To Help Us Grow



Also featuring:
Walter as a first-grader?

Scene Title To Help Us Grow
Synopsis Out of time — in both meanings of the phrase, Teo meets his son.
Date April 14, 2010

The West Village — Francois' Brownstone: Bedroom

Teodoro Laudani's sleep, when he gets it, is probably fitful enough to not quite make it real rest. One of those slumbers where the body tosses and turns, and the mind is stormy, cloudy, full of fog and thoughts. Full of thoughts, and sometimes, of memories- that are, in Teodoro's case, sometimes not entirely his own. Memories of a more peaceful world where he would fight the villains and win; memories of a place where he was sometimes sick in mind or body, but always had a village to return to so that he may recuperate; memories of the soft, smiling faces that made that little home in the midst of all that was still chaotic and violent in his life. Memories of warm food in an empty belly. Of the cooing of babes, of little hands and tiny digits around his own calloused fingers that slowly became not-so-little hands clutching the inside of the very same paws. Memories of a swatch of orange over milky skin and eyes just like his, always looking him over as if every time were the first.

How did he not know? Maybe he always did- and perhaps was afraid of that simple reality of that little person being half his. Walter knew. He always knew who his father was- and treated Teodoro as just that. Even if he was not ready for whatever family he did end up with. Walter adopted Teo, not the other way around. Rather like his mother, in that regard. He also, like her, would never leave him truly alone. Not while he existed- not while he lives.

"I love this place, but it's haunted without you… My tired heart, is beating so… slow. Our hearts sing less, than we wanted… we wanted… Our hearts sing 'cause, we do not know, we do not know…"

The voice is in his sleeping world, though when Teo lifts his heavy eyelids it is there, around him, crooning over the pallor that is the arc of his shoulder where his shirt has hiked over the tricep and his head at one of the oddest angles for slumber. It is not an intrusive sound- soft, deftly masculine, familiar- but at the same time, unfamiliar. He won't know it, no matter how much he pauses to think. But it is warm, and welcome, and something that both slides under his skin and over it as it mixes with faint strings. Conflicting feelings slipping between the lyrics allow him some measure of wonderment before he may care to look across towards the foot of the bed.

Not Francois, not Jesse, not even a man. Not yet.

Walter has some growing to do, until he fits the voice that he had just a split second ago. Some growing, but his warmth remains. Thin, pale arms are wrapped wide around the belly of his wooden guitar, the small knobs of his knuckles peeking backwards over the neck. Teo sees a cotton shirt, khaki pockets- that dollop of fiery orange hair. Freckles spanning the length of his little limbs, and over the skin of his neck.

"To light the night, to help us grow, to help us grow… It is not said, I always know, I always know…"

The little boy perched at the end of the sofa is liable to feel so surreal- but somehow he feels like he has been there forever, and may continue to be there. Forever. Fate has things that it is flexible towards, certainly; then again, sometimes there is that one little something that stays immortal and consistent. Walter turns his head to peer quietly to his left; his first-grade features are already forming the outline of what he is going to grow into. A somewhat severe knot in his brow, and smiling dimples that flow from his flashing little grin to the pointed corners of his blue eyes.

"Io sono qui per restare, babbo."

Waking up is like trying to paw back to the surface after a plummeting dive knocked the wind out of your lungs with surface-tension already. The weight of water squashing down on the back of his head, yoking cold against his back muscles, insinuating a sticky ache against his eardrums and itching hotly at his lungs. Light's coming. Blurry, mobile, diamond-shaped lattice wrinkling and rolling a queasy chlorine green and pricking his eyes. Bubbles out of his mouth. Some aborted cry for hel—

"—'Lo," he says. His eyes pull wide, and then he squeezes them shut. Reopens to find less blur and improved color, and a long breath exudes with enough force to puppet-string him into sitting upright, effortfully, with a grunt.

He puts his fingers in his hair. Winds up having to hold his hair up like tentpoles or a trellis, leaving pale eyes unobstructed to blink across at the imaginary child at the foot of the bed. Don't think the greeting means he can't discern the difference between the physical reality of 2010 and the figments of his fevered imagination, with reference to to circa 2019. His voice is a croak. "Where's Natalie?"

