No Take-Backs


sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title No Take-Backs
Synopsis Finding himself undeserving, Teo locates his sense of honor somewhere around the region of his backbone, and confesses. Sonny is understandably very surprised, though not nearly as much as Teo is following the response and its emotional allocation. In other words, they're fighting again.
Date March 17, 2009

Chinatown — Connor and Teo's Apartment

A shag pad furnished with remarkable humility, if you know anything about Connor Kinney at all.

It is also not actually in Confucius Plaza, but there were no other rooms to +rent in Chinatown. Oh well!

It's dinnertime and the doctor has made his way back to his own apartment, then donned the face of Connor Kinney to make the trip to the Chinatown apartment. That means he's changed out of the neat suit and into the cords and button-up shirt that seems to suit his alternate face. He was in a very good mood until he caught the radio news. So many young lives. Such incredible bravery, but a waste at the same time.

There's the sound of a key in the lock, then Connor steps in. He's only Connor for a half moment, long enough to call out, "Hey Tay, you home?" in the trailer farm doc's voice before he shifts his face and voice back to his own. Brown does not suit his true, olive complexion. The clothes are most certainly the clothes of another identity.

Meat sauce is bubbling on the stove, insofar that there aren't little pockets of air rushing up from the bottom but a slow, magma-like blorp… blork of heat rising in viscuous currents. There are spices out, a chopping board still runny with red juices in the sink, and the discarded skins and ends of vegetables in the bottom of the trash can.

And Teo is, inevitably, sitting cross-legged next to the sink. He is wearing a T-shirt with the laundry-scarred remains of a clever slogan on the front, track pants, and an expression the same melancholy blank as many of the other people who saw the news. It changes when he hears Sonny's voice, though.

Half a grin, and he stretches his neck out like an ostrich around the corner of the fridge. "Yeah. Okaerinasai." He waves a spatula. A clean one, fortunately.

Sonny tugs off his shoes and lifts his jacket onto a nearby hook. He inhales as he pads towards the kitchen. Now that isn't something he's used to smelling - not unless Teo took the initiative and ordered takeout. "Are you cooking?" It's pleased shock. He steps into the kitchen, then towards Teo to press a welcoming kiss to his lips. "Look at you, Betty Crocker. Or would it be Bettina Crockerachinni?"

In his left hand is a brown paper-wrapped something. It appears to be book-shaped. Sonny opens his mouth to say 'how was your day,' but closes it. They're both no doubt feeling the same thing about the deaths of the kids. Part of him would like to avoid talking about it, at least for the moment.

"Yes," Teo says before the kiss. And after it, with a scowl of injured masculinity, "No," delivered with a harmless jab of a fist to the other man's belly. The aggression folds neatly into five fingers hooking Salvatore's shirt, the left half of it, his knuckles sunk up against the buttons.

And, in wry awareness of who he's talking to, he points out: "'S cheaper." His arm tightens, snags his lover close, and he gets a second kiss. The better alternative, easily, to asking 'how was your day?' There's an awkward beat of excised conversation; knowing Salvatore would rather not talk about it just yet, he glances down at the paper bag.

Sonny makes like a man just hit by a prize fighter. He doubles over and makes an 'oof' sound. Then he moves in close for the second kiss. He tastes like toothpaste. Leave it to a doctor to brush his teeth at the end of a workday. "Probably better too. Been a long time since I walked into a house with food cooking."

He leans one arm against the counter to keep his balance. The other hangs the paper-wrapped package at his side. He looks down at it, hefts it in his hand, then bites his lip and passes it over to Teo. "You seemed like you needed a little cheering up." Which seems kind of trivial, since he planned it pre-tragedy. He's conscious of that. His voice tightens a little.

It's fairly easy to tell that this isn't a gift bought at a high end department store. For one, it's wrapped in a paper bag. The jagged way the paper's been cut suggests that Sonny did it himself, as does the fact that despite the book-shape, the thing is rumpled and the paper doesn't lay flat. The giver of said gift looks rather sheepish as he hands it out towards his lover.

"A pony?" Teo keeps his mitts off for all of three seconds. On the fourth, he snags the parcel with both hands, yanks it close with a grin that goes halfway around his face and shifts his ears up half an inch on either side of his face. "No take-backs," he says, some extravagant sort of greed. His toes curl underneath the symmetrical origami fold of knees, and he begins to pry the paper open, dense, crinkling paper grain.

