Not Purgatory


dantes_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Purgatory
Synopsis On the business half of the program, Dantes could use more help staying dead — as well as keeping an eye on the living ones he'd left. After that, Teo tries to turn some inescapable intimacy issue into a forgettable sexual mistake, which probably wouldn't take a decade and a half of cop training to see through. Bad decision time is all the time, and while nothing goes especially well, it goes.
Date December 29, 2008

A Safehouse

It's a spare loft, divided into neat rooms. SOme of which are locked away, lest Minea's sensitive work be disturbed. One of which is Fel's bedroom, such as it is. Not much to it - a bed, a dresser, a nightstand. He's been very good, keeping his head down for the moment. At the moment, he's lounging on the bed in jeans and a loose white dres shirt, reading 'The Gunslinger' by Stephen King. It's very quiet, with no one else but him there.

You don't live in Manhattan for that long without becoming acclimated— or even reliant, to an extent, on noise. It's quiet here like it never gets in the ruins, well-maintained architecture fortified against the weather and the noise of massed sheep with their winter wool and braying tongues. It doesn't bother Teo, exactly, but he notices it. He takes the stairs two by two, assesses fire escapes out through the windows in a manner that's almost automatic by now.

Stops at the door he was told of, and knocks with a characteristically Sicilian fist. The noise reverberates through the loft, difficult to mistake for Dantes' usual handlers.

The sound of soft footsteps follow, as Ed makes his way down to the main door. There's a peephole, darkened first by a hand, and then by an eye, before the door swings wide. Dantes is an oddly dark and saturnine figure in the gleaming modernity of the loft. "Enter freely and of your own will, and leave some of the happiness you bring," he recites, tone weary, rather than arch. He's barefoot, despite the chill. "I'm afraid it's just me, at the moment. Neither Christian nor the lady fair is in." He steps aside, to let Teo pass.

Heard the quote before, though it wasn't realy Teo's preferred genre of fiction. Leaves him scowling slightly into the bright and spacious recesses recesses of the loft, and questioning the vampire reference a moment too long before he dismisses that, too, as unnecessary. Tardy, there's a half a grin, two quiet syllables of gratitude, nodding, as he steps into the safehouse.

And then out of his shoes, automatic politeness, though he retains the layers of jacket and sweaters, dark relief to winter tan and dirty blond. He guesses at the open door inside, and glances over the closed ones without thinking about them. "I have a few friends who can get your paper documents backed up in the computer system. And give you another place to go to ground, if you need it.

"Being dead takes a lot of work," he observes, glancing back over his shoulder at the older man. He's thinking about Colette, a little.

"Less so when one is wise enough to not play revenant, and not show up before the living who knew you in your old life," Dantes points out, with some self-deprecating amusement. It's warm in the loft, really. There are no Christmas decorations, and there's a certain sterility to it. A space not really lived in, where those who stay there merely sojourn for a little while. "I can offer you something to drink, a little food. Was there something you needed?" he wonders, with a quizzical arch to his brows.

Socked feet don't make much noise despite the hard wood and corners that seem to resonate. Dropping Dantes from his peripheral, Teo tips his head back to look at the ceiling, along, down to where it connects with the load-bearing wall. "Really?" there's audible skepticism though he's momentarily turned away. "I'd go completely fucking crazy.

"Not going completely fucking crazy sounds like work to me." He inhales sharply, the huff of a dog. "Nah. Offering you those two things, mostly. Do you want them? Hackers, the second house? Both are secure. 'S much as this is, anyway," he says, turning around again. Crooked grin, crooked forefinger; he indicates everything in the loft including himself.

"Yes," Dantes says, without further thought, expression turning somber as he gently shuts the door behind Teo. His hair is spiked with damp from a recent shower, and he smells of nothing more virulent than soap. "I don't much like it, but I brought it on myself," he notes, heading for the gleaming chrome of the kitchen. Now, you'll have to filter it through Christian. He's sort of my boss, at the moment," he explains, gesturing negligently at the air, as if Christian were a myster beyond the power of words to explain. Which, arguably, he is. "But another hideyhole and more backups for my identities….that can't hurt. Drink?" he offers, again, over his shoulder. Sure, he's gonna be free with Chris's booze.