Matching eyes take him in just like they always did- always do? Like Walter looks at him freshly every time. A first impression to make every day, and today's impression is that Teodoro is kind of being a lazy bum. Though that may be the case, Walt still smiles to him. The expression softens slightly as the air between them is broken, the silence whittled at with a fine toothed comb. The acoustic wires give a small, metallic squeal of protest as the boy brings his arm from them to drape his torso over the wood.

"I'unno. Were you expecting her?" Those eyes whose size he has to grow into make a tiny squint, owner giving a new pause.

"You need a shave and a haircut." Two bits.

Does he now? Teo glances up at the intersection of his long fingers with the splayed threading of his hair, and then his brows furrows slightly, speculatively.

Yyyes. Still, it takes a few more seconds, before he drops his hand out from under his bangs, leaving them to fall fluffed, and he shakes his head until they fall into a slightly less irregular order. Slightly. He winds up staring out with a camel's disfocused, long-lashed eyes under an unbearable sun and wind gone razor-edged with sand. "She was with you last time. Probably just as well you're alone, though.

"Be bad for a little girl like her to be around when you suddenly sprout ten heads and a freakish homicidal streak and try to kill me too." Teo can only hope that, to an external viewer, he is talking to the empty air at the other end of the mattress. Less worrisome than some of the alternatives. Teo ropes a grasping gesture of his fingers, that makes him look older and more delicate than he is.

Than he'll probably ever get to be. "Come help your old man up."

The boy listens, though about halfway through he cants his forehead towards Teo as if to say 'really, now'. An admonishment without any actual words, for sure. Sprout heads? That is just silly. Walter lifts his chin while his head is still tilting, his slender neck stretching while he looks on and plays the Peanut Gallery with his light, boyish voice. "Should cut it today. Beard's okay, just make it look nice, jeeeeez. Natalie'd be fine anyhow, trust me."

"You're getting lazy and hairy. You're really not that old yet." But, despite this being said, the ginger boy sets aside the guitar to lean it on the end of the couch before putting out a hand to Teodoro and bracing un-tied sneakers on the floor.

"If you add both my lifetimes together, I'm more than sixty," Teodoro informs the boy, importantly. He leans forward, transferring his weight over his center of balance, tipping like a seesaw, 'til his frame meets the child's at the angles of shoulders and arms. A moment, and then he's getting up with the assistance from a child who would have been too small to really bear his weight even if he was real. Which he isn't. Teo knows that. Christ, his mouth tastes like an earswab, and has that scratchy thick texture

Nnngh. He decides to think about something else before that turns his stomach too far. "I don't think we should cut my hair ourselves. Maybe get Francois to do it. Or Abby.

"I suspect any attempts made by ourselves, however ingeniously team-worked, would end in…" a beat's pause. "Well I was going to say I wouldn't get laid, but I'm not doing that lately anyway. I wouldn't want to scare children, si? You're already slightly—" Teo pauses, trying to pick the proper word. 'Disgusted.' 'Alarmed.' 'Objecting.' "'Put off,'" he decides, navigating gamely toward the frige. Hallucinations require caloric fuel. Surely.

"'M 'put off' by your lack of hygiene, not your lack of style." Walter tells it how it is, peering up past his brows and making that crease on his forehead that he got from the man to his left. "Let's do it ourselves." The boy's smirk turns into a toothy little grin. Mom's grin, of course. He wears it so well, too. "Can we just buzz your hair? I liked it that way. And trim the beard on the edges, is all. It'll look good, prob'ly." Hopefully. Teo turns into Chuck Norris! News at Eleven.

"You shouldn't talk to first graders about your sex life." Patta patta patta. Sneakers thud after him towards food, and Walter's presence is not unlike a small dog voicing its opinions and thoughts out loud for the world to hear. One wrist bobs up to rub at an itch on his button nose.

