The Way You Are


sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Way You Are
Synopsis Sonny accidentally transforms Teo into his ex-girlfriend. It's kind of funny, except more like terrifying and potentially insulting.
Date April 1, 2009

Tribeca — Safehouse

Although Sonny has dialed back many of his public appearances and is refusing others, there's some things he can't get out of. Tonight was no exception. The party was elegant, the company familar and the setting surprisingly relaxed. His father was in his element and chatted amiably with people instead of getting into passionate tirades. It was positively mellow.

So the good doctor is in fairly high spirits when he enters the safehouse, despite the lingering headache in his head. He's had a few drinks, but not enough to be severely inebriated. There's the sound of the key in the lock. For a breath after he enters, he's Connor, but then it fades back to his real face. He smells of cologne and expensive wine and wears a neat suit. He moves quietly into the safehouse.

There's a boy on the floor, as there's often wont to be. Teo's stretched out on his belly like a great off-blond cat, densely typewritten sheets of papers massed out around him like litter on the floor of a forest, an open dictionary peaked in its midst, a laptop perched on the fringe of them and a pen cinched in behind each of his ears under the border of his bristly hair. This isn't the first time Salvatore's ever come him to his lover doing translation work before, and he knows all the signs. Texts, stationery, computer. Also, a juice box. They help him think.

Though Teo would honestly rather stop doing that, when he hears the door and sees the shadow cast in his peripheral. He rolls over, accidentally trapping a crinkle of a stray document underneath his left shoulder. Somehow the pens stay lodged on either side of his head. "Buona sera," he says, studying the older man from upside-down.

Sonny shucks his coat and walks in a somewhat straight line towards Teo. "Heeey, babe. Busy? You're not running out of work, are ya?" They've been living together long enough for the Italian to recognize a pleasantly buzzed Dr. Bianco when he sees one. "Mmmgh. We have any Tylenol? I've gotta headache." But the booze tends to numb out the worst of it.

The doc flops bonelessly into a nearby chair and ruffles fingers through his hair. "Mmmh. That was the least painful party I've been to in a long time."

"No. There's no shortage of people who can't understand each other in the world. It's very existential," Teo replies, lightly. "I'm glad you had fun this time. I know you didn't hate the whole scene, and you hated fighting with your old man, eh?"

He picks up his knees, bends them, squeezes them up underneath his chin with all of the flexibility of a very obnoxious tot trying to mimick a turtle, only to pop his long frame open and flip upright like a ninja. Kind of. His writing implements go flying off, and he stumbles backward off the corners of his heels, lands on his ass in time to catch at his left Biro. It bounces off his palm, end-over-end, before he wraps an abrupt hand closed around the cap.

Two seconds later, Teo is attempting some semblence of nurturing maturity. Up on his feet, chasing down a First Aid kit from the bathroom. A bottle labeled Ibuprophen shows optimistically from the long-fingered hand he presents Salvatore, even as he seats himself atop of his lover's feet and chin resting on his knees.

Sonny smiles widely at Teo's quasi-acrobatics. He chuckles fondly and watches with his head tilted sideways as his lover goes bounding off. "You know, for a tough guy? You can be fucking adorable." His voice rumbles in warm tones.

He picks up the jar and sets it aside, then reaches out to pull his fingers through Teo's short lengths. "Mmm." As his fingers move over Teo's scalp and down over his cheeks, he thinks about the pain in his head. He closes his eyes and wills it away.

This causes a strange, unknown sensation that skips down his fingers and onto Teo's scalp. It tingles faintly, then causes a strange muscular reaction throughout the Italian's body. Very quickly, everything starts to change. Within a space of a few seconds, Teodoro Laudani is transformed into a dark-haired, slim, classically-featured…woman. Celeste LaSalle, to be precise. A French gallery owner and his one-time girlfriend. The last person he touched before leaving the party.

