No Fear


francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title No Fear
Synopsis Hello honey, what did you do today?
Date February 27, 2011

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

The brownstone home, number 57 on West 11th Street, is three floors tall, all old brown brickwork as the name implies. A curving stepped stoop leads up to the door, wrought iron barring it off from its neighbours, with the building's number in brass nailed into the painted wood without any glass inset to give a glimpse of the space within.

Once inside, the immediate hardwood foyer offers space to hang up coats and set aside shoes, with a wooden, open flight of stairs curving up into the second floor. The first opens up into three designated areas — a spacious livingroom with a rug of earthern tones thrown in the centre, a generous hearth set into the wall with traditional log-burning capabilities. The walls are exposed brickwork, lined with shelving of a slowly growing book collection. Next to it is a dining area defined as such by an oval dining table, generous and able to expand to sit up to eight people, and usually littered with too many things to be good to eat at until cleared. The kitchen is barred off from the rest with a counter, all stainless steel appliances and a sliding door that leads into a modest backyard. Tucked away to the right is a laundry, cramped but sufficient.

The second floor has more walls, closed off areas — a master bedroom with a connecting bathroom, a hallway that slides between the stairwell and said bathroom, into unfurnished open space that provides linen closets and such storage. The third floor is similar, if reversed, and almost designed to be its own separate apartment, with a bedroom and bathroom at the back of the house, an open social space with a squat coffeetable, and an open, unfurnished space with a balcony hanging off it, street-side. The stairwell spirals all the way up into rooftop access.

He'd draw dog's teeth first and eyes last, etched abstractly into lined paper on the two hour boat ride back a day and change after the vaccine raid. The sky turned to pitch by the time he'd set foot on the docks, and remaining that way by the time he was wriggling out of leather jacket and eyeing the staircase for traitorous creaking. Long since cleaned his hands of blood, consulted with the medical staff about distributing the medicine and how, and subsequently stolen one for himself. Or. Not himself, necessarily.

Francois could do better, he knows. Flowers and chocolates and cards are superior romantic tokens than virus immunisation. It's laid down on the bedside table, passing by the dark sprawl of the sleeping Italian, at first as respectful of not touching the bed as one might be of an altar. He doesn't really want to wake Teo right now. Not with the clock gleaming tiny numbers.

The lamp does go on, quietly, a subdued amount of gold light that Francois is only confident after the fact won't rouse Teo.

Winds up belly down along the end of the bed, inches from Teo's feet, clothed still from the waist down, blank paper in front of him. Formerly blank. It has pencil marks now, ones that follow in theory the proud curve of Teo's spine and shoulder, the incline of jaw. Body given broad strokes from pencil tip, face, head, hands fussed over with detail. Francois not tired enough, thinking a little about the wine downstairs as something to send him on his way.

In a few more minutes.

Maybe it is ESP. Maybe it is the scritch-scratch-scurry of pencil on page. Maybe it's the smell of a tragic Fate fortuitously averted coiling up, brushing by with serpentine coils of train-jumping intrigue. Maybe Francois was just born that way. Anyway: Teo wakes up.

Snnrt, and then a toe prodding skyward underneath the softening bump-blur of blanket, his hand scratching wearily across his own chest, then his neck, pale eye cracking open robin's-egg blue, and he sits up suddenly. "Wh," he says, mostly to his hands, but for a man who's lived by himself so long, he's always been oddly good at not talking to himself. He knows Francois is there. 'Wh' is almost a word. "What the. Francois? Do you evenknngh— ti ho aspettato qui per tutto—" a beat.

His arms fall. His profile stands out in the half-light of the room above thinly shirted shoulders, a tattoo that may date back seven years or seven months peeking out on a bicep from the sleeve. His jaw locks around an angle of consternation and then, abruptly, he hurdles over to flop with graceless weight on artist, knee lifted thoughtfully over the graphite-marked page. Somewhat less care given to the possibility of stabbing himself on the artist's implement (not the sexy one, barring the sexy thoughts of a highly particular sex subculture). He doesn't notice the endtable at all.

