Your Face


sonny_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Your Face
Synopsis The fight is over, actually. It is time to make up. It's a grumbly but sentimental process, and the only swear words in it are because Teo can't operate without.
Date April 2, 2009

Tribeca — Safehouse

A lot of sex and a little bit of sleep later, and morning has arrived in all of its ostentatious auric glory, prying through into the safehouse with fingers wider than the streets outside and unexpected warmth that cleverly deceives one into thinking that spring might actually be on the approach.

It is going to be a nice day, by the looks of things. The sky squints blue between slatted blinds. Picks out rumpled linens, bare skin, a trailing edge of tattoo ink and a stray sinusoid of curly hair. Traffic is moving around outside, enough to be audible now.

Personally, Teo thinks that outside could fuck off and mind its own business. Despite the intrusion of electromagnetic energy that bleeds arterial red light through his eyelids, Teo is unwilling to open them or to get up.

The minor egotistic injury of having been physically transformed into his lover's former lover have been remedied with zeal, certainly. However, there are other tests of adequacy that lurk beyond the edges of this tired old mattress: out in Utah, and relationship mechanics less directly manifest in nether parts, and the multitude of other minor threats, paranoid secrets, and probable arrests that characterize his life. Every day at the trailer farm seems like it's going to be the one where Sonny's going to get shivved, too.

Don't go to work, he thinks in Salvatore's directon with all his might. Don't go to work.

Sonny did his best to prove to his lover that any feeling of inadequacy are unfounded. He is painfully aware of how it likely looks, despite the whole thing being a coincidence. Teo could have just as easily been transformed into a fifty year old city councilman or some woman he just met that night. It just happened that he touched Celeste last and fixed a tiny scar on her wrist.

The doctor's eyes stay pinched closed even as he reaches out blindly to pull the Italian towards him. He tangles limbs and presses lips against the curve of his neck. "Mmmm," he rumbles. He opens his eyes only long enough to grab a handful of duvet and pull it up over both of them. "Don't want to get up." Hey, maybe Teo's manifested psychic persuasion?

Maybe. That would explain why he hasn't been telekinetically pureed by an aggravated serial killer mutant man, maybe, but Teo doesn't really think so. He is without gifts. What he gets tends to be by the grace of others, where 'grace' — he's sharply aware — might well include pity.

Which is fine, in the end. Amounts to the same thing. Kisses are kisses, duvets are duvets, the strict physicality of things easier by far to cope with than their subterranean motivations, real or imagined. He's dragged closer by the grasp on his shoulders, his head skewing, strung along by his neck, until he finally lifts it by his own power. Under cover and shade of stuffed cotton, Teo's forehead bumps into Sonny's. With no great force; just bump. "Then don't," he says. He slivers one eye open, blinks.

Yes, it's considerably more likely that the two young men just have goals that coincide at the moment. Sonny nuzzles in a way that might have made a witness gag at the sweetness. But fortunately for both of them, this quiet safehouse has no witnesses.

He examines Teo's face in the shaded semi-darkness created by the duvet. He lifts a hand to slide gentle fingers down the curve of his jaw, then gently tilts it up so he can lean in for a warm, lingering kiss. It's not really an answer, but it is a postponement. He's not trying to start anything again, despite their state of undress. There have been many rounds over the course of the night. And now, he's content just to linger close. "Thank you," he murmurs.

The cutest Teo ever gets by his own volition is falling down when he tries to hard to get up. Or otherwise being too acrobatic about stuff like— finding somewhere to sit. Nuzzling is new. So is talking during sex, coincidentally. He doesn't mind. It turns out that people can change, albeit slowly, nervously, reluctantly, and with overmuch retrospect.

There are worse things.

He finds himself smiling, insipidly, when the point of Sonny's nose rubs gooseflesh into the side of his neck. Stops in time to bend his mouth around a kiss. There's a toneless mumble in parting before he reorganizes his voice into a question. "F' what?" Teo's elbow loops over Sonny's shoulder.

