The Shoulder


sacha_icon.gif sal_icon.gif

Scene Title The Shoulder
Synopsis Sacha does okay at comforting Sal…for a few minutes. And then the Frenchman's honesty makes things awkward.
Date June 9, 2009

Sacha's Apartment

Naturally, Sacha will have offered directions to his apartment - it's a smallish sort of place on the Lower East Side, up on a relatively high floor, with a cramped balcony and slightly less cramped interior. A studio; his bed is off to one side with a canopy keeping it shut off from visitors. Earth-toned color schemes throughout, there's a couch, a coffee table with a pizza box on it, and coffee in the kitchen. If necessary, Sacha stays on the phone with Sal to give him directions as he goes, but otherwise he has set into tidying up and finding something a bit more suitable to drink with pizza than coffee.

Sal is a New York City boy, born and raised, so he knows his way around the city. He does make a wrong turn or two before pulling up to Sacha's place. Sure, it was tricky to get off the island and risky, but he really needs a friend. As nice as Leo has been, it's just too weird to try and talk to the other point on a love triangle. Or, any member of Phoenix, really. They're all Teo's friends. He barely knows them and they don't know him.

The doc doesn't look like his usual put-together self. He's still looking like Sal Silvatti, but his nose is bent and red, there's stubble on his face and his hair doesn't look like it's seen a comb in awhile. He climbs the stairs towards Sacha's apartment and raps gently.

So far as avoiding love triangles goes, Sacha probably isn't the best option there either. Given things he'd said to Sonny the last time they spoke, or certain things he'd thought about saying to Teo the last time they spoke. His heart is in the right place, in general, but sometimes the rest of him is harder to keep in line.

All that notwithstanding, by the time Sal gets to the door, Sacha has found a bottle of Sprite and some wine glasses, poured two cups, and taken all three things to the coffee table. Dusting off his hands, he goes to answer the door, and— does look perplexed for the briefest moment before smiling and moving aside to let his guest in. "Ah— my apologies, I am not quite used to this face." He'd only seen it for a few minutes before, after all.

Sal steps inwards and gives Sacha a tired smile. "I can be Connor if it makes you feel more comfortable." His voice is hoarse and he smells a little like cigarette smoke. He shrugs off his jacket and moves a little stiffly. Looks like someone worked him over, or vice versa. "It's good to see you, Sacha. How have you been?" He'll launch into his bad news here in a minute.

"No.. this is alright." Sacha shakes his head, waving a hand vaguely. Talking a bit slow, out of a mixture of confusion and concern over the whole 'beaten up' visage. Once Sal has entered, he closes the door, locking it, takes Sal's jacket (by force if necessary) and hangs it on a nearby hook, and gestures to the couch. "Sit down. I ordered a pizza. And I have soda. Are you okay?"

Sal sits a little stiffly. A hand goes to his face, but he winces at the tenderness still present there. "No. Not…reallly." He takes in a long breath. "Something…has happened to Teo. Something's taken him over. Is pretending to be him. Knows what he knows. And…I don't know what its agenda is. But I don't think it's good."

Sacha strides over to sit next to Sal, facing him to look him over. Not that he has any sort of medical expertise at all, but he would like to at least feel like he can be helpful. This 'news', however, is all taken with doubt, and the Frenchman shakes his head dismissively. "That is ridiculous, I spoke to him just two days ago and he was alright. A little depressing, but I had yelled at him; I think he was trying to get out of my being angry with him."

Sal's eyes widen. "Sacha…you…talked to him? Shit. I should have warned you." He stands suddenly. "It's not him. He attacked me. Knocked me out with some kind of electric pulse, then robbed what I was working on and stole things from the lab. Whoever that was fooled me for an entire weekend. He knows what Teo knows, knows how to act just like him. But it is not him."

All this just.. sets Sacha to squinting a bit. He rubs the back of his head, lets out a long breath, and reaches over to grab his glass of Sprite. Sips. Sets it down. "But he… that does not.. I slapped him." This is confessed with eyes cast askance, lower lip gnawed on briefly. "He did not get angry with me. If he would attack you.. are you certain?"

Sal's shoulders tense. He stares at Sacha. "Why would the man I've been seeing for four months taser me and then rob me and then betray all his friends? He was probably playing along so you wouldn't find out he was an imposter." He bristles at the thought. That can't be his Teo. Can't.

Sacha runs a hand over his hair, sighing. "What I mean, is that if he would do so much to a man he has been with for so long, why would he not even harm someone he does not know all that well?" Looking downward for a moment, he lets his hands fall to his lap, fidgety fingers entangling with each other. "Although he was acting strangely."

"He tasered me because he needed to rob me. There wasn't any reason to hurt you. Not if you didn't know it wasn't him." Sonny puts a hand to his forehead. "Stay away from him, Sacha. He's…dangerous. And I have no idea what he wants. It wants. Whatever." He paces over towards the window, shoulders tense.

"I thought maybe, because I had slapped him.. if he is so dangerous." A shrug, there, and Sacha looks over to Sal, sighs again - a guilty sort of sound, this time - and rests against the couch, still in profile against it. "I almost.." Nn. He shakes his head, gestures for Sal to come back to the couch. "He was acting strangely, I thought perhaps he had cancer. Talking about how he had little time to do things, and he wanted me to make sure you were alright."

