Marry Me


delilah2_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Marry Me
Synopsis Teo had asked months ago, originally, but Delilah's intriguing counter-offer required him to take some time. And now, it is time.
Date May 16, 2019

Bay Ridge, New York Safezone: Delilah and Walter's Home

This time, it's early morning. The sunlight is greyed out, filtered by a thickness of clouds, but the air is balmier than you'd expect, not too badly cold. Smells vaguely of springtime. Nature persists, where humans have fucked up and been fucked.


But Walter has already left the building, a regular participant in the New York City educational system, and given every advantage by his mother's considerable reputation with the local powers. The timing was entirely intentional. Teodoro Laudani knows this well enough, even if he had to triple-check his own calendar to remind himself that there wasn't some kind of "obscure" American holiday that fell on this arbitrary Wednesday. He has a plan, and it involves talking to Delilah if she happens to be free. Or if she allows him to trail after her through her errands and work today, if not. Or after her errands and work, if she doesn't mind. (He hadn't wanted Walter to be distracted at school; he wants Walter to come home to good news.)

He stands outside the door, his black coat pulled up tight under his chin. His breath dispeling transparent in the air.

The ring and its tiny velvet box seems to be making his roller bag heavier. He tries not to think of it, but can only think of it. He regards the door in silence for a moment, then raises his fist.

Knock knock.

Morning may be chilly, but in short order there will be sun behind clouds, and a warm tinge that comes around to the air. Grass is newly green, and reedy plants push defiantly through the cracked sidewalks and once-upon-a-time lawns. There isn't a housing committee that cares enough to enforce old upkeep rules; Delilah's tiny front lawn is the same, in most ways. Less dandelions, more forget-me-nots and hyacinth. A bleeding heart. Bumblebees putter around like balls of oblivious fuzz, content to ignore humans.

It is quiet in the house for once; no toys to trip over, no little boys scampering, no feet pounding on steps. Just the pat-pat of softer soled shoes as Delilah gets to the door and opens it, bouncing out into a hug, practically one motion.

"I thought you'd be here later!" A bit of puzzle is in her voice, and a half-smile brightens her face. There's a touch of a grimace. "I was hoping to get my hours at the market first." The silent question here is whether or not he'd actually be okay following her around after all. "God, I'm so happy to have someone here for something normal for once…"

Things have been. Weird lately.

"I'd love to come," Teo says immediately, because it's true. He slides the luggage in past her, lengthening his arm to make sure it goes inside the building while he continue to stand outside of it. It also gives him the excuse of stretching out his limbs past her, so that, you know, he can actually get them around her. "No jetlag. Thank melatonin tablets for that. Hi. You look pretty." He brushed his teeth last night, sleeping on Francois' couch. He's fresh as a daisy, or at least, not smelly as he leans over and kisses her on the cheek.

"Where are we going first?"

Yes. That's right. Teodoro Laudani doesn't even need to settle in first; he's going to be perfectly amenable and accommodating this visit. (He is not going to be perfectly amenable and accommodating this visit, but he can't tell the future, so he doesn't know that yet.) (He has a family to get to Sicily, all right.) He leans his shoulder on the doorframe, shifts his weight to one leg. Looks at her, the dawn brightening on his face. They could be in a romcom movie. Things always have to be a little weird, or there would be no movie. (He doesn't know how weird things are going to get, but that's neither of their jobs; that would be a different kind of movie.)

"Hi. You say that all the time." It still makes her happy to hear it, though, and the kiss on the cheek makes it a certified compliment. Delilah takes a moment to let his presence sink in, and it's clear that she needs the moment of grounding, so to speak. "Thankfully I can get what I need and finish my alterations in the same place, so we won't be completely wandering…"

Delilah slides away for a moment into the entryway to grab an umbrella and her small purse, crossing it over her chest as she hops back out. For the weather she's dressed light, just jeans and a breezy sweater, hair down in a carefree wave. May wind picks at it, and she pauses to sweep her hair out of her mouth. Yes, rom-com material.