Teo would not mind being Chuck Norris. It is better than being sick, as long as it isn't a symptom of being sick— and he is dully, slimily, reluctantly recognizant that he could just as easily picture himself in some feverish delirium hollering to the world about how he beat up x number of ninjas solo, in the jungle, with an attractively choreographed bicep wound bandaged to his arm, so if the Russians want a piece—

He gets very bored, stuck inside so long. "I'm hygieney. Clean," he catches him abruptly and with audible annoyance. He didn't just say that, and Walter can't prove it; he hadn't said 'hygieney.' "I took a bath just a few hours ago. People with raging fevers sweat sometimes, that's all. I'm sorry for telling you about my sex life." A beat. He really is sorry. Even Teodoro Laudani should know better, really. He heaves out a lugubrious sigh, and begins his descent down the staircase.



Teo sounds like he's dragging a peg leg. Plus patta patta patta. "Francois will either think I'm crazy if I'm suddenly well-groomed or trying too hard to convince him I'm not, when he comes home. But sure. If I can remember where I put the razor, after I reheat some stew. But if I accidentally take my cornea off, I'm blaming this on you, little man, and your momma will whup you so hard."

"I'unno'bout that. She'd prob'ly think you'd been drinking. Or you know- just being clumsy. I am an angel." The boy chirps practically in Teodoro's ear.

"Who cares what the French guy thinks, anyways. I sure don't." Patta patta. WHUMP. The noise of little person hitting hardwood is quite unmistakable; when Teo looks back, Walt is mumbling and getting to his feet, only to stoop over and begin trying to tie his shoes. To little avail. Even with his extensively mature way of speaking, Walter is still a kid with kid problems.

Though maybe in this case it is Teodoro's subconscious with the kid problems such as falling over(tripping) or not being able to tie proper knots.

Aagh. Teo halts amid slight disorder, his elbows hiked and his brows in a furrow. He turns around fully, his eyes keen on the child's fallen figure, moments before he's there as well, on a shuffle of medically incorrect bare feet. He stoops to grasp the child, scoop him up, one forearm swooped around underneath his tiny posterior, the other barring him from falling over at the back.

"Angels can fly," he points out, navigating back toward the kitchen. Some ridiculous wrinkle of panic subsides in his chest, to feel Walter's small arms secure around his neck, the quiddity of him preserved, intact, warm, moth-sized heartbeat tapping rhythmic against the unoccupied half of Teo's ribcage. Jesus. It is with some irritation that he finally finishes the journey to the kitchen, and sets the toddler down on the counter. "Your mom used to do the finger thing.

"I forget how it goes. You put your finger on the laces, and then I tie them over it?" He cracks the fridge open and locates his seran-wrapped plate of food in a moment. Fetches it into the microwave in a series of movements too expedient for a sick man who's talking to a fictional tot about doing up his fictional shoelaces.

Rather than fuss about being carted off like a baby like most six year olds might, Walter goes from trying to tie the still dangling laces to holding onto Teodoro as he is moved from one space to the next. Phantom heartbeat, phantom breath on the outskirts of his face. The boy leans in to squeeze at his father before he has time to set him down and move on. It feels like a kid latching on, but it is much more to that kid. Blue eyes follow the man across the small kitchen, to and fro. His legs dangle, and a glance goes to the haphazard looking strings.

"I can't fly, but I can jump." Whatever that means. Walt bends his knee and brings one shoe up to the edge of the counter, where he begins to go at it again. Loop under, pull. Finger on middle, thumb up.

'Course he could. Teo could too, when he was his age. Except he called jumping flying, and broke or bruised a couple things coming down. More than a couple.

The microwave bleeps, blurps, then proceeds to drone with its lambent orange light caged up inside the heatproof door, and the Sicilian's toiling back to the child's perch in order to watch. Such a neat and orderly conquest of those twinned cunning strings, bending them to his will. Or the will of his fingers. Teo can't remember how old he was when he stopped bothering tying or untying his laces, and wrecked half a dozen sets of sneakers squeezing and scuffing them on without. He doesn't say anything. He only watches, inwardly cheering for the Walter side of the equation, and booing the stubborn knots.

Loop over thumb. Pause. Wiggle finger into loop, pull string. It ends half-rightly so, with one big loop and two really long strings. But it's a tie. Walter frowns, looks up at Teo.

"Maybe I should ask mum for slip on sneakers." But then he will never learn! Poor kid just wants to not fall over himself though, which is good for his sense of …sensibility. The freckles on his nose bump against one another when he wrinkles his nose in frustration. Walt seems to have given up for the moment, instead considering Teodoro at length again. His wrist goes to rub at his nose again. "If you knew from the start, would you have stayed'round?"

