Moonshine By A Rocket Fuel Fire


gabriel_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Moonshine By A Rocket Fuel Fire
Synopsis In lieu of a turtle there are lions, and for lack of prophetic hallucinogenic aids, the obvious. It is time for the intrepid terrestrial astronauts to do a little bonding. Euphemism for: bitching about their love lives.
Date April 11, 2009

Closely Resembles Wisconsin

Botswana, the edge of the Kalahari Desert: the lions give it away.

Nighttime is coming down on their heads. As the light fades, the cold increases, but it doesn't get any quieter. The crack and splinter and fizzle of a campfire is its own symphony, and Gabriel is sitting as close to it as is safe, despite the blessed escape from the blistering sun. A solitary spark spits from the collection of dry wood and oil, catches on his pants, and he brings a broad hand down to slap it out casually, before tilting his head back to look at the open sky. Is it possible for there to be more stars out here than America? He's not sure.

Somewhere, hopefully far away, a lion roars into the dying dusk, the growling echo reaching not only Gabriel's ears, but Teo's too.

No one can ever say Africa doesn't provide atmosphere.

He's full on canned soup and dried meat, which is better than stale tasting water and the occasional mouthful of dirt built up over a day of breathing in desert air. The camp site is reduced to black shapes some several feet away, and Gabriel is dressed in hunting fatigues he'd pilfered from when he and Teo had first opted to raid the poachers' belongings. An oversized BDU shirt is at least not caked with drying blood, no tears inside, just a few patches of being worn down.

It's not the first time Gabriel has taken some liberty with dead men's things. Just as free to him as lasers, telekinesis, the ability to conjure water from the air. It would be a little late to feel bad about it now.

There was still no running water, but the worst of the dirt has come off his eyes, eyebrows, and cracked lips with what sparing sprinkles from the bottle Teo sacrificed to the strip of linen he'd found on the back.

At some point in the desert, he'd scraped his elbow. Fingernails have been applied to the granulate embeds, and antibiotic cream to the freer-bleeding remains; the linen goes over it now, tied off by hands that— weren't quite so good at doing this a year ago. And then, abruptly, he doesn't have anything else to do with his hands.

The airy rebound cupped in his palm, his breath smells like food. Soon it'll go back to smelling rancid again. Unless—

"I need a fucking drink."

He almost surprises himself by saying so aloud. Lifts his spiky head, eyes blinking pale color undiluted by the fierce, burnished orange of the firelight. He makes out the rust-colored stack of polygons that comprise Gabriel's shadowed figure, glances at the haphazardly stuffed rucksack at the man's feet, then down at the one to his right. He ignores the lions. Roots through it with thick fingers and silent intent.

Out of the two, Gabriel is probably better at simply sitting and doing nothing. Being a serial killer is lonely business and while the yearning for human contact and interaction is only natural, he doesn't go seeking conversation beyond the necessary, at least not out here. Clothed, fed, hydrated, Gabriel is happy to simply celebrate the fact he isn't suffering by just being.

But a drink wouldn't be out of the question.

His gaze drops from the sky and onto Teo, watching dully as the other man rifles through the dusty backpack lying nearby. They're both only made up of shadows and features catching in the firelight, but it's enough to see, at least, as night falls faster and faster. Gabriel reaches over, picks up a jagged piece of dried wood and pushes it into the fire, the shift of wood sending up a fresh spray of fairy-light embers that die mid arc.

"Not the smartest idea," he says, dropping words with weary laziness as he concentrates on keeping the fire built.

There's a laconic grunt from Teo: agreement. It doesn't stop him, naturally. If he were all about the smartest ideas…

There is no real need to finish that bit narrative.

Biscuits rattle in a tin, and a flashlight clunks weightily against it. His fingernails hit glass with a noise too miniscule for himself to hear, but Gabriel does, and the reverberating eddy and slosh of liquid contents afterward, half full. When Teo pulls it out by the neck, the bottle has only a faded, peeling label and its contents are probably not the original and intended. Moonshine.

Smells like shit, too. Teo suspects it will make him blind or something. Maybe Flint Deckard could drink this and be okay. That is probably the worst standard of comparison ever. He wafts his big, sunburned nose over the unscrewed mouth of the bottle. Considering this in silence. He would be extremely frustrated were he to be eaten by a lion ten hours from finally making civilized contact and getting the fuck home.