"Red Hook. Usually I ride my bike, but we could walk… or… I suppose there's the Impala." Brown eyes dart to the back of the house. "Gas is pricey but I haven't driven it lately." Dee holds a knuckle against her mouth when she snickers over it. Tempting.

Teo is ever so slightly heavier-dressed. Violating all the gender norms! But it's warming up today, gradually, as the sun tiptoes its way higher into the sky, which is clear and cloudless. He'll have to doff the coat at some point, once the longitudinal chill of the night burns off proper, opens out bird song and fresh floral growth into the sky. Teo doesn't mind right now, the wind still biting the tips of his ears. "Do you wanna drive us around in your Impala?" he asks, grinning at her, her cheer infectious. "I can hang out of the passenger side like a scrub." 90s music. He's dating himself.

And trying to marry Delilah Trafford, so that tracks.

"I'd like to see the Impala," is Teo's vote, after a moment's thought. "I'll take a picture of you in it." It'll be for the summer catalogue that exists in popular run and major publication inside his head and his heart. She always looks like a picture, you know. Hair like that. She looks like something someone made up in a computer to illustrate a Robert Frost poem.

"Are you going to holla anyone?" Delilah lifts her brows and leads him around the house with a laugh. "I could always do the pinup thing again!" She can almost read his mind. The car is covered with a heavy tarp, which she sweeps up over the hood.

"Magnes left it to me years ago, never got it til last year… And now he's back and can pretty much fly anywhere he likes, so… Keeping it safe now I guess?" The explanation is pretty concise for all that it encompasses. The Magnes situation is complicated; though he is away right now, later on Teo will notice the signs that he's been crashing there. Small ones, but apparent. A friend in need.

A hand runs over the hood before flipping the rest of the cover. The shiny black is a little less shiny, but it's still a classic car in remarkable shape. Storages in the war sort of went unbothered. People were a little preoccupied. Delilah pops the hood and leans down to reach past the engine block. “Lovely, innit?" She stands up after digging a bit, a key in hand. Old habits- - like having go-bags in the house.

"Fuckin' gorgeous, tesoro." It is lovely. And fun to watch her talk about it, handle the vehicle, for some reason. Teo watches her. It feels strangely ordinary, as if in the backdrop, the rest of the United States isn't a seething hotbed of political uncertainty, revival, inscrutable Wolfhound operations, people dying and coming back to life. A pretty kind of ordinary. "Do you have the license and vehicle registration, or should I be ready to make a cash bribe?"

Then he reaches over to help her put the hood down, once the keys are retrieved. Stoops down to snatch up the tarp, fold it backward over the roof of the car, then fold that section over again. "Not that they have military energy to spare for running plates these days, I guess." Another firm pull, and then the last of the tarp comes loose. Teo's worked on enough boats, in his combined lifetime, to know his way around vehicle covers and the like. He punches the loose square of plastic in the middle before making the final fold, producing a square that's conveniently small. "Pop the trunk and I'll put it in."

They make a good team. With untarping cars. There's a metaphor in there, somewhere. "How's Mag, anyway?" He has wondered, more than once, if YOUNG VARLANE was in fact the one she had been talking about, referring too indirectly, in the course of their discussions about her romantic. Preferences.

"You make it sound like I'm some kind of rebel." Delilah pops the trunk door and smirks over the edge at Teo. "I have everything taken care of, as much as can be said of the department of transportation anymore." The ordinary pretty doesn't escape her sights either, a breath pulling in crisp air while she moves some items aside to cram the cover in. The bottom of the trunk looks modified in the way of hiding places, and she has a spare tire on top. A spade, some tiedowns… a mostly empty container of salt. "The hell?" Anyway- -

"Magnes is…" Lilah considers her words, eyes a little sad as she slides into the driver's seat, door still open. Her words are softer. "Not very well. That's part of why he asked to stay a while. I'm a safe space, and he's… Been through a lot in the last few years. I don't know what else I can tell you… something something government NDA?" It's clear she wants to explain. Yet.