Certainly can't have not learning. Teodoro's eyes thin slightly above his smile, all white teeth and crinkled eyes, unabashed as any first-grader ever could be, before that question makes his face fall slightly. He sniffs. Snuffles, more like; the word sniff implies a kind of delicacy that is not native to Sicily, at least when he is in the feverish throes of delirium. He turns around and then shuffle-hops up to sit on the counter beside the boy, his heels bouncing jangly on the cupboards below.

He exhales long, and swings loopily around until he's studying the wildly asymmetrical butterfly Walter had knotted into his shoelaces. "I don't know," he answers, finally. "He," not I, "was pretty far gone by then as it was. Maybe if you'dve happened a little earlier, or even a little later. Before he got so crazy. Would've taken a lot to stop him from jumping back through time."

Walter sits there, peering down at his shoes, then to Teo's barer feet. His hands on the edge of the counter buckle as his fingers clench and unclench anxiously. He listens, but still aims his tiny little frown earthward. Maybe he understands what happened with Ghost, maybe not. Probably, as he is technically a figment- but in his own state- who knows. Walt said it earlier, and exhibited it while the Moabites were displaced. He always knows.

"All we got was a body. No- a few bodies." Walter lets out a stalled breath of air. "I thought he would stay if he knew about me. 'S why I kinda- made a mess of it. I feel bad about that but Mum always wanted to say something. It was just always a bad time, she said." He stops to make a feminine voice. "You don't need a father you have enough male role models!" Pretty good, actually. Any boy is good at mocking his parents.

"If I'd known He was going to be so much trouble for everyone- If I knew he could even do that parasite thing- I'da so come back for him. He was kinda bad when he came back, but I don't think that was his fault. You just said he was messed up anyway." Walter adopted him, remember? One has to be responsible.

"You, on the other hand- not so much."

"Come back?" Teo looks faintly bemused. He passes the hollow of his palm palm over his chin, exploratory at the concaved texture of beard against callused skin, before dropping his hand. Walter's audacity is saluted with a sideways nudge if his bigger shoulder against the boy's smaller shoulder, before Teo clasps the counter's edge and starts hitching his butt sideways to go to the microwave. It's going to start ping-ping-pinging soon, he knows. Little green LED letters up there winding down. "What do you mean you'dve come back for him?

"I don't think there's a bus that goes this far. Don't hit me," he adds. Having come to rest next to the microwave by now, he raises his hands in brief surrender. He can't have been older than Walter, the first time he punched a full-grown man in the crotch for sass, after all.

For a second, Walter does look like he is about to tackle Teo off of the counter. He probably could, if he got enough of a head start. A contorted little look is on his face, very much defining the feeling of being mocked back. His chin juts out like mom's does, while his brow knots at the middle like his father. Don't make fun.

"I woulda. Somehow." Technically he probably could have called the government asking about where they keep their expert temporal manipulators- but that probably would have been a bad idea on his part, not to mention he is not actually an adult. They'd have laughed and hung up. "Mum made me take that test with the dots. She told him, and he said not to worry about it. Yeah, well, too late for that. Pfft." The ginger boy expels a noise through his pearly baby teeth.

Ah, attack doesn't come. Teo is mildly relieved it is so, then the imaginary baby's eloquence dawns a different smile on his face, wry, a little sad. It's then that the microwave sets off. Ping, dweet, dweet. He swings an arm over his head and pops the microwave door open by a thumb-push on the brick-shaped button, ka-chunk, and his food swings into view. Not too hot to touch with bare fingers, or at least. Not Teo's bare fingers.

He's all over made of steel, you mean. Walt would probably verify. It is convenient and reassuring to adopt someone who's made of steel. Far moreso, probably, than adopting a small round soft-candy infant. It was wise for Walter to have put himself in charge of the process of familial assimilation. Teo drags a fork out of the dish rack and waves the handle at Walter. Come sit closer. "Makes sense.

"We both had the genes, then, so there was a good chance you'd get it from either of us. Even if most of your features obviously come from your mum." The hair, he gestures at next. The eyes, blinked exaggeratedly in demonstration.

