Mundane Wishes


francois_icon.gif sarisa_icon.gif

Scene Title Mundane Wishes
Synopsis Francois Allegre wants his life back, and Sarisa Kershner offers him any life he wants
Date February 28, 2010

Central Park

Belvedere Castle

This is a good attempt at a castle, and a good attempt at history, but even with (or especially with) the fairytale sugar frosting snow and ice padding thickly on Belvedere Castle's granite and cement, it doesn't really stand up to the lain bricks of history that dot Europe all over the place. Rustic things entrenched in mud and story and abandonment, strongholds and land owning markers. These are not impressions that come with this place, with its coyly lit interior, and its tourists, and the fact it probably looks beautiful at night.

It's morning, and it looks modest, Francois moving across the courtyard and watching the lake, water reflecting the leaden colour of the sky, threatening to shake down snow at any moment. He resembles a tourist, but for a Frenchman who hasn't seen his country in half a century, he's probably used to it. A scarf loops loosely around his neck, jeans and wool-lined swear working together to create a very mundane, pragmatic outfit against the cold, hands gloved and ankles thick with the gather of winter socks.

Leaning there, against the stone wall above the water, and wondering if the lake will wind up freezing again even if tomorrow's spring, Francois feels exceptionally normal.

"You look good for a man twice over dead and in his eighties…" Leave it to Sarisa Kershner to put a man in his place, and Francois Allegre's place is far from normal. The blonde's jovial tone comes called out from the pavillion near the courtyard, where she emerges from beneath the muted shadows of that shingled roof, posture all stiff and rigid from the cold biting at what little of her face is exposed. Francois knows her by presence more so than by appearance; the blue scarf covering much of her lower face does little to mask her identity, or mask her tone of voice.

Heeled boots crunch freshly fallen snow in tandem with older footsteps Francois had tracked on his way in here. "I'm beginning to second-guess my sanity at arranging for this meeting outside…" she slyly admits on closing the distance, close enough where Francois can see the cherry-red quality of her nose and ears. "You know you had us all convinced you'd actually died this time…" Sarisa admits with one dark brow raised, coming to stand beside the once-immortal Frenchman. "Does Houdinni care to share his secrets?"

She's right. It's cold. Like a glacier was cracked open to spill its chill, make the air sluggish, pinch at skin and make the white scarring at his bitten ear sting and ache. Gloved fingers rub there, before he's turning his head towards the source of her muffled voice, hand dropping in unconscious selfconsciousness, and offering a wan smile. "The cold is good for you," Francois says, managing not to talk through chattering teeth. "At least it means we are left alone, non?" Because no one else is as stupid and/or clandestine as they are.

For a moment, Francois looks his age — maybe not physically, but something old and weathered inside, reflected out through smooth pale skin that only gains lines when he makes a face, though gentle wrinkles are sinking into the corners of his eyes, and do so now as he smiles at her. "If I did not tell you, would it change things?" he asks, an honest inquiry. "Perhaps it is best some things are left buried, if not people."

"It would make me sleep better at night," Sarisa admits with a roll of her shoulders, gloved hands tucked tightly into the pockets of her leather jacket. "To know you're you and not some iteration of Kazimir Volken come back from the grave." She laughs because she's joking, but somehow the humor of her comment is lost on the man who was — up until not long ago — just that very thing.

"Normally I'd just slap a notice on a request like the one you sent and ship it off to someone who handles identity claims." Sarisa's blue eyes close partway, and she's left to stare down at the pattern her footprints have made in the snow underfoot. "Given exactly who you are," blue eyes come back up to the deceptively young looking Frenchman, "I wanted to handle this personally… and to pass on something of a warning, though I think you already know the worst of it by now."

Which is to say, what happens in Russia does not stay in Russia.

Francois nods to her, less affirmation, more silent gratitude for her taking the time to come out this way, before his eyes narrow after the mention of a warning. Smooths out, the next moment. He knows. He knows the worst of it by now. "Oui. And to think," he starts, with an abruptly wider smile, "had I not died in Antarctica, I had intended to go back to Russia to finish what was started. All roads lead to New York City, I suppose. They are killing our loved ones."

Likely, Sarisa knows that too. He shivers. "I was Kazimir Volken," he affirms, suddenly, keeping green eyes locked on her blue as if to catch any tick of indication that he's about to be gunned down and dragged into the deepest darkest hole on Earth. Been there, done that. "But I knew what my first ability could do to it, and I sought it out, after I came back. I managed to survive this also. I'm back to being normal." Resembling. "And here we are. If you need proof, you know how to obtain it. I have nothing I feel I must hide from you." Which is—

Sort of a bluff, but maybe he's not talking about everything, and his tone is as honest as his expression.

