sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Undefined
Synopsis 'Be with me.'
Date January 21, 2008

A Ferrymen Safehouse

They're all the same by now.

Sonny took the suggestion to shore up the infirmary to heart. It helps to run your own clinic. It means there's a lot of supplies he can order with no questions asked. The doc's probably got two days' worth of growth on his cheeks and is wearing a simple long sleeved t-shirt and pair of jeans as he unpacks boxes and sets things neatly on the shelves. The area was furnished with just the bare essentials before, but is slowly starting to look like a real triage centre.

Whatever a 'triage center' is. However, Teo has spent enough time sitting in hospitals and breathing in the atmosphere of mingled antiseptic and pastelly veneer of hygiene and cheer to know when a medbay is coming toward full construction and functionality. His arrival is perhaps uncharacteristically quiet: a shadow falling across the doorjamb, his tousled head lowered soundlessly to the doorframe, white teeth bared, pallid eyes studying the points of clicking contact between Sonny's shoes and the mirror reflection it casts down on the obscenely shiny floor. Irrespective of whether or not he is noticed, his salutation is: "Thanks."

The place may be obscenely shiny, but for once, Sonny himself isn't. He still looks a bit worn-down. Fear of Armageddon'll do that. He blinks and looks up. "No need to thank me. I'm just doing my part," he grins a little, then hefts a box of bandages over to a drawer. He starts to stack them neatly. Everything is in precise order. When it's an emergency, you don't want to be fumbling for gauze.

True enough. Teo's bled enough and frequently enough to know the value of having the proper materials available at hand. He picks up his foot, dragging the round edge of his boot sole across linoleum so clean that it literally squeaks. Sonny isn't supposed to know about Armageddon in that particular term — not the magnitude of the impending viral attack, anyway — though arguably the political pandemonium that's besieged the United States of America counts too.

Assuming his default ignorance, the haggard and droop to him makes Teo wonder, brow knitting, and he straightens with a shove of his shoulder to put himself upright. "I think you're approaching the line that divides rugged and mangey, amico. Something different?" He doesn't ask if something's wrong. If everything went right, Sonny wouldn't be in the Ferrymen's employ. The Ferrymen wouldn't exist.

Sonny doesn't know, of course. But he gets the sense that something's going down. Whether the political turmoil is connected or not isn't really the point. A + B equals bad shit. That and the man breathing down his neck and making him use his power.

"No. Just…didn't have any work today. I told you. I turn into a sasquatch inside of three days if I don't bother to shave." There's another little grin. He grabs a few bottles of disinfectant and stacks them neatly on a shelf.

There's a subtle settling in Teo when the doctor doesn't immediately claim to be aware that, you know. The world is going to end. By now, it is second nature to him to compartmentalize, hoard secrets, cast the illusion of safety in ignorance, and though it occasionally galls him to do something that… patronizing, he's seen the toll things take on his co-workers and friends enough to know that sometimes people would just really prefer not to know. "Still tired? Like yesterday?" Standing on his own power now, he swivels his heels outward, the fidget of a restless child. He shoves his hands into his pockets.

"Not as tired, no. Just kind of…well, it's been a strange few weeks, y'know?" Sonny's eyebrows go up. He moves on, this time to stack up sutures, syringes and boxes of rubber gloves. "Didn't feel like making the effort to be all polished. I took the day off yesterday." He moves nearer to Teo to open up another box. His gaze lingers. "Are we all right?" That question has different answers depending on whether or not that was the royal 'we.'

And Teo's heels swivel back, leaving his feet parallel to one another on the floor again. "Si," he answers, shutting his right eye in order to peer at Sonny out of his left. He fails entirely to be self-conscious at either the older man's proximity or his scrutiny. "I think so. You don't look fucked up or pissed off, anyway. That would be the problem, far as I'm concerned." He can be perfectly genial when he feels like it, and he does. His gaze follows the shaggy curve of Sonny's jaw and his gloved fingers curl, suppressing the urge to drag his nails down his own face in sympathy.