There's a hiss of complaint that is more exhale than words, a rough chuckle, one that speaks of little sleep and much travel. Francois lets the pencil tumble off somewhere over the edge of the bed— as opposed to get lost and dangerous in the sheets— and protectively shoves artist's pad a small enough distance. A hand snakes around and sharp-grips the back of a Sicilian thigh in a squeeze too needling to be more than horseplay. Haha. Horseplay.

Riding at a gallop is making his joints regret it the next day. Herooo. He manages to keep his head up, free hand splayed on page.

"I could have waited for tomorrow's boat, right?"

"I guess snnhh wha'ever," Teo mutters, carving crumpled arcs on the edge of the blanket with his foot like a window-wiper. It does not really need window-wiping. It is probably the completion of the canine gesture that starts with his big pale nose fishing around in the sideburns silkily brown over in front of Francois' ear. "Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat? I could make you something. There's some meat patties and cheese and rolls, and something… I got something vegetables-like. I don't think it started turning brown yet. Hey."

He hoists himself up, about half a foot, peers down at Francois. Through the blergh of fading sleep and the thickness of his pant leg, he detects the lack of sexy intent behind the grip on his thigh muscle. Obligingly, he swings his leg down, agilely avoiding accidentally creaming the Allegre Crown jewels. They can't be having that. All those generations of suspended dev— Anyway. He's not squashing Francois now. Just sort of. Prone. On top. With much of his protein-fed self. "What was your adventure?"

Twisting around for greater comfort beneath dense amounts of Italian, Francois shoots a look for the clock and assesses the notion of warm food, and then the notion of going back downstairs. His inclination to stay, signaled in the way his grip on Teo's hip tightens. "Nn," he says, hesitating. His head lifts up off freshly skewed bedding, the still slightly chilly end of his nose brushing against Teo's jaw, the scrape of eyelashes to unscarred cheek. Both of them unscarred.

Still a novelty, a little bit. "Medicine. A little bit of surgery. Monsieur Ryans was injured. We were stealing a train car from a train that was shipping vaccines into the city. We helped ourselves. I brought you one."

Fingers briefly comb through blonde hair, watching it spring back accordingly, resistant to attempts to change its grain. Francois lacks injury, save for deeper aches a hot bath wouldn't cure, or a glass or three of rich red. Sleeping in a bed.

That's exciting. Teo's eyes light slightly, then flatten, before sharpening again. He glances about the room a moment, consideringly, and then rubs his fingers along the underside of his jaw. "Well I was planning to challenge you to a fistfight over whether or not you're allowed to go back," he says. "But I guess you bought you way out of that shit. You look pretty much unharmed. His nose again.

Sniffing the curve of Francois' cheek, then the cold line of his nose, pressing the bridges together until they bend a little. He absconds with a kiss. Well, he delivers one, is probably the better word; there's no actual parting in that process, scarcely a breath's wisp of distance before he gives Francois a second. Mmmm. Nmm. Kiss kiss. Around the six-or-eighth blur of smooches, he gets his eyes open and starts to walk crabwise around between Francois' ungainly sprawl of limbs. "Okay. You need to get on the bed. I'll get you a glass of red. Is Ryans okay?"

"Ryans is fine."

Ryans is a few things, actually, but Francois sets that topic aside, and claws his way towards the centre of the bed, attracted for the Teo-sized warm patch. Isotope marks on his throat, scars on his belly, all shift on the surface of tentative muscles beneath skin. "Deep wound, but it hit nothing vital, remarkably fortunate. I jumped from a horse onto a speeding vehicle, I feel like I could take down ten of you, garcon." The mattress creaks a little as Francois rolls onto his back, cuts a knife-like smile for Teo until his brain catches up with ego and the left over frazzlement of giddy adventure.

Oh. On the topic of going back, or of him not going back, the Frenchman is briefly tongue tied, blinking fuzzily towards Teo.

Teo pulls the blankets up the other man's legs, covering him up now that the Frenchman has taken the small country known as Teo's cookie-cuttered sleeping patch of warmth. His hands momentarily freeze on the blankets when Francois describes his adventures thusly, however. Two dark-blond eyebrows rise on the front of his head, and he stares down at the older man in undisguised surprise. Consternation soon coming on its coattails.