"Jolene and Lance brought Walter back from the radio station the other day- - and told me that he was talking about- - what happened. I have absolutely no idea where he heard it, unless he was listening in. So even if I don't say… Watch it." Delilah laughs, a smile blooming back. She warned him, at least.

"If you already know some of it I can fill you in on the way?"

Oh right. That old nugget. Teo shuts the trunk then rounds the back of the car, swinging himself into the passenger seat. Incidentally, he has not renewed his New York driver's license. He kind of tried, but man, bureaucracy around here was a shitsty for a few years and it was fairly difficult to get paperwork done overseas, even with his clones' 'war hero' shine. Nobody cares about driver's licenses, Mr. Sicily.

Teo puts on his seatbelt.

"The other Teo told me a little about it," he says. By now, he can say 'the other Teo' without it being extraordinarily odd or ironic. "Liz and Magnes went through a hole in space and time and ended up traipsing through a half-dozen timelines, right? I don't know too many details besides that." He takes out his phone, in the meantime, rubbing the lens on his sleeve a moment before he turns the device toward her. Thumbing the camera up, he focuses the viewfinder on her, the sunshine in her fire-colored hair, how confident her hands are on the steering wheel. "Smile."

"Mountain Man? God, I haven't seen him in a while now…" Delilah fastens herself in, a thoughtful distance flickering over her face. Maybe she ought to. She doesn't know how ironic this thought is, of course. "But yeah- - there's not much detail past that." Teo 2.0 hit the big points. "It was rough on them. He has a daughter, she was taken from him, it's a precarious situation- - so I think being able to hang around Walter has helped him a lot…"

Her talking seems to trail off just before Teo coaxes her into saying cheese; she lifts her gaze to him and his camera, brows up and smile wide. Her inside elbow perches back on the seat, the other arm still firm on the wheel. Pinup poses are a go-to, apparently. Regardless- - Delilah is beaming, and happy, and much of it seems to be his presence. The rest, maybe the sunshine's doing, sweeping away the grayer clouds.

"Maybe you can impress on il bambino the importance of NDAs and stuff he shouldn't talk about. Cause with me he just gets all 'but you get to talk about it!'" Dee's impression of her son is spot on, even as she is starting up the car and giving it a testing rev. The growl feels nice, and she wheels the Impala around to slink from its hiding spot onto the road.

"He …already wants to do things that matter. And I know I shouldn't worry about letting him do things like play sleuth at the Radio station, but… I know where it all goes, you know? He has wings, blah blah, time to spread them a little, something something, builds character…"

"Yeah, I do know," says Teo. Not actually from personal experience exactly, considering that his impetus to participate in World Justice and freedom fighting was mostly some kind of deranged semi-religious redemption arc. But he is a human rights lawyer in the European Union, and he sees heroes step in it every day. As well as heroes do an astonishingly good job.

Many of whom are human rights lawyers, incidentally. But Teo has no desire to push his son in that direction, either; the kid's eight. It's way too fucking early for pushing. "I'll talk to him," he says, studying her picture in his phone. "I think it's probably less of a matter of not being able to talk to anyone about it, and the only talking about it to certain people. I guess, not the public city radio employees of New York." He smiles. Stuffs his phone back inside his jacket. "The can-fly list includes mom, Magnes, RayTech, Liz, and maybe a Mountain Man. Who's shaggy ass is back in town, I've heard.

"Maybe it'll be easier for Walter to hear if he has some good news to take it with." Teo stretches an arm out over the car door. Nonchalant. There is more to be said about time travel, his clone, everything else, probably. But

u no.

Heroes stepping in it is just what worries her the most. Delilah smiles slightly when he affirms her concern, knowing what it means and all; she keeps her eyes on the road, a glance here and there, attention not pulled for long. "Thanks."