"No. Just letting my hair down," Sonny reaches out and claps Teo on the shoulder, then tugs open the box. Various other sundry supplies are offloaded into their proper place. "So. Did you come here looking for me, or'd you just happen by?" A beat, "And…you still staying with me?" He pauses in front of Teo. A packet of gauze is slapped from one hand to the other.

"Makes you look older," he observes, after a moment. "The scruff. Less like a lamb." A quaver-beat's pause, and his gaze drops to the gauze in Sonny's hand, following its brief journeys between his hands. After a moment, his features screw up with perplexity, like a five-year-old confronted with double-digit addition. It's better than looking like the skittish colt that every person he's kissed in the last four months end up treating him like. "Your place?"

"Is this a good thing or a bad thing?" Sonny rubs his chin, then turns half away from Teo to keep stacking things. He's taking his time though. Gives him something to do with his hands. "Yes, my place, Teo. I'm not asking you for a promise ring or something." A packet of gause is half-heartedly chucked at the other Italian. Then a second, just for emphasis. "I dunno. Guess I was worried that things'd gotten fucked up between us. Or awkward."

Teo's right hand flares upward, fingers snapping down on the gauze before the plastic and cotton can bounce and ricochet off into God knows where. He turns it around to look at, examining the weave through the translucent window in the packaging, its warning labels and caption texts regarding proper storage, usage, expiration date. Teodoro Laudani is kind of like gauze. The other package bounces once off his other hand, tripping end over end in the air before he catches that, too.

He looks at that one, cursorily. Interchangeable. There's nothing original about him, another maladjusted young man who's chosen war over fishing. He presses the gauze packets together and overhands them back at Sonny's head. He says, "Be with me."

Sonny snatches each of the packets out of the air with a crinkle-slap and transfers their momentum in a toss that sends them in with the others. They lay ragged for a moment until he gives in to the impulse to straighten. He turns back to Teo at those words. He tilts his head and examines the other from that slightly crooked angle.

"Okay." He knows if they overthink this, if they tear too much into what the future could be, what their reasons for this are, it'll all fall apart. Better to not look too closely.

Falling apart is easy. You just fall. Holding shit together is proportionally more difficult. Teo keeps breathing, which feels like a feat. Shouldn't have said that, he's pretty sure. Should've picked different words. Ones that defined or clarified the parameters to this thing, instead of merely starting it. His eyes open and shut at Sonny's half-turned face with a profound sense of surprise that shows on his face as blatantly, artless, as if had been crayoned by a child. He doesn't say anything.

"Well don't look so shocked, bub," says Sonny with one of his Hollywood smiles and a light chuckle. He rocks forward and cheek-pats, but rather than a quick motion, the touch lingers for a moment and he searches for eye contact. Then he leans over to straighten up an IV pole, still shiny new and encased in bubble wrap. He rips off the packaging and works at fitting the metal tubes together. One end of the pole is lifted up on to the counter, then four wheels are freed from their packaging. "You want to help me with this? Sooner I get all this put away, sooner we can get out of here." The 'where' is implied. "There's another one just over there." He points past Teo's elbow where another pole does indeed sit.

The crayon-shock turns into crayon-sheepishness, or would have if that sentiment wasn't implicitly too subtle for your average five-year-old to scribble out. Teo automatically turns his nose toward warmth when Sonny reaches at him, the line of his face finding an imperfect fit in the simpler convex of the older man's palm. This coincidentally takes his pallid eyes out of trajectory to meet the darker gaze opposite, but it's only a moment after before Sonny's insistence succeeds, however mild, and the corners of Teo's eyes deepen around a smile that keeps its other half momentarily hidden in Sonny's palm.

"Okay." He slings a long leg out, falling into his next step toward the other IV pole. Snags it in a hand and drags it over, a squeak of wheels and metal rattling inside metal. "Do we have to define it?" he asks, then. Blankly.

Sonny pushes the IV pole over into one corner. He kicks a waste paper basket aside to make room for it. "Mm?" He thinks about that for a moment, and while he thinks, he straightens. It's easy to get a sense of how his mind works by watching him organize the infirmary. There's a logical order to everything. Each shelf is a category.