A nod bobs through the line of Teo's shoulders, the young man too lazy to separate the motion and restrain it to parts. He stops checking the premises out as if his demolitions crew was assigned to it, blinking focus on the gesture of hands and the speedster's figure dissipating into the kitchen at a perfectly ordinary pace of travel. "Grolsch. Grazie. I'll get him some more later." His head lists slightly on its axis as he walks to the juncture of living space and culinary space, stops before the line at which wood cedes to tile. "Hypothetical question." His brow thumps lazy impact against the doorframe. "If something happened to the Demskies, would you want to know about it?"

Dem-skies? Plural. What? The answer is written in his face, as he doesn't quite round on Teo. It's odd - his face and voice remain quite calm, almost blase, despite the nearly singing tension in his body. IT's redundant, but he answers, calmly, "Yes. Has something happened?" He goes about getting Teo a beer and himself one as well. It'd seem odd, to be drinking spirits when Teo's having something made from hops. The bare feet scuff on the tile,as he drifts around the kitchen.

Teo rings four fingers and a long tumb ring around the girth of the bottle, feels the chill of glassy condensation squeak against the scratchy fabric of cheap gloves. He lifts his head and fianlly steps in to brace the bottle against the counter, unlids it with a sharp strike of the heel of his hand. The twisted cap pops off and tinkles to a halt like an arcade token.

He sweeps it up in a hand and looks for a trash can. Neither the look nor the verbal answer surprise him; he'd guessed that Colette wasn't Judah's biological daughter, and that loyalty that steadfast went both ways. "Well, Felix Ivanov died. Nothing serious," he answers, wryly. "Nothing you can do anything about, anyway." He takes a pull of beer and pries the cabinet under the sink open with the toe of his sock. "When is everybody getting back in?"

Dantes looks….anywhere but Teo. Ostensibly to work on his own bottle, which he opens more sedately with the bottle-opener blade on a little Swiss army knife pulled from a pocket. "Yes, well," he says, blandly, though the dark eyes are unhappy. "So long as they're okay." Since most of this little masquerade was to protect them. The trashcan is under the sink. "Chris is out. Minea is, as well. Overnight thing, I think," he notes, rather vaguely. "I'm not so much in the loop, right now. Very much in the doghouse with Christian, you see."

Teo flips the bottle lid out of his thumb like you'd throw a coin all the wrong shape and size, off-balance, nothing even or random about the way it spins or falls. He doesn't look. A practical creature by nature, he wouldn't be one to base much off the odds of a coin-toss, no matter how inherently biased said coin was.

He registers that information, drinks his beer, and doesn't insist that the older man meet his eye while Dantes — Ivanov — discusses the ones he's left, winding his way out of the kitchen and making up his mind. He studies the windows and reads the faint tracery of shoeprints from the door without moving for exit. "I'll come back to see Chris tomorrow. Or give him a call. Have more shit to infodump, anyway. Signor.

"Do you get to come back to life after the bad guys are dead?" he cranes his head around as he finishes into a question-mark, never one to be rude.

The ones he's left, all he has left. Felix has done his best to leave no hostages to Fortune, as Bacon put it, and mostly succeeded. His shoulders are a little tight with worry, as he works on his own beer, padding out to roam aimlessly in the expanse of the rest of the loft. "I hope so," he says, flashing a brief, rather bitter smile. "I know a lot of people will be angry, but."

Bubbles column up the girth of Teo's beer bottle, another inch's worth of beer knocked down the meniscus by the time he tips it back upright and holds it up to the light to see. Through it, Dantes' grin is blurred and tinted green. Teo lowers the Grolsch the next moment, even though Dantes has already stepped out of the frame by then. "Better than some of the alternatives," he offers with a quirk of a grin. He means: better angry than dead. It doesn't bear elaboration aloud. "Il bambina — Colette. She's going by his name now. Colette Demsky," belated explanation. "I'll let you know if something happens to either of them."

"So, he adopted her," Felix's voice is gently musing. Pleased, a bit, but mournful. It stinks, being banished from his old life. "Interesting." He takes another swallow of his own beer, but he's not savoring it. More dosing himself, as if it were medicine. "How do you know them?" he wonders, swinging his gaze back to Teo, a faint, intent frown on his brow. It's the cop face, or one of them. Odd how the expressions don't change, even when face and body do.