It's like adopting a superhero. Teo is sort of a superhero, right? Totally. Walter moves closer to see what he's going to be eating, exactly, looking somewhat unsure about the microwaved food. "You two, plus about five outta like- seven for immediate family. Maybe more. That's like seventy-five percent special! My chances were pretty good." Walter's mouth turns into a smile. "The eyes are touch and go, could be blue or brown but-" He pauses, pulling at a lower lid. "I thought they were blue-"

Ah, Hallucinations.

"My gene pool is pretty outstanding- plus maybe its like how alligator eggs are male or female cause of temperature- maybe the more of us that gather-" Us. "- the more often we show up. That'd explain why there are so many gravitating to each other here, right?"

"S'pose." Teo shunts half a dozen ready mouthfuls of food into his gullet, vacuuming up his (if slightly dubious-looking) chicken stew with all the gusto that one would expect from Teodoro Laudani. Maybe it's because Francois is actually a decent cook. Or maybe it's because his sinuses are plugged up and he can't taste anything anyway. No doubt, once the Frenchman gets home, the former will be his reassurance. "Ionno. I was kind of left out of that whole thing, when I was born.

"My aunt was a very powerful animal— well, insect telepath. My brother could teleport and make certain gateways, kind of." Teo wipes his broken-edged mouth on the curled knuckles of one hand, grins crookedly. "But I have other qualities. For instance: I'm very handsome. When you're old enough, that's going to matter to some people, though hopefully you won't let it go to your head. It's very hard getting it out again."

Delilah looks immediately askance at Teo's explanations, rubbing at his freckle-mapped nose with his arm. "Your brother? Uh." It almost sounds like he knew already, and happens to be trying to cover it up. "'S'at what happened to you, fathead? I hope I'm handsome too!" The boy suddenly chirps, knocking his knuckles onto the counter and scooting away in case Teo actually catches the Fathead thing. "Well, not short handsome. I wanna be kinda tall and handsome. I wanna be like you." That particular line may echo more deeply.

"Mum says I am but she's my mum, she has to think that even if I were fugly. I'll be cool though, I think."

Walter looks immediately askance at Teo's explanations, rubbing at his freckle-mapped nose with his arm. "Your brother? Uh." It almost sounds like he knew already, and happens to be trying to cover it up. "'S'at what happened to you, fathead? I hope I'm handsome too!" The boy suddenly chirps, knocking his knuckles onto the counter and scooting away in case Teo actually catches the Fathead thing. "Well, not short handsome. I wanna be kinda tall and handsome. I wanna be like you." That particular line may echo more deeply.

"Mum says I am but she's my mum, she has to think that even if I were fugly. I'll be cool though, I think."

Pantomime of fork-stabbing does occur, but fortunately for the young snipe, he's out of range before Teo can gut him properly. Alas for Sicily. Saucy brat. The speed of his consumption slows slightly, and he winds up shifting and turning the steel teeth of his eating implement around a prodigious lump of potato, thoughtfully. "I'm pretty sure you'll be cool. Only way you wouldn't be is if you took after my dad or Li's cousin, but there's none of that in you.

"I can tell already. You can take after anybody else in our family you want, or make up something new. Having a castle with skeleton ramparts that shoot lasers out of the skull sockets, or ponies or candy, if you want. I don't know what kids these days are into." He wedges potato into his mouth, the next moment, careful to chew with the molars on his good side for minimal mess. "I like that you like sports. Better than rioting at the fuckin' stadiums."

Walter looks bashful for a few passing moments, smirking quietly over at Teodoro. It's the red hair that makes him so saucy. "I'll be new, I guess. I like guitar- and sports, yeah. He missed the start of soccer- I don't think I'll do it anymore. American football, rugby, track and field- I don't like basketball or baseball, really. I love running into and over things I guess…" Is that bad? "But you guys are pretty hands-on like that, huh? Everyone here is. It's exciting, but dangerous. I like boats! Like you! "

"I hope I'm good at school too though, I don't wanna be a dumb jock."