Sal grits his teeth so tight it hurts. "None of this makes any sense. He isn't Teo. I know that. Teo isn't Evolved, but whoever this was…zapped me. His motivations don't make sense. He could have…just walked in and tasered me. But he talked to me, told me…" he hesitates. "…things. Private things. He's either a sick fuck or there's…" he has no idea what else, but any possible alternatives aren't good. "…or Teo went off the deep end and has lost his mind. Schizophrenia or something." There's a slow exhale and he sits down on the couch, body hunched forward, hand to forehead. "I don't know what to do."

"I didn't see anything wrong over three days in the country with that…thing wearing Teo like a coat. No offense, Sacha, but if I couldn't? I'm not surprised he fooled you too." And yeah, that means Sal had sex with the doppelganger. Multiple times. That's part of the reason he's been so disturbed. His shoulder is tense, the muscle like rock under Sacha's hand.

Wincing a bit at those words, Sacha nonetheless rubs Sal's shoulder gently, just trying to be comforting. "I came very close to betraying your trust with him," he replies, his tone quiet, guilty. "I.. I thought he was dying, I held him, and for a moment I wanted to do more than just that, and because of that.. that is why I did not want to think it was him. In retrospect, it is rather horrifying to me that he was able to fool me so well. That is why I did not want to believe it."

The tension in Sal's shoulder grows at Sacha's words. He goes still for a moment, then shrugs away from the hand on his shoulder. "Everyone wants Teo," he says quietly. "And maybe I've been a fool to try and hold him for myself." He stands and starts for his coat, for the door. "It is horrifying. Try…to stay away from him. He might try to hurt you next time. If he knows."

And this is where Sacha hits himself in the head. Stupid, stupid, that was not the right thing to say. Hindsight. He follows Sal to the door, rushing in between the two, holding his arms up. "Please, no, I'm sorry, I should not have told you that. I wanted to be honest. I was worried about him." A hand goes to grab Sal's arm, and he looks up at him, pleadingly. "I was worried, I was lonely, and I usually use sex to cope with that. It just happens." Bad excuse, but he still tries to keep Sal from leaving. "I'm sorry. Please."

"I can't be around someone else who wants him. I have to…" Sal takes a deep breath. "…work around someone I think he's in love with. Someone he'd rather be with. And I realize he might be with me only out of some…weird loyalty." Those words are half-mumbled and he's avoiding eye contact. "Then I try to remember that he's being held hostage in his own body, if that thing didn't push him out entirely. But I don't have any way of getting him back." So he drinks a lot. And self-destructs. While Phoenix clucks their tongues at him.

Shaking his head insistently, Sacha pulls at Sal's sleeve, leaning against the man in a gesture that's both meant to be comforting and to keep him from leaving. "It's not just because it's Teo, Connor." He pauses a moment after using the name, but it's the one he's most used to, even if the body is wrong. "I just.. I do not relate to people well. If it had been someone else in that position, I likely would have felt the same way. If not for knowing you are taken, I probably would have jumped you at the jewelry store. This is not about Teo, this is about me being stupid, please do not leave like this because I am stupid."

Sal gently pushes back at Sacha. It's not insistent shoving, but it is a fairly clear message that he'd rather not be touched. His face is contorted into a pained expression as he leans his forehead against the door. "This is too much. All of it. I should have stayed where I belonged." And continued to be miserable in the spotlight. Not that he's any better now. "I wish I could be like you both. Not so damn…jealous." He draws in a slow breath. "I don't want to share the person I'm with."

The push does finally drive the point in to Sacha, who meekly steps away, arms folded behind his back. He rests against the wall, looking at the floor, foot drawing little circles in the hardwood. "I did nothing with him. I would tell you." Which would be even more stupid. "I feel terrible about this, I don't know why I thought I should tell you. We did nothing beyond a hug; I did not even kiss him goodbye." In the European fashion, that is to say. "Please don't leave."

"I'm not angry at you, Sacha," says Sal. He opens his eyes and pushes off the door, then turns to lean his back against it. "I'm angry at myself. For not seeing it wasn't him. For…thinking that maybe it is. That maybe he's managed to hide who he really is from me. That I never really knew him at all. That I've been…deluding myself for months. And if there really is something that's taken him over, there's nothing I can do to help."

Sliding down to the floor, knees up almost to his chest, Sacha rests one arm over them, the other hand rubbing his forehead. "I did say he seemed strange. He was not.. Teo is usually in good spirits, even when something is wrong. He was more sedate than he usually is. I do not think he has fooled you for all of this time." He really doesn't know Teo well enough to be making these assertions, but he likes to think he at least knows the Sicilian a little better than just as a one-night-stand. "The world is strange now, there must be someone who can do something."

"I've done some of the fooling myself," says Sonny in a quiet tone. "I…think…" he draws in a deep breath. "…when he gets free of whatever this is, I don't think we'll still be together." He swallows the lump that's risen in his throat. With some effort, he makes his way over to the table, where the drink Sacha poured sits. He swallows a few mouthfuls.

