This Way


alexander_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title This Way
Synopsis Is easier.
Date November 19, 2008

Little Italy

It's cold outside. It's always cold outside. Eventually, Teo's going to get his subconscious to block out the sensation, because its novelty of stepping into autumn, winter, or early spring stopped being novel about six years ago. He grunts something rude under his breath, squaring his shoulders, fists pocketed, his head hangdog down low in front of him as he picks his way out of the Deli's sidewalk.

Stops a few short steps further along, the drawstrings of his hood swinging; he looks up to see Alexander, watch the blonde woman and Arab boy extricate themselves from over the length of a distance turned blue from evening. "You said something to her," he states, after a moment. It isn't a question, lacks the heat of accusation. He just forgot what it was he had planned to say.

"Well, fuck yeah," Al says, not bothering to demur. "I mean, hell, I still don't understand it. I was hoping she might know what was going on," he says, cupping his hand around the zippo as he lights up.

That's fair, Teo thinks blankly, although justice probably has nothing to do with that particular aspect of this specific thing, at least at this time. Other things. The Sicilian dithers in place for a moment, his shoes chugging audibly on the sidewalk as he watches his friend light up. He stops making noise then, either self-conscious or tiring at least of his own equivocation.

Two paces, and he's abruptly behind Alexander's shoulder, his strides long enough that he seemingly hadn't had to bother with the stretch of sidewalk at all. Two impertinent fingers snatch the cigarette from Al's mouth and he takes a drag, a long one, even as his other arm yokes the other man's throat, leaning companionably.

He perches his chin on Alexander's shoulder. Never fully understood the disparity in their height, if there was one; this isn't physically uncomfortable.

Though he's waiting. For a shove, a punch in the nose, a cold curse, or the dismissal of blue eyes. "You're my best friend," he says steadily. Sidelong, into Al's ear. "I don't want different opinions about sex or religion or shit like that to fuck it all up."

Alexander squeaks in protest at that, but doesn't fight to get it back. And then he's grabbed in a way that he'd not brook from anyone else. But he only stiffens for a moment, before he relaxes. "We'll be cool," he says, gently. "I won't give you shit about that papist nonsense, honest," he teases, cocking an eye back at Teo.

His arm's still intact. That's encouraging. Teo exhales smoke and watches it whorl and thin into nothing, aware of Alexander's gaze spun on him. "I should punch you for that," he states, at length. Grimacing with more humor than annoyance, he taps ash off the end of the cancer stick before handing it back. Or offering to, anyway, dangling the thing end-down in front of Alexander until it's either taken or refused.

"So." So. The lower half of his face stays poked around that single syllable as he thinks, and then he lifts his eyebrows and glances back, his grip loosening. "Friend shit." Exciting: shit. "I guess, whenever you do something nice to me, I'll say something adorable like, 'Do I have to gay you now?' And you'll continue raising everybody's eyebrows with your classy classy humor. I'll probably end up asking you for fashion advice. And discourage you from dating men: we're pigs."

"Ah don't mean any harm by it," Al asserts, delicately accepting the cigarette back, and taking a deep drag off it. "Not religious m'self, anymore, since Ah gave up being a Baptist," He seems faintly wistful about it, but not bitter. "And you're buyin' into the stereotypes, hon. Ah don't dress well, Ah don't design, Ah don' like musicals. 'sides, guess the more accurate terms would be bisexual. Had my innin's with women, too. Don't you worry about it, either way." He doesn't fight the grip, but nor does he lean into it. He seems oddly contemplative, really.

The boy's baby blues thin slightly, amused even in their acknowledgment. Not that Teo agrees. He wouldn't do that unless he really had to. "I'm not buying into the stereotypes," he contradicts. "I'm disempowering the stereotypes by making fun of them. We can't exist outside the heteronormative paradigm, but I'd prefer to have fun with it." Or something. He has friends in the literary theory department. They articulate the concepts better than he does, but he can never remember how it went. He's listening closely. Not that you could really do anything other than 'closely' at this proximity. "I'll encourage you to date women. They're not pigs. Sows, sometimes." He shifts his jaw, teeth grating teeth, not audibly but there's a tactile bump-and-grate atop Alexander's shoulder: a half-hidden fidget. "So. You're not mad at me anymore?"

Al moves his head a little, the better to see him up close. "No," he says, quietly. "We'll just move on, be like it didn't happen." He even seems to mean it, funnily enough. "And that's a lot of college boy gobbledegook," His tone is teasing again. "I like girls awright. They tend to demand more of you than men do, but they're better at a lot of things. Not worried about dating. I'm too poor, and I got too much to do to go courtin' anyone, male or female," He flicks Ash off to one side, lest the wind blow it back on them.

"Maybe." Gobbledegook, that is. "But it's still true." Laughing about something's easier than ignoring it, at least for Teo. Makes him less diplomatic. Makes him funny, too, if your sense of humor is that way. For whatever reason, the assurance that Alexander will see no one is preferable to the possibility of him seeing anybody. Not a train of thought to pursue. He'd never catch up with it, anyway. "I'm good at moving on," he adds, after a pause, with a smile that's visible because Al moved his head. If he's annoyed at the backblown ash across his clothes, he doesn't show it; stops looking at Al after a moment, partly because it's physically uncomfortable, though he isn't ready to move yet. Watches the cigarette shorten, gradually. "Hey. Why do you go by your middle name?"