"Jock, maybe. Never dumb." Teo pauses, like he has to think hard about that, a moment. "Don't flunk any classes, though. Three-point-five GPA, minimum. I made a lot of mistakes when I was younger, had to drag myself up by the bootstraps.

"I think is the saying. Not literal." He pauses to tip the rim of the bowl into his own mouth, and his throat moves, takes down a sizeable gulp of hot stew, thick and peppery and ending in a slightly hoarse cough precisely because of both those traits. "Running into and over stuff is as important to building strong bones as milk is. But I would recommend minimizing head trauma. I think I had problems because of head trauma.

"Though on that note," and he's finally setting the bowl down, a noisome ceramic weight in the sink. He rinses his hand off, lets tap water lake in the bottom of the bowl and raise the rosetted oil patterns on the surface. "I think it's time to shave my head."

"Mum said you had a metal plate in your head! She didn't tell me why. I assumed it was something epic." Walter wriggles on his seat, edging forward and off of the counter, feet dangling a second before he thuds his shoes to the floor. "If I don't hafta save the world, I'll go to college too." His spindly hands ruffle at his own hair, and the boy makes a rushing little circle around the kitchen. Patta patta patta.

"Yeah! Can I shave mine too?" Haircuts are exciting did you know-

Haircuts are exciting. Reason to be frightened and steely determined to do it anyway. Teo shuffles imbalancedly toward the doorway, motioning for the boy to aim his patta patta patta this way. He lumbers out into the hall again, and hangs a right toward the bathroom. There's a razor down here somewhere. Also a convenient stack of newspapers. When you are a terrorist saving the world as often as Teodoro and Francois are, it's important to stay up to date with current events.

Teo grunts, crinkles papers stuffed under his arm, and hits the light with an audible click. "Metal plate started stupid then turned epic. Got into a fight with a bouncer when I was fourteen. You shouldn't do that 'til you're at least eighteen, and preferably never, especially if they're Samoan and have like two hundred pounds on you." Teo clacks the cabinet door open underneath the sink, and scrabbles around amid glossily boxed hairdryer, and other paraphernelia. "You may want to write these things down."

"I dun'ave a tablet…" Walter notes, a frown flickering on his face as he tails Teodoro around, peering up over the edge of the sink to wipe a finger at some still standing soap scum along the drain. The effort lifts his heels up from the floor tiles. "But when I'm eighteen I get tried as an adult! And why would you even fight a giant guy? Sounds stupid." Fathead. The boy beside the sink peers over the cabinet door.

"I'll use my superhero powers on him. And I'm gonna have a sword, you know! I'll use that!

If Francois owned electric clippers, this is the cabinet they'd be in. Because of this, and only because of this, Teo finds a pair in a box that's already had the strip of tape on its lid snapped. It's about as big as a loaf of bread.

Teodoro takes it out between his hands, checks the illustration on the front. Big ugly handheld device with a snake-head and black teeth and a long cord. "Okay," he says, flicking a reproving glance up at the boy, his pale blue eye gone all severe. "First of all, my head isn't fat. None of me is fat. I don't have soft bits. I have hard bits. Second of all—"

—he hands the box to the boy, knees the door shut with a clumsy amphibious wriggling of his squatting knees. Starts to spread the newspapers out on the tiled floor, rustling and crinkling as he goes, trying not to step on anything he'll need to move. It's like Twister. "What kind of superpower you want?"

Walter is laughing when Teo explains how he is not fat, which comes to get an opinion too. "That's what she said. Ah. The 'Your Mom' of the new millennium. He laughs, biting at his lip, so maybe he's not sure what it actually means in this context. Whatever the case, he knows he had timing enough to make it funny. The boy takes the box, plopping it onto the edge of the sink right away. It clatters a little.

"I wanna be like the Hiro in the comics." Hero, Hiro, there is only a minor difference in the way he says the vowel of the proper noun- but it sounds like his mind is made up. "That's why I'll have a sword. I like the other comics but those ones are classics. Like Ditko Spiderman." That one's probably Magnes' fault.

Teo didn't know he knew anything about comic books, so this information comes as something of a surprise. Well, that's not true. He knows there were comic books about him, or a Freudianly-deranged female reinterpretation thereof. Sexual tension with Knight in fishnet, Firebird. He knew that. Ditko Spiderman, somewhat less.