For planning to talk, that is. A laugh bubbles forth at the further description of Mountain Teo, a pinch of brows upwards slanted across the seats at his counterpart. Back in town, huh?

"Are you planning to see him?" Naturally curious. The hanging out the window like the scrub he said he was going to be is expected; he's the dog here, not her! "You probably talk more than we would, huh…?" Dee mulls a moment over the last time she did see him, the last time she saw Francois, the last time either of them saw Walter… There's no time for it to make her too sad, thoughts angling away at Teo's words. "Yeah? What kind of good news? A sibling?"

"I'm kidding, kidding- -" before he can say much to that. Her face scrunches in a giggle, even if she's not completely against the idea. (Not anytime soon, though.) ((With her luck, they'd have Walter Sr.'s talent for invading people's timelines.)) (((Oops.)))

Teo starts smiling. Foolishly. Complete fucking scrub. But what is he supposed to do? She wants to have more kids. With him. That's pretty fucking amazing. Makes him think he should just say it. Which makes him think he should've brought the fucking ring, but that's hindsight for you.

"I'm pretty sure we should get married first."

There. It's out in the world, escaping like the contents of Pandora's box but inversed. Something beautiful, if you ask Teo. Something he's happy for, even if it's not easy or simple; nothing worth having in life ever is. "I already told him about it. Both of them." Fucking Ghost is still a dick, but he deserves to know when major events that might affect his legal identity. "I'm not sure he wants to see me. I think he's still kind of avoiding, even though he came down from the mountain. But if you marry me, I'm sure we could make him come." Teo makes his voice light as the warming air that skims over the car. The sunlight lifts the faintest prickle off the skin of his arms.

"I'm not kidding," Teo clarifies, gently.

Getting that dopey smile out of him is too easy. Might honestly be one of her favorite moves. The Impala rambles upriver towards Red Hook, drifting past small construction zones and a busy little playpark; at the former are a handful of the bumblebee-mannered Yamagato robots, puttering around dutifully and unobtrusively. A public bus rattles past, not yet replaced by one of the shinier, electric models. The sky is blue and spring sits in buttercups along the roadsides. One more day, really.

Dee chuckles awkwardly at 'both of them'. Sometimes she swears on her life she sees Ghost out there in the wilderness of the Safe Zone- - but whenever she takes that second glance there is nobody to be found. Maybe she just wanted to see that shared face outside of her head.

"You're not- -" Thankfully there is only one car lagging behind them when Delilah brakes some. A cursory boop-boop behind her makes sure she doesn't actually stop the car. Her mouth parts, stuck a moment in an 'oh' before she comes back to her head; brown eyes brighten in her glances to him from the road, smile flushed with something she couldn't describe if prompted.

"How dare you do this while I'm driving." It's not a real scolding, of course. Red hair flutters against her neck and cheek from the open window's breeze, doing nothing to obscure her smile. The drive to the Red Hook Market isn't a particularly long one; the shape of it already lurks at the end of the road ahead, marked by parked cars, a buggy, a casual stream of patrons.

"So you really…? I know you wanted to think about things- - Right, you already said not kidding," the last murmured to herself. "I wasn't sure what you'd decide." Delilah confides, smiling over.

And Teo hadn't been sure what he would decide, either. But decide he did. Decide he has. And he has no regrets about it today, as robots (!!) swing by in his periphery. (What even is New York City. Seriously. If Sicily had the funds…) "I thought. And I really," he says. "And I dare." Do this while she drives, that is. While also doing his best impression of a scrub. And he really means it.

And Teo also: really thought about it too. For months.

Maybe he is slightly jetlagged. Abruptly, the day feels faintly unreal. How far away is Red Hook? Maybe Red Hook is at the precise distance measured by forever away. He wouldn't mind, except that that would put an eternity between himself and his son.