It is pretty obvious that Sonny planned this pre-tragedy, or this would be doing the tragedy far crueller disservice than Sonny has ever seemed capable of. It's well and good. Made easier by the fact that he lets himself be childishly facetious about it too, leaning back, laying back on the counter as if to put some defensive distance between his gift and its giver as he pries it open.

The paper comes off easily, because, well, Sonny didn't do the best job of wrapping it. Inside is a hardcover book - The Noiseless River or rather, those words in Italian. The book is by a man named Giovanni Benito, a famous and well-respected modern Italian poet. He's seen Teo with an earlier book by the man. Inside the cover is an inscription, personalized to him, with a line from one of his earlier poems in flowy script.

"He uh…he's in New York. He's doing a reading this weekend. My…aunt's the chair of this Italian-American committee. She worked really hard to get him here. There's a private reading at the home of a family friend. Thought maybe you'd want to come. With me."

Sprawled across cold tiles, knees up under the cabinets, Teodoro — stares. Up, at the book in his hands, against the stretch of ceiling further beyond it. He isn't really sure why he's staring, exactly; it isn't the first book he's ever been given by someone with reasonably discerning taste. The verbal caption did it, maybe. The invitation. Not the first time he's ever been to a reading, not the first—

His thought processes stall out. He inhales once, loudly, through his nose, loudly. Too loud. He shuts his eyes and the sight of the book cover away with it, lays the novel down on his face, where its planar surface balances between the tip of his nose and his forehead.

"Wh…what?" Sonny grins a little awkwardly and shifts his weight from one foot to the other. "If you're not really a fan of him, I understand. I woulda asked you first, but it would have wrecked the surprise."

There's a little quiver of self-consciousness in his voice. "Or…if you have plans that day. It's not a big deal. I wouldn't go if you weren't coming with me. He reads in all Italian. Sounds gorgeous, but I have no idea what he's saying." A little laugh. He pushes his fingers through the mass of his curly hair.

Nothing, Teo thinks. Forgets to say. His fingers reclose on the spine of the book, swivel it where it rests on his face, and he pulls it off after a moment. The book tilts in his palm and he stretches an arm backward, behind him, grips the edge of the counter and begins to squirm off, out of the kitchen and onto the living room floor in a dervish of swinging legs. "I don't.

"Have plans. Yet. I don't think— I love his writing. He's really good." Bare feet hit the hard wood, and he runs his forearm over his face like a paint roller. The living room suddenly seems very small, measured in short, fierce strides until he hangs a sharp halt at the window. Turns. "This is really amazing, you know?"

Sonny watches Teo go. He can't quite figure the young Italian out - but then, this isn't really the first time. The doc follows after him for a few steps and stands in the threshold from the kitchen to the living room.

"S'nothing, you know. I got the invite. Thought maybe you'd appreciate it. More than I would. I'm not very literary." He twists a little smile. "Hell, the man barely speaks English. Took me twenty minutes to communicate that I wanted him to sign the book for someone other than me."

After a very, very long moment, Teo lets the book go. It goes onto the coffee table, leading edge sliding out across the glass before the other falls off his fingertips and the cover drops down on the surface with a quiet clap of percussion. He obviously doesn't want to let the book go. There's something coveting about the stare that stays with it.

Teo is very simple, really, commonplace in most ways.

Like most people, he only really feels his conscience when he feels his conscience. Some queasy, rolling, hammering ache in the walls of his skull and contracted core of his stomach. Teo proceeds to look awful and say, "You're the stupidest smart person I've ever met, next to me."

Sonny gives Teo a long look, then tilts his head. A hand goes up to scratch just above his left ear. "What's that supposed to mean?" He smiles, but it's awkward rather than genuine. He takes another step towards the other. "You look like you're gonna throw up or something. What's the matter? Did I do something wrong? Was it…" He inhales through his nose and folds his arms across his chest. He doesn't say anything else.

Did he cross some line that he didn't realize was there? And he's been worried about pushing too. He sinks down onto the living room chair. He doesn't know what to say. He doesn't understand Teo's reaction. The carpet gets a very long look.

The carpet fails entirely to inspire either of them, trod on and stared at. The feel of the window's gridded frame does differently, after Teo sets his back against it and leans in, hard enough to feel the bite of cold, brushed metal into the skin of his back, mathematically precise geometry at odds with the miserable sag of his shoulders. He does kind of want to throw up.

It's that Yeats poem-song lurching into ugly orifice reverse. Ridiculously, his hands wind up knotted behind him as if he was a penitent child: he is.