He winds up drinking, naturally. One pull, and Teo sits there, with the mouthful burning his tongue and incinerating the bacteria clingfilm on his teeth, before his throat moves with an audible flex of liquid and muscle. He exhales, slumps sideways. His shoulder hits rucksack, and the butt of the bottle drags the dirt with an absurdly cheerful tink-a-clink.

"'M not getting up," he says without looking over. Instead, Teo releases the booze, leaving it standing uncertainly at the fire's edge, a tacit offer, within reach of telekinesis or equally available for rejection.

"I didn't ask you to get up," Gabriel says, eyebrows raising as he flicks his gaze up from dancing flames and onto an already partially collapsed Teo, then, towards the offered bottle of god knows what. Probably not a good idea. The lions could get them. On the other hand, in the words of Teo, I need a fucking drink.

There's a pause, before Gabriel is unfolding his legs from beneath him, hooking his heels into dirt both hard and soft, and moving himself on over. Why he doesn't simply use telekinesis isn't going to be answered until its asked, if it's even acknowledged, but either way, he moves and extends a hand to pick up the half-filled bottle of clear poison, folding his legs back up beneath him as he studies the label. Soon becoming clear it has no relation to its contents, before the cap is twisted off.

The sip is tentative, smaller than the mouthful Teo had knocked back, and quicker swallowed, not letting the biting, acidic flavour of the stuff feel too welcome in his mouth. The burning warm of it is tracked right down into a stomach probably not full enough to deal with it, but all the same, another sip is followed before the bottle is set back down.

A slight, panting exhale is given, a rasping chuckle. "I think we're drinking— paint stripper."

Or at least something with a substantial concentration of paint stripper involved. Wow. Teo doesn't have to look with his eyes in order to perceive the other man's reaction. Air doesn't funnel out of Gabriel's face that way normally. They don't know each other very well, but already Teodoro knows this: that the erstwhile serial killer defaults toward quiet and stillness. It's enough to drive his inner-Italian maaad.

Only he doesn't have enough energy for maaaadness, so he's left to study the hysterical profusion of stars overhead, in glittering fleets and powdery castles and deeper picked details than the simplified stick figures of documented constellations, coruscating in the limitless heights of space. It's very pretty. You can see as many of them out here as when you're in the middle of the Atlantic on the yacht. It's the sort of maudlin and conceited thing Teo misses when he bothers to think about it.

He takes another swing. Leaves the bottle where he'd taken it.

"Now we bond," Teo tells the faraway gas balls and the somewhat more proximate lion. He shifts his head when the corner of something digs into the side. He sounds tired. "Over universal tropes and complementary opinions on the weather."

He's not about to lie down, but Gabriel's stooping, back-curved seat in the sand settles into comfort for now. Long legs are kind of haphazardly arranged, and likely he'll have to shift around so they don't go dead soon, but for now, it works. His hand goes out for the bottle of moonshine. He doesn't drink, save for that one time on Christmas. Matters of the heart.

It's about a hundred times worse now, and so he takes another mouthful of the eye-watering alcohol, but doesn't make any audible complaints this time, even if his nose wrinkles. It's set back down where Teo put it last. It's a working system.

"We bond," he repeats, not so much in agreement if bemusement, running a hand through his hair, and Gabriel is rather certain that the sand will never come out. A decade later he'll be shaking free more African desert dirt from his person. "This must really be dire."

A pause, a contemplative glance upwards. "Weather's okay."

Teo's face bends around a prissy string of words that he doesn't actually end up saying aloud. Of course it's dire.

Peter Petrelli accidentally the whole of Moab Federal Penitentiary, as only Peter Petrelli could. They nearly pooped out in the Kalahari desert, massacred some poachers, keep company with lions dead, living, and probably imagined, and the latrine shack has a pulley dump system and an absurdity of gorgeous flowers growing underneath it.

His face fades to blank after a few seconds. He wipes his palm on his shirt. "Yeah. Better than daytime. Remind me not to wear black armor to the desert next time." He's almost serious. Next time. Failure engenders second tries. He is teetering more under the growing certainty that they have failed than alcohol. Something he can pay attention to now that basic survival is less of an issue.

