Lock Eyes From Across The Room


danko_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Lock Eyes From Across The Room
Synopsis Down my drink while the rhythms boom.
Date August 13, 2009



Mostly, he'd just wanted a Goddamn drink. It was a coincidence of geography, that the nearest place had happened to have blacklight emanating from underneath the flat acrylic of the bar top, and a stage where the gogo boy hadn't yet gone up, silkscreened autocad art fixed up framed on the walls, black-and-white emulsion photography of Mardi Gras portraiture mosaiced in the mirror glass and a Chinese dragon dance mask hanging up on the upper left corner of the wall. A gay bar. About as gay as they come.

Teo's radar for such things might have been off for a number of reasons, not the least of which could be credited to recent exposure from an ex, and the not unrelated fact that he was up to his eyes in the quagmire morass of his younger analogue's private life, and unable to find enough traction to extricate himself from it without channeling a psychopathic monster. Things were very blurry going in. Stayed blurry through the first shot and then the squeak of protest— You're hurting me— when he wound up with his hand hooked at a cartlidge-cracking angle around the wrist of some audacious little blue-haired twink who smelled like chiffon and a baby prostitute.

Smells like chiffon and a baby prostitute, should be the proper term. Time snaps back on itself, elastic, sharpens Teo's pale eyes with a blink. He's being spoken to, asked in somewhat more polite, less intrusive terms, about how rough his day was, whether he could use a cigarette or a little pink capsule of something else. Or another drink. How about a drink? Teo doesn't know how to explain that his penis is broken lately, so he doesn't.

Some band apparently dubbed The Airborne Toxic Event presides over the air-conditioned chill of the room, reverberating in the enamel of his molars. Teo picks up one shoulder and then drops it, tries to put less of his weight on the bar top. Says: "Okay."

Danko is here for more than a drink, which is a sentence that might've been bad enough if it had simply stopped at Danko is here. Beer bottle in hand, black light washing cold off the dome of his skull and sapping the reptilian chill out of his eyes, he's leaned his way up against the bar two or three sets of shoulders down. His leather jacket is black. So is the collared shirt he has on beneath it. The one he has on beneath that is grey. …You know. For variety's sake.

He's been engaged in conversation with the same younger guy for some six or seven minutes now. No blue hair over there, but a sweater vest and a sedate, almost conservative effort made to appear more sober than he actually is. He is not succeeding. The buddy he has with him seems to have noticed as much as well and is clearly in the early stages of wondering what kind of family emergency seems most plausible with a few shots already sloshing around thickly in his brain.

Unfortunately, save perhaps for the fuzzy distinctness of his buzzed down burr from behind, Danko's difficult to pick out of the crowd. He's short; he isn't moving around. Isn't making a lot of noise. Has his back turned. It isn't until he registers that he's nearly running on empty and turns himself around to face the nearest bartender in full that his profile angles into Teo's periphery, and Teo's angles into his.

This is his third beer. It takes a few seconds and a few casual sweeps down the length of the bar for the lazy slant of his smirk to flatten itself out against the tension winding down into his brow. Dozens of faces laughing, smiling, drinking and only one of them is stock still and staring.
Leonard has arrived.

If the boy with the blue hair hadn't reminded Teo keenly of another, their conversation— or abbreviated, disjoint, one-sided facsimile thereof probably would have ended ten minutes ago. As it is, blue hair is still walking, even as he leans across the bar to put his face right up near the bartender's ear, knee propped up on the stool, bending his posterior around the rounded corner of the furniture as a peace offering to the indigenous hostiles. The indigenous hostiles are, unfortunately, somewhat distracted from this well-intended supplication by the fffact that, you know.

Itty bitty faggot bigot assassin is right fucking there, eyes big in his fuzzy bald head. It's difficult to tell whether Danko's skeletal face normally comes in that swamp thing complexion of electric aquamarine, or that's just the ambient lighting.

