2009-12-15: I Promise



Date: December 15th, 2009


Tiago tells Lena (some of) what happened to him earlier in the day, and extracts a promise from her.

"I Promise"

Uptown, NYC - Townhouse

Honestly, it's been a while since Tiago has gotten the luxury of just lying down in bed, content and carefree. Oh, what he would give for those days, days he had condemned as being 'boring' and 'useless' before. It just goes to show you - people are never happy with what they have. Never. Especially when they're not getting any.

And so, in a desperate attempt to recapture that stillness, that comfort and peace of mind, the man is lying on the mattress that has become theirs. All around the bed, their belongings lie in haphazardness piles around the floor, and though the singular floorlamp in the corner of the room is ready to be put to use, there are no lights in this dismal room. Staring at the black ceiling, there is something hallow and haunted about the way he stares ahead. Upon his naked chest is a sleeping JD Fluffykins, curled up in a ball of adorable.

Lena is starting to worry about Sydney. The woman isn't answering her phone, and she wasn't at the apartment when the two street punks crept back to scope out the lay of the land. It's downright unnerving to not be in contact with the therapist, considering that she's been such a lifeline over the past several weeks. But surely someone would have contacted them, if anything had happened? She's been as desperate for a proper bolthole as Tiago, so when he floated the idea of just going ahead and grabbing their stuff to move into the townhouse…well…she went for it.

Then Tiago ventured out that afternoon and he's come back in this state. Silent, morose, obviously troubled.

It's time to make the man talk. But she comes bearing a gift of food, a mound of ramen noodles in a big bowl with a couple pairs of chopsticks and a bottle of soy sauce. The door to the bedroom is pushed open with her hip, the light flipped on and the bowl carried to the mattress.

"Dinner time! Sit up and eat something, you look like you're trying to make yourself sick. You can tell me what happened today while I'm chewing."

Tiago groans audibly - his first motion and cry given in what seems like hours to the man. Automatically, his eyes slam shut and he tries to roll away from the source of light, only succeeding in displacing the slumbering kitten who wakes up in a hurry, meows, and then bolts off of the mattress. All this, and yet Tiago still feels oddly empty inside. "I aint tryin' ta…" He begins to protest before finding out that he has neither the will, nor the energy to really protest anything in particular. And so, with a reluctant sigh, the man pushes himself upwards, sitting and peering petulantly at his girlfriend.

"I can't eat. Ima ralph if I do." He deadpans, nothing but sincerity in his voice. "I…I think I'm in trouble, Lena. I…I…"

Obviously food isn't going to do the trick. This is a dire case. Lena regards him with open concern for a moment before slowly placing the bowl on the floor. She crawls onto the mattress between his feet next, sitting back on her heels and trying to meet Tiago's eyes. "Hey…hey, Chi. You don't have to eat. You gotta tell me what happened though, okay? What's going on? You look like shit, you haven't said anything since you got back…something happened and you're supposed to talk about it, remember?" Her tone is a combination of cajoling and wheedling, the task of being The Strong One not something she's especially used to consciously adopting.

Tiago stares back at Lena with something inherently solemn and panicked found within the depths of his green eyes. Slowly, he shakes his head. And in fact, as he's shaking his head, he even proceeds to scoot back, the closest thing to developing an invisible wall between him and the woman he can think of. "I can't, I can't, you're…" Beat. "But I gotta, I know, but you're not…I'm a /bad/ person, I am." The hysterics in his voice are very clear cut. The guilt that hangs overhead, almost palpable. This is a very stark contrast to the man's behavior mere hours ago - for it's as though all of his certainty has been shot, all of his confidence wiped away.

That's an almost eerie effect, how the man has suddenly decided to preempt Lena's typical behavior. It's so startling that her jaw sags and she stares at him in open disbelief for a long moment before coherant thought kicks in again. When that happens, Lena basically forces herself on him. She knee-walks forward until there's no more scooting away room and gets her (covered) arms around his neck. "Nuh uh, oh no you don't! If I'm not allowed to pull that shit, you aren't either," she says, sharp at first. That tone softens a second later when the brunette goes on, "Take a deep breath, Chi. Cmon, take one big deep breath and let it out slow, then tell me what the hell happened, okay? I'm not going anywhere, I promise."

The difference is Tiago actually /has/ done something despicable and vile. So much so that it even taints the shuffling Lena does, making him gather no satisfaction when she practically presses herself against him, seeking him out in a way she hasn't in a while. He casts his gaze away from her even then, unable to face looking her in the eye even with the comforting pleasure of her touch and the softness of her voice in his ears.

He inhales, then exhales. And then the process is repeated, but the final exhale is more of a shuddering gasp than anything, as his muscles grow tense beneath her arms. "…I think I…fuck, I think I killed someone."

"What?!" A punch to the gut would have much the same effect as hearing that sentence coming from his lips. Lena unknowingly awards the man with a reprieve of her presence, snuffling backwards in order to get a better look at his face. "What the fuck, Tiago!" In her distress, the nickname is dropped entirely; if she knew Portugeuse, it's a safe bet he'd be getting an earful right now! As it is, the teenager actually unleashes a torrent of obscenity in English as she leaps to her feet and paces the room before having to pause to take a breath. As soon as her lungs are full again, she whirls on him, eyes looking panicky.

"Start from the beginning and tell me what happened! Everything."

