The Other One


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Scene Title The Other One
Synopsis Another painfully awkward conversation long overdue, but this one doesn't end nearly as well. Love's a real bitch, you know?
Date March 27, 2010

Le Rivage: Abby's Apartment

The place looks like it's only made for temporary living. Couch and coffee table from goodwill, small TV and DVD player as well as an large bird cage and Cat that looks unhappy to be here. Mattresses in the three bedrooms with bedding on them along with laundry baskets turned on their sides to perform as storage for clothing. Safehouses frankly look better than here. The kitchen with the signs of takeout as opposed to home cooking. All in all though, the place looks like an okay play to stay short term.

He's tired. He's so very tired, is Alex. Tired enough that he can't sleep. He's lying on his mattress, limp as a puppy, with Scarlett curled up against his belly. Listening to music - it's Rachmaninoff's Vespers, the voices entwined rising like smoke from the pair of little plastic speakers attached to the portable CD player. There's nothing else in the room, other than a plastic trunk and an upended milkcrate that serves as a nightstand. Spartan, but then his real room over the bar wasn't much more richly appointed.

Teo walks right in like he owns the place, though he doesn't: not even a little bit. He took his shoes off outside, leaving both feet in ribbed socks, made doubly somber-looking by the fact that his trousers are the same, his shirt, and his jacket.

The coat he'd worn over the lot is ditched somewhere outside, and without it, he looks like he just came out of a funeral. Maybe he did. Looks like he's in decent spirits coming in through Alexander's bedroom door, though. His stare is slightly restless, but the expressive lines defined by mouth and brow aren't scowling.

This does not make particularly sense of the foot he lifts off the floor and pushes into Alexander's hip. Push-push. Push. His mouth moves; saying something, under or over the music.

The music shuts itself off, and Al sits up, after that foot rolls him onto his back. He's in pajama pants, t-shirt, and freshly showered, by the way the copper-colored hair is spiked. His eyes are shadowed, sunken, the pale irises a greater contrast to the blood-shot slcera. Scarlett mews in protest, but only edges over a little. "Hey, T," he says, scrubbing at his face with the heel of his palm.

"—op ignoring me," Teo repeats for the fourth or fifth time, and then his ruined mouth swings off to the right side of his face, quirking, in an odd moment's errant coquetry. The next, his face shifts back to as much symmetry as it can, considering his one cheek's caved in with twisted keloids. He turns around in one spin on his socked feet, then proceeds to fall on the bed like a tree. He may or may not squash Alexander's feet in the process. "Also, you look like shit."

"I'm not ignoring you," says the redneck, in evident confusion. "I'm paying attention to you right now. And I feel like shit. I think I strained my power with all the lifting I've been doing. At least, I have this weird headache I can't explain." It doesn't stop him from catching Teo in midfall, descent sloooooowing until he actually drifts down to the mattress like a leaf. He winces, of course.

That gets an immediate scowl out of the Sicilian, and then he is fighting his way back upright to sitting. Doesn't really succeed, since he isn't putting his abdomen into it; he manages to get as far as tentpoling himself up on one elbow, and starts rooting around in his jacket with his other hand to find painkillers. They were for his ankle, weeks ago, but he never got around to finishing them. "Eat these," he says. "And stop using your fucking ability. You've pulled something."

He takes the waterbottle off the nightstand, knocks back the pills without hesitation or demurral. "Will do," he says. And once he's returned the water to its place, rolls back onto his side, pillows his head on his arm. "Whatcha been up to?" he asks, though his tone is dull.

This might well qualify for ignoring, according to the physics of the spotlight that Teodoro lives in. He rolls onto his stomach when Alexander flops onto his side. Moving any more than that would appear to be far too much effort, for this evening. "Trying to stop homicidal Russians for doing homicide to me. And Abby, and the rest of them. Not to bore you or anything. It's going okay." Teo moves like a particularly inept sidewinder, winds up scrunched along a diagonal, craning his head to look at Al's face. "How about you?"

"Okay," says Alex. There's anger in his face at the idea of threat. "Any idea how I can help you get rid of these fools that're after you and Abby?" The bones of his face are starker than ever, smooth curves under that pale, pale skin. But there's a a decided lack of fire in his voice, that perpetual rage banked to embers and burning low, in the cold of sempiternal winter.

A callused hand rabbits lazily across the blankets, and then Teodoro stops its hop on Alexander's belly. Pat pat pat. "When you're feeling better, we could probably use another gun arm or something. We can probably take care of it, though. I think. You should consider taking it easy at the Den, or you'll get sick too. Maybe another vacation?" Hesitation makes a question out of it, where it would have been a suggestion, otherwise. Teo pokes thumb into the shallow well of the telekinetic's navel, before lifting his arm off, aiming a swat at his knee. "Looks like the other one already ran out."