"For not pulling away from me," There's a note of almost-fear in Sonny's voice. Like Teo might yet, still. It's a new sentiment from him. Fear of rejection and some buried neruoses that the doc's never aired before. Perhaps someone has pulled away from him before. Perhaps it's just the fear of it lingering in the back of his head.

He closes his eyes and rests his face against the strong curve of his lover's neck. His mouth presses bare skin and all the breath comes through his nose. He settles a hand on the Italian's hip, gives it a squeeze, then slides around to rest around his backside.

The possibility seems more real now than it ever has before. Teodoro hasn't seriously thought about it in months— about Salvatore's romantic history prior to this thing that they're doing. After all, the good Doctor had steadfastly maintained that he had not gotten into it very seriously with anyone in any memorable timespan, cited superficiality and malaise as his reasons rather than mutant superpower accidents.

Sonny's tone is off, though. Teo can tell. Maybe it's the political climate these days. Would make sense.

He rarely forgets that he's on what might be construed as the wrong side of this war, always. It's odd of him. He knows they must all feel it, sometimes, when he's around. You know, the fact that he isn't one of them. "Al'd nearly blown up our apartment four or five times, when his teek got out of hand. Hel sends up storms and thunderclaps when she's angry.

"If I scared that easy, I'd be a hypocrite and an asshole," he points out. It's the most factual tone of voice Teo can muster right now, but every vowel is still furred with sleep. He flattens his nose on the crest of Sonny's head and his nails drag a prickling of pores the nape of his lover's neck. "You really thought I would?"

"I didn't think you would, but I was scared you would." Which are different things. One is logical, the other isn't. Sonny inhales slowly and arches his back at the feel of nails on his back. "I know that what I can do can be…disturbing," In a way that messing with the weather or telekinesis isn't. "When I first…" he hesitates. He nearly says 'came out,' but that seems strange in this context, "…registered, I lost a lot of friends. Even a few who stayed around me never looked at me the same way."

That might explain why Sonny doesn't talk about his own friends much. He doesn't have that many left. "Have you considered - any of you - letting me disguise you before you go to Moab? In…case the authorities get a look at you?" His limbs almost reflexively cling to Teodoro as he speaks of the prison raid.

No longer shorn down to the scalp, Teo's bristly head scrapes noise on the pillow cover, closing the margin of distance renewed by that little trigger twist of his lover's spine.

Not that he really needed to bother, it turns out; the next moment, he's pulled in and held tight again, arms contracted around his torso and butt and it's very odd, allowing himself to be held, but only because it's been a long time since the one before Salvatore and he'd rather not be without it. His arms tighten too; the one trapped between their chests contracted, the one around Sonny pulled; the better to be closer. "I thought about it.

"I don't think it's a good idea. We're gonna go in masked anyway, but fuck, if we get caught then it's everybody else who's going to need you. Here. And they'll need you t' keep secret. I've never met anybody else who can do what you do." It's practical. There's logic, but not logic alone. "But afterward, probably. Maybe. Depends on what Hel wants."

"Send people to me if they need to hide. Tell them I'm Connor if you need to. I can always set up another identity." Those words are half-mumbled against Teo's neck and caught by the duvet above them. His fingers curl and dig gently against the other man's skin.

He stays silent for a long moment. He simply holds Teo in a close embrace, feeling the other's heartbeat in an irregular counterpoint to his own. "Come back to me?" It is a question. There has been a mild fear lingering in the back of the doctor's brain since Teo admitted he hoped that Felix would shoot him. The fact that Teo harbours more than a little self-hate is not lost on him either. If the breakout fails…he does not know what will happen.

This question is awkward. Anybody who knows anything about Teodoro knows that he would die for a lot of things, and that much of his life is a long search for the thing that will finish the trick. He should be fishing in Sicily.

He doesn't answer for a long time, feeling the sluggish percussion of resting heartbeats fill the enclosed in their woven fortifications and the ambience of body heat. The scab's come loose off the middle knuckle of Teo's left hand, and the contused bezel of raw new skin there catches a little, scratches the bulk of Salvatore's shoulder.