Teo's hands move without real instruction from his better conscience, which is not particularly surprising where beautiful young gay things are concerned, but arguably unpleasantly startling under the circumstances anyway. He hoists one of the twink's slender legs onto his lap, one-handed, his knuckles white around the bend of the other man's knee, spinning the trim axis of the stranger's body to make the flat of his silk-screened torso into a shield, trapped by the splay of skinny-cut jeans.

It's not the sweetest thing Teo could've thought to do, but it's a little better than going for the gun at his ankle. That resort of action, he had automatically saved up to do afterward, briskly procedural to the point of grace, the conditioned courtesy of the erstwhile Ghost.

Christ. There's a hand on Danko's arm, requesting his attention. He glances aside after it on a dragging delay, having forgotten in an instant that he was involved in a dialogue at all and suffering faintly under the influence of a buzz creeping warm and comfortable beneath the self-assurance in his shoulders. But even a brief distraction is enough. In the breath it takes him to shake off the poor guy, Teo's vanished in a puff of glitter, leaving him to glance rapid fire once right to left before he too peforms a disappearing act.

His entails less contact and manipulation — he simply steps sideways off the blaze of the bar, shadows turning bold through and across the empty spaces in his face while he reaches to strip a robust semi-automatic from its rest under his opposite shoulder. No human shields, no veils or deceptions. He just pulls the fucking gun and keeps it held low, matte black camouflaged against the crease of his slacks while he waits for the son of a bitch to pop his head out again.

It's either a tequila thing or a mood thing or merely that he sucks, that Teo's mind seems to be having so much fucking trouble staying in the saddle. He spots Emile through somebody's beer goggles, swaps into the bartender's scowl only to lose him in a sudden machine-gunfire spate of strobe light somewhere on the hanky-sized dance floor beyond. The gogo boy is up there, now. Red briefs. No point checking through his eyes, either; the mathematical probability that Emile Danko would draw his attention is— improbable.

Boy blue has always wanted to go to Italy, a statement that Teo grunts inarticulate commiseration with; moments like these, above most others, he'd rather be home, somewhere beyond the reach of Humanis First! or grasping fairy hands textured to talcum powder. It's loud in here, and too crowded; he gets the briefest impression of cold gunmetal weighing his palm, the floor reverberating under his shoes, but he doesn't know if that's him or if it's the enemy. Something that isn't fear clenches clammy in his hands.

"Going home, now," he says, brightly, and stands himself up, his reasonably amenable companion with him, gun nosed into his pocket, shoulder aimed for the door like a battering ram, eyes bolting through shadows and spasming polygons of electric light.

Shoot to kill would be a hell of a lot easier to manage as a personal policy if Danko had things like government backing or a warrant out for his arrest on pre-existing murder charges. As things are, he's a hunter trapped between extremes of licensed recklessness, and while murder charges are easier to accumulate than widescale government support, they're also a lot harder to shake. Compulsive instinct is restrained; the gun is reholstered. Just in time, too. The kid's back, vacantly persistent, hey man, you left your beer, is it cool if I —

Danko shoves him out of the way, right hand splayed rough across his chest with enough force to send him staggering. Teo's on the move, shoulder breaking hard through waves of people moving in every other direction and he doesn't have the patience for pleasantries anymore.

People are looking, now. A couple've heads crane around when the guy that got shoved nearly trips over himself and falls back into the bar, but the instigator is already gone, bled back into the crowd like a drop of ink in brackish water. This time the metal grip in his hand has less heft to it. Sleek and sharp at his side while he cuts in for the fuzzy bob and duck of Teo's retreat at a hard angle.

Clawing through this morass is a lot like trying to keep a trajectory in moving water. Linear movement doesn't hold, buckles against the bump of somebody's shoulder, the scuffle and trod of foot on foot, and the boy dragged along at Teo's side is beginning to get skittish, smelling the stink of danger without thinking to check what's being hauled through the club in his companion's other hand. Teo ends up letting go of him, shedding him like a rocket does its booster or some other appropriately phallic metaphor.

