Mad House Party


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Scene Title Mad House Party
Synopsis The Vanguard and Phoenix have a party. I'm not even shitting you. A worthy explanation: blame it on Abigail Beauchamp.
Date January 26, 2008

The Bronx — Abby, Alexander, and Teo's Former Apartment

It's not overly spacious, It's a New York area apartment. But it suits it's residents purposes. An open kitchen, crammed with all the accouterments needed to cook, a dining table shoved against the far wall with chairs tucked in. A living room with a fairly new red suede couch shoved up against a window and TV set opposite on a stand makes up the rest of the communal living area. It looks fairly newly occupied and the personal touches not put to it yet. Five doors down a hall lead to three separate bedrooms, a bathroom and linen closet. What's behind the doors remains a mystery unless one of the residents leaves a door open, though if someone knows the residents, the simple gold cross above one door indicates where the woman in this place lives.

Abigail Beauchamp was cooking all day. Teodoro Laudani helped a little, mostly toward the later part of the afternoon, but he has this other thing he's doing where the world's about to end in fire and germs so he spent a considerable amount of time with the speedboat, power tools and sheets of metal thick enough to slow the velocity of machine-gunfire so that they'll leave the rounds inside your torso instead of punching straight through. Hopefully, the Vanguard won't have machine guns. The probability is high! They will be fine. Give Teo enough time alone on the water and he starts talking to himself, and that is what his jokes sound like.

Whatever keeps you sane.

He returns by six; the guests are scheduled to arrive at seven; currently it is ten to. He is bringing out plates and cups from the cabinet, navigating around Abigail's industrious, last-minute bustling with care derived from the conviction that he will need most of his physicality and parts intact to finish off outfitting the boat tomorrow. Pila is squeaking away in the corner of the living room, her cage moved out of his bedroom when he decided she looked far too forlorn in the now-barren chamber.

Alexander got home early enough from his shift and his 'extracurricular' work to help with the cleaning and the prep. He's been silent, dry-mouthed and nervous in fact, pale despite the hints of windburn. Abby's shooed him out of the kitchen, and at that moment, he's putting on clean clothes - a pale blue dress shirt and dark pants, part of one of his bouncer's suits.

Abby looks like vintage housewife. Including ruffled apron. Her wrap around dress, little cross, matching flat, pink ruffled apron has been busy busy busy! Helena had spent the night and helped, and she was in her element. Between all of them there was perfectly mashed potatoes, a roast that was resting, ready for it's string to be cut and sliced by either Alexander or Teo when the moment was right. Asparagus was splurged on and almost ready to come out of steaming. All in a tizzy for their special guest. Even a table cloth to cover the table. Fresh flowers in the livingroom, everything's spotless. The end of the world is coming but damned if the apartment wouldn't' please even Mary Poppins. "She here yet?!"

Mary Poppins is not a cultural thing that Teo is familiar with. Americans. Glorifying domestic proficiency as if that ought to be a thing. Teo's brain isn't doing very well with noun precision right now, admittedly; he's a little worn out, his night's sleep having been abbreviated by Sonny's spate of insomnia and subsequent morning birdishness, although he was alert enough at least to forego argyle when dressing himself for this venture. He is peering at Abigail from over the dining table with a bemused expression. "Non, bella. She isn't here yet." He sorts out soup spoons, forks. "Where did Helena go? Do you want a drink of water?" The lattermost query was directed, inevitably, not at the manic Baptist but her paler, somewhat nauseated-looking counterpart. "Al?"

Alexander comes out of his bedroom, smelling of his own plain soap, buttoning up his shirt, hair still spiked with damp. "Yes?" he wonders, tone surprisingly mild. Well, no tie, but he is making an effort to look somewhat less thuggish than before. Not exactly meeting Teo's eyes, but he's got the good manners on, too.