Teo is almost entirely incapable of the classic Gallic shrug — the one that says nothing. He manages something near enough this time, though there's still a sheepish underpinning of uncertainty. "He might have. I didn't nose around their paperwork. Figured one of them chose to make their family a little bigger, one way or another." There's nothing remotely disingenuous about the smile Teo wears then. His mother taught him: smile because you mean it. It's nice. Good for them.

Less so for Ivanov, apparently. "I'm not sure. Weird story. We know some of the same people. And I'm not talking about PARIAH, there's no bomb under Judah's car. On my honor." A palm up, out, only a touch exaggerated out of instinctive repugnance for the fucking cop face, too deeply ingrained for him to entirely ignore.

There's that hound look in Dantes's eyes, for a moment. "Oh?" he wonders, tone faint, flat, with only the barest hint of dangerous amusement. Woe to anyone foolish enough to harass Judah or Colette. Especially now - you can't prosecute a ghost for murder. And then he drops his gaze, reassembling his composure. Or semblance of humanity, anyway - he grimaces at the wooden floor, as if reminding himself of something unpleasant.

Nor can you prosecute a murderer for exorcising a ghost. You can, however, shoot a dog dead, and wring blood out of a statue of a man who's become more of a metaphor than a living thing these days, the dead starling frozen in place on a bough or the subtle wrongness of a cyborg's sprint.

Any metaphor for a man is necessarily dehumanizing. Teo, on the other hand, is merely Teo. He may harbor less fear of the erstwhile FBI agent than he ought to. "Or if there is one, our people didn't put it there," he says, ruefully, by way of disclaimer. He wiggles the Groslch bottle, the line of his wrist turning a loop. Watches Dantes grimace, then the door, guesses at thought, hours, and other things that tend to turn for the darker. It's too early to be drinking.

"Do you like men?"

Now there's a question so far out of left field it's from the pitch of another sport entirely. Rugby, maybe. And Fel is left entirely nonplussed, as he looks up and blinks at Teo like an owlet dragged suddenly into the light. "I…..what? I do. Women as well," he says, startled into bluntness. Or perhaps he simply doesn't care - his tone's certainly offhand. "Yes, I'm beginning to discern the variations in the various pro-Evolved underground groups," he says, with a sigh. It's in earnest, though, rather than sarcastic. Not so foolish as to tar them all with the same black brush. "Why d'you ask?"

"It's kind of funny that Chris was the one giving you shit for being a tactless fuck." Teo's grinning when he says it. Not because it isn't serious, but because gallows humor works in either the government spooks' trade or his. "You weren't supposed to know that." No rancor, not really.

Where Teo comes from, good Catholic boys fear men, not demons, angels, or ghosts. Mortal error is merely that. He recognizes Dantes' expression. He tends to dismay Hana this way, too. Maybe on purpose. Ex-Feds and their fucking poker-faces. He lets the bottleneck slide down between his fingers at his side, tightens them before he drops it and swings a gesture at the one room door that was left ajar. With all the subtlety and ulterior intent as a bite, he asks: "Want to help me figure out if I do?"

Was that a- it was. Dantes just stares, going first white, and then red - a slow flush climbing up from his collar. One can practically hear the mental gears grinding. He looks at Teo, beer momentarily forgotten in his hand. Really -looks-. "Supposed to know what?" he asks, in a voice gone somewhat smaller than previously. And then he's struggling for a good reply, finally settling on, "I….uh. You're very beautiful, so want to, yes." By his tone, he's not so much paying a compliment as offering a grim prognosis, as if beauty were a terminal disease. "I don't think it's any kind of a good idea, though," he adds, toying nervously with the label of the bottle. "You barely know me."

That's the point, sort of. "What I do for a living." Dantes would be the wrong person for most things, a fact that Teo is intelligent enough to confront with uncomfortable clarity — but he isn't used to there being a right person for this thing, so clarity hurts and Grolsch isn't helping. Nor is getting intermittently beaten, stabbed, strangled, or told he's pretty.

He's okay: his brother is better. He restrains the urge to convey this information with a glare. The older man's flush helps, a little. Felix can't help it if he's been in America so long that the prudery rubbed off, Teo thinks, conveniently forgetting his own abstinence of however long was based on foundations as flimsy or strong. "I haven't slept with anybody since the last time I went to a clinic, and…" he shuts up by shutting his teeth, an audible click. He decides he should be nicer. Looks at the floor, as if the weight of his gaze had been the discomfort.