"I know you might want to see other people, and you want me to be able to do the same. I can do that, and still make sure that you and Walter come first, in all the ways you're supposed to." Someone might have done A Little Reading, on the matters of primary relationships, new relationship energy, the sundry details both buzzwordy and theoretically common sense. There's a lot to read. "Then there are the matters of Sicily, the distance. And in all cases, I'm also given to understand that communication is pretty key, so. Voila." He motions with his other hand in the air between them.

He dares, huh? Delilah's laugh is rosy, and so is her face; scrub or not, he's her scrub, alright? Her lips pull inward, a moment of self-stifling thought, brown eyes still full of questions- - but ones she doesn't need to ask. She probably knows the answers anyway. Like, telling the difference between his puzzling months back, and the familiarised tone he has now. He did exactly as he promised he'd do.

Delilah made sure he knew it wasn't about fun, and just about knowing one another, and a trust that they would put each other first. And he understands. It's something she had hoped for, yet when she parks the Impala along the series of other vehicles, bikes, scooters- - Dee still has a laugh and a rub of knuckle against the corner of an eye.

"Aw hell," Another laugh, "Voila." Seatbelt unfastening with a clack, Teo's vision is filled with the fluff of red hair and the smell of a flower- - faint and sweet like honeysuckle or myrtle. They can hash out the details about Sicily after all this. And again when the EU calms down, and whenever else. Delilah's arms around his neck, she plants a kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Ti amo."

There are times that Teodoro thinks he isn't the one that she deserves. That she deserves…

…a hero who wears kevlar armor instead of a suit, who keeps unpermitted guns in addition to their legal firearms because they are the sentinel legion that stand between civilization and its downfall. Ghost makes fun of him, you know. For pushing paper, as a lawyer. Even if that paper saves hundreds of children from forced Registration, unscrupulous testing, and their families from invasive surveillance and exploitation in the games of politics. The other Teo doesn't talk shit to him about it, but sometimes, somehow, that feels even worse. The long-suffering silence of one of the United States of America's war heroes.

There are times that Teodoro Laudani doesn't know whether he's more grateful to them or resentful. If he should be indifferent to the lives of these 'others,' the decisions they made without him but in ways on his behalf, or merely proud of their work. There are times that he suspects that they face the same odd paradox from the other side, and guess that Francois Allegre was right to wish that the hybrid had never split himself into three.

And there are other times when Teo forgets the other ones. He finds himself alone and singular experience, chosen not by God or by fate or by anything else that used to draw him his map through life in red violence, but by himself and those who love him best. This is one of those times. Sunshine makes Delilah's eyelashes copper and the fabric of her sleeve warm under his fingers. He kisses her back, of course. He doesn't mind talking about Sicily later; he has news to share, about the roadblocks they've built against the EUSR. The American refugees settling there. Life will always have its paradoxes. "Do you ever get scared," he asks, "thinking you might actually get everything you want?"

Teo doesn't think so. She's never seemed like that. That's more of a Teo problem; one that partly explains the ghost's lurking in the background of Delilah's life, and the hybrid's steadfast fear of turning good things into ashes with his touch.

The worries that he has about standing like the others do, about whether or not he's doing the right things, about regrets over splitting into twin brothers- - Delilah doesn't so much know the latter, but the formers, she's more than intimate with- - she thinks about it too. If she's making the right choices, if she's supposed to be doing something more visible- -

And then she remembers that she is. She's the right thing to the right people- - or person- - and after all the stories and memorials and friends in high places, that's what matters. Delilah feels it again now, being the right thing, in the right place, in the right time, for one person. Her closeness makes certain that the last of the cold, dewy morning never makes it to Teo, and instead settles condensed on glass.

"Would you think any less of me if I said 'sometimes'?" Dee knows how she presents, and how others see her, answering with a small smile. She isn't impervious to uncertainty or the fear of happiness, even if it seems to the contrary. It's only human. Her hands rest at the join of neck and jawline, thumb rubbing soft against Teo's cheek. "But I want it more than I'm scared of it."