"I think Helena went home to get some clothes. We're not the same size" Abby answers. Coming out from under the couch, a few killer dustbunny's attached to the cats back is scarlet. Looking for attention. Not happening. Abby's flying out of the kitchen, hair all back and neat, scooping up the cat. 'Scarlet. Lordy there you are, Bedroom. You can come out after, i'll let you have some roast" All gentle and kind, the blonde opens her bedroom door and WHOOSH, cat tossed onto her bed with both hands, letting the creature bounce, making sure it's fine before closing her door tight. "She'll be showing up, I'm sure. She want to meet your Aunt and meet Pila"

Teo is going to learn to hate it when Al gets out of the shower. Even if he isn't using the soap, Teo searches for any trace of it in the air, a reaction as automated as the jerk of a knee. "Water," he repeats, pointing Alexander in through the kitchen door. He refrains, somehow, from scowling as he says this. "She even put it in a pitcher.

"I think there's a few strawberries floating around in it, though, so if that's not your thing…" Tap. Obviously. Teo restrains himself from tossing an arm up as Abby goes past to deal with the cat, as if he is bracing against the fierce wind of her passage. All right. Maybe that degree of domestic enthusiasm warrants being made a thing of. "I didn't know Hel even fuckin' knew I had family in town. Other than Rommy— but he's gone now," he adds, a momentary falter of tone, righted out with a cough. "Sweet. What'd you tell her?"

Alexander doesn't smell like Lucrezia, no. Happily. That -might- have been part of the point of the shower. "What about it? You want me to bring it to the table? Or make one without strawberries in it?" he wonders, brow furrowed, as he leaves the top button undone. He's barefoot, funnily enough, not even socks on.

"They are strawberry FLORETTES!" Spoken in slight disgust that they're not appreciating her domesticity. "With lemon lily pads" Teo gets a flick of his ear with her middle and forefinger. "Language!" Abby's all queen of the roost right now. "If you want tapwater, you know where it is. Go open up the bottle of red wine, so it can breath. Helena found out from me last night and I invited her. We were talking and watching Mamma Mia"

Confusion darkens the knit of Teo's brow. "I asked you if you wanted a drin… you look ki— forget it." Somehow, he limits the exasperation in his voice so that it sounds like it is directed at himself. Which is probably at least partially the case, and fits well with the grimace he puts on his face when his head is drive-by flicked by the roost's reigning matriarch. "Florettes," he repeats in an ignoble mutter. "Language. Got it." He even counts them on two fingers suspended vaguely in the air. "Florettes, language. Florettes, lang— don't hit me, I'm a boy, I can't help it." He edges around the table to some approximation of safety, and glances at the door.

Alexander is palpably nervous, and pours himself some water from the filter pitcher in the fridge without replying. He chuckles at Abby and her affectations, but it's fond, rather than annoyed. This is all going to seem so pitiful to Lucrezia - their little threadbare efforts at celebration, but it's all done with the greatest of goodwill, at least.

Abby crosses her arms, looking at the two, a determined look on her face and narrowed eyes. "Dinner WILL be enjoyable. you will BOTH be on your best behavior and don't embarrass me" She starts to undo the strings of the apron, get it off, check and make sure everything is fine, flitting about the kitchen, get rid of this and that little speck of non existent dust. It has to be perfect, make sure that Lucrezia is happy with the treatment of her nephew.

Helena has arrived.

Helena knocks on the door, and even though it might be unlocked she doesn't open it. She's holding a plate in her hands, covered in blue-ish cellophane so the contents aren't quite apparent.

Teo goes to get the door. Flees to get the door, really. Wide-eyed with something like panic, he attaches his hand to the doorknob, flips the night-chain, and cracks it open with an expression of barely suppressed laughter, shiny-eyed, lips constrained around a thin line. He can't help it. He's tired. And he's known Lucrezia for, literally, all his life: the fact that she manages to intimidate anybody is honestly beyond him. His ego is strange in its sturdiness. "Buona sera, Auntie," he says to Helena, his cheek twitching as if compelled by epilepsy. He waggles his eyebrows at Helena. "Thank you for coming. Everybody is excited to see you."