Some combination of secondhand perception and a low-lying speaker ambush him at about the same instant that Danko flares gaunt shock-white out of the gap between talking silhouettes. He's half-turning already, the line of his spine torquing in anticipation of a category of possibilities too broad to compensate for properly. Some part of Danko cracks into his shoulder like teeth, his gun ends up jarred out of alignment by his elbow caught in the hollow of torso, and he isn't moving fast enough to stave off the arc of the smaller man's wrist.

Being travel-sized has advantages. It's easier to slither through the narrow spaces that close and open anew between bodies in his way when you're 5'7". …It's also harder to put up resistence when people bigger than you get pissed off about you getting pushy and start doing a little shoving of their own. That is to say, contact at this juncture is somewhat premature. He's on top of Teo about two strobes ahead of schedule after an irrelevant 'geroff me' elbow hooks in hard between his shoulders. It may well be his teeth that find shoulder first, but a white-knuckled hand is quick to follow up with more of an actual grip in time for his knife-wielding fist to angle the blade down after Teo's gun hand.

It's sharp enough to cut at a touch; sinks in without sticking save for where it slows through tougher tendon and wet bone. Still recovering his balance, he's close at Teo's ear long enough to hiss a hoarse, "Nice night for it," against the bass throb of the band against his diaphragm on his way to maneuvering himself into a less compromising position.

People are staring, lurching back, some seeking shelter behind others and others sweetly in tandem tandem, sizzling shouts up at the ceiling like the pop-popping of oil on the overheated pan. The speaker is digging into his kidneys, grinding deep in what seems like a sincere effort to reach where his ribcage forks. That's not so bad.

There's also a four-inch blade burrowed through the two radial bones in Teo's wrist, so he thinks for a moment that he's scratching out a frailly stupid palpitating whimper of agony, too, but it turns out his mouth is clapped creaking shut that's just the din of panic and rage caged up like another extra person in his own head. The gun is gone. It is bouncing around on the floor somewhere. Maybe it was some sort of presence of mind that stopped him from getting a shot off into the crowd. His blood feels too hot on the wrong side of his skin, like maybe he was coming down with something before all this.

Fucking ow. Salvaging his wrist takes precedent over the tactical desire for distance, the ostensibly counterintuitive desire to keep the blade where it is, for now. Nicked arteries are the more crucial concern than getting proper licks in, though the one thing lends itself reasonably easily to the other. His other arm's flipping up abruptly into the air, fingers wrapping white around a fist. He brings it down like a hammer behind Danko's shoulder, wrenching the joint with a brutal, sickening pop of directed force.

The knife doesn't stay stuck. Not at first. It starts to slice at the whim of whatever pressure Danko has time to lean down into it, parting muscle so easily there's hardly time for pain to keep up until the old vet jerks away from the dull rock of agony pulsing out through the joint at his shoulder. Someone's going to be sore in the morning.

Now the knife sticks, left to jut solid from the bones in Teo's wrist where Emile's hand springs open away from the grip. Temporary tendon malfunction. Emphasis on the temporary. He utilizes the momentum of his own flinch, injured shoulder swung down and back as a counterweight to the snapping arc of his opposite elbow for whatever part of Laudini's head happens to be most convenient.

There's a circle clearing out around them, like this is some kind of terrible dance off. Assorted pills go skimming and skittering between booted feet when somebody offscreen tries to pull a cell phone out of the wrong pocket — not that they're likely to be heard over panicked shouts and the reverberation of a nearby amp.

Jaw happens to be most convenient. The point of Danko's arm intercepts the line of Teo's jaw while Teo is trying to get up and sidle out of range of getting hit in the head, which isn't particularly ironic despite this coordination of events. It's a glancing blow, tosses the younger man's head off-axis, jolting a blink through his eyelids. Promptly, he rocks back, aiming his temple— albeit one no longer shielded by titanium— at the spot between Danko's white brows.