"I think… I accidentally yelled at Eileen for not trying harder to get into your pants." Confessions. Catholics: they do these sometimes. Also, inevitably—


"You accidentally— "

Sand-rough fingers grip the neck of the moonshine bottle, but it's not brought up to his mouth again. The last few pulls need time to settle and spread its poison , probably, and it's making quick work of it. Gabriel's mouth feels dry, and not completely due to Teo's words, which spike confusion and— something a lot like embarrassment through him. He did what.

Christ, this is what he's been reduced to. Getting silently flustered at the news of Teo touching his love life. Another swig is taken before the bottle is put back, closer to the Sicilian this time.

"You helped Gillian find me," he finally points out, voice scratchy-dry, and a little mystified. "Why would— " A beat of a pause, and he starts again. "You figured she'd help me or were you trying to give us a happy ending?" Of course he assumes Teo is yelling at Eileen about such things for Gabriel's sake. Missing the point, maybe, but Eileen has often pointed out to Gabriel that he considers the world, the sun, and most other planets to revolve around himself.

The bottle is taken up in Teo's hand with a swipe that is mostly haphazard because his head's at a bad angle to see properly, and if he puts his head at a better angle then the biscuit tin will start chewing into his skull again. He unscrews it, plugs his mouth with it, tilts back a gulp, replaces the cap with a blurry swirl of fingers and replaces it on the ground.

He doesn't manage to locate an appropriate response at any point in the duration of this response.

It takes more time. Two seconds, maybe… seven, all of which he spends with his face shuffled into an expression of difficult thought. Teodoro hadn't done it for Gabriel, but he doesn't want to say that! He did a little bit of it for Felix, a little bit because he was— egocentrically enraged, and perhaps fundamentally, most of all, for Eileen herself. He'd been so angry with her, and with Deckard.

It's uncomfortable to think about. "I like happy endings," Teo admits, at length. "It's why I wasn't a literature major. 'S why I'll never be a literature major. I don't like the fact that meaning is rooted in misery. I dunno. I guess I thought it would be better if you chose. For all of you. Figure it'll going to come down to that someday, and the later, the worse it'd be.

"I am sorry," Teo reiterates. Pops his jaw briefly, shuts it around a swallow, lubricating the lining of his throat. He closes a hand on the dirt, pushes himself into oblique upright to dignify the sincerity of his sentiment with a rueful plumbago blue stare. "I know it wasn't my business."

"It wasn't," Gabriel agrees with gravel intonation, but no heat or anger. Likely not due to the conviction of Teo's apology, really, just weariness. And here it comes, the uncomfortable shifting, legs coming to rest with his knees bent and pointed to the sky, boots sinking deep into sand and arms covered in camouflage desert brown to circle around them. He can feel the heat of the fire prickle the backs of his hands and his casts a lazy gaze away from Teo's earnest one and into the heart of the fire.

A chunk of wood breaks down somewhere in its center, splitting apart like rotten fruit. Gabriel picks up a loose twig, tosses it in, feeding it. "But you weren't wrong." He doesn't know what was said, obviously, but in terms of yelling at her for such a thing? He shrugs a little. "It wouldn't have mattered to her. She doesn't listen. She doesn't even talk."

He knows things he shouldn't, that aren't complicated anymore for simple fact that they're irrelevant. Feelings, and such. The moonshine goes untouched. "It's not your job to make sure she tries to get what she wants." Chastisement or reassurance? Hard to say, the words delivered neutrally.

Teo had skipped a swing. He makes up for it now, despite that he'd been the last to unscrew the cap and drink, giving the intervening effort of getting it open and closed again a certain cast of futility. It's not like an extra coating is going to change things. In ten years, he's still going to be scraping red off his clothes and out of his hair, too.

This time, he coughs. Into the top of his arm, crooked up against his face. A miniature mushroom cloud of African dirt explodes off his sleeve, of the arm he'd been lying on. "My job," Teo repeats. The bottle hits the ground with more force than is strictly necessary. His throat moves and he stares through fire. There is apparently no end to that sentence forthcoming.

"Would it matter to you?" He inhales through his nose, loud, glances down. A dog snuffing through wet dirt. Teo missed the memo, apparently. On the irrelevance of feelings. "If Eileen talked and listened. How would you choose?"

An eyebrow goes up, but he doesn't look at Teo much more than a quick glance, before he's on his way towards picking the liquor bottle up again. Unscrew cap, and with a swish of water within glass, he takes another swig. A slightly braver one than the ones prior. He doesn't immediately close it and set it back down, either, the item kept clasped in his hand.