"I won't call your bluff…" Sarisa admits in a hushed tone of voice, "if only because if you were lying, I wouldn't want to put you in a position where I'd have to do something I don't want to do." The unusually evasive use of words has Sarisa's brows furrowing, blue eyes casting down to the ground as she takes in a deep breath, the cold stinging at her lungs. "This whole business with Skoll and his accomplices has been a strain on a lot of agencies, especially right after Operation: Apollo…" Tired eyes close, and Sarisa exhales a sigh through her nostrils.

"I… wanted to come out here, to tell you that you have more than just a new identity waiting for you." When Sarisa opens her eyes, she's regarding Francois with a side-long stare. "You, like everyone else on that mission, saved billions of lives. The government— if not the whole world— owes you a debt that it can never know in full. I… wanted to ask you what you wanted." Sarisa's head turns, one gloved hand threading a lock of blonde hair behind one ear as she more fully looks on to the green-eyed Frenchman.

"It's like getting one wish," Sarisa emphasizes, "make sure it counts."

The idea of something handed to him is, of course, instantly reacted to with distrust. If you live as long as he has, you come to know that nothing is easy. There's always trade. There's always work. Of course—

Of course, Francois has put in work. He knows that, isn't so humble that he can't recognise it. Rolling out of Louisianan mud and straight into Russian slush, getting turned to stone, losing the true function of his hand, and more than that, for a time. They've all put the government in debt. Part of him is giddy and wants to blurt something stupid like a pony in the hope that this moment doesn't actually matter, but, there you go. It does.

"I'd like to start over while having the life I've lived mean something," he says, words vague, but one can sense they won't be soon. "I want to be a healer again. Short of trying to find a way to get back my gift, I'd like to be a physician. It is what I almost was, before the healing. And the war." More practical than a pony— and where would he put it anyway— and less magical than a pile of gold, but he actually breaks a look away from her as if to avoid it.

"Had this world been a simpler one, Francois, I could've offered you that ability back…" Sarisa explains in a hushed tone of voice, "but, some dreamer are more easily crushed than others. But for you, I would've pulled the strings necessary to see you have it, if that's what you wanted. More mundane wishes," Sarisa inclines her head forward, moving to stand closer to Francois, looking over at him with an inscrutable expression that seems bordering on inspecting, "I can grant more mundane wishes."

Managing a smile, Sarisa keeps that stare on Francois, as if trying to figure out the whole of the man in front of her with just her eyes. She's silent, after her admission, withdrawing a hand from the pocket of her jacket, as if she had considered reaching out to touch him. The motion is ultimately wasted, and Sarisa's hand returns to her jacket pocket quietly. "Who do you want to be?"

Tentatively, he meets her gaze again, offering back a smaller mirror of the smile she serves him. Perhaps it's her ability or something less tangible, but it seems like a pane of glass fixes between them, one where time was meant to separate them, and Francois finds himself observing her as if through that window, an observer, and finds himself under observation in turn. "Francois Allegre," he offers, with a spark of a brighter smile, breaking the slight tension— or he imagines too— with a moderately sheepish scuff of the heel of his boot against stone. "Someone who could have existed once. But you are the expert — perhaps you should tell me who I can be.

"And perhaps someone with a place to live, even aside from this deal. I am currently sharing quarters in an awkward situation. I can pay you back, of course, in time." Spoken with the blithe frankness of someone who knows that asking is a wonderful skill to have, because you never know what you can get from it.

The way Sarisa just laughs and covers her mouth with one hand is perhaps somewhat embarrassing. "Anyone in the world you could be…" Her smile may be hidden behind that blue scarf, but it's plain to hear in her voice, "and you choose you." Both dark brows come up as Sarisa seems to revel in the amusement created by Francois' seemingly titanic ego, even if just from her enjoyment of poking fun at it. "Bringing Francois Allegre back from the dead on paper is a much less daunting task than it would be in the flesh; thankfully you've saved me that task."

Smiling crookedly behind her scarf, Sarisa shakes her head slowly, threading an errand lock of blonde hair behind one ear as she turns to look out from the courtyard over the glittering waters of the pond beyond. "I can arrange for a clinical position for you, but I can't say that it will be one in a major hospital. As far as I'm aware your medical expertise is several generations out of date…" Sarisa finally turns, regarding Francois over her shoulder.

"Where do you want to live, I can put you anywhere you want for as long as you want it. You're looking at more than just a blank slate, Francois, I'm offering you a chance to write your own."

Considering for all that Francois laughs at others, being laughed at is not something he has trouble in taking, eyes crinkling with a smile, hiking up his shoulders in a hitch of a shrug. "Forgive me, I am used to these things being difficult, inherently."