"Too many folks up here don't know their Bible and assume that it's the short form of Jessica, and I got too much shit for it when I did, so I started using my middle name," Al explains, taking a last drag and then dropping the cigarette into a puddle to be ground out under a heel. "Good, good. We gonna have to work together, and the smoother things are, the better," he says, with that near maddening serenity firmly in place. The icy blue eyes are heavy-lidded, perhap with weariness.

Teo's jaw twitches around a grin. That makes sense. Personally, his middle name is the unhelpful one, the first syllable of his first the hardest to mock. "That's a shame." He loosens his hold when the cigarette falls. Inhales for no reason he's consciously aware of, deeper than he'd need to catch his breath or the flagrant stench of nicotine, but then, he's neither been running and nor does he have a particular weakness for the brand of Alexander's preference. Well, not the brand of cigarettes. It isn't the cigarettes. "That was my reasoning," he says, finally dropping his arm. They have to work together.

That makes sense, too. For once, his urge to unseat that perpetually infuriating patina of existential fatigue finds itself counter-balanced with something else, teetering the scale. "Rapture or more Linderman Group shit, tonight?" he asks Alexander's back. Bouncing, he means.

"Rapture," Al says, with a faint sigh. He doesn't go for another cigarette. Perhaps trying to keep it an occasional vice, rather than a real habit. The redhead smells of frankincense and myrrh, weirdly reminiscent of the inside of a church, though it's warmer and softer on skin than in the air between cold stones. "I don't mind it. It's so hoity toity we're mostly for show, more than any real need to shove out the hoi polloi, y'know?" He seems comfortable enough in just his suit, despite the cold. Hotblooded, perhaps.

That would be it. Frankincense and myrrh. Al slides back into focus, and Teo lets an agreeable shrug roll through his shoulders, lazy, right to left. "Better than the Orchid Lounge or Linderman's Halloween, sure." He stuck out like a sore thumb there, or at least felt like it. He's a good deal better off in Piccoli's Delicatessen, and a little bit worse off out here.

It'll chase him indoors soon, the cold. Or back onto his bike, for a few minutes of fiercer, velocity-enhanced cold until he finally passes out at Abby's new digs or whatever it was he was planning to do tonight. Which strikes him about now. Cold-blooded perhaps; probably not. "Egh." He makes a face and covers his nose with a callused hand. Both are equally cold. "A'right. I done my duty today: bribed a strange woman, stalked a high school student, improved on my character. I think I'm going to piss off out of here. Give us a smile, bello."

Alexander offers that fox's grin without a moment's hesitation. "You get on back in, I'll get my ass to work. See you around home, later. That reminds me. We still gonna try and find somewhere to rent, or are you living in student housing up at school, for your real address?" he wonders, even as he shoots his cuffs, and settles himself more comfortably in the suit.

Teo eyes that grin; fights down the urge to tell his friend to go steal chickens or some other respectable profession for a vulpine. Honestly, if he could bottle that— "Nah, I'm going to see Abby for a little bit. Ragazza sounded funny on the phone. But I'll see you, yeah." He startles faintly at the reminder: of the tentative housing plans they'd had floating around amorphous. "My lease in Harlem is over in a month. I could move. I don't know if it's a good idea, if things are going to start getting heavy with Hel's plans. Or my pet Fed." He scratches his inner-eye with his thumb nail and finally takes his muffling palm down his face, his eyes slightly distant with trouble or other thought, a ruin of a grin. "Hate to drag you into any of my fuck-ups." 'Smooth,' they'd said.

"Ah gotta have a real-world address. Ah'm registered, and they fuck you if you're Registered and homeless," Al says, a touch grimly. "I don't care where. If you can't, you can't, no big deal. Ah'll find somethin'."

Damn registration. "I forgot," Teo admits, after a moment. Another passes, before he spits an irritable curse, reaches up to scrape the back of his neck with long fingers. A glance left and right between pedestrians out of earshot. "I have to move anyway. The Russian stronzo who tapped Abby followed me. I'll look around, let you know if I find something."

A scowl sends Al's brows diving for his nose. "Wait, what? Shit," he says, curtly.

Another shrug of agreement moves through Teo's shoulders. "I'd invite you right over, otherwise, amico," he says. "For now, they've left me alone. Probably think I'm just a friend of hers." Of course, if a certain Registered, copper-haired telekinetic who'd sent broomsticks splintering into enemy operatives showed his face around there, that would probably implicate a great deal more about Teo than he'd care for most people to know. Nor is that a gay joke of questionable taste. He breathes out, watches his breath tendril translucent through the air. He bites back the urge to tell Alexander he doesn't need to worry, hesitant to presume that the ex-soldier would. "Thanks," he says instead. "For the cigarette."

"Well, be careful," Al says, quietly. "I mean, I know you will, but…" He claps the Sicilian on a shoulder, and turns on a heel to amble off. Time for work.

That goes without saying. Teo's salutation reaches Alexander the same way the better part of their conversation had: at his back. "Addio."

November 19th: Does Not Want

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 19th: Subtle
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