"That's the plan," he says, eventually. That is a safe answer. No promises; shouldn't make promises when you're bringing Sylar down to fight Homeland Security in its concrete-lined belly. A quaver-beat. "All your childhood friends were bigoted assholes?"

"It's not a matter of being a bigot, it's a matter of…them thinking they didn't know me anymore. Or being afraid of what I could do. That was before a lot of information about the Evolved starting coming out." Sonny shifts a little closer and flexes his fingers. "I understand it. It's…I change people in ways most people imagine no one ever could."

He is aware that Teo's avoided a promise. That's all right. He wasn't really looking for one. All the doctor wanted to do is remind the other that there is someone waiting for him, someone who wants him to live a lot more than he wants to hear about an heroic death.

There's a grunt from Teo, reverberating through the line of Sonny's supine torso. It isn't a very nice grunt, but Teo does not feel especially compelled to be nice about those people. He did, after all, get over it. It isn't always easy, but anything less isn't fair. "That isn't the kind of understanding that fosters lasting friendship or sweet virtue, tesoro."

Though it's somewhat less prominent because Teodoro specifically avoids asking, Salvatore just as rarely makes promises. Their lifestyle doesn't really lend itself to long-term commitments of action, which is maybe morbidly ironic or terribly pessimistic, but really. The Thomas Jefferson trailer farm gets crashing choppers and suicide bombers, Moab is Moab, and there are a bunch of guns stashed in this safehouse because there need to be.

All that is categorized as 'outside,' though. For now, Teo excludes that shit from his paradigm of reality. He's squeezed up under the sheets with his boyfriend and listening to stories about people, places, and events that no longer exist in the same shape or form. "You di'nt have any friends who were Evolved too?"

"People who had more to lose than gain by making their status public. I was in the unique position of registration actually helping me. It meant I could set up my clinic. It helped my father politically. Most people, well, it'd ruin their lives." Sonny rolls onto his back, but keeps points of contact with Teo. One hand frees long enough to rub his face and push curls out of his eyes.

"But the truth is, even before I registered, I never really got close to anyone. Then, it was because I was hiding what I was. And med school plus residency doesn't exactly foster friendships or, you know, a social life outside of gladhanding for my father's career. Doctors are pricks for the most part, especially the upper crust types who are competing with each other for the most prestigious positions. I have a few people I call friends, but…" He looks to Teodoro. "…none of them really know who I am."

The natural thing seems to be to say that that's horrible, that that sucks, must be lonely, and so on and so forth. Teo almost does— an incipient murmur rubbing scissored jaws on the top of Sonny's bicep, where the younger man has moved to rest his head. He stays on his side, despite that his side is getting a little stiff; the better to bracket Sonny's reconfigured position with his own. It's a bit clingy. Okay — more than a bit. He doesn't really know what to say, though.

He had left a lot of his friends, too, back when Gia's death scared him straight. The hooligans, the church kids. Lacking cerebral tendencies, he never really overthought those partings of ways. It was sad, but you make new friends. The old ones will laugh about stories sometimes. There will be secrets when you're drunk enough, instants of actual intimacy, memorable but inessential. Everyone knows who he is. Sonny can probably feel the weight of his stare. Worrying.

"You don't have to hide as much as you do," he observes.

Sonny doesn't mind the clinginess. He's still swimming in the relief that Teo didn't bolt on him the moment he gave him his own body back. So any point of contact is welcome, let alone a cling. He's in no hurry to pull away. The new position is entirely to stretch out tensed back muscles. His free hand rubs at the curve of his own neck. Then the hand drops and reaches over to twine fingers with the other Italian.

"I make it sound worse than it is. I have secrets. Secrets I know I can't tell anyone. Like you, like the Ferrymen. Like Phoenix. And I can't tell your people more about the real me, because it's not good for them to know too much." So he rocks in limbo, next to Teodoro. He doesn't seem unhappy with this arrangement, just a tad lonely when they can't be together. "I can handle it. It's the way it has to be."

"Before the Ferrymen," Teo says. "Before me. You already wanted to save the fucking world.

