Say It Like You Mean It


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Scene Title Say Like You Mean It
Synopsis The Love Doctor would like to apologize for his unprofessional conduct (re: being utterly shitfaced) during their last session. Patient points out the Love Doctor seems like he could use a head doctor and offers general help. The answer is a haggard No. Alexander comes in in time for Teo to tell him a reasonable facsimile of the truth. It's all downhill from there.
Date January 8, 2008

The Bronx — Abby, Alexander and Teo's Apartment

It's not overly spacious, It's a New York area apartment. But it suits it's residents purposes. An open kitchen, crammed with all the accoutrements needed to cook, a dining table shoved against the far wall with chairs tucked in. A living room with a fairly new red suede couch shoved up agaisnt a window and TV set opposite on a stand makes up the rest of the communal living area. It looks fairly newly occupied and the personal touches not put to it yet. Five doors down a hall lead to three separate bedrooms, a bathroom and linen closet. What's behind the doors remains a mystery unless one of the residents leaves a door open, though if someone knows the residents, the simple gold cross above one door indicates where the woman in this place lives.

It seems that Sonny's life has become more complex lately. Death threats, corpses, lover's spats, untrustworthy potential friends and hangovers. What happened to the life of parties and pretty people, man?! It's just the latest in a line of awkward events that has the doc at the shared apartment again. He has no idea if Teo's home, or if he is, how many others are there, but he was driving through the neighborhood, so it was worth a shot.

Click. Static bursts, fizzles away over the first syllable of Teo's voice, accentless and momentarily deprived of Italian. Which may be attributed to paranoia if you know him well enough, but Sonny probably wouldn't. "Hello?"

"Uh, hi Teo. It's Sonny. Can I…come up?" The doc sounds both a little sheepish and a little hoarse.

Sheepish applies to Teodoro also. "Oh." Quaver-beat. "Of course, mi dispiace. Let me just… is it open?" Bzzzzzz. The metallic noise reverberates out of the small sound grille, echoed by the rusty click of the door popping open in front of Sonny, with a slight adjustment of his reflection in the plateglass. "That work?"

"Got it," says Sonny. Then there's the sound of the door closing shut behind him. Not long after, there's the sound of footsteps on the stairs and a knock on his door. The doc's looking more clean-cut than Teo himself has ever seen. That is to say, the expensive suit, purple silk tie, clean-shaven face and styled hair are usual for him - just not when on Ferrymen business.

When Sonny's knuckles contact the door, the hinges squeak and it pushes open a half inch, showing the night chain but otherwise unlocked. There's a hasty scuff of bare feet, a slice of Teo's shoulder showing between doorframe and doorjamb as he unhooks the chain and eases the way open for the doctor. Who's— rather fancily dressed, for the first time that Teodoro's ever seen other than when he was a three-inch figure, two-dimensional, walking across the television screen.

This warrants a blink: Teo's rather shabbily dressed right now, because he's always rather shabbily dressed. Sweater crooked on his shoulders, jeans belted to his hips, a black cat twining around his ankles. "I think the value of this place went up just having you inside the property lines," he offers by way of compliment.

"That's right. I guess you've never seen me in anything but that wool hat and second hand sweaters, have you? I just came from work." Sonny grins a bit awkwardly and clears his throat. "I'm not…catching you at a bad time, am I?"

"No, no, absolutely not. Nothing going on here just yet," Teo says, pulling the door wide to allow the other man entrance into his humble abode. He puts his weight on his left foot, the right hooking gently around his feline companion's slender, velveteen chest. "Alexander isn't here, but I think he's stopping by between jobs— so maybe half an hour, an hour." As assumptions go, it couldn't be too dramatic of one. "Can I offer you a cup of coffee?"

"Uh, coffee'd be fine. But…I'm not here to see Alex, Teo. Thought we sorted that out?" Sonny shrugs off his wool jacket, then undoes the button of his suit. The tie is loosened too. "I'm here to see you. About…the other night." There's a hint of colour on the doc's cheeks that he's fighting to push away.