"Hiro in the comics," Teodoro repeats. He gets up with a slightly slow creakiness about him, scuffs callused fingers up and down the back of his neck, and into the roots of his shaggy hair. He abruptly regrets that his feet are bare. The newspaper keeps sticking to the pinker solves of his feet. Oh well, oh well, oh well. "Noble, funny, loyal, slightly egocentric, idealistic, intelligent, nostalgic. Competent.

"I dig, Walt," he decides, crooking the boy a grin. He flips the clippers' lid open with his thumb, and extricates the thing handle-first, a serpentine coil of its cable twist-tied flat. "Do we need a chair?"

Little pinkened knuckles cling around the edge of the sink, and Walter has his cheek leaning up against the back of his hand, eyes on Teodoro. "I knew you would too! He's great. Me first!" The boy lifts his arms up into the air. "Just put me on the sink, okay? I can lean back or something, okay?" It's a familiar sight to the memories that aren't his- Walt reaching his way up, wanting helped or simply picked up. It was always that way, it seemed. He loved it, especially when he was tiny.

First, Teo plugs the clippers in and sets them down out of range of tiny redhead parts. This precaution is absurd partly because the boy isn't real, and partly because the clippers aren't, either. He scoops up the boy by his elbows, dangles his tiny frame by them in a manner.

Tries not to think about those old days, the ones that haven't happened yet, when Walter would belay his body on handclasps just like these, walking tiny feet up Teo's knees, then flip somersault backward, leaving his old man privately fraught with the concern his tiny arms were going to snap off in their sockets. Or some terrible sprain. Or, or. "Your mom's going to kill me," he remarks, raising clippers. Brrrzzz, they say, under the click o his thumb. A beat. "Would if I weren't dead already."

He presses careful fingers to the base of the boy's head, a physical request he hold still. The razor's humming teeth slide into Walter's penny-colored hair, trimming gently along the convex of his scalp, with the grain. A swathe of fuzz drops out, hits newspaper, a tendril clinging to the leg of Teo's trousers.

"She likes your short hair." Walter settles in under the light pressure of his father's fingers on his neck, sitting crosslegged on the sink with gangly thin legs in a bundle, one hand on the faucet. He fits just right. His reflection does too. But in that case, it does so only for the length of time between human blinks.

The boy is still under Teo's hand, but his reflection echoes the face that the voice from before had come from, like some sort of strange vampire. Teo's hand on the reflection's neck is in the same place, the black razor still buzzing over pale skin and coppery red hair. The mirror's contents are handsome, as much as can be desired- maybe someone thinks his eyes are too narrow, or his complexion too fair- but overall, he's got a gracious mix of facial structures, the piercing blue eyes, and the fine details between each part of his face. The mirror's jaw sets for a breath, square and mannish, a Laudani layer of ginger stubble over the edges, around to where orange hair rides down in front of his ears.

"She told me so." When the boy on the side of the razor speaks, it is that childish quip, and a skinny neck- but the mirror shows the bobbing of an Adam's apple and a mouth formed around a masculine rasp, though melodic still.

There's two vampires in the mirror, abruptly. There's the improbable creature molting comfortable underneath Teo's working razor, with his perfect blend of masculinely angled features and a certain Englishwoman's immaculate cream-and-cinnamon coloring, brown eyes got older without losing the crescent-squint of enthusiasm. There's also Teodoro Laudani himself, above him, slightly to the left. White as the shock of linens on an emptied deathbed. "Wal—" a tic rifles the nerve-strings in his arm and he drops the razor.

Is diving to catch it, the next instant, unwary of naked blades or the unguarded skin of his own hands. In that instant, compressed by panic, he's only worried about one of them. His boy, however unexpectedly conjured by his fevered brain or stretched out around ne'er-before-met grown-up proportions, still his boy and he can't believe he's dropped his electrically powered razor Jesus Christ if he cuts Walter with…

…nothing. An ache is vibrating up through Teo's bent knee, and there's newspaper ripped and scrunched below him. His fingers in a snarl catching at empty air, not a wisp of orange hair in sight. His head jolts up to look at the sink, eyes fraught.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License