The Scars Are Merely Hidden


alexander_icon.gif sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Scars Are Merely Hidden
Synopsis Sonny comes to do further cosmetic treatment to Alexander's scars. The landlady, a cat, and a drunken Teo walk in on shirtless touching. The landlady and cat excuse themselves while Al is a little bit of a jerk, and Teo is a raging asshole.
Date January 4, 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 against 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.

The doctor's reasons for coming - well, they are entirely honorable and benign. Sonny's taken care of Al's Evolved scars - the eye wound from Munin, and the burn scars from Elle. But now he's working on the literally knottier problem of the souvenirs from Iraq on Al's flank and back; seams of keloid and livid scarring, bright against the white skin. Which means that Teo, when he enters, is treated to the prospect of shirtless Alex standing in the kitchen in essentially his jeans, and letting Sonny run his hands all over his skin. Not that his expression is anything other than politely grateful and interested. But….still.

And Sonny's in something of a trance as he works. He's got his eyes closed and one hand is against Al's lower back. The other touches his shoulder as he works at the rather complex issue of rearranging scars. He can't heal, but he can deposit scar tissue where it would be less noticeable or less bothersome, and he can adjust skin pigment so that the scar is less prominent. "Does that feel better?" he murmurs in a low, distracted tone as he works. What makes it less compromising is the fact that the doc is completely clothed, for one, and that there's a medical kit on the table nearby.

"Yes, a lot. It'd pull and ache whenever I did anything real strenuous," Al explains, lifting an arm to get it out of Sonny's way, and not entirely certain where to put the other one, settling for resting his spare hand on Sonny' shoulder. Like this were ballroom dance. He's not sure where to look, either, gaze darting from Sonny's face to points in the kitchen beyond - the little tchotchkes that add that either designed or inadvertant homey touch to the apartment.

"Well, it's certainly a mess of scars you've got here. No doubt it feels like you're sleeping on a hackeysack or a pouch filled with nickels sometimes. If nothing else, this should…" Sonny makes a rough sound of concentration as he touches the worst cluster of scars. "…fix that." He doesn't seem bothered by the hand-resting. It is an akward pose to strike.

Understandably, the landlady is still more familiar with the sticky lock and crooked key to this place than any of her new lessees are. She pops the apartment door open with an expedient click and shove, and into the living room spills in a long-limbed Sicilian with his armload of cat amid a jumble of apologies: Teo hadn't meant to take time out of her schedule, but the cat is new, clingy, and training her not to eat Pila is hard, and he can normally coordinate better but he had a few drinks with some old classmates who caught him coming out of Columbia University, where 'a few' multiplied and squared when he told them he was going away, so— what are you looking at?

He turns around to follow the burly woman's line of sight. The cat in his grip wriggles and curls tighter, claws hooking in the fibers of his shirt. Teo stares. His face changes color. Twice. Blinking blurrily in kitchen light dimmed by distance, he probably misses a few key details.

The landlady chirps out: "Have fun, boys," her voice leathery with a decade of smoking and maybe a swallowed tongue piercing or two. She glances sidelong at Teo. Twitches, reaches up to shut the man's mouth with one stubby forefinger, and turns to walk right back out again. She doesn't close the door, of course, and isn't particularly surprised when the Sicilian immediately bursts into mutters about Put a sock on the fucking doorknob next time, would you? and gets confused about whether he's going to hide in his room or leave the apartment. The cat digs in harder.

Alexander settles that icy blue gaze on a little statue of the lady of Guadalupe he's picked up somewhere, and brought in as a sop to both Teo and Abby. Ah, being the one atheist between the Baptist and the Catholic. It'd be more comfortable if it were literal. Not that Abby'd be down with that. And then there's Teo, and the landlady….and it takes him a moment of regarding Teo with innocent and pleased greeting before Teo's stare sinks in, and Al bursts out laughing. "Oh, man, T, the look on your face. The doc here's just checking out the mess I got in Iraq, seeing what he can do," he explains, patting Sonny on the cheek before letting him turn around. "C'mon. If I brought someone home, I'd hardly be doing things out in the kitchen to scandalize Abby," he says, cheerfully.