There's a blank expr— oh. Teo looks sheepish some more. "No I mea— thought you might have to do more work on his scars. He was still moving kind of funny by the time he left. I'm— not—" Shutting the door, he trips over a dozen dashes and hyphens on his way to the kitchenette, scratching himself in the tousled patch of skull behind the ear as he goes. "Trying to be an ashsole. I'm not trying to be an asshole." Cookware and porcelain clatter, a sussuration of steam. "The other night?" he repeats, unhelpfully.

Sonny tosses both his jacket and the tile down on an empty chair. Then he follows Teo towards the kitchen. He untucks the shirt. It's not that he was really that uncomfortable, but he bets the formality was making the other Italian uneasy. "I…shouldn't have jumped to conclusions, I'm sorry. And he was probably moving funny because I rearranged the position of some of his muscles. That, and when a body adapts to something, it takes awhile for it to adapt to that thing being gone again." A beat, then, "…the other night. Outside the pub. I…" ahem. "…I only remember parts of it. I came to apologize in case I said something stupid. Or rude or…" he trails off.

Coffee steams in a mug that has, Ninjas can't catch you if you're on fire written in a bold matte font around it, with a stylized illustration of what it's talking about just below. Teo is not right next to the coffee at the moment because he's squatting on the floor, a noise of apology and mingled consternation low in his throat as he attempts to shovel a spider off the under-sink cabinet door with a folded piece of paper.

"Sorry—" He has it, in a moment. Shuttering the diminutive creature away, he looks up. It's obvious when he remembers, his expression clicking to uncomfortable sympathy. Though his personal levels of shame and embarrassment are generally too stratospherically great to truly change with respect to external factors day-to-day, he can understand, or at least try. "You didn't," he reassures hastily, then a smile. He gestures at the sugar pot on the counter with his head, and leans to get the window open wide enough to evict the spider. "You gave me some advice."

Sonny watches the business of the spider with curiosity, but without comment. That was kind of…sweet. But then it's all too quickly swung back to the conversation of drunken escapades. "I remember something about that vaguely, yes." There's a rough chuckle. "I wanted to make sure it wasn't…offensive in retrospect." A beat, "…I rarely get like that. But it's been a bad week."

Despite the temperatures outside, Teo leaves the window ajar to ease a wind through the apartment, cleaning the stale scent out of the walls. At least the sun is still out, barely: it would be colder without. Somewhere between cupboard panels and furniture crannies, the cockroaches cringe back.

"You weren't," he reassures the older man. There's no really telling whether that's because Teo's particularly hard to offend or if Sonny wasn't trying hard enough, but to all evidence, the Sicilian speaks the truth. The mug of coffee is offered with an appropriately tiny spoon. It's not silver, but it's not wrong, either. He studies Sonny the way he does Hel when her leg's shot up, Abby after Sylar, Al with his face caved in by a raging flock of birds. "Ferrymen shit, or anything else you could bear talking about?" he inquires, kindly.

"There's…bearing to talk about, then there's being able to talk about," says Sonny with a sigh. He takes the cup of coffee with a murmured thanks, then steps towards the kitchen to find sugar. "It was the kind of situation where…death threats were uttered. But I'm not really a stranger to that. Comes with being in my position." Both as a registered Evolved and as the Mayor's son.

The Sicilian's demeanor shifts. Nothing complete. The terrorist peers out of the ex-teacher and coffee-maker's face, an extra stillness presiding over tall limbs and the inquisitive tilt of his head. He remembers. The Mayor's son, a Registered Evolved biomanipulator with hooks into the Ferrymen. Sonny's used to dealing with threats, and this is none of his business. From the looks of it, he knows it, too. "Do you remember— uhm. After I put you in the cab, I said: Hana knows how to find me, if you need something.

"We owe you one." Who we are is left without clarification, and what somethings we could pull off or would be willing to do equally so, in the balance of things, but Teo had invoked Hana's name for a reason. The ex-Mossad operative's capabilities and character are known to most of the Ferrymen's important liaisons.