"Would that be okay?"

Not so much rubbed off as been veneered over plain old Russian homophobia. His throat works once, before he replies. "It's not matter of your shots. I'm sure you're fine," he says, very gently, setting the bottle down on a table before he does something stupid, like break it. "I don't….you don't know me. Why me?" he asks, clearly confused, and very uncertain of what to do with his hands. Trying not to look at Teo too desperately, like a pit bull confronted with a butcher chop.

"I don't like being with people I know," Teo tells the floor, at last, after what seems like far to much premeditation to be the truth. Fortunately, it sounds like a mundane and commonplace enough dysfunction to be convincing. Teo hopes so, anyway. He isn't sure if it is, or if it merely boasts verisimilitude; troubled young men who divide their time between terrorist factions and Agent Christian Powell's rooftop can not be relied on to make carnal choices that everybody understands. His fingers curl tighter on the bottle glass. There's a beat's lag. No false sugar: "And you're beautiful too."

Dantes spreads his hands. "This isn't even my -face-," he says, with something that sounds like despair in his voice. He takes up pacing….it's aimless, at first, until the fact that Christian does in fact have real spirits on hand comes to mind. Having profaned the beer stash, he'll go for the actual vodka now. It takes him past Teo, presumably. He's still flushed, pulse beating in his throat. Better to distance himself a little from temptation.

This is a somewhat more arduous task than Teo had initially anticipated, honestly. A fact which somehow fails entirely to embarrass him; he's bizarrely selective about the things that bother him. Beating up girls does. Rejection doesn't. Turning his head to watch, his brow knits slightly and he studies Dantes out from underneath it, reading to read him as if the older man's posture, expression, and choice of words were all chickscratched in Sanskrit.

Teo's Sanskrit is rusty. "You don't know if this one is mine," he points out, presently. His step is uneven — faltering, as he picks up his feet to follow to the kitchen. Not because he's drunk; not nearly. Because he's taking his socks off, a finger hooked into cotten, an ankle shucked bare and then five perfectly formed toes.

"Are you even old enough to drink?" wonders Dantes, looking back over his shoulder even as he makes free with what vodka there is on hand. He's got grace enough to pour it into a pair of shots, rather than just swig from the bottle, at least. "And you're right, I don't," he admits, before looking away, and closing his eyes for a moment. As if fending off a headache. Or trying to dismiss the vision of Teo, pliant and willing, in the bedroom upstairs.

Been there. Oh, Teo's been there. Headaches, bodies; it's hard trying to grow out of being yourself. He sympathizes with what he can see until that jarrs him enough to have to look away, folding his socks together, neat as living with Abigail Beauchamp induces a bachelor to be. He glances over his shoulder and pitches them back over to his shoes with a long arm.

And he doesn't answer the question because he'd rather not dignify it and, also, because he's busy shrugging off his jacket, a slithering scrape and flap of quilted canvas. One arm still sleeved, holding the jacket off the floor if skewed, he steps over to steal the shot of vodka not taken. Abandons the Grolsch and cedes the diminutive cup, but not Felix's personal space, looking at the bottle of vodka with a future investor's blank curiosity.

Apparently Felix Ivanov in the fictional present is less of a… whatever, than Teodoro Laudani was in actual history. Teo squints. Between the next shot of vodka and the escapist's eye, he realizes that this may be more than a matter of making it easy to say yes: he might actually have to make it hard to say no.

Or something. A train of thought that also engenders the hunch that there's something a little wrong with him right now, but it's a little late, he's already started doing something about it, conveniently forgetting that casual sex that no one ever found out about didn't bring him back over the edge last time, or the time before. Some part of him insists he's not a creep. No grabbing.

But he does reach over. Put four fingers on Dantes' wrist, the closer one, scraping around and up the older man's arm as if he's circling candycane stripes until his fingernails thrill the thin skin of Dantes' inner-arm, rucking up the dress shirt's pristine white sleeve. He dips his nose into a brief sniff at the nape of Dantes' neck, near enough to be felt without being close enough to touch. Ordinary soap. Good. "'S there someone else?"