Always one for witty response, Teo's retort is simple: "I'm a fucking ninja, all right?" He grimaces briefly, his angular features creasing like a Kleenex balled up between hands — an ill humor that takes all of two seconds to soothe over at the brush of Sonny's fingers. The right corner of his mouth jigs upward and both pale eyes thin to glass slivers, a cat's smile: less mirth to it than somnolent patience. When Sonny sobers up, then—

The first spasm hits Teodoro like a static shock. The lazy curl of his body straightens as if poleaxed, his chin lifting off of his lover's lap with a sharp blink. The pillbottle gives a rattle like hard candy, a nonverbal command: take this before I drop it, and then Teo's taking a breath, trying to still what he presumes is the aftershocks or prelude to stress symptoms. It isn't, of course.

The next instant, his face gives his head a pinch, warps cartlidge first, his hair bounds down onto his shoulders in a luxury of perfumed coils, and the shift in his height and the density of his bones shoots him up with a stirring sense of vertigo. For the second time in five minutes, he falls on his ass, only to discover— with a disconcerting bounce inside the loose cotton of his shirt— that he isn't anymore. Isn't a he.

When — she speaks, it's with a grating annoyance at odds with the husky alto her throat was contoured around: "What the fuck?" Her eyes are large as Oreos underneath the tousle of hair twisting in her hands.

Sonny isn't so drunk that his reactions are slowed any great amount. He realizes the second the tingling has left his fingers that his power has been activated. But there's something about this new manifestation that removes the control from his conscious mind. That's a terrifying thought, and a terrifying sensation. His eyes snap open to find himself looking into a familiar set of eyes. "Celeste…"

There's only a heartbeat before he starts to freak out just a little. "Oh shit, oh shit. Just…stay calm, Tay, I'll fix it. Come here. Just…relax. I'll fix it." There's few times when the doc has lost composure. But turning your boyfriend into your ex girlfriend is bound to rattle anyone. He holds out his hands towards the man-turned-woman.

"What! You— you d— what the f—" Teo gets up, this time with still less aplomb than the aborted ninjutsu breakfall. It's probably as odd seeing Celeste's proportions stretched out around the size of Teodoro's actions as it is seeing Teo packaged into the woman's size, colors, and swinging tresses.

The drag of his fingers over the roof of her head looks— painful, and when she stomps up, the round-shouldered lumber of her gait doesn't suit the passerine delicacy of her ankles and bare feet at all. "Who?" she then inquires, helpfully, before another astonished grimace creases her face at the sound of her throat. She puts her hands around her throat, hacks like a cat beset by a furball, and then holds her hands up in front of her like a mummy, following their delicate, airborne splay into the bathroom with an expression of quizzical noncomprehension.

Sonny, his reassurances, and his directions happen to be seated in the opposite direction of the bathroom.

In another time, in another place, Sonny might find the whole thing rather amusing. Maybe one day he'll laugh at it. But right now, all he feels is panic. He's fairly certain he can correct Teo without a huge amount of effort, but there's a tiny bit of doubt that maybe he can't. Also, you know, having a boyfriend with out of control transformation abilities is bound to be disconcerting.

The fact that Teo moves away from him is so confusing that the person who looks like Celeste gets a head start. "Tay!" He bounds to his feet and stumbles after the new woman. "Where are you going?!"

To the bathroom, obviously. So obviously that Teo doesn't actually answer out loud or even dignify the query with an annoyed glance; instead, her feet slap stridently onto bathroom tiles, before parking stiffly in front of the mirror. She looks at herself. Then she looks down at herself. Always the elegant one, she sticks a thumb down her waistband at the front of her pants, peels the flannel forward to look.

To stare, more like. Mind you, Teodoro Laudani has seen his fair share of the female equipment, but as far as familiarity is concerned, he's used to a different set for his personal use. It's terribly mediocre of him to be concerned, but—

'Disconcerted' is one word for it.

"Uuuh," Teo lilts, turning her face toward Sonny. In the space of something like twelve strides, she managed somehow to turn Celeste's perfect head of layered hair into a zagged dervish of strandy chaos. Underneath the sheer veil, her sculpted brows are seizing up and down with warring sentiments— which her word choice doubtless fails to elucidate on with any clarity. "Ma che minchia? Questo è tutta l'ingiustizia. Lei è bevuto!"