Annnnd that would be enough impact generally focused around his head to start pushing Teo away and out of this uncomfortable clinch of proximity. He tilts away, swerves a long step, tramples around his fallen gun and sending it off into the corner somewhere with an accidental contact of his heel.

His eye smarts. He takes a glance down at his wrist, just enough to half-confirm that no accidental coincidence of knife and anatomy is about to bleed him out in four minutes. Closing forefinger and thumb around the handle, he finds the grip helpfully free of the sticky lubrication of blood, thus far, and then pulls it out. That sucks. Feels a great deal more permanent than whatever shoulder complaints Danko appears to be considering ignoring. The knife gleams red in his hand, and his other hand gleams red on its wrist.

Hardly. Danko doesn't seem likely to straighten up out of his hunch post return strike, bent like a snake someone's had the presence of mind to stamp on without actually killing it. Balding skull stooped even shorter than the five feet and seven inches it usually tops out at, he makes for an awkward target. The angles are all wrong and he's still trying to wrench his spine back into some semblance of rightness when Teo and an explosion of static sparks fill the field of his vision in that order.

He staggers. Doesn't fall. Bell rung and brain rattled, he doesn't even tip far enough off course to falter into any onlookers. Little son of a bitch apparently has more in common with the energizer bunny than a secret passion for pink. Somewhere there's a sleek gleam of red struck bold over the blade of his knife and upon that realization he's blinking hard to bring it back into focus through the jar of someone in a cowboy hat past his undamaged shoulder. And though he hasn't actually made a move for it yet, there's something in the pitbull set of his brow and the slant of his shoulders that suggests very strongly he hasn't forgotten that he still has a gun.

Teo doesn't have a gun. Or even his favored hand.

This grows significant upon brief examination of the brow bleached in Danko's ghastly pallor from across the three yards of space that constitute this particular dance-off; the cops that somebody is shrieking about are not going to get here in time to help, and are probably going to be subject to some degree of confusion about who they ought to be helping, should they get here. Two ticks of a strobe in, it becomes the time to exploit this window of opportunity.

He charges. A footfall for each epileptic blink of ceiling lights, arms out to catch the smaller man around the tendriled curl of his torso, their trajectory squared into the one visible gap in the bar. By some spectacular coincidence of choreography and spontaneous violence, the moment of collision is exactly the one in which the evening's floor manager sees fit to turn on the Goddamn lights.

The visible gap in the bar is devoid of people, but that's about it. Abandoned drinks skew and clatter; a glass shatters off onto the far side of the floor. Danko doesn't look any healthier in white light than he does most other colors, back arched and brow knit hard over shut eyes against the edge digging into his battered shoulder under Teo's weight.

"Okay," he breathes at a hitch, eyes bled pale as a blind man's when he finally forces them open again. "Okay. You got me." He is twice Teo's age and probably tired and sore and all sorts of miserable achey things that read earnest in the grey tilt of his brows and the haggard bob of a swallow at his throat.

Above Danko's shoulder, Teo's hand looks like an artefact of pulp that accidentally made its way into a ketchup bottle before full processing, his fingers twisted up, palm splayed and arched in livid objection to its own uselessness, nails and skin painted all over an even, soppy slick red that's trickling deeper into the cuff of his shirt. He has a knife in his other hand— the wrong hand— now on Danko's throat. He has a wilted midget of an old man bent over a bar and a certain aspect of derangement knotted up blazing in his aquiline features.

Yes, they both know who the bouncers are coming for. He can't even hear them under the incessant insistence of the music still blar-ing in the background, the squawk of retreating faggots, but you can feel them coming, the muscled representation of protocol. They don't know any better; no one's seen the guns yet, but there's still a margin of time, if Danko will tell him— "Where's your gun?" it's a snarl, barely comprehensible under the ragged edge of his breath. "Don't fucking move— where is it?"

Danko's eyes lift after the mess of Teo's hand just out of easy sight to his side, tracing after the pat, pat, pat of blood blotting thick at the trashed flat of the bar he's pinned against. From there, study of the look on the Italian's face is nearly a given, subtle detail sketched around with the distantly casual air of one whose seen it before. Maybe in a mirror.

