Suspended Halfway


alexander_icon.gif f_teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Suspended Halfway
Synopsis It's never too early to start fighting, but in this instance, fortunately, it isn't too late to stop.
Date April 15, 2019

Phoenix-Narrows Bridge

The Phoenix-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City at the Narrows, the reach connecting the relatively protected upper bay with the larger lower bay.

On the side of the New York Harbor, a barge is hauling through the waves out for open water, strung to the end of a remarkably tiny but fierce tugboat. On the side of Hudson River, a small scattering of private boats are coming in to dock, small points of numinous white fiberglass that glow faintly in the ambient blue of just-after-sunset.

The two bodies of water are separated by man if not by any acknowledgment of nature by the great, pillared shape of the Phoenix-Narrows bridge. As of 2019, it remains the largest suspension project in the entirety of the United States. The sidewalk is wide enough to contain one lane for pedestrians and another for bicycles, and there are a lot of bikers.

Teo twitches back when one comes close to clipping him, narrows his eyes after the cat's-eye refraction of light off the spinning wheel's spokes.

It has been six days since Alexander arrived out of time, and four since the hotel room was put on credit. However little or much money Teodoro possesses, it doesn't apparently much bother him to expend money on a multitude of trivial things, like gigantic pretzels and tea and socks to replace the ones Alexander was originally installed in. He leans on the railing and the lights come on behind them.

Al is in his usual. White t-shirt, jeans, boots. All painfully new. He's silent, wondering, watching the lights pass on the water below. Nice to know this is what your life buys. This is what the sacrifices you've made are worth. His face is restrained, quiet to the depths, like he's a hunter waiting in a blind. Sated, for a little, though he leans on Teo wordlessly, storing this up against the parting that has to come.

Ten years in, Teo isn't over all of his bad habits, but he's over a lot of them. Fear of homophobic censure is one of those, if 'habit' is the word for that. Stiff more from other things than misappropriated social self-consciousness, he puts an arm around his lover. He palms Al's still wintrily lean belly; squeezes it. The water looks extremely far away, below, a mobile frieze of glistening black and bird's eye boats.

"Liz thinks you all have to go home," he remarks, at length. Sort of the harpoon and grenades method of approaching the elephant in the room.

"I think she's right," Al says, quietly. "To make happen what has to happen, if all this is going to come to pass," It's like being one of Scrooge's ghosts, really. "I love you, Teodoro," he says, but his tone is not loverlike. It's sad, in fact, as he puts his head on Teo's shoulder, turns his face from the glittering expanse beneath them to inhale the scent of the Italian's skin.

One of Teo's long forefingers traces the curving, velvet reliefs of Al's outer ear, pinch shut on the nub of earlobe and pull, momentarily chastising, though he lacks either the strength or the intent to actually yank the younger man's head off his shoulder. He doesn't smell like much to Alexander because he smells a lot like Alexander.

"Do you have to say it in that tone of voice?" he demands, a rumble of discontent to rival the seasonal storms and the engine traffic below. "Merda.

"I don't think she's right, anyway. I mean, 'Sergei,' okay. He has an infant to beget. Maybe Hel would rather call do-over on the past ten years too: I'd get that, as a function of as much self-interest as the other thing.

"But while we're discussing options, you know? Maybe not everyone." Where 'everyone' is a tactless, clumsy euphemism for just one. Teo's own head is a disgruntled weight against Al's cheek, his neck bending ductile smooth and peculiarly simple, anatomic vulnerability across his mouth.

Worst of all, perhaps, Alexander's known Teo long enough, now, to recognize an absence of conviction. Not that it's never stopped him from trying.

There's no good answer to that, but a kiss is as close as it comes. All tenderness, with the world shut out for now. "I love you, Teo," he says, and now his voice is vibrant with it, humming with fervor. "And if they go, I have to, too," He puts his face into that hollow at the joining of shoulder and throat, breath warm, arms around the Italian.

Teo isn't about to cry or anything. There will be an overabundance of time for that later, and there has been an overabundance of grief before. Besides, the last thing he needs is a runny nose and watering eyes: there is skin to smell and sights to see. He turns slightly.

Enough to make room for the fit of his lover's body, knees knocking into knees, elbows locked tight around Alexander's ribs, nails stippling accidental crescents into thin woven fabric. He blinks at the sea over the rounded recurve of the other man's shoulders shaped by the musculature of a simple embrace.

"I don't like how I only get to say this a little bit before you go away," Teo continues to grumble, never one for unnecessary grace, his breath mingling in the runoff of Alexander's. "Every time. Every fucking time.

There's a ferry going now, outstripping the agonized process of the barge and its stubborn guide. "What would you do? Eat Aibigail's cooking until you can take your Presidential pardons, run to backwater Atlanta? Never use your ability again?" Teo had noticed, of course. With half his mind elsewhere and a bullet in his brain, he would notice that much: that Alexander's secret strength had been strangely reticent.

"Of course not," Al says, face still buried in Teo's shoulder. "I don't know. I don't know how things will change. We know, now. The versions of us who died here, didn't," his voice is heated, angry, though not at Teo himself. Alex isn't about to cry. It hurts too much for that, an ache he can't soothe. "I'd be your lover in the past, but you love someone else."

This is stupid, Teo thinks. He has read some books, if none recently, and he can recognize. A story comprised of parts the wrong size and in the wrong order, brutally incorrect segments shoved together, transfixed with crooked rivets, welded, hammered, trapped into something approximately continuous but not whole. The chapters are wrong. The past must already be gone.

"That seems to make this a mistake." There is a faint stress, a modulated emphasis on 'this.' Teo's nose nudges down, rubbing into the subtle hollow of Alexander's cheek below Alexander's cheekbone, his mouth drawn small into a sliding kiss, until he speaks, a weary rebuke. "Yours, mostly."

Teo's eye blinks back at him, flat with insensate misery. "What's the point?" he asks. There isn't a lot of room allowed by the hold of his arms.

"Making this future possible," Al says, gently. "That's the point."

In the sharpened contrast of lamp light and nocturnal dark, Teo's face looks more like it used to than usual, the details and subtle modifications inundated under ambience.

"This future is bullshit," he enunciates, clearly.

He closes his mouth, and his throat works when it swallows. Unable to cohere, or at least, not in English, he shows a brief, catlike bar of teeth, an unprecedented flash of sneering anger. "It's bullshit. You have no fucking idea, Jesse. There's nothing polite about the way you die, or the things I do afterward, and that wasn't even— what I was talking about anyway." The silence is a drowning kind.

"If you don't think you're supposed to be with me, why the fuck are you with me?"

"I do think I am," Al says, with complete assurance. "It's just that back then, you don't. I told you. I fucked up a lot of stuff. The guy you were seemed to think I was too much of a whore to be with." This'll be great. He can have that fight with both Teos. "I wanted you."

Restraint etches a pucker-edged line across Teo's mouth. He's better at shutting the fuck up than he was when he was younger— or else, nothing's really changed. Secrets have been their commodity of transfer for years, now.

"Not as much of a whore as me," he remarks, finally, his tone forced light. His hands slide loose from Alexander's body, his fingers slotting neatly into whiter ones. Teo looks toward Brooklyn, then toward Staten. They're at the middle of the bridge; either land mass is equidistant. "Hungry?"

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