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Scene Title They-Blond
Synopsis In which Abigail and Teo forcibly abort out of talking about some things in order to say what needs to be said.
Date July 18, 2010

West Village — Maison d'Allegre

The brownstone home, number 57 on West 11th Street, is three floors tall, all old brown brickwork as the name implies. A curving stepped stoop leads up to the door, wrought iron barring it off from its neighbours, with the building's number in brass nailed into the painted wood without any glass inset to give a glimpse of the space within.

Once inside, the immediate hardwood foyer offers space to hang up coats and set aside shoes, with a wooden, open flight of stairs curving up into the second floor. The first opens up into three designated areas — a spacious livingroom with a rug of earthern tones thrown in the centre, a generous hearth set into the wall with traditional log-burning capabilities. The walls are exposed brickwork, lined with shelving of a slowly growing book collection. Next to it is a dining area defined as such by an oval dining table, generous and able to expand to sit up to eight people, and usually littered with too many things to be good to eat at until cleared. The kitchen is barred off from the rest with a counter, all stainless steel appliances and a sliding door that leads into a modest backyard. Tucked away to the right is a laundry, cramped but sufficient.

The second floor has more walls, closed off areas — a master bedroom with a connecting bathroom, a hallway that slides between the stairwell and said bathroom, into unfurnished open space that provides linen closets and such storage. The third floor is similar, if reversed, and almost designed to be its own separate apartment, with a bedroom and bathroom at the back of the house, an open social space with a squat coffeetable, and an open, unfurnished space with a balcony hanging off it, street-side. The stairwell spirals all the way up into rooftop access.

Lunch had seemed informal enough for Francois to be absent while keeping this a thing, but maybe not too big a thing, and Teo was careful to attend the details of sizes and things when he planned for Abigail's visit. It is one of those things on the list of things large enough to be considered things, and there aren't a lot of those in light of the size of the event he's been trying, rather haplessly, to choreograph over the past few months.

There are mango-glazed mahi mahi steaks with a rather enormous bowl of cherries for dessert and a basily salad thing that had had a prettier name in the book that he read about it in, but he no longer owns the book. He used to make things like this for an ex-girlfriend, the one with radiation sickness, because red meat wouldn't sit and vegetables that didn't taste like anything made her throw up from eating anything that inevitably only came through like the texture of cardboard.

But that's a sad story that's over, now, and Teodoro is all right with that. It's one o' clock with a street squeaking loud outside, the television on to some Nickelodeon cartoon of startling animated fluidity, no shoes on his feet, his T-shirt cheerfully pronouncing the university he never got around to graduating from, and the whole house smelling faintly of salsa-fresh spice and herbs. When the doorbell rings, he opens up and says, "Buongiorno," and gets out of her way.

They had talked about that girlfriend once, just before Teo had punctured the crook of her own elbow to deliver something that might have later down the road been beneficial if only at the time it had been considered a plan B. Soft blue sundress, broken up by a soft black elastic strap that disappears over shoulder and down the back, strappy heeled sandal's, Abby's fresh from church, childless and blonde hair done up, pinned here and there to stay up off her neck.

The meal is something expected, even the greeting that he offers when the door opens in answer to her finger with it's clear laquered nail pressing down. She's a welcome person here, somewhere, she might even have a key. But she's a guest, not a resident and guests don't just barge in when they have been expressly invited. She'd been anticipating this call, Francois had warned her as good friends should do.

So with a bottle of wine in each hand - something that was ridiculous expensive that her man would approve of and wouldn't get them any faster drunk than a cheaper brand but at least it'll taste good going down - She steps in. "I brought the sacrament" Abigail tries to make a joke, no matter how tasteless it just might have been.

"Oh, cool. Creepy," is Teo's answer, always one for delicacy, "but in a cool kind of way. Wow, that's good shit, isn't it?" Language. He shuts the door with his knee, locks it with the bolt and the handle, both, because he's still (always) a little paranoid. But there is no shotgun rigged to the door to deliver Abigail an unwontedly explosive greeting. He comes in after her, studying her dress, and maybe also the young woman inside of it, studying the meet of oblique muscle, long piano-key bones and carefully chosen fabric with an eye that's as aesthetic as it is always merely Looking. "Grazie, always makes this easier, doesn't it?

"This way." He's under-dressed in comparison, but that is not precisely unusual, and does not particularly call attention. In fact, it's so commonplace to them that it really doesn't. The dining table is what she remembers: round, wooden. Not recently collapsed by terrorist attacks or arrest attempts dissolved awry into violence. There is a new print on the wall, a rooster elaborately feathered, comb lifted proud, wings flared backward, spurred feet in a fancy trot, on a field of scarlet. It makes the room brighter, which was the point. He pulls out a chair for her next to it.