Alexander peers out of the kitchen. He's in a pale blue dress shirt, dark slacks. Fairly dressy for him, really. And then he dissolves into a mock scolding look, once he realizes it's Helena. "Hey, you," he says, more comfortably. "Come on in." Nevermind the awkward so about to ensue.

Helena is wearing a dress. Okay? It's white and bares her shoulders and has little flowers embroidered on it and it's pretty and everything. She's got the plate cradled carefully in her arms. "I am so not your aunt." she informs him loftily as she breezes in. "Abby?" she calls out, "I brought mini-quiche and cookies!" Odd combination. "Hey, Alex." she beams.

"Teo! Ugh" Its Helena, nonetheless loved. "Come in Hel. I'm about to brain Teo. Everythings turned out good. Thank you for helping this morning" Helena gets a wrap around of the blonde's arms while teo gets a loving scowl for his antics. "Bring it in. I have angelfood cake ready. Fresh strawberrys, I found FRESH strawberries and I have some whipped cream so I think we're good, just waiting on her. Everyones going to have to sit where they can. Just put it on table there!"

Lucrezia has arrived.

Amato has arrived.

Timing. It's everything. Especially when arriving or departing from a social event. And, as per usual, Lucrezia isn't inclined to be the early bird but rather function on a fashionably late schedule. It isn't until a solid FIFTEEN minutes after the appointed hour that the Italian woman can even be bothered to make the leisurely stroll from towncar to lobby and then down the narrow corridors found in Siann Hall right up to the appropriate number and, with wine bottle in one hand, she raps the leather-gloved knuckles of the other against the door.

Lucrezia's shadow, like her, is also Italian, though that is possibly the only trait they share in entirety.
The man behind her, who shall be known as Benjamin for this particular outing, is dressed down in comparison to what he might have chosen to wear in different circumstances: a button-up shirt and tie of modest white and blue respectively are worn beneath a paler blue sweater that matches his icy eyes, paired with dark gray pants and matte black shoes. His face is a darker blue than his shirt, bordering on purple at this point, but near the line his mussed blond hair draws he could be described as pale. Bandages cover cuts on the left side, but the focal point is undoubtedly the bandage that holds his noise in alignment. Still wearing his coat, the silent shadow of a man does his best to subtly keep his right wrist above the wool garment's cuff.

Helena has since escaped to the kitchen, so she may miss the grand entrance. "Fresh strawberries? I'm jealous. Well not so much, since I assume I'm one of the people who get to eat them." She carefully unwraps the double stacked plate, placing them side by side - mini-quiche, lovingly made, on one, chocolate and butterscotch chip cookies also made with care, on the other. "So I'm pretty sure that is Teo's aunt." in reference to the knock. "Unless it's a Jehovah's Witness."

"His aunt, is decidedly not a Jehovah's witness" Abby whispers to Helen, Teo obviously doens't need to be hissed at again. "she was being fed chocolate by Al, when I first met her. she's very beautiful" Make everything perfect. tweak the stack of plates and turn to face the door. "She's going to hate dinner. Watch, she'll be a vegetarian. Teo will have lied, and i'll be a laughing stock" She's already picturing it all as disaster.

Teodoro had shut the door behind Helena with a good-natured word of assent, a hand out, palm-up, to help carry her gifts of blue cellophane and intriguing ingredients. The knock behind him elicits a turn, an inquisitive tilt of his head; he steps forward, deaf to the whispered hysteria of Abigail Beauchamp behind him and gently ignoring Alexander's inevitable reaction, drawn forward by the same look of uncharacteristically quiescent, ignorant pleasure that had drawn him through Persian-floored drawing rooms when Lucrezia sent dragonflies to bring him to the couch. He cracks the door open. Looks at her, first; Amato, second. He doesn't stare, but he doesn't forget to think about what he sees.