"Only if you want to," a shrug. Well. It seems that need for labels, the need for order, doesn't apply to relationships. There's a glance past Teo to search for movement in other areas of the safehouse. Like he's worried someone will walk in.

It had made Teo wonder. Whether or how much the ordered and immaculate setups of Sonny's homes and workplaces reflected of their mastermind. It's either OCD or the constraints and conditioning that come with the guilded cage, he figures. Eat from the feeder, repeat the words spoken through the bars, sit on this finger, lay still to have his claws cut. He doesn't know Sonny all that well. He'd probably know him better if Sonny knew more about himself. He would be the last man on Earth to argue with a lack of labels, though.

"We kind of live together. Were doing so even before— the other night. You got to know me because you were abducted and the guy I had a thing for kissed you. I was also an asshole. I think we're either way past 'definitions'-" he perches a fist on the counter and leans his weight on one lazy leg, throwing a disparity into their heights that makes him have to put his head at an odd angle to look up at Sonny's unshaven features. "Or we like-" he illustrates abstract shapes in the air with his hand. "Already shat them to death awhile ago."

Sonny's lips tug upwards at one side. There's amusement in his eyes as well. "Mmm, I think you might be right there. Besides, I don't know if there's a precise…label available for this particular interaction thing we got going, y'know?" sometimes he sounds more New York than others. Must be the scruff. "For all the reasons you just mentioned." He scratches the side of his head and leans on the counter as well, unconsciously or consciously mirroring Teo's posture. "I don't know. Would it make you feel better to give this a name?"

He reaches up behind him and lightly taps a few boxes into a neat row. Then he faces one package around so that it reads English instead of Spanish. It seems to be an unconscious thing. Like he spotted disorder out of the corner of his eye and was compelled to fix it.

Hopefully, Teo's disorder is massed enough that it passes as a homogenous pattern in and of itself, or there's going to be a problem with neuroses leading to fights or complete and utter clinical derangement, if not something worse, like bankruptcy or public scandal. His irises are so pale that the mathematical precision and pristine detail of Sonny's fussy hands are reflected in miniature in his eyewater. He suspects that this is the worst idea he has ever had. A spectrum of cognition that covers that one time an Evolved man almost explosively herniated his arm with that weird red light—

"Seems like it would make you feel better." He isn't trying to be difficult; it's just worn into his mind by now, the ever-oscillating nature of territory during war.

"Me? No. I'd…eh…" Sonny drops a hand away from the shelf. He pushes fingers through his hair, but they get knotted halfway. Curly hair isn't the greatest for running agitated fingers through. "Look, why don't we…see what we feel like before we think about giving things names? Seems like a stress that neither of us need right now." He steps in front of Teo and sets a hand on either of his shoulders. "It is…whatever it is. We give it a name and we might force it to be something it's not."

The doc looks away, squeezes the shoulders beneath his hands, chews the edge of his lip. then looks back again. "I'm about done here. The infirmary's as ready as it's going to be."

Despite that Teo's blatant way of handling himself generally implies a certain level of blinkered certainty. There is very little of that now. Doubt, instead. In the mock-cocksure angle of his shoulders and the opaque brightness of his eyes, an act that resembles braggadocio. He's good at that act, thanks to a decade of experience as a boy in Italy.

It takes him a moment to realize he had echoed the grip of Sonny's hands with a bite of his own lip; he relaxes his jaw and hangs a hand on Sony's lapel, pulls himself upright. "You get to keep your trade secrets or kidnappers' confidences. Fuck whoever you want, tell anybody you want that you're seeing someone, bitch at me about your double lives and baby drama. And you have to let me help you if I can. Goes both ways. Okay?" It isn't a name, but as far as Teo can tell, it's a definition enough. Demarcates the basics, if not the essentials.