"No," Edward says, still hoarse. His other hand was reaching for the shot he's just poured, but that touch has him going still, like a horse who's just had a hand put on his bridle. The pulse is jumping in his throat. "We can't do this," he says, musingly, looking at Teo sidelong. "Whatever nonperson I am now…..when all this is done, if it goes right, I go back to who I was. And the person I was is a Fed, too, Teo. Now, Rickham's election may herald a new day for the Evolved, and things may loosen up. But I'll believe that when I see that, and at the moment, I'm little more than one step up from the Gestapo. Whomever you work with may be benign. Good for you. But I can't afford to have some terrorist kid as my lover. Nevermind the age difference. I'm thirtysix, Teo, and you look like you're barely old enough to vote," He sighs, and it's a shuddering breath, as he tries to force the cerebral processes, rather than more base impulses, into the mental driver's seat. He puts a hand over Teo's - not yet forcing it off his skin, but stopping any further attempts to continue in that vein. "Not to mention…what would those you work with do, if they thought you were sleeping with a cop?"

Persistence characterizes the sons of Sicily in a crux, and Teo's honestly barely gotten started here. Given the choice between running away, self-destructing, or fighting, he would readily opt for doing all three at once. He isn't going anywhere, not yet. Alexander, Eve, and Kazimir Volken are out there, somewhere. "I'm twenty-six.

"My name isn't Romeo or Julio, and I don't mind if you shove everything in the washing machine and forget before twelve AM, never mind your fucking Lazarus Day." There's no emphasis on the swear word, no heat in his words that could be attributed to something other than the idle interest he takes in the hand that stopped his own.

His thumb nail circumscribes the round bone of the other man's knuckles, metacarpi, looking for geometry and straight lines though there are none in nature; not even in Dantes'. His heart is going faster now, a familiar kind. It's a relief.

The other man is utterly still, now, though he licks lips gone dry. The vodka is burning in the pit of his stomach, a steady blue flame, and the room is way too warm. That would explain the sweat gleaming at his temples, right? "I can't do this," he whispers, closing his eyes,as if even the weight of lids were too much. "I just can't." He opens his eyes again, slowly, meeting Teo's gaze. "I'm not interested in being used, no matter how pleasurable the use or how beautiful the user." His words are sure, but his body's apparently still ambivalent - he hasn't shoved past Teo, nor has he forced that hand away.

For whatever reason, that strikes Teo as funny. The eyes that Dantes is looking at go slightly crescent-shaped with amusement. That sounds like something I would say. If he were capable of articulating his sentiments instead of dishonestly projecting them onto other people, anyway. His thoughts shift as he searches the older man's face, and mirth drains away like dirty water out of an unplugged bathtub, leaving his angular face uncharacteristically empty though the older man has no way of knowing how deeply uncharacteristic that is.

"That a self-esteem thing, or what?" Still just hands. Just hands. Teo keeps his fingernails functionally short. The scrape of them sharpens when he puts enough pressure into them to demarcate their travel in lines of sanguine pink against pallor, moving in place where trapped, on the inside of Dantes' forearm, until his hand closes experimentally into a grip.

"That's a being too old and tired, and having too much on my conscience already," Dantes says, quietly. He's just waiting, now. "What was funny?" he wonders, ducking his head to eye Teo, manner now almost resigned. Presumably if he had the will to force this to its end, he'd've done so. Or maybe it needs more vodka, becauese he goes for that shot, finally.

Private speculation has it, that if this is going to ride somebody's conscience, it probably shouldn't be Dantes'. Felix's. Fucking names. Teo should probably stop giving people his real one. A shrug lists through his shoulders and grip changes to tug, turning the older man around as best he can presumably so he can see. "You must be Catholic." Six syllables, because that's a good number. He gets close, toes squeezing up against then in under Felix's toes, as if to compensate for their subtle difference in height, because he's helpful like that. Or at least, he's pretended to be for long enough.

The Sicilian is standing really close now. Really close, almost steepled against Dantes frame, hips match, faces nearly aligned, watching him with something akin to curiosity, a stationary kind of grace, the patience of the inferior waiting for his sentence, some gesture, signal, word. Yes would work. He doubts it'd help if he said 'please.'

Dantes dispatches the shot of vodka without any real relish. The only result is a slight deepening to the flush on his cheeks. "Something like that," he says, with a smile that's half a liplifted snarl. "ROCOR, but I went to a parochial school. Sa-" Sacred Heart, he's about to say, but doesn't finish. It's sort of a token effort, since Teo does know his real name, but. He lets himself be tugged, and says, with a sort of patient sadness, "Kid. Go home."