"Be a doctor, do something great." The winter window blue of his eyes slivers thin around a smile that he's too lazy to pull the rest of his facial muscles into. Mind you, he'll be more awake soon; enough to realize that he's fucking hungry and has shit to do, but until then, he's lounging around like an extravagantly sized cat. He marches his thumb across Sonny's surgeon's fingers, one by one, counting them over and over.

"You don't make it sound worse than it is. Bet you were shy when you were little," Teodoro notes, the speculation abrupt with some somnolent facsimile of eureka, mirth undercurrent.

Sonny lets out a soft sound that is almost like laughter. He flexes his fingers and watches the exploration of digits with quiet interest. "Mmm. Maybe. But being a doctor is romanticized. We all just want to say there's no god so we can play god." He grins, but it's a little sad.

"Shy?" He reaches back with his free hand to pull the pillow more comfortably beneath his head. "Yeah, I guess so. Only child. Played by myself a lot. Was okay with that. Didn't ever need anyone else to keep me entertained. So I guess I had less of a reason to…you know, reach out to people." He lifts a shoulder. "But I had friends."

It's easy to picture. A quiet, pensive, cherubic little boy with bombastic, intelligent parents. Not much has changed.

It is easy for Teo to picture. He has seen Harry Bianco on the news, wife occasionally on arm though it was evident that she had other things to do, to patronize, where she would be needing Harry dressed up to attend on hers. The noisy genes got lost somewhere on the way, maybe, or else solitude had engendered that preference for privacy, at the cost of the loneliness that seems to characterize Salvatore.

Teo wouldn't really understand, but he is programmed for universal sentiments as much as the next human being. He doesn't have to really understand to get it. "I wasn't. When I was little, I was loud as fuck. Especially when I was tired. Or hungry. Or horny.

"Or sad, or really excited about the next game with the aquile." Eagle, Sonny knows, by now. Like the one printed on the left side of his back, tribal, where the majestic outstretch of pinions might be misappropriated by the young man who wore them. "I don't think we would've gotten along."

Sonny laughs. It's a warm, quiet sound in this context. "Mmm. I probably would have just stared at you. Kids weren't allowed to be the loud ones. But then, no one could out-loud my dad. But I got along okay with my Italian cousins when they'd visit, or when we'd go to Tuscany. Didn't matter that they didn't speak much English and I only knew a few in Italian. We probably wouldn't have much to talk about anyway. Instead we just kinda ran around and played with water guns and action figures."

It's strange to think about being a kid again. It seems like more than twenty years ago that he was innocent and quiet. And not rich. His eyebrows arch up as he pulls together a scenario of them meeting as children. "You probably woulda beat the shit out of me. I was tiny."

"Probably. I was a dick," Teo answers, entirely without reservation. "And I found people who were smarter, better-looking and -liked than I was threatening, so I beat them up. Until my baby brother started getting into trouble with asshats like me, and then I guess I came around a little. You would've liked Rommy.

"I don't think I've been little since I was nine." Water guns and action figures. Teo remembers those, though more of his childhood had been occupied with how to stick a set of keys in one's fist, teeth out, and make 'em fucking count. It was bizarre, really, but a reasonably widespread subculture. "You di'nt know any football thugs back then? In your cousins? I was a totally generic one of those."

It's not too hard to see the thug in Teo. Especially not with the anger and the scars. But there's also the man who's curled up against another man's side telling stories of his childhood. That's the side Sonny knows.

"Mmh. I think I know what you mean. I…think I did okay growing up because…of my power." He inhales slowly, like he's trying to decide to say what he does next, "M'probably don't look like I'm supposed to. I think I started tweaking myself unconsciously in high school." And being attractive certainly helps a shy boy become a popular boy. "I think I had zits for a grand total of a week. My eyebrows used to join in the middle." He touches the place of the mythical third eye on his forehead.

Anger had been a sort of ambient tension, back then. No crusade, no passion to implement. Teo is different now, even if he can't see it. He traces the line of Sonny's jaw with his thumb, stops moving for a moment when Salvatore's forearm criss-crosses over his own in order to point out the point of separation for his erstwhile unibrow. His brow knits inquisitively, halfway between amused and pensive.