This would be less awkward if the woman Teo looks like wasn't someone that Sonny knows intimately. Celeste is an ex, but is also still a friend. Which is why he reaches out to snatch a feminine wrist as it goes lower. "Here, just…just stay still. I'll fix it. Just…relax." There's a note of desperation in his tone.

There's a touch of surprise as well. As far as radical transformations go, well, Teo isn't exactly pitching the fit he'd imagine if he was in his lover's shoes. But then, it must be shocking.
Unless Teo pulls away, the tingling begins anew from the point of contact.

"Wha— waitwaitwait," Teo's modified frame corkscrews away, dragging his— her— wrist out of the man's grasp with a flap of her hand to smite any cling of insistent fingers. There was a tingle, though, an inchoate sensation of transformation; she's left rubbing it out of her forearm with a furious abrasion of her other palm. "Non. You're… we should wait. Lei— you're drunk. I don't— this wasn't on purpose, and—

"Like what if you fuck it up twice in a row? No offense, but if I'd rather not bury me under too many layers of… of…" Her eyebrows tip downward into her nose.

Doubtless, it's a bizarre thing, seeing Teo's tactlessly grim earnestness bending Celeste's face as he trips over words and lands before finishing his sentence, his mind battering through the absurdity of this conundrum with the same brutal pragmatism with which he attacks Moab Federal Penitentiary and apocalyptic terrorist cells. She closes her eyes, squeezes them tight. Reopens. "Jesus."

"I'm fine, Tay. I was just a little bit buzzed." And the shock of this has done a lot to sober Sonny up. "Trust me, please. This is got to be fucking terrifying for you. I want to fix it." He is a doctor. He holds out his hand and gives the person who is by all appearances Celeste a pleading look.

This is disturbing to him on so many levels. For one, his power was not in his complete control. For two, well, the times he's done gender changes were extremely taxing on him and only done in cases of confirmed transgenderism. Three, well, this is supposed to be his boyfriend, not his ex-girlfriend. He knows how that body is supposed to act, and it's not in the mannerisms of Teodoro.

A sidelong glance looks less furtive on Teo— even when Teo is Celeste— than querulously doubtful. "That's what they all say," she points out, studying the outstretched hand as if the outcome of this experiment would be inscribed somewhere in the lines and planes of Salvatore's palm in indisputable fact. There isn't, of course. If he does this thing, it will be a leap of faith, or at least a short hop over very empty air. He's never heard of anybody else who can do what Sonny can.

"No offense to Celeste," she remarks, eventually, "but this isn't doing a damn thing for my vanity." Slow but not halting, she reaches out and closes her fingers around Sonny's hand.

"I said goodnight to her last at the party. I must've picked up her image," says Sonny. He folds his hands around the more delicate one and takes a deep breath. To his tremendous relief, he can feel how the young man is supposed to look beneath the changes. He closes his eyes and focuses on the pattern.

The transformation back is slower and more uncomfortable than the shift over. The tingling sensation brings with it a brief wave of nausea and a strange numbing, then slacking of muscles. Within the space of a minute, Teo is himself again. The only side effects is a lingering feeling of skin sensitivity.

The changes that erode through Teo's skin and muscle are borne out with teeth set on edge and an expression of humorless determination that is probably better suited to confronting needles or bullet extrication than… Well, actually, there's no sane analogue for what he's going through now— perhaps that's exactly the sort of look you're supposed to have on your face when you're being physically remodeled.

The first thing he does is to looks at is himself, of course. Face, shoulders— and yes, with a downward shift of hand to confirm— dick intact. The second thing he does is to fold his legs, or else his legs folded of their own accord, sending into a seamless drop onto the floor, butt first, his feet wound underneath him Indian style. His base of gravity is better, set lower.

Disoriented by his transition between bodies, he proceeds to squirm his way out of his shirt, blinking out of a wan, fair face and poking himself with rough fingers ridged with a lifetime of healed breaks.