"Eileen didn't need to talk," Gabriel says, voice a little rawer from the drinking by now. Ducking around the question for the moment. Not that he's in anyway obligated to answer, and yet. "Or listen. I saw what she felt, when I took her memories the last time I saw her before Moab." A slight smile, not particularly happy, is detectable by firelight, eyelashes still hanging lazy over eyes that, in this lighting, have gone has black as the sky above them, maybe more.

Another swig, quick and darting, and closing the bottle, setting it back down. Exhaling a breath of fumey alcohol, closing is eyes and shaking his head once in a compulsive shudder. That stuff has— kick, as it were.

"I chose Gillian," he says. Which is technically still avoiding the question, if you squint, but there's a tone of finality to it. "She came to Staten Island to find me. Eileen was already there and pretended she wasn't."

Gabriel shrugs. Simple math.

Arguments for Eileen's defense dart up to the gates like ravening hounds. Teo opens his jaws to let them out, but his tongue folds back on them. He feels very bothered by this whole thing.

The Sicilian is just this side of self-aware enough to know that it has as much to do with the trio in question as profoundly not. He looks away. Up again. The fire is making his face feel too hot. The booze probably is not helping.

"You awarded yourself to the one who worked harder and fucked up less," Teodoro summarizes with audible difficulty. He does not sound reproachful. Not at all. "I guess that makes sense. It's— logical." Simple. Mathematical. He picks up the discarded booze and knocks back a mouthful. Smaller this time. The night is still young. There is still a lot of miserable introspection to get through, and you can't do that while you're sleeping off a hangover.

"Mind me asking— first time you've ever been..?" Teo gestures vaguely. Awkwardly. Because he's like, eleven years old, and invoking the l-word brings cooties; the blurry arc of his hand means either that or is desperately trying to veto the uncomfortable heat off the campfire.

The assessment of Gabriel's logic is glanced askance at. Even with how not reproachful Teo sounds, and all. Criticism, vieled or hidden or not even there, is metaphorically picked up, studied, and finally discarded with vague amusement. A profound whatever is communicated through the slight lift of Gabriel's chin and a rolling of his shoulders, keeping a look on the crackling fire in front of them. It doesn't seem close to dying.

The question gets a faltering glance, gaze going from Teo's hand to his face then back to the fire. Normally the question of why Teo even wants to know crops up, but then again. It's starry, up above, and the alcohol runs warm, and the smell of burning wood gets thicker and thicker. Bonding.

Does infatuation come close to the l-word? He thinks on this first for a good few seconds, a hand up to scratch his own jaw, clean of sand for once, although his hand isn't. Decides no, it doesn't, although both hurt in varying amounts. "Yes," he finally states. His hand curls back around the bottle of moonshine. Twists the cap, glances Teo's way again. "What about you?" The words don't even come awkwardly. Maybe he truly is interested. Maybe it's only fair, with how much Teo knows about him. The question is open to interpretation and Gabriel doesn't define it.

Don't get Teo wrong. He understands— sort of. Having chosen already, the hypothetical quandary of who one would have chosen if, what if, maybe if this element were repainted, that shape rotated, this situation mirrored, inverted, is… pointless.

Still, Teo has a pathological habit of pouring of his decisions, as often helpful as it isn't. The reel of thoughts cycles until the tape runs black and slippery with empty frames. Suppose if he'd fucked that one then? Kept his legs together the one time? Stayed by himself altogether? What would reduce the average level of misery amid the constituency of people he cares about? Blah blah blah, woof woof.

"Never really been," he responds, obligingly. "Pretty close, though. Close enough, I guess. If you're measure is cultivated hangovers and other discomforts." A fly zips just out of range of a fork-tongued flame. "This just in: rejection is a bitch." Teo smiles sidelong, suddenly, sort of stupidly. That wasn't very funny, he knows; he just doesn't know what else to do with his face. It's only fair: he knows a lot about Gabriel. It's still embarrassing.

Around now, Teo notices that his back is getting cold from the blue encroachment of night, and his knees too warm in the orange douse of firelight. He shuffles around in a circle. It doesn't ruin the polite physical configuration of their conversation at all. They're spaced sideways, roughly next to each other; facing one another doesn't do too much for either intimacy or perceived distance.