"Teo…" Sonny sighs and rubs at his forehead. He sips, then sets the coffee down. "For one, as I've told others, this isn't a favours game. I don't do this so that people will do things for me. I do it because I live a life of luxury and it's my way of giving back." He leans up against a wall and folds his arms over his chest. He looks tired. "This is something that could only be made worse by fighting against. Besides, I think the danger's over now." Or at least, on the back burner.

The sugar is right there. Teo follows far enough to scoot the tiny pot over with a long finger, before curling his hands instinctively from the cold. He loathes the winters here as much as his aunt does, or her iridescent friends. "I'm not as dumb as I get when… I'm always drunk." He's grinning, crooked, an expression that belies the gravity of the stakes they're discussing. "I'm not offering to just end a fucking fight.

"I'm not even sure if I could help. But I know what you do, and I know that there are two main subcategories of people who come to you. Under the main column of 'people with shit to hide.'" He defines this broader spectrum with two lazy hands, before letting them fall to the tiles with a lazy shrug. "My sense of obligation operates independently of what you think you owe. It's my weakness," he notes, wryly, glancing down at his bare feet.

"And when it's people with shit to hide, they leave me alone unless I start blabbing their secrets," Sonny's brows raise as he sips the coffee again. Oh, if only he knew about Dantes. "So, that means telling you wouldn't do much good. All it would do is perhaps push you to do something about it. It would only be a matter of honour that you'd be fighting for. I'm rarely repeatedly targeted by the unsavoury elements." And…often targeted by the government, but they put political pressure on him instead of DEATH pressure.

The doc looks down, then exhales. His shoulders drop. Then he lifts his head and gives Teo his best Hollywood, everything-is-okay smile. "You'd be surprised how much my dad's position keeps me…well not…safe, precisely, but keeps me from being hurt."

Finnish-blue eyes angle back upward, though it takes Teo a second or three longer to lift his head. "I might not be that honorable," he admits after a moment, a rueful mumble. He bridges scar-notched fingers over the back of his neck. "You have secrets. I like knowing those. Sometimes I need to, even if I don't move on it. Makes my job easier, even if my life doesn't get that way."

Oh, if only Sonny knew about Dantes. "I won't expect a call," he concludes, leaning back on the counter. Backing off, in posture, and verbally. "But I'll be happy to hear you're alive next year."

"I…realized a long time ago that having everyone aware of what I can do inevitably would lead to people forcing me to use my ability. There's…no way around that. No amount of threats to one person would stop another from doing the same. So I cooperate if it happens, and hope that's enough to keep me alive. That's all I -can- do." Despite how resolved Sonny seems to be to this, he also looks worn, tired and troubled by it. He leans his head back against the wall and closes for a moment. He swallows and his adam's apple bobs. A hand goes up to undo the topmost button of his shirt. "It's just the way it goes."

There's no end to the concern served up in Teo's stare. It is his weakness. Little girls get knives and other hooks into him all the time, and he inevitably ends up falling back on more cynical minds and specific skill sets than his to keep him from erring too greatly: he needs Phoenix as much as — if not more than — Phoenix needs him.

"Dead men can't make good on death threats," he notes after a moment, abruptly, his expression neutral: he has yet to be able to bring himself to speak of death or murder in the same light or facetious tones that so many of his associates do. "Can't do their job, either. Look. Whatever you need, then, amico. Coffee, someone to torment with not knowing," he grins, shows teeth, a figment of gallows humor. "Your day job been all right, at least?"

Sonny rubs the side of his face. His head lolls forward and he opens his eyes. "I…appreciate it, Teo. But I really don't need you guys wrapped up in this. And I'm sure you have bigger opponents than some fugitive who made me work on them." Or they're already fighting him, in the case of Sylar. "And there's people who need protection more than I do. Besides, I haven't done anything for you, personally. And what I did for Alex is what I'd do for anyone associated with the Ferrymen." The hoarseness returns to his voice. He sips the coffee to try and warm his throat. He closes his eyes again for a moment.

Yeah. About Dantes. Cue the John Williams theme, and the lava planet backdrop. But that's another story, for another night.