Instead of answering immediately, he presses a kiss to the notch where Sonny's clavicle emerges to its end on the top of his olive-skinned shoulder. Then, curious again, he stuffs his fuzzy head into the nook of Sonny's neck and asks: "Ever thought about seeing what you're 'meant' to look like?" 'Meant' has quote marks around it, sketched out by a forefinger and middle scritched on Sonny's ribs.

Sonny starts to strum his fingers along the notiches of Teo's spine. He lifts the shoulder Teo kisses and lolls his head back. "I don't think I can, even if I wanted to. And I…don't think I really want to know how much of a fraud I really am." There's a grin in his voice, but it's difficult to say how much of a joke that is.

"I'd probably have crooked teeth, a weak chin and acne scars, for one. Plus a unibrow, unless I started plucking it." He huffs out a half-amused sound. "Not exactly a pleasant thought, huh?"

"Your father's good-looking. Your mother's beautiful. And you can't really bury scars completely, so you probably don't have any worth seeing," Teo points out. Not for the first time, he wonders whether how physically attractive he can possibly be at the standards of somebody who could well have— might well have— absconded with the entirety of the Russian ballet.

It is one of his more minor concerns, of course. Among obstacles to making Sonny happy, his frequently almost dying and tendencies to lie and cheat and murder people are somewhat greater cause for alarm. Still, one occasionally wonders. Salvatore is not exactly the kind of guy who is totally indifferent to aesthetics. "I had some weird-looking exes," he remarks, at length. "No offense to them. My girlfriend before you got stunted by radiation poisoning."

Sonny's standards are almost entirely imposed on himself. And too much beauty is hollow, even his own. Perhaps especially his own. "I don't know. I'm kinda glad I'll never really know. When I feel my own pattern, this is what I see," he motions to his own face. "Changes were probably so small over so long that they don't register as anything artificial anymore." Or, he never changed anything at all, and it's just in his head.

"Mmhmm. Dated a girl in high school. Sweetheart. But she had cerebral palsy. Had trouble walking. Assholes made fun of her." He wrinkles his nose.

The duvet is pulled back. He blinks at the sunlight flooding the room and then lets out a long groan. "I have to go to work."

Back in high school, Teo was far, far too shallow to date girls with cerebral palsy.

He closes his eyes against either that memory or the sudden onslaught of sunlight. Squeezes them. When they reopen, he sees neon frolicking in spots and speckled patterns anyway, but it's not so bad. What is especially irritating is the fact that Sonny just shared. That's a bad deal. Maybe they shouldn't have talked so much about being kids or whatever: seized by a sudden, childish stubbornness, Teo clamps both arm and knees down with vise-like strength.

"Nope," the Sicilian says. It's a distant echo to the preceding night, seated on the bathroom floor. "Nnnnon."

Sonny's shallowness came a little later, when his power kicked in and his popularity grew in proportion to his attractiveness. Senior year and university, he was dating models and cheerleaders.

He lets out a little sound of protest at suddenly being ensnared. "Mmmfph. Holding me hostage, are you? Looking to add confinement to your rap sheet?" His tone is warm and fond. He kisses the nearest bit of bare skin.

There is no verbal answer. Teo's actions speak for themselves, in the limbs interwound tight as stitches through his lover's and the press of denuded bodies flush between layers of bedding. It is a little ridiculous, probably, but it's been a weird few days. The attack on Moab was postponed. He accidentally turned into a girl. Felix Ivanov rose from the dead on command of John Logan. Flint Deckard is a cold-blooded murderer. The burning bird seems to come closer to extinction— or extinguishment— every time its people meet.

And Teo's all over muscle and bone are terribly heavy when he wants to be. His argument is physically solid, wilfully irrefutable. He only undercuts himself when his stomach growls, and then there's a twitch of the face pressed on the base of Sonny's throat; the Sicilian trying not to laugh at himself.

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