The smile always gets once in return, but not quite. Still, Moonshine's put Gabriel in a pleasant place. It's warm here, alcohol coiling like a snake in his stomach and making the stars seem prettier. This was a good idea, actually, enough so that Gabriel rather abruptly falls back and catches himself on the elbows, half-reclined and enough so that he can see the stars. He's not listening for lions anymore, but he's pretty sure they're okay.

"It would be," he agrees, a little whimsically. Unsure if he knows it. Rejection, specifically. Other heartbreak, certainly. "But maybe not. I mean. It's honest. And cruel, but honest. It's better than lies, or pretending. Betrayal is more of a bitch."

Where did the booze go? Gabriel makes an aborted attempt to look, but he feels too heavy to sit up, so he just tilts his head up to look at the stars again. They swim a little. "And like when they try to kill you," he adds.

Like when they what! Teo's left eye contracts, shrinking down while his right goes large with genuine surprise. "Damn, son." That is a terribly American thing to say, but he is drunk so one will have to forgive him. He grunts, splays his fingers on the steepled knee of his pant leg as if that will help his balance. Yes, he's seated.

"Yeah, I guess 't least he—" His breath catches. He rights the size of his eyes out, suddenly self-conscious. The pause isn't too long. Possibly overlooked, misheard for a moment of other, maudlin sentimental difficulty. "Didn't do that," Teo finishes, clumsily. Each syllable is extricated like body parts retracted from uncertain earth over a landmine that may or may not still be live.

The booze is in Teo's hand. He swallows some of it, realizes he can't taste anything underneath the certain sensation of scalding anymore. Whoops. Rolling the cap back on, he sends its glassy base wobbling back into proximity. Tink-a-tink, easily tracked by Gabriel's here despite the erosion of inebriation.

"Ionno," Teo takes it back the next instant. He's taking… something back; he has decided that he fundamentally disagrees. Brushes on, addressing the dirt between his toes while Gabriel is examining the stars. "Le disgrazie capitano —" Damn it. With effort, he switches language tracks back. "Shit happens when people change their minds. I mean, murder has no take-backs," unless you're Felix Ivanov, "but every fucking thing else."

The 'he' is for now skipped over. Male pronouns do throw things into brief confusion before Gabriel stops bothering to make sense of it, only nodding the sentence away for it to bother him later.

His hand reaches out and gropes around for the bottle, realising he can't quite work it open and handle it when he's positioned like this. Ahyup. Sitting up in a determined jerk of movement, he unscrews the cap with slower fingers, but doesn't take a drink immediately, as if maybe assessing as to whether more is a good idea.

Like, won't a hangover in the African desert make it worse? Dark eyes look back at Teo, squinted a little. "Oh," he says, for wont of anything else to say. Liquid kicks around energetically in the bottle as its tipped up again for a swig, and Gabriel falls back onto his elbows once more. Eyes shut for a bit, open again, slowly. At least he'll sleep well. "Rejection has takes backs— " too much pluraling there, oh well— "too, doesn't it?"

They're probably going to drink all their water up to rehydrate, which would be more the problem except, you know, they have enough water for five gigantic African men whoooo are likely all dead. The logistics work out okay, as far as Teo can tell (not clearly). Barring consumption by a lion. Long drive tomorrow. It is true. Might as well be comfortable for the night.

When Teo's head hits the knapsack again, he doesn't feel the cookie box at all. It puts his face out of view.

"I dunno." His tone is possibly more caustic than it should be, considering who the addressee is, "Does it?"

He may not actually have a point, but Teo thinks he does. Tosses the reply out there, sees if it nicks or catches on the weave of anything. About— Eileen, or— the intellectual, hypothetical experiment. He straightens his hand out in the air before his face, an aerial starfish rimed in terrestrial colors he can't discern from the shadow.

Gabriel actually pays attention this time. He watches Teo's movement, the collapse back down onto the lumpy knapsack, and the tone of voice doesn't go unnoticed either. An assessing silence passes, before Gabriel gives into gravity and lets his back hit sand completely. He's going to get more sand in his hair again, but, pfft. Honestly.

"It doesn't," he agrees, amusement lacing his voice in contrast to the edge of Teo's. "Because people are too proud. The rejectees, usually, but both too. Unless they're pathetic. But maybe— it'd be okay. To be pathetic, instead. Pride only— " An abrupt chuckle, as if recalling some strain of conversation, and he continues, "Pride only gets you so far. And not happy. Or— not lonely."