"Welcome," he says, granting them both egress, a grin crooking his mouth. He gestures at the patchwork band of young people and the setting: button shirts, dresses, a caged budgie in the corner, food in the kitchen, flowers. "My former home, my friends."

Alexander's smile is surprisingly tremulous, and it makes him look far younger than before, despite the ghosts of the scars from Eileen's avian companions around his eye. "Welcome," he echoes, coming fully into the living room. He's forgotten, funnily enough, that he's barefoot. And then there's Amato, who gets a confused look, before his gaze darts to Lucrezia, in clear and trusting expectation of an explanation.

"If she's such a paragon, even if the food's poisonous she'll smile and say it's lovely." Helena says softly to Abby. With a grin, she goes to meet the goddess. Emerging from the kitchen, she's a young woman with a fall of blonde hair and a white dress with embroidered flowers, straps crossing over bared shoulders. The tattoo's top tips peek out at the back. "Hello, hello!" she says brightly as she crosses the few feet to end up next to Teo, reaching out to fit one of his hands into hers. "Teo, introductions, please."

And suddenly everything just ratchets up in volume about two notches as Lucrezia greets her nephew with an arm swung over his shoulder and her free hand pressed up against his stubbly cheek with a very audible 'MWUAH! MWUAH!' of Europeans saying their hellos. "Ciao, carino!" Yes. She's very happy to see him, though she can't help but tease, "Former home? Well, then I guess this isn't for you…" //This being the bottle of expensive red wine, which she summarily hands over to Abby and then treats the girl to much the same salutation as the one Teo received. Kissed cheeks before you can blink. "Ciao, bella! Is that your cooking I smell?? Bravissima!" And then she's off, again, to greet Alexander and, hey, what do you know, there's kissing. "Cucciolo mio…" she croons to the ginger-haired lad before turning on Helena. The blonde — the other blonde — is thankfully spared the sudden assault of Lucrezia's luscious lips, if only because they haven't been properly introduced yet. Wait for it. It's coming.

Oh, and that battered and bruised excuse for a man she's got in tow? He doesn't even get a batted eyelash just yet. He's forced to fend for himself while she makes her hellos. Poor Benjamin.

Abigail hasn't forgotten. She spots the lack of socks and her eyes widen. "Helena… he's barefoot" a whisper hiss to the other blonde. already the blonde seems near siezure as Helena departs to greet Lucrezia. Hopeless. She can't tell al to get socks on, becuase there's an invasion of her personal space and wine thrust into her hands. "Good evening Ms. benatti. Everyone helped. Not just mine" And then there's Amato. poor Amato, or Benjamin. Abaigail shoves the wine into whatever hand is opposite the one that she needs to shake Benjamin's good hand. 'Abigail. A pleasure to meet you. Come in. You look like you could use some sitting instead of standing at the door and all the greeting, we should get you comfortable" As comfortable as he can get. She resists the urge to turn on her gift. "That's Helena Ms. Benatti. A friend. helena, that's Teo's Aunt, Ms. Lucrezia Benatti. She's an actress from europe" Someones been doing her homework!

Poor Benjamin indeed. But like Rachel's second son and Joseph's favorite brother, this Benjamin stays silent in the wake of louder 'family members.' It might be said that he attempts a smile, the way his battered and bandaged flesh moves on his face, but it is hard to tell for sure as he lingers by the door even after it has been closed again.

Luckily for him, as Abigail approaches, he has already stepped up to take Lucrezia's coat in his only visible hand, tossing it over the same arm. Thus, when the blonde southerner tries to shake his hand, he is occupied. "Don't trouble yourself," he says in a sweet enough American accent (though there is a somewhat groggy quality to it), quiet and respectful and not the sort that would interfere at all with another's evening. "Painkillers are beautiful things."