"Hit me and I will," Teo replies, reluctantly enough to pass for an authentic promise, even without the assurance: "I promise." He means it. It's not that hard to recognize good intentions, even if Felix Ivanov seems to have a tendency to maul everything between said intent and its realization, from the Demskies to Deckard's peace of mind, a Ferrymen safehous, Christian's trust. It is warm in here, true; not as warm as he'd like, but he's from Sicily. The reek of vodka on Dantes' breath is mitigated by the rankling of the shot he'd taken himself. He releases Dantes' arm and links his hands behind his back, doesn't quite smile, his eyes manic under lazy lids: one free shot.

"Hit you?" He's not drunk enough that he's lost English. It takes a lot of booze to get him there, these days. But he's all but stammering in confusion. "No," he says, with an uncertain smile. "No." He taps the stitched bullet wound that'd punched through the back of his trapezius. "I think we're even. You shot me, I pointed gun at you. Enough wounds between us, huh?" His accent has begun to creep in, however. "Go, chuvak. You make me feel old."

Teo hadn't explained very well, apparently. It's the best way to get something through his skull, hitting him. He's calm here like he never is with Phoenix, despite his heart hammering in the hollow side of Dantes' chest, pupils dilated, and the amount of effort it takes for him not to sound like he's setting a wasp hive and himself on fire. "Pozhalujsta." He does smile then, a little one, like a card taped to a trinket — not a thank you, but a bizarre little apology in contrast and complement to his spoken word, I have to try, before he tries to kiss Edward Dantes on the mouth. Found the line, pushing it.

The older man's lips twist wryly. But whatever answer he was going to give is lost. His own heart is racketing in his ribs. The kiss is a question at first, as if Dantes were really certain that Teo was going to draw away in revulsion. Tentative, for a little. But it's not long before it's a crushing and desperate thing, his hands coming up to the Sicilian's waist. And then he shoves Teo back - gently, but firmly.

Discomfitted by the grasp on his waist and the residual scald of vodka left on the walls of his mouth after he's stopped in the end — middle — beginning — of wolfing down Dantes'. He's left looking a little confused, florid lip and hazey stare, the belligerent kind of confused, wilful ignorance struggling against the vague awareness that he really isn't wanted here.

And not for reasons he could scoff at or shrug away, because he lacks malice and indifference to pain. He's creating pain. Somehow. His feet were underneath Dantes', and the curl of toes is the latest evidence that physical disinterest isn't the problem. Some mask, he catches himself thinking. His hands aren't behind his back anymore.

"Okay. What the fuck was that for?" He doesn't mean the kissing or the shoving away; he means the both of them together. His voice doesn't fit in his throat right, hoarse.

"Because you need to go, before we both end up doing something disastrously stupid," More stupid than this. The sequel to dumb, apparently. Dantes is badly flushed, now, not just on the high cheekbones. "I'm not made of ice, it's been way too long and I shouldn't be behaving like this. I'm sorry," he says, voice rough as well. Not wanted here, precisely. Upstairs on the cotton sheets, perhaps a bit more.

There is a new line of tension thrumming through the outline of Teo's tall frame under Dantes' hands, beating on his palms like a second pulse. Annoyance. Lust. Something red. "You're not made of glass, either. Nor'm I." Not a bad argument, he's fairly sure. Fighting comes with the blood. "What's the fucking problem?" Uncertain he can manage the pitch of his voice, he keeps himself at a monotone. Almost skins the flat of his foot against the tile below as he steps forward again, distinctly predatory, all parts wolfishly confrontational.

"Because it isn't right," he says, patiently, gaze searching the younger man's face. "It's not smart." His hand comes up to grasp Teo's collar, as if he'd fling the younger man back from him. It doesn't quite workout that way - instead, he's held at that distance, whispering close. And Dantes has in fact dropped his voice to that level, though there's no one to overhear. "Man. Christian would blow a blood vessel if he thought I'd fucked you," he says, shaking his head.

Snagged by the scruff, Teo stares out from over the skewed collar of his shirt through pallid eyes, trying to insist there's no point in searching, there's nothing to find. The expression falters momentarily when Powell's mentioned. His friend. The kind of friend you help to move corpses, the kind who shows you how he feels about you killing yourself biking without a helmet by hacking your shirt open and dragging you twenty yards down tarmac.