Hey, male pronouns. "He?"

On reflex, the starfish balls up, covering its sensitive underbelly with better-armored appendages, fetal. Or a fist. Teo winces and goes sort of stiff, except that being lots of sheets to the wind does not lend itself easily to maintaining any kind of physical rigidity, in the lewd sense or any other banal ones. There is still a conspicuous absence of amusement from his voice when he confirms, stiffly, "He." Defensive. He might as well have bared teeth and backed into the densest underbrush.

Probably, Teo will just dig up his rifle and shoot himself in the head if Gabriel says he has friends who are gay.

And who is Gabriel Gray to talk about pride, anyway? There is some mental teeth gnashing that Teo doesn't have the words for, because Gabriel Gray had already said them. Pride helps, sometimes. Filters options, anyway. When you have options. "I'm not proud," he says, presently, relaxing his hand after a stretch tendons, ligaments, metacarpals. "As an available represennative of the other demographic, I don't think it's that much more okay."

Uneventfully, Gabriel just gives a quiet 'huh' at this revelation. Files it away. Goes back to watching the stars, all of them, very slowly rotate clockwise. Which is likely untrue, unless he's developed the ability to see the world spin. Not impossible. He's forgotten about the alcohol. It burns merrily in his system, making sunburns all the redder, although not in this lighting.

"Who is it?" he asks, verbally jabbing at the starfish. Come on open up. We're bonding and all. Gabriel's dirty laundry hung up for dry and criticism, he certainly feels entitled to pry right back. "That rejected you. That you're pretty close to in love with?" The forbidden l-word finally spills from Gabriel's lips with almost too much ease, now that the spotlight has shifted to glare uncomfortably into Teo's eyes.

Americans aren't supposed to be more in touch with il passione than Italians are. Teo almost pulls a face when the other man actually manages to raise that word from its dusty and taboo-marked grave. He doesn't pull a face because he realizes Gabriel has actually scooted in to such a field of view that he can actually see it, and that would be even more embarrassing.

The starfish clenches tighter for a brief moment, feels its muscled pores and exoskeletal armor contract with stubbornness, before popping loose with a sigh of resignation.

Ffffine. "You know him," Teo replies. He picks up one boot and rests his calf on one knee, pokes a forefinger into the dust clogged into the heavily-toothed sole, trying to look nonchalant. Doing a supernaturally bad job of it, and he is dimly aware of this, feeling transparent and Catholically uncomfortable. Relatively speaking, homophobia would have been cake. The magnifying glass is harder to chew through. "And you get one guess.

"It doesn't matter anyway." The second sentence comes so fast on the heels of the first that it's slurry and stupid-sounding. Teo glances up. Down at his shoe again, wiping his fingers on the cuff of his pant leg. Having conveniently forgotten that of course it doesn't matter, he sounds bizarrely peevish, as if he is trying to make a joke— except the joke is that it isn't a joke: "I'm innoculated against love. A real live hooker told me so."

Gabriel stares at Teo a little flatly, then digs his fingers into sand— as if this would help— to lever himself up to sit. Legs fold loosely, and he fleetingly attempts to draw up all the names of the men they both know, which aren't very many actually, and his mind even skips over possibly the right one, but he gives up after a moment mostly out of annoyance, eyes rolling.

"Well, a hooker would," he points out, gruffly. His boot nudges forward, and he pokes at a length of log jutting out from the campfire. There's a hiss as burnt wood falls apart a little further, fire flaring, dimming. "If you're immune to love then rejection wouldn't be a bitch at all. It'd probably be a convenience. Hookers lie a lot, don't worry." Amnesiac time spent on pirate island had to learn him something.

Oh wait a minute— Gabriel's head turns with bird-like sharpness, narrowing his eyes. "Fido?" Never mind homosexuality and whatever reservations Gabriel and his Christian upbringing might have or used to have before he stopped caring about most social norms like who you sleep with and whether it's okay to kill people, does it have to be Alexander? But Teo refused to leave hell on Utah without the redhead, and how many men do they know?

Alexander isn't that bad, says Teo's face. Teo's face also says, Do you have to call him that? but they've been over this already, insofar as that he's been ignoring or dimly bemused at or stubbornly reinterpreting that nickname long enough by now that he isn't going to make a thing of it. Teo turns over and pushes himself up on his arm because he can't feel his nose. "He's my fucking best friend.

