If you really want." It occurs to him to ask Gabriel whether marijuana helps.

But we never go out wouldn't be a flattering thing to whine, nor is it strictly true, and there is something decidedly unromantic about making your significant other down non-steroidal anti-inflammatories in order to go drink rum over pizzas on a smoggy evening. Maybe that's the war that Teo sees, thought and decision making brewing behind green eyes as Francois re-evaluates his evening and also the next five minutes, drawing in a lungful of cool air. There'll be a grace period of a few weeks, anyway, before the cafe packs up its spreads of fat olives and feta slices and Monday special cocktails because there is no money and no business in terrorist New York City.

Except with the terrorists themselves, one of which is moving to hook his fingers around that of another, pad of his thumb brushing gentle over pressure points. "Ah non, another night. Why should we go anywhere," he continues, a sudden wryness to a half-smile when he decides that tonight, he isn't going to stress about the trouble inside Teo's head, "when I can do this whenever I want?"

A rooftop is a happy mix of private and public, an ignored patch of territory beneath a clouded over sky, so he feels safe enough to grip onto Teo's jacket with his other hand and reel him closer, bodies colliding gently as if adrift, capturing a kiss for himself — bold enough to disguise a sudden onset of nerves.

On average, Teodoro Laudani likes kissing. 'Like' is not, however, quite adequate to the ridiculous droves of butterflies multiplying in his belly or the dizzying satisfaction of hands on his waist, and the sky is of no consequence. It is the sort of joy that has a built-in capacity for rue, vis-a-vis exaggerating (lying) about his headache and the knowledge that drinking on NSAIDs is quite ill-advised and he's basically ruining everything, as far as he's aware, if only very gradually. The nervous pain of that diminishes slightly under the weight of the Frenchman's chest. There is some tongue.

Bold is generally considered an admirable quality in Sicilian culture. One shows interest in conversation by interrupting it, preferably very loudly; the Swedish never know what to do with them. Kissing, on the other hand, is an act that warrants complementary interest and so, Teo's hands venture onto his back and start to slide Southward. Maybe doing it outside and a bit high up is better than pizza.

All in all, it's shaping up to be a decent night. Every half a second reduces Francois over thinking about whether his boyfriend is making excuses to not leave the house with him, again, and the weather is mild and dry up here. Hands at his back has him pressing closer, as if being smoothed into place, and if Teo is gradually ruining things, then— Francois does so more suddenly, an arm pressing outward to interrupt the hooping bracket that Teo makes of his own, kiss ending.

Immediately knows that probably registers badly, maybe, blinking, and seeks to fix it; "Will you marry me?"

The hand already resting on Teo immediately bunches around a fistful of fabric, inviting him to not run. Or laugh, even, if Teo imagined he was joking, or worse, he wasn't and laughs anyway. The other hand pushes fingers into a pocket but doesn't retract anything yet.

Uncharacteristically, Teo turns red, from his chin all the way up to his hairline, flushed through with a remarkable suffusion of color.

He doesn't usually turn colors, trending toward pale, though he tans quickly and evenly when he does.

ut he's never been asked for his hand in marriage before. Not any of him. There's a ridiculous pang of triumph to go with that realization, which is a violent, nearly whiplash-inducing twist after the momentary confusion that had come after the ceasefire — ceasesnogging — that had been called. His face feels terribly, almost uncomfortably hot. He doesn't know what's going on with that. "What?" he says, stupidly. "Well if you don't change your mind," he adds, possibly making matters worse, "when you find out some things about me," but at least he's being honest. "Yes. Si. Oui, je t'aime. Of course."

Uncharacteristically, Teo turns red, from his chin all the way up to his hairline, flushed through with a remarkable suffusion of color.

He doesn't usually turn colors, trending toward pale, though he tans quickly and evenly when he does.

But he's never been asked for his hand in marriage before. Not any of him. There's a ridiculous pang of triumph to go with that realization, which is a violent, nearly whiplash-inducing twist after the momentary confusion that had come after the ceasefire — ceasesnogging — that had been called. His face feels terribly, almost uncomfortably hot. He doesn't know what's going on with that. "What?" he says, stupidly. "Well if you don't change your mind," he adds, possibly making matters worse, "when you find out some things about me," but at least he's being honest. "Yes. Si. Oui, je t'aime. Of course."