"Other one what?" Alex says, blinking in confusion. "'And let me know, I'll be there." He shrugs. "There's no one else to help. Everyone gets sick. I don't know why I don't. i wonder if they did something to me in Moab that might be the reason." He tenses his muscles under Teo's patting hand.

Teo attacks Scarlett's tail, next. Thumb over forefinger, tugging and toying with the fuzzy length of the feline's appendage. "Other one vacation. You left for months, months ago," the Sicilian reminds him. He drags his legs up from where they're hanging, heels off the edge of the bed. "You looked better when you came back, you know?" His gaze trawls the wan color of Alexander's face again, briefly, and the good corner of his mouth turns down slightly. Makes a bizarre 'S' out of his mouth. "But you're worn out again."

"Right," he agrees, softly. "Yeah. Well, it's a lot of work to be done here, y'know? The Ferry needs what help it can get, with the sickness here. ANd you don't look so well rested yourself, either," he points out.

Doesn't he? Teo's eyes shift downward, as if it was the state of his own belly that Al was using to determine. "I'm always kind of sleep-deprived. Sleep is boring. It's good you're helping out," he adds, after a moment. "I don't really want you to take another vacation again."

Alexander assures him, rolling on to his back again, "I won't. There's too much to do here. ANd it doesn't fix the larger problems. The same asshole gets off the plane in California as got on in New York."

Teo supposes he could identify. He went to Sicily and came back the same. Or like enough. "'S it hurt when I'm here?" he asks, suddenly. He releases Scarlett's tail-tip, upon learning that the cat is for all intents and purposes rather dead to his attentions. Swings his arm up above his head, folds it to pillow his ragged hair on, his beard framing his frown. "That why you don't come around?"

The redhead eyes him silently for a long moment. There's clearly the temptation to lie, come up with some little piece of social lubrication that'll let him scrape along. And ….he's just too tired to. "That's part of it, yes," he says, finally.

Necessarily, that hurts. Teo's eyes blink chipped ice in the bedroom light. No quickening to the cadence of his breath or shift in the fingers prone on the blanket. There is so little reaction that he must have hidden one. "I wonder if there's any timeline in all of existence where I try to save you, and I actually fuckin' save you. Probably at least one, eh?"

"I don't know," Alex says, calmly. "You got me out of Moab here," he points out. "That qualifies?" If there's ingratitude, he doesn't trot it out like a prize pony, at least.

A shrug pushes up through Teodoro's shoulders. "I also got you out of Columbia University for Samantha Tanner blew you up on a stage. None of it qualifies. You aren't happy. Especially not around me. But I'm still glad you're alive," Teo decides, at length. His gaze swerves off, and he turns his head, rolls it along the bulk of his bicep and its innumerable layers of anti-weather padding. He studies the ceiling, hairline cracks in the plaster, the wan, self-made shadows cast by the light.

He's silent, at that. "I don't know what here, now, makes me happy. I don't anymore," he admits, softly. "I love Abby, I love you, I love Helena. I want to feel like I'm doing something that makes a difference, and not be a burden. I'm managing okay with the Ferry, I think. With you, I have trouble reconciling that you aren't the Teo I was with in the future. I try not to blame you for that, and I don't always succeed. I'm tired and angry a lot. I don't know what to do."

The Sicilian's mouth goes flat, tense, an anemic twitch of white starting up where his lips pull too taut against his teeth. He can not help but sound slightly nettled, defensive, perhaps— petulant. "Which one?" he asks.

He doesn't look at Alexander in the eye when he asks, or it'll turn into a dare. Ghost? Was a mass-murdering rapist lunatic. The other one? Never even slept with him. Let him go to Columbia University, let Arthur kill him and HomeSec take him, and and and the list is very long, he thinks, of the other-hims' various inadequacies. He thinks he's done an okay job preserving the best parts of them, also.

"The one from the future I was in, after Moab," says Alex, quietly. "I'm sorry," he adds, letting those nearly translucent lids veil his eyes. "It isn't fair. It's just how it is. I feel jealous and fretful and stupid and I really wasn't out to hurt your feelings. I'm sorry."

The apology makes it worse somehow, but Teodoro is reasonably well-equipped to deal with emotional pain after the couple of lifetimes he's been through. Not to be self-aggrandizing or anything. Alexander could be shouting. Or crying, worse than that. There's probably some other reaction, on an even more horrible increment, but it doesn't come to mind at the moment. Teo's mind is blank. It used to come to him easy, things that would make Al smile, or laugh, or look his age again.

"What would make things easier?"