The whole fiasco with the landlady busting in kills Sonny's concentration. Al might feel a rather strange sensation in his back, then a rather uncomfortable tightening as his work is aborted. He looks a bit flabberghasted for a moment, then looks between Alex and Teo. He blinks. "Uh. Yes, I was just trying to fix the scars. He called and mentioned the scars were painful." He's at a loss for what else to say. There's obviously more going on here than he knows about.

No there isn't. Teo has a new cat, and he's drunk, and the landlady is telling him heads up, and he only just manages to figure out what's going on in time to miss catching the keys that fly over his shoulder. They hit the hard wood floor with a merry jingle. Both Sicilian and feline stare at it with identical expressions of puzzlement. After a moment, the latter begins to squirm with what seems like an uncharacteristic moment of courage.

Teo shuts the door first, by walking backwards into it with a noisy thump, and then releases the cat. It dodders toward the keys, its fur gleaming solid sable black, tail uncurling inquisitively.

Teo's attention seems similarly committed to the floor. "Yeah, I thought of that," he lies, somewhat unconvincingly, raising a hand to shove scruffy hair out of his eyes despite that they aren't blocking his view of the floor. "Mi dispiace. 'M just gonna…" Gonna… "Get some beer." From the fridge. Which is inside the kitchen, apparently. He hadn't thought of that beforehand, unfortunately. He unzips his jacket and starts to do what he said he was going to do, the first thing more ginger than the first.

Alexander murmurs apologies into Sonny's ear, "Sorry, doc, but….help me out here." 'Help' in this case constitutes submitting to a kiss. Gentle, at first, but not chaste, not after a moment. "He's doing a wonderful job," Al says, sweetly, once he's broken the kiss, and eyes Teo past Sonny, with a decidedly puckish look on his face.

Sonny just came to be a good Samaritan to do a house call and do a vet a favor. Instead, he finds himself embroiled in some kind of jealous lover's quarrel. Half his head is still disconnected, still focused on the complex work of removing the scars. Between that and the shock and confusion of the whole incident, -and- the shock of being kissed, the doc doesn't pull back right away. In fact, he pulls in a sharp breath of air which would feel very much like reciprocation from Alex's perspective. Then he rocks back. "Whoah whoah…hey listen, guys, I don't know what's going on between you two, but I don't want to get in the middle of it. I just came here to do Alex a favor." He winces after he says that as he realizes the innuendo in those words. "…with the scars."

Despite that he'd peeled off his gloves in their neighbor's apartment, while picking up the cat from its temporary babysitters, Teo's right hand has unaccountably frozen itself onto the fridge door handle. He isn't staring, exactly. Staring generally implies facing head-on and gawking with both eyes, whereas Teo's sort of turned partway away, in the midst of finding himself beer. Thanks to the distraction, he does not complete his mission. He grows uncharacteristically unreadable about then, probably because he's feeling too many things at once to represent any single one clearly, a cheek twitching in what might be laughter, his temper singing the line of his mouth with what might be a sneer, intoxication glazing everything over with what might be either indifference or a reckless shortage of inhibitions.

"You'll have to forgive him, Doctor," he manages, finally, shutting the refrigerator. "Al's a liiittle bit of a whore. Me, on the other hand, I'm just a toxically angry Catholic nun trapped in the body of a repressed homosexual man with an adrenaline addiction. Carry on." If Teo's voice got any flatter, its soundwaves would cancel themselves out into perfect silence. He turns out of the kitchen.

Every time he uses that word, it stings. It does. But Al refrains from pointing out that in the tally of people who've seduced perfect strangers, Teo is the one currently ahead. And Al does seem genuinely contrite, as he steps back from Sonny. "You're right. Sorry, doc," he says, apologetically, clapping him on the shoulder as he blushes. "You've been more than kind, I shouldn't mess with you." He's red all over, amusingly enough.

Sonny wants to run off and leave them to whatever issues they have to work out, but… "Alex, I have to fix your back or you're going to be in pain. You stop me mid-way through it and it's all knotted the hell up." Sonny sighs and pushes his hands through curly hair. "And your friend is drunk. You both clearly need to work some shit out. Now hold still." He puts his hand over the worst of the scars and starts to focus on smoothing it out. "You could cut the tension and jealousy in this room with a knife. You two either need to work your problems out physically or one of you needs to go away for awhile." Sage advice from the school of high society.