"Francois pick that or did you get it for him?" A gesture to the Rooster print, taking the few second between pulling the chair out and waiting for her to sit down so she can study it. "You're slowly making it your home. Both of you Teo. I can see Francois in it and I can see you."

One hand reaches out, almost touching his shoulder before she aborts the attempt an inch away, easing down instead into the seat, waiting the last second for him to push it in before she actually drops down onto it's surface. "It's not really the sacrament Teo, it's just.. it's wine. That I had. That I thought you might like, that.. we might have some of" Forefinger scratches under the black diagonal strap, adjusting, re-adjusting then letting go. «How are you? Francois visited a little bit ago, came to check on a baby for me and said that you were having some issues» Lapsing into Italian so that she can talk to him in his mother tongue. That was the point of learning it. For him.

She's going to try and tackle french next, for Francois.

Having some what? Teodoro glances down at his feet a little accusatorily, for no apparent reason whatsoever. He forgot socks or something, and he can't honestly attribute Francois telling his best friend that 'they are having issues' to his feet, but that's where instinct puts his head. A second later, maybe two, and he realizes that he'd just meant to duck it down, sheepish, rueful, tremendously Catholic the way frinkle had been, but didn't quite get there. He squints at his toes for another brief moment, then steps over to get wineglasses.

Clink, clink, scrape, and he is settling onto his chair. "I didn't really think you meant you burglarized the church out of some sacrament," he offers, by way of reassurance. "Stupid punchline to your stupid joke. Don't punch me or anything." He scoots a napkin over to her, and makes a go-ahead gesture at the rather terrifyingly dignified bottle presiding over lunch. «I picked it. It was vintage, and he gave me money, so I figured I'd pretend that didn't make an asshole out of me. I'm good.

«Doing some things he doesn't approve of, but it'll be over, soon. I'm glad that» he-blond «is treating you well.»

«It'll be over soon?» Like whatever he's doing is akin to taking out an appendix, or some trip and gone for a few days and come back looking 'refreshed' and maybe your lips a little puffy from whatever you injected into it. Not that Francois told her what was going on.

«Does Francois even want anything to be over soon and changed? He didn't exactly tell me what was going on. Just came over for dinner and we talked about life and things» Napkin unfolds with a soudns of cloth on cloth, placed across her lap so that it can catch whatever she might drop or let slip from her cutlery.

Well, he can pour the wine then. Teo does, because apparently his friend would rather circle him arrayed with bristling questions. Par for the course; he's used to this by now. He uncorks the wine using the macabre little spiral-toothed implement resting on the table between the sheet of fish steaks and the giant salad bowl. There is a gassy pop and the room smells suddenly of rich fermented grapes, and he leans over to fill her glass first. White. Goes with the fish, and all. (Also he prefers white.) "I think he'd rather the whole thing be over so we can move on, yeah.

"You know how anticipation's the worst part." It sounds like a trite kind of truth, but that doesn't mean it isn't one. Teo flips the tongs over in his hand in a motion oddly identical to the way he'd handle a blade, and hands them to her to kill the salad with.

Wine is the man's job, Salad, she'll dish that out, taking them between her fingers on one hand, the other closing in a sure grip on the salad bowl. The pincers close gently around lettuce, careful not to bruise as she sets about to serving him the rabbit food portion of the meal. "What are you doing? Francois alluded to it being you unhappy with yourself, and that you and ghost and … whatever other .. Teo's that you think you are composed of.. something like that. I never really quite understood it when everyone claimed you were someone else. You were still and still are Teo just…" She's not expressing herself properly. Dosen't help that she doens't know what exactly he's doing.

The tongs clunk on the side of the bowl. 'Teodor. What is wrong, what needs to be fixed and… how can I help so that you're happy again and so Francois is still happy. he loves you, you realize right?"

"No, I had no idea." Teo blinks at the young woman, then furrows his brow. "Of course I know that. Fortunately for everybody involved, I can see.

"But you can't say your future is dead and nothing in it is real or true or core to who you are now, and then argue that I am the same man as the other two that went into making me. I'm different to them, like you're different to the woman the ghost knew. Different loves, different lives, different circumstances, different choices to make. Don't—" he bites off the end of that line before it comes out in patronization or condescension, which it would have. "Please don't be trite.

"That isn't really what I wanted to talk to you about. Thanks." For the salad, Teo means, happy with his serving. He picks up his fork and prods at it without interest in the vinaigrette, doesn't take a bite yet; too many manners for that, as a host, though his mother would have slapped the fork out of his hand a moment ago.