"Maybe I'm just shocked and annoyed he couldn't keep it in his pants for a couple days before he… fucking… went off and— I mean, we're fine now," flails the fish, "but his priorities

"I would prefer it if she were right," he says irritably, perching his forehead on the heel of his hand and creases his eyelids shut for a moment, hard, before reopening them. The dirt clearing had turned several degrees too far to the right, a moment there. "Would explain some things. Gillian's the one who tried to kill you, righ'?" He has attempted to implement less tactful conversational shifts before. Really.

It's about as skillful as Gabriel's subtle conversational skills, so he can't criticise. He can give Teo a slightly sassy 'oh please' head tilt, and does, but that's about it. He even answers the question. "Kind of. She shot me in the shoulder and switched sides."

A dark eyed glance, and wryly he adds, "We got even. Then kissed and made up and everything."

Now that he's sitting up again, Gabriel pulls his stolen BDU shirt around him a little tighter, as if trying to both trap his body heat a little closer, and the inebriation attached to it. "I don't know Fido," he admits, about as close to apology as he'll get - even if the nickname is stubbornly maintained. "He annoys me. Also, he wants to kill me someday. He said it." So there. It wouldn't be the first time or anything, but the point stands. "You make interesting choices in friends."

"And made up and everything," Teo mumbles, snagging that thread of conversation with both hands and leaning his weight into it, watching wrinkles card through the fabric as its weave frays and implodes, row by row, "and you dunno what to do about Eileen so you're not doing anything except let her humiliate herself in an effort t' sacrifice in your favor and coincidennally make your harder decisions for you.

"Figures: if they were easy, you would be helping. You'd tell her to… sod off. Wouldn't you? Your rhetoric about rejection was good." The Sicilian deflates, sort of. His annoyance at Alexander blows away like so many seedlings out of a dandelion clock. Make a wish. He wishes Al were somewhere safe, but the chances of that — after Martian visitations — seems rather close to nil. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and listens to liquor percolate into his blood like the convection currents from the fire seep into the overturned box of black velvet sky.

No lions. Fire scared them off, maybe. He squints sidelong at the serial killer's penguin-like huddle. "The dude I'm seeing kinna hates you too. 'S a big demographic with straightforward reasons. Maybe you're the one with weird friends, amico."

"I wasn't talking about Fido," comes the mutter, after a long narrowed eyed look through Teo's small tirade, drunken fueled at least in terms of bravery, of this Gabriel is certain. Or maybe he's like this a lot, Gabriel doesn't know.

Eileen would be able to confirm it, what with the whole suicidally spineless and everything. Everyone in this equation isn't short on mistakes, it seems. "No, I don't know what to do about Eileen," he readily agrees, and there'd be more growl in his voice if he wasn't quite so drunk. "I don't let her do anything. She— look."

Apparently, asking probing questions doesn't fluster the serial killer as much as getting him drunk and making big sweeping statements about his decisions and lack thereof does. "She might love me but she's like you. She thinks she's above it, or below it, maybe. I don't think she believes I'm capable either. That either of us would fit together in anything other than misery and survival. We protect each other, or we used to, and that's all we can do."

It might be the most Gabriel has said at any one time to Teo. It's not so unlike a rooftop in Staten Island, when Tavisha finally put words to his frustration. They are largely the same man. One is wiser. One might have been happier. It's hard to say - the lines blur as much as they shift. "She doesn't need to hear it from me. We know. Things— we don't talk. We never have. What the hell does it matter to you anyway?"

'Suicidally spineless' was just once. Teo is normally mild-mannered, blond, and easily confused.

His back is bowed now, slouched, threatening to plant his forehead solidly in the dirt in front of him. His skull feels heavy, although it does not yet hurt. The liquor does help with courage. "I don't think she knows," comes the desultory grumble. He decides to eat something. Rucksack buttons pop; a rasp of canvas-on-canvas friction. "You can talk about transcendental connections all you want, but we're all the same clay. Evolved, non-Evolved. Humans 'nd dogs.

"I'm a big fan of redemption stories. Either because or 'spite I dunno what… where the moral locus thingy ought to be. Annnd." All of these answers are out of order and poorly phrased besides. Teo is, momentarily and refreshingly, immune to regret as well as temporarily also to fear, and at least in affectation, to love. He tucks his chin down, into the collar of his shirt, the armor still overlaying. "Eileen 'sn't anything like me. She's a closet romantic.