"She's a Registered healer," Teo says, some trouble changing the knit in his brow when Benjamin speaks and maneuvers into and around the small space that serves as foyer without knocking over the glass tube of lilies perched there. He shuts the door behind their guest of honor and her— apparent date, turns around in time to see his aunt do her various and sundry to everybody else, which manages to disconcert him very obviously for about two minutes before a wry smile plucks the corner of his mouth. Whatever keeps you sane. It's the time of year for gallow's humor. He puts out his hand to take Lucrezia's coat from the older man; doesn't retract it until he has both of theirs. "Please have a seat. If you like, you can yell at any one of us— we can keep your plate full."

Well, Lucrezia is presumably like her nephew, and prone to picking up strays of all kinds. "I'm Alexander," Al says, gently moving to pull out a chair for Amato, solicitous. "Pleased to meet you," HE extends a hand to the blonde man - towards the actual one. He's enough of a vet to recognize the attempts to make an amputation less obvious.

Helena has the breeding of a Sleepy Hollow housewife, she gives Abby a placid look regarding Alex's apparent lack of footwear. Just ignore it, and everyone else will. Since Abigail makes introductions in lieu of Teo, Helena nontheless offers Lucrezia a smile. "Signora Benatti, it's a pleasure. I've heard so much about you." Benjamin is greeted with a warm smile and nod, but well, he's complete newness to her. Helena braces for lip impact.

In three, two, one, slow motion — Lucrezia's lips greet Helena's cheeks with much more gentility than she made allowance for with anyone else because, well, you just do not greet people roughly the first time around. (You save it for the second date, right, Alexander?) The older woman's smiles is still nearly ear to ear as she sheds her coat and becomes at once a less layered and yet much more complex creature in the room. She's clad in remarkably expensive casual clothes. That sweater, wide enough in the neck to be swimming down around her shoulders, worn in such a way as to allow for an ample glimpse of one but not the other, probably cost more than all the furniture currently crowded into the living room — and God forbid she get anything on it; it'll become a pashmina dustrag. Once she's seen to all of her salutations, she gravitates back again to Ama— Benjamin's side. The mention of Abby being a 'Registered healer' does not escape her notice and she gives her companion's arm a gentle touch before bouncing those big brown eyes between the other boys in the room. "What do you have for us tonight, hm?"

Helenas look is calming. Till Teo opens his mouth and there's a frown, but it's washes away, just like that. "I am. I would offer to help you, if you want it. After dinner. If you want it. I understand if you don't" Abigail smiles even wider then. "Well. Food is on the table everyone I apologize we don't have a bigger table. Maybe next time! For now, it's serve yourself, i'll get drinks for everyone. There's prime rib umm, potatoes carrots salad, green bean casserole, Helenas quiesh, cornbread, pie, umm, cookies. Bathroom is down the hall, first door on the right. Let me take that jacket Mister…" Benjamin wasn't introduced, or she didn't hear the introduction at least. "I can go hang it up, and yours, if you like"

Benjamin relinquishes both coats to Teo without a fuss, but it becomes clear once his own is shed that there is a stark absence at the end of his right arm. "All the more reason not to waste such a gift," is all he whispers in response to Teo, Lucrezia, and Abby, his face turning dark amidst his injuries for a moment. The stump is bandaged well, however, and the man moves his good hand to his right forearm, grasping it in self-consciousness as he nods and smiles his way toward the offered chair with Lucrezia at his side, taking a moment to pull the one next to it out for her. He stops before sitting down, however taking a moment to survey Alexander.

He's seen this man before, though through eyes that…

Beneath that purple and white mask of Benjamin Sall, Amato tightens his jaw and grits his teeth. Nodding once, he offers his hand in return, though it looks as if he were bracing for something. Then again, who wouldn't be hesitant to shake another man's hand when you only have one?

Italians are immune to awkwardness. Thank God for that. Encumbered by new coats, Teo waves Abby off, reassurance that he has it covered and she can go back to flipping out about everything else, if she likes.