Meanwhile, Octavian, I mean, Alexander, is shouldering the apartment door open. He's in his usual drab garb, and looks wholly and utterly weary. He's even got grocery bags over his arm - all kinds of goodies. Al is very much an impulse buyer.

Watching somebody close their eyes doesn't seem as creepy as watching someone sleep, but there's something in that — in the politician's son letting his guard down, no matter how smal the surrender — that jarrs Teo away. He glances away. Glances up the next moment, when Al comes stomping in rimed with frost and rustling groceries. "Buongiorno," he says with an odd touch of hesitation that doesn't instantly recall the awkwardness that had characterized the last exchange between these three. He stumps over to help carry bags.

Sonny opens his eyes with a start at the sound of groceries and Teo's greeting. He blinks, as if he was actually napping there for a moment. "Hello Alex," he says with a small grin. Then, suddenly he's feeling uncomfortable. He clears his throat. He recalls all too vividly what happened the last time all three were in a room together. That combined with flashes of half-remembered bits of advice given while drunk has the doc feeling fairly awkward. "I should go." The doc's wearing a sleek, expensive suit in dark gray and a white cotton dress shirt underneath. The shirt's untucked and the tie and jacket sit nearby. He's also clean-shaven and his hair is neatly coiffed. It's a definite shift from the purposefully disheveled way he usually appears for Ferrymen gigs.

Alexander is perfectly pokerfaced. That kiss and that fight? Never happened. Not in al's world. He murmurs his thanks as Teo helps put away the goods. "You're always welcome here, Doc," he says, graciously.

It's colder in here than it should be, thanks to the kitchen window ajar, the freeze-burning the stale air out of the apartment. Teo's toes curl and give his gait a hint of a hobble as he starts back to the kitchenette with his new armload. "Finish your coffee, at least," he requests of the surgeon, genially, before he lapses visibly into distraction. Either because he's putting stuff in cupboards or because Sonny's advice and Alexander's arrival converging on his brain is making him ponder his moment. Abby's cat— the one she doesn't know she has yet, meanders up to timidly poke Alexander and Sonny's knees with its face before creeping back toward the heater.

"I appreciate that, Alex. I just…dropped by to thank Teo for calling me a cab the other night." Sonny's not going to elaborate. He'll let Teo. "Coffee's all done, thanks." Then he's moving to his jacket. The tie is folded neatly and tucked into a pocket. "Thanks for that. And please, if either of you need anything, don't hesitate to call, all right?" And then before anything else awkward can happen, he smiles his best smile again, and is out the door. Now. To remember where he parked his Mercedes.

"Surely," Al says, mildly. "And I will, though you've already done more than enough," he insists. And leaving Teo to the putting away, he crouches to offers his knuckles to the cat for sniffing, like a bishop offering his ring to be kissed by the faithful. "Go well, doc."

Glancing back despite that there's no eye-contact to be had, Teo offers a thumbs up from around the empty doorway. "You too, Doctor Bianco." After the bag of tomatoes settles home, Teo shuts the vegetable drawer with a nudge of three white toes. The fridge closes with a hiss of pressurization, and he emerges from the kitchen with his arms crossed, fingers tucked into his elbows, the fabric of his sweater caught up between them to preserve fast-fading vestiges of warmth.

Despite his considerable acquaintance with pain, aggravation, and other things that suck, he has never found numbness preferable. "Can I talk to you?" The cat's whiskers tickle Al's hand. The creature's neck is stretched out its full length, apparently unwilling to move the main part its body any further from the heater than it has to.

Optimistically, Teo could suppose he couldn't have made those injuries— or their residual agony that much worse with a single shove. He feels awful anyway, of course. It's what he does. "To explain why I'm an asshole sometimes," he tells the floor, pushing his own left shoulder up once, half from the cold, and half in unconscious mimicry of his friend. He lifts his gaze with some effort and listens to the cat tick, tick, purring.

Faded by the distance from the open windows, the thin light of afternoon weaves brackish silver through the off-blond on top of his head and cast Teo's tall frame in more muted colors than he's normally wont to stomp around in; he isn't red, his tone oddly colorless as he continues without greater ceremony than scratching the corner of his eye. "Took me awhile, but I worked it out.