He breathes out a sigh of steam, thinking, and for all that he's seen and all the places he's traveled, thinking grand is not a natural talent of his. Finally, he nods, "Then I would like a position at the Suresh Centre — they have an independent medical wing, I believe, near completely self-sustaining. I have an appointment there, for my hand," he explains, stretching said hand, though the injury is covered in the lumpy wool of gloves.

"And perhaps a proper home. I've seen the insides of enough motels to last me more than a few lifetimes, and worse still. There is an empty brownstone home in the West Village that I have crossed by a few times."

Momentary nervousness comes across Sarisa's features when the Suresh Center is mentioned. "You're— " Her words hitch in her throat, and the blonde brushes her fingertips over her cheek, teeth toying with her lower lip behind the scarf. "I'll be frank, Francois. The Suresh Center has some particular staff resident in it that I'm not entirely comfortable leaving you in the company of." There's a tightness in Sarisa's expression, a nervousness that play off more urgency than her words do.

"If this is what you want, I won't stop you." Sarisa raises a gloved hand up at the notion, "But I want to give you this opportunity to opt out. I could find another private clinic somewhere, pull some strings, I just— I don't think you'd be in any danger, but there's some places less… certain than others."

Rolling her tongue inside of her cheek, Sarisa crosses her arms over her chest and huffs out a snorted breath. "As far as a house goes, pick one and it's yours, free and clear." Her blue eyes meet far greener ones with uncertainty.

Blllink. Francois opens his mouth, shuts it again. But! But. No, hey. The Suresh Centre is a bright sparkling gem of 2009, a representation of how far we've come with so much more to go, and Teo said, and stop getting clandestine in my normal. Are things he doesn't say, pensive suddenly, gloved hand set on granite from where he'd idly brushed away snow to send plunking into the stagnant pond. "Merci, for the warning," he says, after a moment. And somehow he's managed to stay alive this long even with the instinct to step into danger—

Except, he's meant to be getting a normal life, or something, not wander into where it's intriguing and shadowed. "I will think more about it, but I am not sure I will change my mind," he says, the apology in the smile. "If you do not think I'll be in danger, then I won't be in danger. I will be sure to copy down the address of the place I found."

Casual conversation segue out though that may be, thought still wrinkles his brow. He'll have to ask around, before seeing for himself.

"You won't be," Sarisa affirms, perhaps stubbornly so. "But if you feel endangered, you know how to get in touch with me, and I'll come down on those people so hard they'll wish they'd gone so far underground they'd be mistaken for moles." There's a touch of venom in Sarisa's tone at that, perhaps familial defensiveness coming in to play there. It's quick to fade, if only because Sarisa's embarrassed by the outburst, her gloved hand working tiredly over the bridge of her nose.

"I can get you that place, just drop off the address for it…" The way her voice trails off, implies the and between those words and the ones that come next. "If— If you're not too busy, between sometime once you're moved in, and…" Sarisa's head shakes, brows furrowed and head downcast. She's awkward and it shows, it's not something that a woman so used to being in control will admit to, let alone acknowledge.

"I'd like to visit you, once you're settled in." The request comes a bit awkwardly stated. "I— I could talk to you about family," Sarisa's blue eyes flick up to meet Francois' stare, "my mother, your— your family. I… I don't know much of my family from— from your time." It sounds so weird to say, let alone admit.

The glass goes back up, like magic. Non-reflective, very unobstrusive, but indestructible, or so it might feel like. Only for as long as it takes for Francois to reach his hands out, gloved against the cold and another barrier against memory-seeking skin over the sleeves of her coat, a grip above the elbows and simultaneously formal and familiar. "I would like that very much," Francois says. "S'il vous plait. Outside of anything we owe each other, this seems an overdue thing."

They look the same age, or thereabouts. Maybe Sarisa even looks older, a touch, if younger all at once because she's awkward and Francois is less so. Reassuring. "Although," and his hands drop back down, "perhaps considering the Vanguard's current M.O., it should wait a time, non?" Reluctantly stated, as if maybe the risk is worth it.

Nodding her head slowly, reluctantly, Sarisa turns to offer her profile to Francois, arms folded and eyes now focused out on the water again, and the way it reflects the slate gray color of the skies overhead. With the growing chill in the air, the coming of spring feels like it's going to be a long ways off. By tomorrow, that pond will have frozen over again and be dusted with snow and ice skaters looking to enjoy the winter weather while it lasts. Tension crosses Sarisa's features as she considers the implications of hiding from Skoll and his men, letting the terrorists win as it were.

But Francois is as mortal as she is now, and she knows better than to take the risks the younger and more impetuous part of her wants to. It may taste bitter on her tongue when it comes out, but French isn't meant to always be a sweet language.


For now they can have that victory, and she'll let Francois have his life back.

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