Teodoro turns toward the narrow closet door, unsticks it with a practiced kick of his foot (perhaps to the horror of the slight Southern belle) and wrests it open by the knob. Hanging the garments requires easy precision, with only a quaver-beat's pause when he realizes that Miss Beauchamp actually replaced the usual clatter of wire hangers with a handful of wooden ones specifically for this occasion. He wrinkles his nose, takes a deep breath to quell his laughter. Turns back in time to see Amato and Alexander almost—

"Come on, leave him be," he says, inserting himself bodily into the handclasp. There's a glance over his shoulder at the telekinetic, too much a plea to be attributed easily to the limitless other problems that exist between the estranged friends. "Mi dispiace." And then he's apologizing to Amato already, a smile in place, beatific. "It's hard to look at. If we make you feel uncomfortable, throw cutlery or something. It's an ice-breaker, back home."

While Al is numbered among Lucrezia's sins, and thus she among his, that's far from the worst. Poor Amato. It's a violent litany he gets in the few instants before Teo's suddenly in the way like an obstreperous puppy. Al's face is irritated, as he ungently shoulders the Sicilian out of the way.

Helena's dress that she was so proud of, now makes Helena feel vaguely grubby and girlish in comparison to the voluptuous and effervescent Lucrezia. Who has been nothing but kind and polite thus far. "Abby's worked very hard all through the day." she comments, though her continued conversation is abbreviated by the scuffle. With a swiftness that would do her late mother proud, she murmurs an "excuse me" and sort of inches herself into the space between Teo and Alexander. "As I was saying, Abby's worked so hard all day, and if neither of you try my quiche, it'll be a travesty. So avoid making two girls cry and go have some food, boys." She gives them a pointed Look. Be good, children, or mama will turn the car around. "Here, I'll finish with the coats." says the petite young woman.

Lucrezia's perfectly plucked brows fret as she watches Alexander and Amato engage in what might have been a perfectly acceptable salutation had it not been for Teo's abruptly aggressive form of intervention. When Helena then chooses to excuse herself from the older woman's company for the sake of playing… peacekeeper? …Lucrezia is left to entertain herself with the amazing and adorable Abby! Registered healer and slave to the stove! "Delizioso," says the Italian woman, finding her way back into her seat and giving the food on the table the whole of her consideration. "Teodoro," she abruptly barks in a tone that insists she's certainly not to be fucked with in this brief moment of authority. "Sit down. Enjoy this nice meal your Abby made for us." Yes, it's an ethnic stereotype that just so happens to be true in this case — deal with it!

"You will not throw cutlery!" Comes Abigails admonishment, shocked that he'd even joke about it. This is not the kind of dinner she had imagined. Sultry european actress's, american evolved and non evolved terrorists, batters and handless men. All it needs now is for scarlet to start whining. Thank heavens the cat doesn't. Abigails disappears into the kitchen, still in view of everyone, time to deposit the new bottle of wine, presumably something more expensive than they would ever buy, and gathering mismatched wine glasses to start pouring the already open wine for everyone. Oblivious to whats happening behind her.

Though Teo's intrusion is quick, it is plenty of time for images and sounds to fly across Benjamin's - Amato's - mind. They aren't nearly as clear as they have been in the past, but more akin to the jerky sort of cinematography sometimes used in horror films for glimpses of memories or the brief and terrible invasion of ghosts. He winces, keeping his eyes open the entire time and therefore having a stranger experience than in the past, though the mental distraction provided by the pain definitely helps.

He sinks into his seat, determined to enjoy the meal as best he can. Under the table, however, his left hand moves to briefly grip Lucrezia's pant-clad thigh, as if in placation for support. "Everything looks lovely," he offers after a breath that makes him wince, though his tone is for all accounts sincere.

And just like that, Teo sits down. Plunk. What. Who? "I—" was trying to figure out how I had spontaneously invited half the Vanguard over for dinner, mostly, and interfere with his best friend shaking hands with a man he suspects is a psychometrist? Fortunately all theoretical members of the mutinous half? In theory? Not information he's willing to volunteer aloud, for the impossible knot of loyalties that it frames. His movement into the chair hadn't looked entirely voluntary. He has the good grace to redden upon completing the journey. He hangs his head, squints up through the strandy shadows of his hair at Abby. Wine would be fucking great.