Three of him, in one. The polite chastisement is taken with a tong full of salad placed down beside her fish, falling silent as she does so with a quiet nod of her head. She could argue that her future isn't dead, it's very much alive, unspooling along as the minutes go by, always changing, never static. That every choice ends the future of some and opens up new futures. Billions of Abby's existing on many different… it makes her brain hurt and makes her realize at times, why Tamara is the way she is when you can see all that.

"You're welcome" For the salad. She picks up her fork, twirling it in her hand to get it how she likes to hold it and reach for the glass of wine so she can take a heady sip. maybe it was good she brought alcohol. Maybe there isn't enough alcohol.

"What did you want to talk about then"

She has argued that that future is dead; enough to move on from, at least, instead of grasping after to fulfill in small parts, and with that comes a certain understanding that some part of Teo is as a function of this one living instead. It's not a conversation they've finished before, and not one that seems appropriate to finish now. He's bad at arguing with Abigail, according to history, where he's never bad at arguing with anybody.

"I wanted to let you know that I'm over the thing where you used your solid rep to get Kozlow out of the safehouse undetected." There. It is rather coherent. "And I was going to do it not just to prove that I could.

"Or because shit will hit— again, another apocalypse, 'cause there always are one, and friendships are more important. And not just because it's easy. But because you deserve it." Tender basil leaves fold and puncture through on the teeth of his fork. He looks at it, the difference of texture on the underside of the leaves, then over. "People fuck up, and then they own up, and there's a humble nobility in that that should be rewarded without asking for it." A beat.

"Well, also it's important Francois doesn't think I'm a huge, heartless asshole for the rest of time, and there probably is going to be another giant clusterfuck that'll rest in some ironically small part on how much I love you, and holding that grudge isn't really the easiest thing I've ever done. But you do deserve it." He retracts a little of his weirdly articulated ESL fluency a moment, eyeing the girl from across the table, then salutes with basil. "So thanks."

"You're not a heartless asshole and never were. Just a crazy Italian and I deserved that.. I deserved what I got for doing what I did." he didn't actually say he forgives her, just that he's finally over it. She can take that. So far, she's just picking at her food, little nibble here and there. Not for lack of it being delicious and jealous that Francois has had this to consume while she's been making food for one, or eating hospital food that week back home.

Teo even know she'd gone home to the land of mosquito's and Kudzu? There was a time in which, he would have been the first to know, even dragged along.

"I love you, to the moon and back, you know that right? I love you as you are with your jagged mouth, and the way… the way you've been ever since the plate came out of your head. I love you the way your head just thumps against things even when you're not realizing it because it's just the way you are" She lets her fork rest, leaning her weight forward against the table. "I'll love you no matter what, unless you try to kill my boyfriend, then I'll love you a little less"

Ever since the what? Invariably, this is news to Teo. He puts a hand up on the corner of his head, surprised at the idea that he has been just htumping against things when he didn't realize it because that's the way he is, but one would imagine that that is a function of the exercise. He pinches at his scalp a moment, then lets his arm fall. "Well, I forgive you," underline and bold, "and," he lapses into a brief silence, all confused about things all of a sudden. "And I'm not going to try and kill your boyfriend.

"You should know the feeling's mutual, you know. I sent an invitation to hang out, and he was all 'wah, blizzard, I don't wanna go.' Obviously, it was personal." He jabs the fork handle in her direction to punctuate that declaration, too exaggeratedly to be entirely sincere with a twist at the good-corner of his mouth. "Or he's a huge puss. I may also be paraphrasing."

"I played messenger over my phone. I think, that you will both remain civil with one another but until the day that you can manage to call him Robert instead of He-Blond Teo, I'm not going to hold my breath." Besides, the man is busy. A good portion of their dates they manage to squeeze in get interrupted by the phone or someone showing up. "Thank you, for your forgiveness Teo. How about… we sit, and we eat and we drink while I don't have a baby to take care of tonight, and let it be like… like times long ago in an apartment that we don't share anymore with Alexander and just… just be."

Sounds good. Ideal. A snapshot he'll want to keep in the new meatbag forever. "He-Blond," he says, breathing basil into air that already smells like it, smiling a little. It doesn't occur to Teo until now that it hadn't hurt, when she'd talked about his face, needless vanity, like homophobia, resentment, overcome in leaps and bounds. "He-Blond is— like a pet name. You can call Francois kittentits if you want; I don't mind. You won't see me complaining. I'm very grown up, now." Better late than never.


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