"A horse?" The wine will wait, apparently. He sinks onto the bed, hip-first. "What do you mean a horse? Literally—" With a middle finger for its arched head and his wrist apparently to approximate a tail, Teo trots his hand along the bed like it's precisely the animal in question, over the hillock formed by Francois' ribs, onto his shoulder. "A fucking horse? How does that make sense? Aren't trains faster than horses anyway?"


"Four horses," Francois corrects brightly, head rested against the iron bars that make up bed frame. If the wine is waiting, then he will take Teo's hand while it's here, snaring up the equine impression in a sudden tangle of fingers, a thumb pressing the centre of his palm. "They are animals built for running, tesoro. Their legs are only half made up of muscle, you know, ligaments and tendons that are strong like the ropes that hold bridges — but the radio spy helped, tricked them into slowing some so we did not have to exhaust them."

He tucks Teo's fingers beneath his chin and against his throat, forcing them to bend and conform there, the last of his words thrumming through skin. Own eyes hooding a little.

Why were there horses? Don't people use motorcycles for that sort of thing now? Teo appears momentarily lost in thought, eyes slightly disfocused, his callused fingers nevertheless trapped easily into the pleasant task of petting warm patterns along the underside of Francois' jaw and throat. "Well I'm just surprised," he says, perhaps a little defensive, but less now. "About the involvement of horses. The radio 'spy' makes sense, though." Absurd how he can say those words with a straight face.

He stares off into the middle distance for a moment. Or maybe just at the wall. Coming gradually awake, or summoning up the will to go and get that wine. Hard to say which. His thumb twitches a rub-rub side to side under the very tip of the hastate hollow underside his lover's chin. "I've started looking for work but the economy is pretty terrible," he says, blankly. "But I've been looking. I tried a few libraries and bookstores today. I guess people don't have much time for reading. You aren't going back before me and the other nine can try and fight you down, right?"

Minutely defensive in turn but not immediately interrupting. Even if Francois wasn't the one to suggest the horses — only approve with some enthusiasm. He's not old, damnit, and they've had motorcycles for decades. His focus does that thing in his eyes — oh we're talking about you, now — a sort of pricking intention for eye contact, even if he's getting sedate and lazy beneath finger motions on his throat, even with that interruption of scarring should Teo's hand travel farther.

His hand smooths up Teo's forearm. Hesitates. Again. Diverts: "We didn't want to wreck the bikes. They tend to be more sensitive and suicidal than horses, when you jump off them, even with a passenger." So you know.

Twists a little to lie on his side some, conspirationally close. "What about the bookstore you used to work at? Perhaps we shall make an excursion of it tomorrow, see if it is still standing. Under new management. Or we shall rob banks." A smile, a little brighter; his eyes, a little dimmer. "When were you planning this throwdown exactly? There is a man, injured from a few days ago, I can't— " A shrug is meant to fill in blanks. Stay?

"Ah." There's no real reproach in that monosyllable, even if it is usually a rather alarming sort of— monosyllable. Another set of fingers move to Francois' hair, smoothing dark locks against his scalp, with the grain, trying to change the location of his part in much the way that the other man had tried to change the way his lays minutes ago. "Yes, I guess there is that. It's good that you're helping. Eileen was quiet. While she was here. Then she had adventures.

"I was quiet too," he adds, with a hint of a promise to it, and not the suspicious kind needlessly and paranoidly supplied moments before he admits to pregnancy or something. They have had enough pregnancy. Probably Francois is too sleepy to remember that his Teo's all right at weaving promises and reassurances innocuously into things, sometimes for himself as much as anything; half of Ghost's lying talent. Maybe more. "I'm not sure about that bookstore. I could check back, but it sounds like Roosevelt Island's whole situation is— complicated. We can go if you want, though. I haven't bought any new books in awhile."

"Then you can read me them." A leg goes out, fishes for Teo's, hooks around it so that calf presses to calf, warm through this layers of pant leg. What comes next would be Francois dragging himself on top, but he remains here a little longer, propping his head up on a hand, elbow sinking into mattress. "Or would you prefer adventures too? I would have wanted you there, if not for— the little outbreaks, they are not contained enough to my liking."