"It is the curse of the British."

"Like you," is his curt argument. Not British, presumably.

Gabriel lets himself be entranced again by the fire, eyelids sleepy, dark eyes made bright with the light from the leaping flames. Still no lions. "Romantic about other people. Not herself, not yourself. I know her better than you do, anyway."

Stated like a fact, and maybe it is one. He has an Eileen in his head, after all, or a certain slice of one. One that claims they're damaged goods, too broken for love. Of course, he has more than that too. One that's in agony over love. So there's a walking contradiction and renders him silent for a moment.

But only for that long. "She knows," Gabriel finally insists, stubbornly, to the natural lean of short words and silence that almost drove Teo's inner Italian to maaadness. She knows, or he doesn't want to touch that agony, having felt it. Staying away… is a good idea. Has to be.

Pallid eyes scroll back up through the half-dark. Teo looks unconvinced. Either that, or he's mimicking Gabriel's facial expressions back at him. "Eileen's smart," Teo responds. Sssmart. "Introspective. She'dve given five billion people up to die just to save a handful— knowingly. I couldn't. Never.

"Give me a logical reason," he counts points on his fingers, "'n a language I understand. Something righteous I can… crap together a plan for, and make… acceptable sacrifices for, I'll probably do it. I'd let Jesse die, 'f I had to. 'M not like you. 'Nd Eileen. 'Nd Gillian. You three… I don't remember what my point was, exactly." Teo blinks at nothing in particular. "I think 'm trying to excuse my in-fi-delity."

A memory, or brush-stroke shadows in the trees, possibly a constellation prying itself out of the terrible chaos and celestial confusion of infinite pointillism. It probably is true, that Gabriel knows Eileen better than Teodoro does. Any perspective is as much a trick of shadow as it is a work of illumination, however.

"Oh, thanks for not tooling about the gay thing," Teo notes, blankly.

Sleepy blinks up to the sky, still clear, still starry, still moving around a little via moonshine that has nothing to do with lunar activity. Gabriel snorts, softly, at what and why is unclear. There aren't even bugs out here to click noisily nearby, the stretching silence as infinite as the darkness, the sound of fire as contained as the light is exudes.

Then there's he, and Teo, huddled closer to it. He's starting to get thoughts of smallness and bigness and universeness, but that's likely the alcohol. Gabriel rubs his forehead. "I don't know if you're complimenting us or yourself. Whatever we three are, is nothing to envy. Congratulations, you're a hero. It's nothing I'd want to do. Give me a selfish reason in a language I can understand." He doesn't seem unhappy about this rather cutting bit of self-criticism, certainly not weighed down by it. It beats being the geeky, quiet doormat he had been before. Despite accepting his real name as his own rather than his serial killer alias, he doesn't want to be that, not really.

Long legs fold back under him and this time to get up. It'll be nice to sleep in something, and passing out for the lions to eat is not his idea of a good night's sleep. Gabriel has collected a small amount of sand in his palm on his way up, and this his tosses into the flames for absolutely no reason, except to see the fire spit.

"No problem," he thinks to add. About the gay thing. "Thanks for— " He's about to thank Teo for giving him a shot at that heroism he'd just sneered at, but it landed him here, didn't it. Fuckin' whatever. "The drink. I'm going to sleep now. Put out the fire when y'done."

It's true: Gabriel had been entirely correct about the weather. Not being shitty. Teo affords it a squint, before summarily launching himself up to his feet in a sudden, scrambling stumble that threatens to overturn in the dirt. It doesn't. Now they're both up. "'M not the only one," he says in something of a tone of retort. It is one.

Heroes. The subjectivity of that will drive him maaaad, too. He scratches at his beard. "Swapping spit with Gillian.

"'S a selfish reason." Belated explanation.

"You should drink s'me water before you sleep or you'll be all hungover and fucked for the drive." From the sound of it, Teodoro is off the the truck to locate such. There is an ungainly thump of body slamming into armor with the force of lackadaisical movement rather than a violent and painful accident. His hands rasp along the edge of the crate. The latch squeaks under pressure, a mess of abused and incongruous meal parts.

Teo glances back over in time to see Gabriel pick a bed roll. "Non problema."

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