No, Alex is not weeping or yelling or writhing. He's just lying there, with that peculiar limpness to posture and voice. Weirdly reminiscent of someone else's body washed up on the beach. "Nothing," he says, simply. "Nothing you can do, anyway. I'm tired. I don't know how to get untired."

"I think this place is killing you. You were like this before you left, too." Teo dumps himself onto his face like a seal and starts to crawl up, studying the Southern boy where his penny-bright hair is on the pillow and that dead expression is chalked onto his face. Teo raises a long, callused palm toward the telekinetic's face. "Then you were better when you came back. Or maybe I'm just trying to make up excuses. I don't know. I'm sorry, too."

Alexander doesn't duck away from that raised hand. He just closes his eyes. It makes the tears spill over. It's sort of odd, like it's just some random leak - no sobs shake his shoulders, there's no sniffling or wrinkling of the nose. "Listen, you should go now," he says, flatly.

Teo nearly does at that. His hand stalls in the air and his viscera does an elaborate knot trick in his stomach. Scarlett pulls herself up to her feet and pushes the flat of her small black face against the telekinetic's leg, then his sternum, walks a slender foreleg over his prone torso. Seconds pass, and Teodoro feels like he wants to die. Long before those seconds threaten to turn to a minute, however, he makes his mind up. The short answer is No. Or, at least, Not unless you really want me to.

Bedsprings creak. He finishes his landed manatee haul up to the pillow, settles a few inches above Alexander's prone shape and then wraps an arm around that tomato-colored ruff of hair, long fingers curving over the roof of the telekinetic's scalp, thumb squeedgeeing the lily curve of temple, a smothering and urgent half a hug as much to comfort as to hide.

He doesn't yield to that, for all that he doesn't push Teo away with hands or power. Just goes still, rather than collapsing into sobs, a tense knot of muscle. His breath is slow, very measured, deep, as he tries to steady it. Just waiting.

Makes two of them. Teo's fingers curl inward, make smoothing traction along the grain of the telekinetic's hair, once, stretch flat again, comb inward twice, a third time, before they go still. It's so quiet in here that Scarlett's breathing sounds like some industrial coal operation's ventilation system and when Teo swallows nerves, that's loud as Hell, too.

"I don't love him the way I loved you," he says, eventually. He blinks away the image of Ghost's snear, a serrated slash of pale teeth in the half-light beyond the doorway. "And I still don't love anybody the way I love you. 'S just different. I don't— I fucking— I think," almost hope, "you feel it too. It wasn't that hard for you to be away." It was not designed to be a plea, initially, but it probably winds up sounding like one anyway.

"You keep trying to ….trying to explain my feelings away. Justify it. You don't have to, and I wish you'd stop." Now his voice is clogged with tears, embarassment. But for once, he's keeping a rein on that anger. "It doesn't matter, Teo. I'm jealous. It's childish of me, and I know it. But I am. It was hard for me to be away, that's why I fucking -came back-, didn't I? Because a ruined New York where everyone and their brother know I'm a goddamned freak is such a paradise."

Or maybe the half-hug was convenience; so Teo doesn't have to look him in the eye, and Al doesn't have to look him in his. Finally, the Sicilian moves his hand, drops it away, lays an inert conch-shell curl of fingers on the pillowcase. "Okay." The bright anemone tips of Alexander's hair tickle his chin and the wall blurs when he blinks. "Then it wasn't that hard for you to leave, and it's easier for you to stay away. I don't think it's childish. It's just— I don't know. Mi dispiace. If we were what we needed from each other, I think it would've worked out. I'll fuck off if you really want."

"Fucking STOP IT, Teodoro. Stop trying to translate this into something that makes you feel like it's better, because it isn't. Didn't you just hear what I -said-? It was. It was really hard. It hurts me to be around you and I want you to go now, please." Now his voice breaks, goes ragged and screechy, the way a young man's does when he wants to yell or cry and just can't.

Yes, Teo had wanted to revive some ember of Alexander's old self, but admittedly that wasn't it.

He does let go, abruptly, wiping the secondhand moisture away on his jacket and wiping his fingers across his own eyes. He is a little too numb to tell whether they come away wet or still dry, but he doesn't pause to check or even to rough his sleeve across the drooly hole in the scarred side of his head before he goes lurching across the room, faster than a foxtrot, nearly ungainly, his shoulders hitched up and every fiber of his being focused on finding his boots and getting the Hell out.

Alexander is still knotted up on the bed, breath coming in those hisses like he's taken a wound and is trying to fight past it. The sort of fetal curl that has his fists against his chest. There's no shiver of power in the air, though, none of that thunderous hush. He puts up a hand, hastily, though, to stem the nosebleed he's just acquired, snatches for a piece of tissue from the box by the bed.

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