They probably never will be, even after immunisation. His voice is getting worn from a long two days, but it's a huskying effect, good for this, quiet conversation. "I've not been treating the plague victims either. Enough injuries to keep my hands unidle. Is it the island in particular you would fight me about?"

A grunt, and Teodoro shakes his head. Splays forefinger and index along the V'd tendons on either side of the apple of the Frenchman's throat, then goes back to the tiny curl, gentler now, in case Francois is fading peacefully off to sleep. Is. Should be. His other hand traces a steadier rhythm, ruffing up dark locks one moment, smoothing them down the next, changing the line of their fall in minute degrees. Obligingly, if a little belatedly, he pulls his feet up under the blankets. His toes aren't even a little colder yet. "The immunization goes into the arm vein, or anywhere?

"I mean not that I need it right away. If you haven't been treating plague victims." That much, Teo doesn't even have to suspect, was more for his sake than for any of the other mutants with whom Francois must come in contact with every day. "I'm gonna be dopey from 'flu symptoms for half a week after I hit the plunger?"

"Anywhere. Little symptoms. I will stay with you."

Despite the man with his arm hanging off pieces of flesh and ligaments, the possible amputation, but only in the event of infection and they've all been careful. Worst case scenario is he breaks a promise, or maybe he can take Teo with if he has to. They can figure it out. Maybe not right now, because Francois is ducking out the way of hand smoothing his hair so that he can press his mouth to Teo's in gentle kiss. Glad to be home, kind of kiss, seguing into, and in bed, with minor depth and pressure before relenting again.

His arm settles around Teo's waist, beneath the blankets, fingers seeking out muscle-memory known tattoo geography.

That's terribly romantic. Or merely reassuring. Not that Teo needs reassurance or anything, of course— he's just restless and really likes fucking, so you know. Obviously, striking the good balance between enough separation that they have something to talk about when they get back together and sufficient contact to talk about it and get off besides is a mathematical negotiation that was the point of his earlier discussion. The leaden weight of weather and political clusterfucking diminishes somewhat with the kisses. His knee goes up. The hand that had been combing through Francois' hair winds up snatching to find something to balance himself on—

— heel of his hand clips the end of a syringe, skews it rolling—

— and it's a skitter of a thought, a minute puff of force that shouldn't by right of physics be there, a palm upturned below, that sends the syringe jumping back over the edge of the bedstand to land with a rattle behind the bulk of the Sicilian's shoulder. "Whups," he says, quieter than the jackhammers of his heart, easily mistaken for anticipation rather than the afterburn of adrenaline. "Fucking klutz. Sorry." Kiss. Don't mind that, Francois. He secures his elbow on mattress, carefully, instead. "Hi." Kiss. "Hello."

Only the barely audible clatter of syringe and Teo's subsequent apology have Francois even opening his eyes to blink, peer passed a shoulder. Distracted again, kiss, hi, kiss, hello. "Bonsoir." Maybe if he wasn't so tired, he could detect difference in the rapid pace of Teo's heart thudding dully away, but he has his hands at the man's back, his arm. "Mm, it will take more than that to avoid needle. L√Ęche. It barely even hurts."

Levering up and over, demanding a kiss again, a bite to it for humour.

One day, Teo will run out of his stock in Francois' obliviousness to his physiological cues. What will he do then? Without the reprieve of months' contemplation and preparation of hacking himself into piecemeal clones, less the ability to cheat and seduce him out of another person's bed. Maybe he'll just learn to stop doing shit like that. (Maybe.) (Mmmmaybe.)

Teo rolls onto his back, an arm tense under the warm flat of the Frenchman's palm, looking up. He sees nothing that should not be there and feels everything that should. Perhaps more importantly, the converse is truer. With enough time and affection, any man could begin to anchor, define, and measure himself by his lover, and while Teodoro thinks himself rather the exception~ in many ways, he isn't in this one. It had been more than a slight exaggeration, when he'd said he'd gone out job-hunting. Well: he'd gone out.

"I'm not scared," is mostly-untrue too. He bites down on Francois' shoulder.

Scene fades.

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