Sonny somehow managed to restore Teo exactly as he was before. Every scar, every bump, every healed fracture is how it was before. It's proof that the doc now has the ability to completely reverse the changes he makes rather than needing to remodel a person from scratch. It is a relief.

As Teo slinks down, so does he. A hand reaches out to brush over the Italian's face, to confirm with his own fingers that everything is as it should be. He sets forehead against forehead and shuffles closer. He almost expects to be rejected, to be treated with fear. "I'm…I'm so sorry."

With the other man's face and hands stuck onto the front of his head, Teo doesn't have much room to examine himself for inconsistencies. Not that he's really worried about those anymore, not really. Even his nose is restored to its original, Finnish magnitude, or as best he could tell with an eye-watering yank of thumb and forefinger against its great cartlidgenous precipice. Ahh.

Despite the normal implications of the gesture, the hug that he is giving himself is based on no real fear; he was just checking the measure of his tattooed torso again. Obscurely pleased that it's intact, he closes his eyes, a fairy-fingered tickle of lashes against the edges of Sonny's cheeks. "Non problema," he remembers to say, after a moment.

It's with relief and some measure of surprise that Sonny finds himself accepted. Or at least, not immediately rejected. It would seem foolish to anyone who happened to witness it - two grown men sitting on the bathroom floor. But he's not thinking about that right now.

He folds himself around Teo and gives the other a firm hug. Expensive cologne still lingers on his skin and mingles with whatever he uses to pull his curls into order. He buries his face against Teo's neck.

"Seems…to have something to do with headaches. I…have to figure this out. I don't want that to ever happen again."

The lingering sensitivity to Teo's skin is a thing by itself, neither fundamentally pleasant nor altogether unwelcome, stacking a shiver underneath the press of Sonny's breath. There's no residual weakness to his hands, which comforts him. Nausea seems to wane before it waxes into anything he would really worry about, but relief seems to plan on keeping his knees away from him. Good God. "Hey, hey."

His comforting voice isn't very. As seen in with his ninjastic stunt of retrieving painkillers and so on, Teo's isn't a personality that naturally lends itself to care or gentle contact. "'S fine. Look. Ten." He puts up his hands, spread into starfish, only to remember that Sonny can't see them through the column of his neck. Always the practical one, Teo resolves that by setting his fingertips into Sonny's hair, a ringlet for each callused digit. "No bruises," he adds. "I can see out of both eyes. 'M fine."

It would be good to note that transformations can strike people with weakness. Perhaps it could be used in a martial capacity in a pinch. Though Sonny is not thinking anything of the sort. "I gave you tits," he says dryly. His ex-girlfriend's, no less. That's breaking some kind of unforgiveable mutated doctor code or something.

"C'n you get up? You want something to eat?" He, on the other hand, has nurturing as part of his personality. It usually takes the form of medical treatment, except to the people he cares for. He presses slightly quivering lips to the curve of Teo's neck.

Teo's long hands hunt down from his boyfriend's head, scrub their way down the timid scrunch of Sonny's shoulders and the tailor-cut sleeves past those, find the older man's hands with the same deft certainty as he's learned to manage weapons. He pushes his fingers through, grips the small round stone of Sonny's knuckles as if they were precious ones and commensurately resilient to human handling.

"Yup," Teo agrees, first, amicably. Tits. Felt 'em. Didn't feel 'em up, but he understood.

An upward nudge of his shoulder raises Sonny's face out of hiding, and the older man's hands aren't long following, pinned to the flat of the sink cabinets with his back like the anatomy of a gingerbread man stretched out onto the foil for decoration, perusal, or the straightforward application of heat. There's plenty of that in the strength of Teo's steadfast regard, half-smile that's closer with every disagreement he offers in lieu of rejection. "Nope.

"Nnnnope." The last syllable closes neatly over Sonny's mouth. It's important to him, that Salvatore can look him in the eye. Somewhere else in downtown Manhattan, there are car crashes and ability eruptions at worst cost by far; there is plenty of trouble and plenty of time for it, but Teo doesn't measure foul without harm. Not anymore. Nor does he have compunctions about making himself understood by whatever means possible. Sonny's shaking. "Y' okay?"

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