Teo brushes back her hair, his fingers curled so that his short-shorn nails have no risk of accidentally catching on her skin. He leans his own cheek into her fingers, his bearded jaw scuffing gently against her hand. When he read about polyamory, he learned abstract concepts besides the buzzwords. Among them: the notion that you might have enough love for more than one person. Or even too much.

Francois had sort of scoffed, and the other Teos hadn't been convinced, but moments like these make it easy to believe. Teo just doesn't want to have to explain it to his parents. It's none of their business.

"I think that just means you're brave," Teo says. "I'm pretty fucking sure that's what that means. Brave enough to face whoever we're pissing off, assuming we're running late." He grins, boyish, his teeth bright against the Mediterranean tan on his face.

The scruff against her thumb gets an extra brush when he leans into it, Delilah's smile closed but still tickled by his receptions to affection. Every time, honestly, because it never gets old knowing she can do it. Her brows lift at his answer, eyes squinting with a laugh. If he says so, she'll believe it.

"I'll take it." Brave, that is. The rest, "…Nobody that's mean enough to matter." Dee leans in to give him a peck on the lips before withdrawing more completely, gathering the keys from the dash, jingling them back at Teo. Her cheeks are still pink, and they might be for the rest of the morning. "I'd suggest we could stay in here a little longer, but, you know, adulting."

"…Maybe later." She doesn't feel the need to go into much detail, because, well, come on; she still laughs, though, girlishly. "And after school… what do you think about the three of us going out? The World's Fair is on. You know he'd love it."

An evening just waiting to be capped with good news from his family.

"Sure," Teo says. He feels somewhat light-headed. Fragile little European thing that he is. It should not be possible to feel this happy, and yet here he is, borrowing what feels like someone else's life when he's already had two, three chances at his own. It shouldn't be possible. "I heard there's some pretty fucking dope tech in there. I personally think we should get two of those television bathtubs from Raytech. One for here, one for Sicily."

And Teo grins. Cheeky, stupid maybe.

"You want to tell him the news there?" he asks. "I've heard there's like, mind-meldy tech. Could do it that way, but I wouldn't want to make a mentalism slip and traumatize him by accident." More teeth framed in scruff, the dirty blonde fibers scritching her fingers. His beard has always been several shades darker than the dirty dishwater blond on top of his head. "Getting married is pretty adult, too." He keeps a straight face, is diligent about not mentioning the honeymoon.

"Television bathtubs?" Delilah raises a brow high, incredulous. No, not really, right? She laughs a few moments later, nodding in acceptance. "Yes, yes it is pretty adult." He might not mention the details, but she's already thinking about them; planning whatever it becomes, the aftermath, whatever else. Sicily is a honeymoon destination all by itself, so- -

No, nope, she can't get caught up in daydreaming; Dee catches herself zoning out and blinks back to the Now, a touch of that floating feeling caught between both of them.

"The last thing he needs is mind-melding. We can tell him the old fashioned way." A smaller laugh this time, her hand popping the door a few inches. Brown eyes twinkle back, still impish. "We can go look at the cars and the civilian tech, it'll be peaceful. And if you haven't seen Raytech's Spots, they are the cutest, silliest little things ever, and I cannot justify wanting one."

She just wants one so that she can put googly eyes on it.

"I'll get you one. If they're on sale, and the warranty looks good," is not because Teo is a penny-pincher, per say, but he has been saving awhile for Walter's college, in case Walter wants to go to college. For renovations, in case his two-bedroom in Palermo needs renovating. For yes, the honeymoon, even if it was going to be in Sicily. It's always different with tourists. When you live there, you take the beauty for granted; you forget the parts that are more inconvenient, the sights that make your home city famous, the secrets off the beaten road.