"I cheated on you."

Sonny is staring at the knotted fibres of sandalwood coloured carpet when those words hit. And they do hit. The process of hearing them is like a physical strike. Teo suddenly isn't the only one who feels nauseous.

There's no response to that for what feels like an eternity. A cold sweat breaks out across the doctor's forehead. He swallows and starts to open his mouth several times, but no words come. Then, after a few tries, he manages to croak out. "You did." He doesn't even have enough control over his voice to make it a question.

He clears his throat and shifts his position a little, but still he doesn't look at Teo. "Why?"

Teo's jaws part and then meet again with a click that only he can hear, reverberating through the bones of his own head. His first effort to respond thus ends in failure. So does the second. The third is no more successful and no less draining; his knees end up folding underneath him, settling him on the floor, seated, a palm wiping the dry heat from his right eye. "Several reasons.

"No good ones. I was fucked up drunk, and… something happened in my family— he was there, came onto me. I'd been doing crazy shit all night.

"Tried to get him to fucking kill me at one point, I think, and I know that just makes it worse, I j— I'm sorry." The voice the last two words come in is not quite his own, staggered, half-swallowed on its way out, as if trying to duck back into retreat, cowardly the way that a white knight ought not to be.

There's several things Sonny could say to that - several reactions he could have. He could be angry. There are things he could break, hurtful words he could shout. He could blame himself, which is actually his first reaction. But really, he can't think clearly for the hurt. It sticks invisible spines all over his body. It makes his breathing a little ragged.


He stands. His eyes are still cast down. "I…need some time, Teo. To think. I…" a hesitation. "…I'm going to the condo."

He starts to move towards the door, stops, then starts again. He folds his hands around his jacket, but doesn't put it on right away.

Wouldn't be the first time Teo's ever cheated before, which makes him inculpable rather than exculpating him in the slightest. He knows this. He knows better. He often does, and it's as much a matter of intelligence as of basic human decency. He'd been drunk. That isn't an excuse or, at least, as he had said—

Not a good one. Still, somehow this hurts, feels unfair, that it ought not to happen: Sonny walking out on him. Teo stares at the other man miserably from across the room, over the top of the book and the table. He bites out the monosyllables in measured inches, as if he is trying very hard to be sparing though he understands, in crystalline clarity, that he isn't trying hard enough.

"Please don't."

Sonny pauses, clenches the jacket in his hand. He inhales a sharp breath through his nose. When he speaks, the words are soft. His voice cracks. "How am I supposed to feel, Teo? What am I supposed to say? I…pushed you in to being monogamous. I pushed to join Phoenix. You didn't want either of those things." He stares up at the ceiling, then thrusts an arm through the sleeve of his jacket.

"And now you're telling me that you were drunk and suicidal and so you fucked someone else? I didn't realize you were so unhappy. And I can't, because you don't talk to me about anything."

He exhales, sticks his arm into the other sleeve. "I am not…leaving you. Because I fucking care about you and you can't get rid of me by making one stupid mistake. But I need to clear my head."

There is not a lot that Teo can say to that. Actually, there isn't anything he can say to that.

He stews in a wilting sort of silence for a moment, feeling proportionally worse at the reassurances that Salvatore gives him, and worse still that they actually work to salve his parasitic insecurities in some ludicrously self-centered way. Sonny isn't going to leave. Sonny really should. Punishments ought to be proportional to sins and Teo is pretty sure he did a bad one. He forgets that not everybody thinks that way.

And fails eternally to grasp that Sonny thinks better of him than that. The corner of his mouth sinks inward, a cripple of a smile that is designed to indicate acceptance. His hands flatten on the floor. "'S there anything you want me to do while you're gone?" he asks dully.

"What kind of a question is that?" Sonny finds his voice raising. He stares openly at Teo for the first time since the argument began. He manages to dial it back, to pull it under control. Now he's exasperated rather than just simply hurt.

"You wanna do something? Think. Think real hard. Do you want to be with me? Because I care about you too much to make you feel trapped or self-destructive because you're somewhere you don't want to be. Ask yourself why you really fucked him. Really. If you only agreed to get serious because you didn't want to lose me? That's not enough of a reason. And you'll cheat again. Or you'll start resenting me."

He turns away, one hand on the door. His shoulders hunch, and for a moment, he looks like he might turn back. And then he murmurs, "I love you, you stupid fucker."

And then he's out the door. It slams heavily behind him.

March 17th: Savory Company
March 17th: Babysteps
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