Teo could probably have said it in German and Francois wouldn't have minded, skipping over the fine print. "I love you too," obviously, with a wider smile than the one that crookedly began at the way Teo's skin flushed red — he doesn't recall that happening either. Good. Molto benne. That hand gripping sweater material relaxes, and he takes a step back, feeling a bit foolish when the silver ring is taken out from where he'd slipped it between folds of denim. A masculine thing, but decorative, with herringbone braiding and rope-ish detail.

Obviously picked with some care and even now, uncertain over the choice or maybe just the invisible pricetag, but it's a little bit done and dusted as he offers it, balanced on his fingertips. He hasn't ever asked, either.

Teo's head still looks a bit bright in this lighting, and even as the lighting dims, the saturation on him's a little funny. He regains his composure mostly by breathing shallowly but regularly and reaching to take the ring, willing his hands to remain steady. His fingers close on the metal. It doesn't occur to him that Francois should be down on a knee or anything like that. This is quite excellent. Francois listened to the fine print and everything, and it's suddenly rather difficult to imagine things going wrong, or to even think about the logistics, which are boring to wonder about anyway.

Teo stuffs his finger into it. It's a bit tight, just a bit, but he tells himself that's a good thing: so it won't get lost. Worrying about taking it off is for later. Or never. He isn't sure how to show it off to the others without looking like a catty princess, but if his own instincts are anything to measure by, they'll notice whether or not he's trying to be discreet. The ring looks rather well on his hand he decides, holding his splayed fingers at the full extension of his arm to look at it. "I have to get you one," he says, slinging his arm across the Frenchman's shoulders rather suddenly. "This is going to be a pretty fucking hard act to follow."

Francois puts both arms around Teo's waist. The logistics could be fun — later. Right now, he is simply appreciating too the loop of silver on Teo's hand, his own fingers going out to run the pad of his thumb over the inlay work and the skin on either side of it. "Oui." Yes, Teo has to get him one, and yes, maybe it'll even be a hard act to follow, but it should be, and there's a rich faith that Teo will do fine communicated in tone of voice and the nudging kiss to the man's throat that follow.

Fingers curl around the blonde at the nape of Teo's neck, back in close after the formal step away. "You would have to think hard on the topic and plan ahead in advance to do badly, I promise. Thank you," he says, "for saying yes easily." And in different languages, at that.

"I am a little awesome," the Sicilian responds gallantly, smiling twitchily, like maybe the muscles in his face are giving out. He can't keep it up. He blinks rapidly a few times and looks down at his hand again, which fell, his fingers curling shut, ring finger nearly flexible enough to touch the white gold nestled down almost right up against its knuckle. How fabulous the excess! He's too savvy at surviving on very little to wonder overmuch at the expense, of all the logistics to not worry about. If they have to sell the house, Francois will tell him, and they have a car to move things on a few trips.

"Dinner?" he suggests. "Fucking?" Arms around Francois' waist, prompt all of a sudden, unlike the wandering way Teodoro seems to spend translating texts and buying telescopes off Amazon and working out and reading. His nose winds up buried in Francois' collar, which probably means he's looking at his ring again behind the Frenchman's back. "Do people still have umm, engagement parties and shit like that?"

"I don't know," Francois speculates, head tipping back a little to accommodate for the doggish push of Sicilian head near is neck and collar, positioned back where they were before the exchange of precious metal. "Also no, you are awful, Sicily, but I still love you." Dinner or fucking indeed, which isn't to say he won't offer his opinion, he's just old sometimes — which isn't to say it bothers him. They've known each other for a good while, now. Long enough to develop immunities.

To get married, maybe. "Both, s'il vous plait." There is a small show of checking the time — Teo only feels it when Francois tightens the arm around his neck to see his watch passed the Italian's ear. It's dinner time, actually, and probably a bit late at that. He kisses him anyway, drawn close, bold again not so much to cover nerves this time, but in elation, confidence. He doesn't usually do the I love you thing twice in the same span of a couple minutes except sometimes in bed.