"We're just fighting." Teo's stomping his way out of his boots in the living room which, for once, doesn't seem to bother the timid cat very much. It comes up on silent paws as pink as candy underneath, white whiskers flaring in an oddly human facsimile of a smile. "It's none of my business, anyway." Thunk. One boot hits the floor; Teo extricates the other into his hand. "I thought they were his best feature. Guess that makes sense on some level. Interchangeability. In other news, you're an asshole." It may not be immediately obvious who's an asshole. If it helps, Teo's also an asshole. "I'll go away in just a sec."

"You're entirely right, doc. Do you want to go to my room and finish this up?" It should be a proposition, but Al's entirely serious. Not in any sort of lascivious way. He's also gone pale with anger again - the air in the kitchen has gone muted and dead, as if in a muffling fog. Al, keeping a clamp on his power, lest he wreak havoc among all the household goods.

"Look, both of you. Do me a favor and finish your spat when I'm gone. For now I need to concentrate, or Alex is going to be bent over in pain until I can fix this," Sonny looks between both of them with an irritated expression. Even now, poor Alex will feel a strange, coiled tightening in his side that won't let him stand up quite straight. The doc was in the middle of rearranging scar tissue, but when he was interrupted, it got deposited in all sorts of strange and uncomfortable places.

Snagging both boots in a hand, Teo cranes his head to the left, sighting around the corner of the couch. Underhand, he throws. They slither and bang to a stop by the door, out of Abby's way should she come in. "I really am drunk," he realizes, after a moment, straightening. The cat circles his heels as he begins to doff his jacket. "I was going to recommend Abby's mattress. 'S probably some kind of therepeutic foam formula. You know, between the back problems and the bending over and the pain, and…

"I'm running out of shitty things to say. Umm." He drops into a crouch, open his hands for the cat, who steps into them with noticeable caution. Sonny isn't the only one with sense enough to perceive something's kind of fucked up here. "You have good taste, Al. Who says love is dead?" He crooks both men a white-lipped smile over the top of the cat's head and rises, starts toward his bedroom.

"Right, doc," says Al, tightly. Left in that half-finished state, it does hurt like a bitch - his breath is coming in uneven hisses. "Ignore him, please, doctor," he adds, quietly. "My room is on the right," He hobbles over that way, hand on his side.

Sonny lets Alex get a few steps ahead of him. He goes to intercept Teo and to look the other Italian in the eye. "If you get the urge to burst in and rant or throw something, please refrain, or Alex might end up badly deformed enough that it will take me hours to fix him." This is the serious doctor, the commanding type, the side of his personality that comes out when he needs to take charge of the situation. Both his brows arch up. He remains in front of Teo, within his bubble to prove that he means business. "Understand me? I know what's between you is none of my business, but his health is."

The usual layer of awkward rue peeled back, the part of Teo that remains manages to be all parts arrogance without any part indifference, something more sanguine than the cold cruelty which commonly typefies the English, though privvy to an inkling of the poetry that separates Europe from its bastard child across the Atlantic. He meets Sonny's gaze with a smile, answers it with a Gallic shrug. "By that logic, what's between us is my business, not his health. I'dve tried a different argument, brother, but not to equivocate: I figure you've wasted enough time blowing hot air over here already." He falls sideways into a step, then another, tossing a wave up. "Per hour, right? Ciao." He shoulders his way into his room, a thumb scritching the base of the cat's skull.

Alexander doesn't argue. He's already in his room, trying to keep a hold of his anger. There's a reason there's next to nothing in Al's actual bedroom - nothing more for him to hurt than his bed, maybe a book or two, some stray clothes.

Sonny's nostrils flare, but then he takes his own words to heart. It's not his fight. So he lets his own hot-blooded temper simmer back and watches Teo go off without another word. Instead, he draws back into the part of him that's a physician, then heads into Al's room. He looks tired, suddenly. His face knots up. "Sit…down on the bed if you can." And now comes the challenge of getting his concentration back enough to un-mangle the poor guy's back.

Alexander obediently sits, trying to stem the trembling and regain his earlier calm. Not so much succeeding, though - his lips are thinned out into that severe and displeased line.