A good friend. Might do more than blow a vessel. "Point is, no one knows, signor," he says, brittly. "Non deve essere una c—" As explanations go, that's a poor one. He sighs, and can't bring himself to do more or less than breathe in the languid heat off Dantes' face. Stalemate.

"Shut up," says Dantes, with only a thread of that bitterness in his voice. And then suits the action to the word by kissing Teo again. Apparently lust has won out over sense, at least for the moment. That deathgrip on the Sicilian's collar is relinquished in favor of one hand set awkwardly at the joining of shoulder and throat, fingers curling towards his nape. It's not a companionable gesture, really.

Though a verbal oath Chris would never hear about this would be better, Teo will settle for shutting up. The line of his collar is all twisted, a butchered sine curve to mark the uneven bars of Dantes' fist. The rest of him isn't faring all that much better, breathing staccato now and staggered the next, nose to cheek and his balance shunting off-center and weight teetering between his feet and the snare of hands on Dantes' belt loops. He dosen't really have any idea of how strong the older man is; will have to hope that nobody's scalp slams blood onto the bottom edge of a cabinet before this is over.

Surprisingly strong, considering his build. He's sinewy and slight, not bulky. Sensing that lack of balance, he swings Teo away from the counter a little, setting one hand to the younger man's shoulder and the other to the opposing hit, like settling a toddler back on his feet after a fall. That should help. He himself steps back, breaking the kiss to breathe raggedly for a moment, hands curled into fists. "I'm going upstairs," he says, simply. Not an offer or an order, but a statement of fact. Apparently it's now back in Teo's half of the court.

Upstairs has..? Oh. Yeah. "Okay." There's a blink of dilated eyes that makes Teo look momentarily rather stoned, immune to the light displaced by Dantes' shadow. His half of the court echoes once, twice, reverberating hollowly in the cold air of triumph. In the last month, he's met his quota of second thoughts to do him his whole life. He glances down and kicks his jacket where it had fallen, a swift, arching motion of a foot. "We're going upstairs," he confirms, intelligently.

The look Dantes slants Teo over his shoulder is unreadable, dark eyes opaque. He doesn't comment, or look back a second time, heading up the stairs with that noiseless tread to the bedroom on the right. The decor is spartan to the point of nonexistence - a nightstand with a lamp, a fullsize bed, a dresser. There's a suitcase at the end of the bed, as if Felix were merely a guest staying a night before moving on.

That might more accurately describe Teo, if it were closer to evening. As it is, the windows they'd left downstairs showed an obnoxious sunshine glistening over frost-rimed facades and powered sugar snowdrifts, grating; he prefers this retreat somewhat, can see why Felix Ivanov might feel safer in this cage. Sees the King novel Dantes had been interrupted reading, has no associations with it. His eyes close and open without a wrinkle.

He grips the bottom of his sweater and whatever garment he's worn layered underneath, and shucks it off in one smooth flex of tattooed muscle and unremarkable scars. His expression has gone dark with basic intent, but there's no pretense in the smile he cracks, walking closer, reaching over.

Dantes is not smiling. His expression is merely wolfish, since this is no fond lovers' tryst. His conscience is already nipping eagerly at his heels. But something in his posture relaxes visibly - he may have assented before, but now he actually yields, shutting the door behind them ever so gently. One the latch has clicked home, he gestures mutely at the bed, before reaching for Teo. There's no hint of that earlier near-brutality - his anger's defused, for now.

Dantes' hand meets nothing but empty air, Teo evading with a long loop of a stride that could almost pass for an accident, as easy as playing, even as he reaches and snags the older man's lifted wrist out of the air. His frame goes taut then, when he throws his own weight with a child's haphazard recklessness, to yank the older man off his feet and onto the mattress. He'll step onto it the next moment, long frame folded into a crouch, his head jerking slightly on its axis, erratic as his eyes shift to and fro, saccadic, trying to decide whether shirt buttons would be a selfish sacrifice.

Wait, it's not supposed to go like this. Dantes is clearly startled, and just as clearly steps on his defensive reflexes. That's not an attack. But his eyes are a little white rimmed, as he tries to sit up from the throw. How much of a wrestling match is this going to turn out to be?