Alexander obediently takes a seat, brow furrowed in bewilderment. He was trying to be friendly, and instead he's done something terrribly gauche, apparently. Poor Amato gets the Cliffs notes version of Al's Iraq war record, all utterly unbeknownst to the redhead. He contents himself with giving Lucrezia one of those patently adoring looks.

Helena, seeming at a loss, drifts toward Teo, putting a hand on his shoulder and bending to murmur into his ear. She continues to wear a pleasant smile, the smile she learned from her mother when she was forced to entertain her husband's houseguests and throw the auto dealership Christmas party. "Is everyhing alright?" she asks, and manages to take on the quality of purr her mother would always query her father with, too. The smile is tenatively directed at Lucrezia, the proverbial guest of honor. "You and Alex need to behave, or Abby and I will sit on the both of you." she remarks softly. Alexander turned into a puppy is almost painful to watch, and Helena's hand briefly brushes the back of Teo's neck. "Can I bring anyone something from the kitchen?" Where Abby is, as mentioned, presently enslaved.

Is Teo sitting down? Good. Then everyone else in the room may live. Lucrezia recklessly slings one of her most brilliant and genuine smiles across the table to her boy — her boy, Teodoro — and then slides a sly wink in there at the end to Alex just before she turns away to say something softly in her companion's ear. Her posture suggests a confidence meant to be reassuring and a comfort rather than strictly intimidating. Once whatever words are to be had transpire, she bids the absent girls, "Helena, Abby… come. Sit. Eat. Everyone."

Abby's coming, wine glasses settled here and there for everyone. Not enough seats at the table but there's more than enough chairs throughout the small livingroom. There's a grateful glance to helena and in turn to Lucrezia and her authratative instructions for everyone to eat. Wine, wtare, whatever it is that anyone wants, Abby's there to pour and eventually, she herself is getting a plate once others have thier, so she can eat too. Content, happy, thrilled that the dinner is looking like it might not be a failure.

There is the reassurance of girl-hands on Teo and the look from his darling zia that used to inflate his tiny chest with enough pride to— come dangerously close to qualifying that as his cardinal sin, out of the seven available. It could be worse. Helena's gentle flirtations warrant a fragment of a grin that manages to look more whole than broken.

He drags the weather witch up a chair with a foot hooked around its leg, proceeds to be courteous, thankful, and as discreet as he's physically capable of. It could be harder. Surrounded by friends and family, however supernaturally dysfunctional the conglomerate may be, he spends the minutes he has not specifically having fun then appreciating, at least, the fact that he's armed. He has to insist they do not put too many pieces of salad in Pila's cage: she is, after all, a very small bird and it'll all turn bad before she can get through it.

Afterward, Lucrezia insists he leave with them. He forgets entirely to look puzzled, retrieves their coats, dispenses hugs and promises to return in time to help with dishes if he can. Spends a brief moment by the remaining margin of gap in the door, almost closed, his hand on the knob, looking at the knot of Phoenix operatives and the hapless healer from over his shoulder. His expression changes. He closes up his erstwhile home and turns to trail his erstwhile enemies down the narrow hallway.

"It's nice to finally meet you," he tells the one-handed man.

From the OOC Lounge when discussing the thought of the scene and what would happen at the end:

Abby says, "and Lucrezia and Abby will be sitting there going "You know, [Teo]'s heart's been broken"
"Yup. [Alex]'s screwing you"
"Well, can you blame him?"
"Nope, you're a very beautiful woman. If I was a guy and didn't have morals, I would too."
"That's nice, how thoughtful and kind, I like your coat."
"Thank you, Teo bought it for me, matches NOTHING ELSE that I own."

This is the conversation between Lucrezia and Abigail while Alexander and Teo bicker and fight and throw stuff at each other.

January 26th: A Step
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