Tiago winces expressively, as if physically hit, but his expression remains resigned and haunted. He knew this was going to happen, he knew this was going to be her reaction, and so he stares at the bed cover, slouching over like a lifeless doll. He doesn't even have it in him to yell at Lena for judging him so harshly, or reassure her that it isn't /that/ bad…

"Dex." He gruffs out, voice hoarse. "It was Dex. I saw 'er on the streets - an' she was bein' stalked by them guys - the government. We tried ta get away an'…" Beat. "We had ta fight free. I had ta use the gun. I dunno if he died or not - he was on the floor an' not movin', an' we had ta go - /go/ before more came. I dunno if I…oh God, I'm a fuckin' murderer. I'm a fuckin' murderer, Lena! I'm a fuckin' killer!"

Lena isn't judging, Lena is panicking. There's a rather large difference, and it basically involves having to move to spend nervous energy that is screaming at her to RUN NOW. But she isn't yelling at the young man, nor are the glances she's tossing at him on each circuit of the room full of any sort of condemnation. She looks, in short, terrified. "Oh jesus oh jesus, it really happened…did you…no, you're okay, you're not bleeding, is she okay? Oh god, Chi." The recitation of horror ends with the brunette clambering onto the bed again to gather him up in her arms as best she can.

"You're not a murderer! It was self-defense! What do you think they'd have done if they caught you two? She's fucking dangerous, they might've killed her and you too, trying to bring her in…oh god." The thought is enough to make her cringe and scrunch her eyes shut, clutching Tiago to her chest. "We have to call Gene, Chi. Him or Eric or someone. We gotta tell them this happened, that they're still at it."

Unfortunately for Tiago, avoiding her gaze means that he isn't able to distinguish between disgust and panic. It means that he misses her concern and warmth entirely, sending him deeper into a dismay and darkness which can only be alleviated by the woman's most recent actions. He is pulled to her quite easily, completely malleable in her arms, though he neither encourages nor discourages the embrace. In fact, he seems oddly blank and calm - shell shocked.

And the one time this veil of inactivity is broken? Well, it isn't for the better. Tiago looks up, pulling away from Lena with a sudden bout of hysteria as his breath catches in his throat. "Lena! No - no! You can't tell no one! No fuckin' one! They're goin' ta arrest me, Lena - they're goin' ta throw me in jail an' hate me an' take me away - you can't tell no one! Not Gene, not Eric, not no one! Please, please, por favor, Lena…Please…"

Some small rational voice, the same one that speaks in her rare moments of sharp intelligence, whispers at her: they should tell, this is serious enough that help is warranted, and there's no way that anyone on Team Awesome would condemn Tiago for defending himself against members of Alpha Protocol. But it's unconscious habit to give the men in her life the benefit of the doubt (when she isn't enraged at them). So Lena hesitates, drawing back just enough to make eye-contact with the man. "Chi," she says gently, "They're our friends. You said yourself we should tell them about the big stuff, and this is…this is huge. No one's going to hate you for defending yourself, okay? And you think Gene's gonna send you to jail, when they sent him there? And…and…and if we tell them, we can keep track of where their teams have been, right? We'd be helping, too."

"Lena," Tiago breaths out, that same sense of urgency coloring his words as his brows furrow into an expression of clear pain. "Lena, please…por favor, don't…I don't want no one ta know, I don't want /you/ ta know, but I had ta tell you. /Please/. It…it don' change nothin'. Them folks are still goin' ta be after me an' you an' Dex, so it don't change nothin' except they're goin' ta look at me different. Ima be different ta them. I-I…" He swallows frantically, closing his eyes in a desperate attempt to keep his face dry. "It wont be helpin'. It'll jus' give 'em more of a reason ta hate me, an' givin' 'em more trouble for nothin', I…I don' wanna, please baby…"

"I dunno, Chi," Lena begins, appearing deeply troubled by the tone of Tiago's pleading. "It won't change anything for them to know, I really don't think…" But she trails off, tightly closing her eyes and letting out a slow, harshly controlled breath. "God. This is…okay. But if you or me see anything like we're being followed, we tell them right away, okay? If we gotta drop out of sight even more than we are, we have to let people know why. They can help and I know they would, or they wouldn't have put up with all the crap I've started, right? Promise me, Chi."

Tiago has never felt like this before, like an empty, dirty shell. He has never been terrified of his own presence before, never had to stop and wonder if he represents that which he hates. And now, overwhelmed with this horror, he's looking for something, anything to ground himself in, to make the world stop spinning. And this something happens to conveniently be sitting right beside him, speaking in a soft, reassuring voice. He throws his arms around her, holding on tight to the woman and pressing his head against the woman's shoulders in search of some sort of comfort. In all actuality, it's difficult to tell if he's even heard her. "Okay, baby, okay…I promise…I promise…I - I what'm I…what're we…? Oh god, Lena. Oh fuckin' God…" As he trails off weakly, his fists ball up the material of her clothing.

This is beyond Lena's capabilities but fortunately all he seems to need from her right now is presence, and almost maternal comfort. So she tightens her arms around the man and simply holds him close through the shakes, rocking him, crooning gently under her breath. She vaguely recalls her mother doing something similar during childhood nightmares, and this situation certainly qualifies. Nightmarish. That's the word. "Shhh, Chi. Shhh. It'll be okay, I promise. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere, okay? I love you, and it's gonna be okay. We'll figure it out…I promise."

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