Not much of one. Seeing out of his peripheral, Teo almost looks sorry the next moment, but that wouldn't really do for the theme of the experience, too much like the himself that he's doing his best to ignore right now. He shutters a slow blink, and looks up. One bare arm over his knee, fingers trailed on the bedspread, the other coiled close to his stomach, his frame stiff either from the unexpected pang of guilt or, uglier, the faint urge to laugh at it. He holds.

There's a faint, stifled sigh from Dantes, and he reaches for Teo again, with the gentleness of a falconer trying to tame a hawk. "Your tattoos, what do they mean?" he asks quietly, one hand working on the buttons on the dress shirt he's wearing. Not quite fumbling - he's been wearing something similar nearly every day of his adult life, at least since college.

This time, Teo neither eludes nor counters. The older man's hand finds his arm, leg, jaw, whatever it is he's trying to grasp. There's a hitch of hesitation before he drops his head, nosing the zag of Dantes' knuckles even as he reaches back to pull off the thin gold chain that carries its tiny crucifix underneath his clothes at all other times. That first.

The Para-Ordnance is second, from where it's holstered on his calf under the rumpled fabric of his pant leg. "Football shit," a thumb jerked over his back; eagle on his shoulderblade. "Sailing." The cross and the ship on the verge of wreck on his arm, boasting a banner: Never knows best. "Westminster Abbey, and that looked cool." Other bicep, where four upside-down lines of bold text form a cuff, above a triangle too simple to pass for tribal.

"And the one you can't see yet says 'She awaits no King' in Italian. So: nothing." He looks up, though not for long. Curious about the contents of the shirt. He has forgotten to smile.

There are no tattoos on him. Just scars. Bullet wounds - two on the left side of his chest, one tucked under the collar bone, one almost at the heart. The one Teo gave him is still webbed with that odd adhesive bandage stuff, but it's a nearly healed scar. One in the left bicep, fairly new. Over the right hip, there's a long, seamed cut scar. He eyes the gun with dry amusement, but does not comment. Sonny's work has added no bulk to him - he's still very lean, bones and sinews stark under the skin, from throat to waist. He strokes Teo's hair with a palm - it's oddly tender, especially from him - before dropping his gaze and working on the buttons of the cuffs. There's a silver saint's medal gleaming against the pale skin of his chest, but he doesn't move to take it off.

The expression that shades Teo's face from under the patting hand looks a little like a flinch, but he needs to keep both his eyes open to figure out what that medal is and he does so, fastidiously, ignoring the pulse rolling, thundering in his ears and the ache starting behind his face, impatience and trepidation in equal proportions. The removed accessories sit with Stephen King.

The bed creaks under him as he shifts onto a knee, closer, an arm propping him up over Dantes' side, the tangled snarl of his off-blond hair failing to entirely obstruct Michael's etched face and figure. "The patron saint of assholes," he observes. "Perfect. 'N' that?" The long scar. He almost touches, but his fingers curl away like paper cindering at the lick of flame; still holding.

"If by assholes you mean cops, yes," Fel acknowledges, with a sphinx's smirk. He comes up to his knees for a moment, as he shoulders out of the shirt, and pauses, blinking, at the scar. AS if he'd forgotten he had it. "Sabre," he says, briefly. "I fence. Modern weapons are safe, of course. Rubber tips. But if you break one off, it's an effective shiv. And that's what happned in the middle of the meet. I was wearing an old-style canvas jacket, and it punched right through. It was just a flesh wound," he says, dismissively, leaning to drop the shirt on the floor by the nightstand. And then he's pulling Teo up for a kiss, cupping a hand along the line of the younger man's jaw. No more talking for a little, please.

When the older man rises to rid himself of the garment, Teo doesn't get out of the way; ends up with Michael's metal contours nudged cold against his cheek while he continues to study the scar up close, his hair scruffy soft on Dantes' chest as he thinks that over. Fencing. Fucking pretentious, he decides after a moment, secure in retained dislike.

By assholes, he meant cops. Yep. The next moment, he permits his head to be lifted by someone else's hand, corded muscle lengthening under the ink-marred line of his back as he obliges Dantes' request.

Fiercer, after a moment, because it's the only way he's ever learned to determine any given sexual dynamic or partner's preference other than talking, and he doesn't know how long the talking is off for.


Purgatory [pur-guh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]

4. serving to cleanse, purify, or expiate.

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