"Relax. If you tense up, it's only going to make my job harder." It's the same patient words, but Sonny's tone has lost some of the calm. He sets a hand over the worst of the knots and takes a few deep, calming breaths. Nothing happens for a minute or so, then sudden relief from the pain. He swallows and continues to work away at untwisting the scar tissue from the healthy tissue and finding ways to distribute the scar tissue without deformity or discomfort. It's a big job, and for awhile, there's no sound but his rather labored breathing.

It takes him a little, but he manages to do just that - taking the deep, spaced breaths of someone used to meditating. And then he goes limp from Sonny's efforts, and the cessation of pain.

Sonny works awhile longer. His face twitches with effort even as he keeps his eyes closed. There's a few faint pockets of tightness, then the pain has released entirely. He exhales and removes his hands from Alex. "Well. There you have it. Shouldn't have any problems from here on in." He stands and scrubs at his face. "Good luck." His tone's cold where it was jovial and good-natured before. But he could just be tired.

"Thank you, doctor," says Al, rather wanly. He's pale again, from the pain, but he straightens up easily enough. "I apologize for earlier. It won't happen again."

"Don't use me, Alex," says Sonny, his tone tight. And then the doctor's out into the main part of the apartment to gather up his things. He jams the woolen toque onto his head and shrugs on the crappy snow jacket. Normally he'd call a cab and wait indoors, but he's spent enough time in the apartment already. He pulls open the door and steps out into the hallway.

Sonny has left.

Alexander shuts the door behind him, gently, without a further farewell, or explanation. And then he's heading for Teo's doorway, and his anger is a physical presence behind and with him, like a high wind - making the curtains flutter, since he clamps down on most of it.

There's a boy — a man, really, sitting on the floor, cross-legged, a cat on his lap and a bird cage sitting beside. The latter two are getting acquainted with each other. Teo is barely paying attention to them, fuzzed from intoxication in that punchy, slightly raw sort of way. Fortunately, this isn't the first time that the dark feline and the blue avian have met; by now, the cat knows that a sharp rebuke awaits it, should it try anything, and it isn't right now, nosing the cage and purring low in the familiar confines of the small bedchamber. Teo doesn't have much stuff; none of the housemates do. Books. A lot of books. Radio shit stuck in a shelf above them, knives this time nowhere in sight. "If I say I'm sorry, will you spare me the many many angry words?" He remembers to squint up after he says that rather than before and fails entirely to look contrite.

His face is perfectly masklike, smooth, save for the flare of nostrils. "What exactly the fuck is your problem with me, Teo? Last I checked, I wasn't the one going out angling for strangers to take my cherry, and yet you're the one calling me a whore. I'm really, really tired of your attitude."

The cat bolts. From underneath the bed, two yellow points of wide eyes show. Teo scowls at nothing, and pushes the bird cage away from him. "A little bit of a whore," he corrects. "I didn't say you own the fucking category exclusively."

"Answer the fucking question, Laudani," Al says. There's still that sense of building pressure, though he doesn't dare unleash it. He merely looms in the doorway, eyeing the Sicilian askance.

To be fair, Teo kind of forgot the question until after this irritable reminder. He thinks about this for a moment, then starts to push himself up onto his feet, reaching down to snag the bird cage with him. This will go in the bathroom, so that the cat will not flip out while he is gone. He's going to be gone soon. Can't stay here. Sonny was right. Under the nervous sussurration of Pila's wings, the book leaves are fluttering too. "Don't have a problem with you. But I can make some up, if you really want me to. Move." He points helpfully past Al's head and at the bathroom.

Teo's mouth finds a white line while his temper bleeds rudder through his features. Pila dangles from his hand like a terrified angel, and the black cat lingers under his bed like bad luck. The seconds tick past in the kitchen clock. "Nothing matters to you," he says, at length, a voice that's ground out more than spoken. On the hook roof of the bird cage, his fingers have gone white with tension. "You have your head jammed so far up your ass all you ever see is your own bullshit.

"Melodramatic fucking nightmares, ugly little squats, and the Glock you've kept for a decade, Phoenix, fights when you can have them, but you'll settle for survival when you can't," if looks could kill, "and you don't really want anything else because none of it matters — so much trivial, little picture bullshit. But you want to matter. Be wanted, get your straight answers and obvious signs. It's selfish, hypocritical, and fucked up in the head.