There's no hurry about him, and no fear. His admission of defeat is almost lazy in light of his earlier efforts; he could even still be buzzing a bit now that he's had a chance to catch his breath and recalculate for the change in their positions. The cold skin at his neck touches soft against the knife edge when he swallows again, nicking the blade light into his own throat. The bouncers are coming. Teo knows it and so does he — there's a pleasant lift at the inside edges of his brows, aloof in tandem with a subtle, grinding push of bony hips against restraint. As far as the whole don't move thing goes, he's effectively just failed himself.

"You planning on shooting your way out've here so soon after having your record cleared, Laudani?"

"What do you fuckin' know?" Individual syllables extricate themselves out through Teo's teeth, piecemeal, some disgust more personally visceral than the cognitive acknowledgment that, you know, he's being rubbed on by a morally reprehensible assassin bigot baby-killer man. Pat, pat, pat. The knife lifts, sheening some combination of sweat and exsanguinated cells. "You bleed red too."

He smacks a bright red hand-mark around the front of Danko's face, then, fingers wrapping around gaunt cheeks and white brows, the hollow of his palm imparting a ketsup smear onto the bridge of the older man's nose. Teo swivels his elbow up, slams the back of Danko's head down, into the stinking and puddled plane of the bar, shoves with a knife-hand clutched roughly across the front of the other man's shirt, and shoves himself backward. Somebody who has sixty pounds jarrs a body-check against his back, flat shoes skidding, yelling, an arm around his neck.

Fortunately, by then he's already gotten his lighter out, leaving the knife to clatter onto the floor. Flink-flink. Third time's the charm, and the tiny metal rowel spits up a tiny tongue of flame. It wrinkles, once, haphazardly in the tumult of air, before a sinewy underhand flick sends it rattling merrily onto the bar.

The fight comes back to Danko in time for there to be a muted struggle against the hand that paws unexpected over his face, but ultimately it's too little too late. His fuzzy skull rebounds once against the damp and he slithers anti-climactically down to the floor once he's released, shoulders kept up against the bar back so that he's still hazily seated when a spark of flame goes sailing past overhead. Whoomph.

He's unfocused. Two sharp blows to the head in a matter of minutes — he doesn't realize his sleeve is on fire until he leans to reach for the glitter of his nearby knife. Shit. He strips it off with an understandable quickness, burning leather thumped once against the ground to smother out whatever the undressing part didn't. That his shoulder holster is exposed to the bar does not outwardly appear to concern him as he drags to his feet. Still conscious. Just keeps going and going and going.

Fear of fire is a little like fear of Evolved in some ways. Definitively negative emotions, programmed by culture and genetics, both. Both tend to drive people to distraction, which is convenient when you aren't on fire or visibly superpowered, and trying to get the Hell out.

Teo trips on something, slams into somebody shoulder-first, winds up plowing knees-and-elbows-first into the end of the exiting crowd with enough concussive force to crush a canine whine of protest out of his lungs. He swears impressively. Hauls his way through shimmery shirts and ribbed wifebeaters and a gogo boy while bouncers alternately hurtle at the fire and reel back from the fact that Danko's gun, nothing euphemismic, is staring them right in the face.

Sticky blood scrubbed ineffectively from his face with the back of his sleeve, Danko gives the nearest bouncer such a look that the younger man actually finds himself breaking off eye contact to see if his Boys have his back. …They don't. Even if they did, Emile's already moving to make his own exit in Teo's wake, charred jacket shrugged back on to screen the gun at his side out of sight as he goes. He doesn't have a lot of elbowing to do, either. People get the fuck out of his way.

When he finally pushes out through the nearest fire exit, contrary to the warning posted on the door, there's no alarm, and only those paying particular attention will see enough to note the way his hand creeps gingerly up after his shoulder in the instant before he vanishes.

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