They're both unemployed, occasionally nocturnal, and engaged. They can have dinner or not have dinner whenever they want, and it keeps 'til tomorrow.

Teo's arms tighten too, which means he's stopped looking at his ring temporarily. There is the click of the telescope's lens cap prudently going back on, and then he makes a ring or a floatie around the Frenchman's waist, liiifts. It is not the most elegant carry ever but elegance isn't really the point. Hoist, and he moves his br—husband-to-be five steps, six. Just as Francois can overlook the fine print, so too can Teodoro steamroll over that disparaging remark re: awfulness. "I thought your English was more fluent than all that," he muffles into the other man's shoulder. "'Awful' wouldn't appear to mean what you think it means.

"You know," this, when he shambles to the doorway above the stairs, lets Francois down gently to bump the older man's back and shoulders against the edge of the doorframe, kind of like, ki-ind of like he's pinning him there, but less pressure than all that. Teo merely leans in, over him, a finger touching at the narrow band of papery skin at the small of Francois' back between his trousers and his sweater. "I don't think gay marriage is technically legal in New York. We may need to have an adventure, or at least be a little unconventional in our interpretation of that," kiss, "term, which I think. Would be okay."

"Rhode Island."

Francois glances off left, back up at Teo's face, briefly abashed. He did have to Google, and it was hard. Also when speaking of adventures, he recognises that Rhode Island isn't the first thing people say, and especially not so quickly. "Or Massachusetts and Vermont, and those ones. Just a little north, unless we wanted to travel more. New York recognises it from elsewhere. I am also unconventional." In other words, he's checked, and doesn't mind, tonight. "It would be." His hands have relaxed against Teo, now, unmoving where he's crowded against the doorframe, head leaning back and resting.

"You're not Registered," he adds, a little wry, skating briefly by other national politics. "But as long as we know. And everyone else. I will tell them all."

Teo's perpetually mobile eyebrows cinch downward, then level again. He smiles all the way to his eyes. Oh stupid government. He'd almost forgotten it was there!!

Except, you know, for the part where he hadn't, and may be walking around with DNA that matches the United States of America's most notorious serial killer basically ever flowing through his veins, but he'd been thinking about that in other contexts, not marriage ones. "I went to Rhode Island a couple times," he says. "It's nice. So is everyone else, though, give or take my pathologically erratic son from the future and a few of our more amoral associates, so either of those things would work. I've never really thought about what being married means.

"I guess that you're trapped." Possibly Teo isn't even trying on purpose to be ironic. He smiles, no teeth, crinkly around the eyes. He has some lines there too, evidence of nearing thirty, in a flattering, distinguishing sort of way. "Temporarily. Vieni anche tu?" He cups his hand downward at about Francois' chest, offering to take his hand rather than offering to give his own.

"Per favore." Francois puts his hand into Teo's hand, and clasps, locks, and it's nice that he got his hand fixed in time for this. He might care about the other scars on his self if they get to a. Wearing suits kind of point. Kate Middleton lost half her body weight and put trees in the Abbey, so people think of these things, goes to show.

He isn't, at the moment, honestly, save for squeezing Teo's digits and then wriggling on out of the small space between Sicilian and doorframe, leading a step downwards that's half backwards, other hand only grazing guidance on the walls. The empty third storey, free of Elisabeths and Felixes and Abbys and Eileens for tonight, and then the second, with the medical supplies under the linens and the unmade bed, laundry on the ground.

Insipidly, Teo suddenly starts dancing his fiancee along the landing. This is partially insipid because that's a little dangerous, given the landings between rows of stairs aren't very wide. It's also insipid because, well, he's dancing Francois around like some talentless middle-aged yuppie twirling his wife across the kitchen or children having at during some awkward sexless period of socialization. If both those images are disgustingly saccharine, that isn't his fault either.

Thump. Dragging Francois halfway up his own back, he starts to descend the next flight of stairs, humming something underneath his breath, a strain of Italian lyric here or there. It's okay. Francois won't tell anybody, not about the ill-advised stairway dance, the self-produced music, or the grin he's bending over his shoulder again, shameless.


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