"That sounds like a fair set of guidelines," a beat, "…both ways." Sonny squeezes again, this time more gently. "Especially with the letting me help you thing. Even if all I can really do is keep the fridge full. I don't want you feeling guilty about me paying for shit, all right? It's not like I'm on a budget, here. And…" he searches for eye contact. "I understand that what you do requires that you disappear sometimes. But I want you to tell me when you think you're going to. Or leave word with the Ferrymen so I know when I should worry and when it's something beyond my control. I don't mean overnight. I mean, if I don't hear from you for three days and there's no sign you've been around. I'll do the same."

It might have been easy to assume from Teo's list of conditions that this was an arrangement purely for mutual comfort and convenience. That seems to fall apart with the genuine concern in Sonny's voice and the earnest way with which he seeks eye contact. That, and the way his body shifts in slightly and the hands on Teo's shoulders flex. A desire to protect, even though he knows he doesn't have that ability.

It's good to be a freeloader, and clean enough to touch, if scrappy enough to — apparently — slum it with. Or so would be the most comfortable and convenient understanding of that term, if Sonny wasn't doing that whole thing with the thing and the whatever and Teo isn't too proud to take a little pity when he's probably about to die. Especially since he swore to plan on living. Pity from the rich is like food stamps. Wonderfully, he colors. Nods, numbly. "Okay," he has to cough out those two syllables, practically. Wait and see. Wait and see. "Take you home? I'll have to go back to the apartment in a little bit. Drop off the forms for breaking lease, pack some shit, talk to— Abby and Alexander. It could wait," he adds.

"Why don't you go do what you need to do? I should probably swing by the office anyway. I'll have some food waiting when you get back." Sonny raises a hand as if to cheek-pat, but he touches instead. His fingers curl under, flatten, then reach up towards the edges of his hair. He's keenly aware that they're not exactly in a private place, but the look says it all. His eyes half-lid and a lazy smile perches on his lips. Then, slowly, he draws his hand back and touches his own chin with a grin. "Give me some time to shave."

A round fist meets the point of Sonny's chin and his wrist bends under its weight, sliding the back of metacarpi and the rough catch of calluses along the texture of growing hair. Despite the default undercurrent of boyish violence, there's nothing wrong with the strength that Teo apportions into rubbing Sonny's face, mild affection and unabashed curiosity in equal parts. They are in a public place. Insofar as Ferrymen safehouses could be seen as public.

There's something terribly suspect about a Catholic man tackling bed with everybody available and anywhere he can, no matter what excuse he comes up with; the psychology is there, inculcated deeper than all the secular intellectual deprogramming can go, so this probably isn't completely okay. He probably isn't really okay. Knowing this, he leans in and kisses Sonny while he's bearded, his chin bumping into stray fingertips and thumbs without deigning to acknowledge their interference.

Sonny's facial hair is long enough to be past the prickly period, though not by much. The touch to his cheek brings a bit of surprise, but it's pleased surprise judging by the smile.

He's under no delusions that this whole thing is a good idea. Of course it's complicated, it's reckless and probably not all that healthy for either of them. But it's appealing for all those reasons. The last thing he wants is another meaningless fling or something that would fall on a straight shot to marriage, kids and a grand family home. Complicated is good. Messy is good. It brings the world into his gilded cage. It bends the bars, tarnishes the gold. It makes life, life again. He could use a good dose of fucked up.

The kiss is met equally, with the same softness and patience of the first time. He lets it linger for a moment, then pulls back far enough to say, "Maybe not then?" His chuckle pushes warm breath Teo's way and his fingers move up through the other's hair with a gentle rake of nails on scalp. "Go on. I'll meet you back at home."

"Si." It isn't a lie, because Teo doesn't know he's about to catastrophically screw up his sanity and evening in the course of the next few hours and find himself growing numb and steeping in the snow instead of compelled by any type of appetite whatsoever. He'll come back in time to apologize, in a mumble, with enough audacity to intrude in the bedroom, if little energy to do more, sneaking a splay of cold toes up the back of Sonny's pajama pant leg and snore in the older man's ear until he's made to stop, one way or another. He puts his hand up near his brow, the opposite side of the fingers combing his crop: salute. "Ciao, bello." He leans back, falls into a step and twists for the door.

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