But then you have someone to share it with. Teo's more than a little excited about that, but he does a good job containing his composure—

-— at least right up until Teo reaches to cup her cheek and sticks his puppy face into her face again, for another kiss, greedy, the curl of his tongue soft in her mouth and his beard rubbing velour with-then-against the grain on her cheek. And afterward, his forehead is on her forehead, his eyes so near that she can't see both of them with both of hers, and her own face is a half-portrait mirrored in the pale surfaces. "I want to be there when you tell your dad." A beat. "And also when your disappointed customers get all guilty for being pissed off and have to pretend they mean it when they say congratulations."

That he'd be down with getting them a Spot has her laughing again; they wouldn't need a robo-butler. They are still adorable, though. Though she can't at all hear what is rattling around excitedly in that head of his, Dee still seems to pick up on his stifling; his kiss isn't a surprise, just punctuation to everything before it.

Again, the temptation to shirk responsibility peeks over her shoulder, nudging. It doesn't quite win; only enough to guarantee that she returns it with equal tenderness, and a softened smile when their heads come together.

"Of course you'll be there. He really likes you." But Delilah doesn't need to tell him that- - Daniel's emotions seem to be worn on his sleeves, a mixture of his damage and simply his personality. "I can't say what will happen with my adoring public." Her laugh at this part is a bit too loud, and she pulls away just a little to spare Teo's ears. "Plenty of them will mean it, though. Maybe less if I don't get the work done because I'm daydreaming." A finger boops his nose, playfully simple. "The council will love it too, I'm sure. Joanne wants me to ignore the scrubs and find someone nice- - I'll have to break her heart."

"Who the fuck is 'Joanne,'" says Teo, because. he's. still Teo. He's sure she's great, and let's be real, she's hardly the strongest voice in his personal experience of believing he doesn't deserve a good thing like Delilah, but still. His eyebrows twitch objection, his mind effectively sidetracked for an instant, before he manages to shake it off. All of this Teo have this problematic inclination, but fortunately, their demons are so thoroughly internalized that the input of other critics has very limited impact.

Teodoro almost says: I'm nice. It's true; he is nice. It's just that he is a great many other things, and enough of those are far removed enough from 'nice' that it might only highlight Joanne's point. So instead he says,

"I think there's gonna be enough time for Joanne and I to both be right." It's an allusion to their open relationship, or maybe Teodoro Laudani's efforts to more nice than murderous, more nice than heroic at the expense of niceness. He told Francois just the other night that he has a tendency to see things in extremes, no solution without the expense of terrible sacrifice, no happiness that is not bittersweet. Maybe it's just that same old trap, that he's choosing an open relationship when he's never been like that before, but he believes it's different this time. It's not perfect, but it doesn't hurt him.

And he likes the idea of Delilah meeting someone who's nice, too. Of Walter having that in his life. There have to be worse fates.

Teo sits back. He flips her hair over her shoulder. "Maybe later, I'll give Walter my phone," he says, talking away, casually as you like; Teodoro always talks a lot. "Tell him to take our picture. I'll go down on one knee and we'll both hear him freak out. I give it fifty-fifty he drops my phone. Maybe later—"

"She's someone on the council here, only a friend. Protective of everyone, seems like. But you were the scrub, weren't you? A nice one, even." A small laugh, "She'll just be giving you a side-eye, that's all." Delilah reassures him without even intending to- - she isn't a mindreader, but she kind of is. Can be. The woman in question is nothing to worry about, when it comes to testing his resolve for the openness of everything. Delilah isn't cruel enough to go hopping around so soon.

"Right now, I'm all yours." A smile when he pushes her hair back, doing his nervous chatterboxing. "That sounds fucking hilarious, not gonna lie." Dee can laugh at her kid plenty. "Sssssh, you always try to fill the silence, huh?" Gently put. It's okay to stop rambling.

"Let's go, and we can decide how to torture our son while I take care of business." And errands, of course.

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