"And I'm exactly like you. Except, you know," a shrug rocks through Teo's shoulders. "Italian. Now do us a favor and get the fuck out of my way." His voice has gotten louder, either to be heard over Pila or that which frightened her into panicky song.

Al is startled into both incomprehension and immobility. Though he steps aside, without argument, pale brow furrowed. "What're you talking about? Plenty matters to me," he protests, quietly.

The silence Teo answers with is profoundly obstinate. He slaps the room light off, snags the doorknob without turning around and hauls it shut behind him, sealing the cat in. The bird, he carries to the bathroom. Winds up standing on the edge of the bathtub, his tall frame stretching higher to enthrone Pila on top of the cabinet, out of any embarrassingly direct line of sight with anybody who has to do their business on the toilet. Still more than a few sheets to the wind, he teeters once or twice, but manages not to fall down and crack his head open on tiles.

Alexander makes a disgusted noise, oddly equine in his disdain, and has apparently had enough. He shrugs on hastily first his shirt, and then parka, gloves, and hat, heading for the outer door of the apartment - though not without that curious, half-crippled hitch to his walk. Still hurts.

"You look like you have hemerrhoids." By the time Al's dressed to go away, Teo is too. He's in the stubby hallway with his phone in hand, looking down at it, Abby nagging one corner of his mind and Tamara the other. His voice sounds clenched; more even than it was before. "Where are you going?"

"Out," says Al, simply. And with that, he's out the door. He doesn't slam it behind him. Not quite that much of a drama queen, but the pressure in the apartment lightens noticeabley.

The door pops open again the second after, Teo's recovered keys tinkling merrily sing-song where they're hooked onto a long finger. The weight of his stare is palpable on Al's back. Perhaps moreso given the pain that the older man is in. "This is a stupid idea," he points out.

Alexander has no comment. So far as he's concerned, the conversation is over with, and what Teo does now is up to him. He continues stumping stolidly along, lips sealed.

Though the contest of physicality is far more of a contest when Al isn't crippled, Teo isn't above exploiting favorable circumstances when he finds them. Well, not when he's drunk, anyway. There's a sudden hand on Al's arm, a sturdy yank. He had been lying before, naturally: Alexander's health is always bugging his shit.

Al does something - not harmful, but brutally quick. He's had a little training at getting out of unwanted holds, before. And right now, he doesn't want Teo's hand on him. The look he turns on Teo is all frigid disdain.

Which hurts, in a way that Teo almost welcomes. That look. There's an apology threatening to seethe up from behind the grille of his teeth, automatic, sincere but not wholehearted. Never reaches actual words. He stares back.

Alexander just looks down his nose, with a semblance of patience. Well, what do you want, paisan? One needn't be a telepath to understand. At least he's not shoving Teo away with his power, or cursing him. Just waiting, as if it bored him.

"Go home," comes the answer, eventually. Somehow, Teo resists the urge to die on the spot. "You're all fucked up right now. I'll leave."

"I," Al says, each word distinct, clipped, "Am stone cold sober. And I want to go out. I'm fine. You're the one who needs to sleep it off. Go to bed."

Teo has grace enough to acknowledge the few truths in those words with an inclination of his head, even as he contradicts: "I just need to pee. You're in pain." If grace has anything to do with it.

"I'm fine. The doc's work is done," Al says, with teeth-gritted patience. "Take a piss and go to bed, Teo," There's a little telekinetic shove in concert with those last words, as if he'd herd Teo back into the apartment.

Whatever had pressed Teo's jaws together, it wasn't patience. Though the corded muscle in his neck is loosened now, forcibly relaxed. Pushed by telekinesis, his boots jarr a fraction of an inch, none of the distance accountable by voluntary movement. A moment, and he exhales. Quick, if perhaps not quick enough, he gives Al a shove at the chest: to prove his point — about pain, even as he concedes the battle with a shrug. "Ciao."

There's only a grunt from Al. It hurts, but he won't dignify it with a further response. He summarily turns his back on the Sicilian without a farewell, either in English or any other tongue.

January 4th: Healer for Sale or Rent
January 4th: Holding the Gates of Dawn
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