Once Sonny is settled back into the couch, Sacha gradually pushes himself back up to his feet and walks over, taking his former seat. "I cannot blame you for that. You deserve someone less.. dangerous?" He's not really sure what adjective to use, there. "Someone who will actually be there and not vanish mysteriously. You know? Less.. crime, I think. More normal." Whatever that is.

Sal shows his teeth in an expression that's not quite a smile. "Being with me's no picnic either. You either get to be totally sequestered from my real life, or I have to be a completely different person. All my relationships have ended because of an excess of secrecy or too much publicity. There's no normal with me." He takes a deep breath. "Though I tried with Teo. And he tried with me. Tried to be what I wanted him to be."

"Why don't you just make a new identity for yourself and cast off your old life?" Sacha smiles. It's a romantic sort of idea, and he may not entirely be joking - familial loyalty is not a concept that Sacha takes entirely to heart, at least not when it comes to fulfilling his own wants. "Your ability affords you that sort of advantage."

"That's what I've done," says Sal. He motions up to his face. "For Teo. So we could be together without hiding, without the spotlight." And a week later, all of this happens. "If you ask my family, they think I'm in Peru."

Sacha shakes his head. "I mean permanently, unless you do as well. After Teo, even. I suppose I was under the impression this was a temporary change." He shrugs, smiles again. "Assuming you do indeed leave Teo, did you plan to be Sal forever?"

Sal leans his head back and stares up at the ceiling. "I don't know," he murmurs honestly. "I don't know what to do with my life. Or the life I had. I'm not a great doctor, and I can't practice without a license to go with a new face. If I'm not Sonny Bianco, the Mayor's son, shining beacon of the Registered Evolved, then who the fuck am I?"

"There are so many things to be other than a doctor. You could help people in other ways, like that man with the. The Lighthouse, is it? Help children with abilities to deal with them. Be a counselor." Sacha extends a hand to rest on one of Sal's, smiling again. "Or be a teacher, something like that. Your identity is about who you are, not what you do, or how you are related to others."

Sal shakes his head. "No, I can't disappear permanently. I have too many responsibilities. My father…has aspirations after his second term as Mayor is up. I…he's a good man. And he's doing more for the Evolved than people realize." He draws in a steadying breath and then laughs humourlessly. "Is it selfish of me to be thinking of this shit when Teo's out there with someone else driving around his body?"

Sacha grips Sal's hand for a moment; not too roughly, but more than just a casual resting of hand-on-hand. "There is always someone who is worse-off than you are, you can't let yourself take the back seat." He shifts his weight a bit, getting into a slightly more comfortable position, pats hand. "If something is important to you, then it's important."

"I guess." Sal swallows. "Even though I know that wasn't really him who did that to me, it's made me reevaluate a lot of things. The thought that maybe it was, that it actually entered my mind that it was actually him…well. That's not the kind of shit you're supposed to think someone you love is capable of."

He pulls in a deep breath and hisses air between his teeth. "I should go." The hand that Sacha's touching isn't drawn away. It's a start.

"Are you certain you are alright?" Sacha doesn't take his hand away, and indeed moves just a bit closer at Sal's proclamation. "I just.. I do not want you to leave upset and get yourself hurt. Please, I know it is a stupid thing to ask, but don't worry too much. Just.. try to let things go as they do. Try to find a way to help him, but don't make yourself ill over it, you know?"

"I just started this new life for him. I don't know what to do with it without him here. I'm surrounded by his friends who barely know me, and maybe don't trust me. And I'm starting to wonder if I did this for the wrong reasons. But I can't abandon him and go back to my old life. I…" Sal runs fingers through his hair. "…I owe him more than that."

Sacha shakes his head, gripping that hand, but finally does let it go and sit back a bit. "I don't mean that much. I only mean, don't worry yourself so much you get sick. Or injured." He pushes himself to his feet, brushing himself off out of habit, and offers a hand to help Sal up. "I know there is not much I can do, but if I do somehow find or think of a way that may help, I will let you know."

Sal takes Sacha's hand and lets himself be helped up. His face looks tired and drawn. Says something when a man who can rearrange his face doesn't bother to look anything other than miserable and tired. "I…appreciate your listening. Seems all I do when we meet is bitch at you. I'm sorry for that. Apparently I'm terribly self-absorbed." That's meant to be a joke, but all he manages is a bit of pained wryness.

Sacha shakes his head. "You also only find me when you need someone to talk to, so it's to be expected." He smiles understandably, leading Sal doorwards to let him out. "It is alright; maybe one day I will have reason to bitch to you, yes?" And another smile there at his small joke. "It is always good to see you, and as usual, I wish you well."

"To be fair, I've needed someone to talk to almost constantly for the past six months. There haven't been very many quiet moments," says Sal with a small smile. "You're a good man, Sacha. I…I'm sorry you keep seeing the worst of me."

He reaches for his jacket and shrugs it on. "I…owe you a proper dinner. Once all of this settles down. One where there's no bitching, just conversation." So they can get to know each other instead of just discussing problems.

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