"I'm in love with you. At least a little." The thumb and forefinger measure an inch in front of his eye. He squints at Al through it. "And I don't like the idea of you sleeping with anybody else besides me. Because ideas are definitively abstract, distorted and fucked up by reality, I wind up fucking other people 'cause it's what I do when I can't get it out of my head it's what you do.

"So— I'm sorry."

Al's left…..curiously neutral at that pronouncement, at first. Like Teo's been monologuing in Italian and expecting Al to understand. He just sort of stares for a moment, gaze searching Teo's face like he'll find the betraying crinkle at the corners of eyes and mouth, the one that means this is a big joke and he's just fucking with the redneck. But eventually it trickles through, and he frowns, very slightly. "I….uh," Words are not coming, not with the speed he desperately wants them to. "I don't get it, then," he says, hesitantly. "I mean, you made that pass at me and got all weird and squirrelly about it. And being in love means that someone makes you happy. I don't seem to do that for you. I mean, lust is one thing, but don't confuse it for love,"

No jokes. Teo jokes about a lot of things. Love isn't one of them. He takes that seriously: Romero made sure of that. He's grave as the next dead man over. "You do," he answers. His forefinger and thumb close in front of his eye and he drops his arm back over the other. No doubt, there's a long answer to this. It probably heavily references dead little girls and toxically beautiful aunts, an almost genetically inculcated belief that love conquers little, if anything.

He's said enough words, though, so he only clarifies his statement, somewhat absently, like remembering, making sure, so he can mean it when he says: "You do that for me."

The redhead just bites his lip, for a moment. "I'm sorry," he says, gently. "You're my friend. You matter a lot to me," Oh, it's all in fluent Weasel. " But I can't say I'm in love with you, though." And then Teo's phone goes off, that insistent chime. It makes Alex startle a little. There's Dantes' voice on the other end, launching into what he has to say without greeting or preamble. "I think I just forced Volken to disembody." Like being forced incorporeal is just an annoyance like a parking ticket. "I cut off his head but he didn't die. Just turned into dust and smoke. I think we need an old priest and a young priest, for serious. I don't know if he'll find another body we can recognize, or where he'll go. The dead bodies in Chinatown - that was him. He fucked me up proper. I'm at the Discount Inn," And then he names the particular location- a decidedly seedy motel on the edge of the bomb-ruined district.

Like most things, moments were made to be ruined. Before the phone rang, Teo was already nodding his head in nearly contractual acknowledgment: he gets it. Of course. It isn't necessarily better this way, but despite his earlier assurances, he recognizes the probability that the alternative would have been infinitely worse.

He isn't very good at being happy. Anyway, he isn't feeling much by the time the phone goes to his ear, and then he's turning away, shuffling off into the kitchen with an apologetic wave at Alexander. It takes Dantes' words too long to start to mean anything ot him, but his mind catches up in time for him to ask, after a pause only long enough to pass for thinking: "Are you okay? Did you call Christian?"

"I called Christian. No response. I don't even know how to describe my injuries, other than that they're apparently internal," His voice is raspier than usual. Al is left standing nonplussed in the hall….and after a moment, turns to go into his room. For thinking, apparently.

For Teodoro, on the other hand, the thinking part is over. About that, anyway. His metal-armored skull chewing through logistics, risks, the probable outcome of his not going. Possibly, if he had more faith in the Feds' capabilities to not fuck things up, he'd hesitate more, but the moment Volken's name hit the air, really, he knew he was going.

Footfalls are circling the hall even as Al shuts his bedroom door behind him, the phone's mouthpiece pressed briefly to his shoulder as he calls out: "I'm heading out. Feds in trouble. Wireless has my GPS lock." There's a flurry of parting activity. Windows rattling shut, canvas jacket yanked on, Sonny's forgotten tie plucked up and placed away, somewhere safe and out of the reach of cat's claws, in its right place — however temporary — like the other things that were discarded in the living area over the past hour.

"Okay. 'M coming."

January 8th: Fool Me Twice
January 8th: Almost Ash
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