francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title 50%
Synopsis Teo wakes up. Francois supposes it could be worse.
Date August 13, 2010

Staten Island — Makeshift Medfac

What was once the Staten Island Nature Center has been converted into a makeshift field hospital with rows of cots separated by white linens to provide patients with the illusion or privacy. Medical supplies, along with extra ammunition, firearms and other provisions, are kept under guard in the basement. There is enough space on the ground floor to (uncomfortably) accommodate up to twenty patients and a small number of rotating volunteers.

Only a few vestiges of the Time Before the Bomb remain, including a taxidermy collection in one unused wing that was too cumbersome to move and colourful murals splashed across the walls that illustrate the diversity of the island's wildlife and include a plethora of birds, animals, plants and even fish.

There aren't a lot of doctors, here. In fact, there aren't any. There aren't a lot of ex-immortals with hijacked medical memories either, but there is at least one, attempting to put stolen skills to use, except out here, in this cramped makeshift hospital space, they blend seamlessly with distant memories of the American camp in Germany, once. Not completey accurate, though the white wings of separating sheets is similar, the rows of injured survivors, soldiers and captives both — but this place is cleaner, dryer, smells nicer, and he too healthy. Moving with too much certainty, work behind his actions instead of the steady leak of healing warmth, but both are draining. Especially when the sky turns velvety in coming dawn, still with a scattering of stars, and he hasn't really stopped.

Someone found a chair, and that acts as Francois' resting place, near the cot that he'd held Teo lie down into, whom hasn't really moved since. He's leaned over, bowed like a weighted willow branch, one hand out to clutch the lax, waxy limb of the younger man's hand, tangled fingers and thumb stroking along knuckles in subconscious selfish desire for it to rouse him. Ballistic vest is gone, weapons gone, stripped down to jeans, grey T-shirt.
Layers peeled to show that Francois is tired and anxious, chin in his free palm, that elbow against a knee. His eyelids droop heavy in dozy kind of meditation, but he's sharply alert beneath the muzziness despite himself.

Consciousness comes through in shades and slices. An oatmeal-colored bar of light seeps in through Teo's eyelids, and for some reason, the Gaussian blur that confronts his open eyes isn't disconcerting enough to hasten focus by blinking. Instead, he lets the shapes define themselves at their own watercolor pace, texture weaving into the fall of Francois' hair and the lines around his eyes, the stoop of shoulders and the oblique edge of his shin.

"Buongiorno," he says, first. Then, "What time is it?" realizing that the salutation might be somewhat temporally incorrect. His stomach punctuates the inquiry with a growl, and he finds himself retracting his arm even before he realizes it's been appropriated by the Frenchman, digging his own elbow into the offending gut, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment. It smells of plastic in here, antispetic, and slow dust. Unemptied dioramas, maybe, climates and situations and food chains simplified down to portable displays with the remains of dead fuzzy things.

Francois lets him go, for all that the habit seems to be to clench on tighter — too tired, too cautious around the sick and healing to do that, and his hands come together to press between his own knees, a downturned prayer. "Uhh," is inarticulate, and probably answer enough, which makes him smile a little, bashfully. He glances and angles his wrist enough to see clockface. His voice is very rough, and quiet. "Early, early morning. You've not been asleep very long."

He moves, then, just enough to draw his chair closer and at a better angle for conversation. Around them, there are sounds of footsteps, of gentle conversations, muttered quiet. People fleetingly walk by. It's like a hospital, if the ceilings were usually made of angled, panelled wood. "How are you feeling?" sounds like a stupid question, when he says it, so he adds, "What can I do?"

"Some food would be great," Teo says, and starts to sit up, ponderously, his elbow knocking into something with bruising force on the way, socked heels dragging the surface of the bed. He is vaguely surprised and amused to realize that he is wearing socks. It's like Francois knew him well enough to figure he'd hate to come to to cold toes.


"Who," he clears his throat because the rasp is starting to come back into it, his eyes blinking erratic in the dark. You can hide almost anything under enough myopic, half-starved, post-coma disorientation, including the fact that you're avoiding somebody's eye. "Who else did they find? Any of." The word seems to gather a thickening amount of dust in the space of the second before Teo manages to get it out. "Me?"

There's something in that that crosses through him, sharp, sends his thoughts reeling away from it before he can register what it was, the grace of a shark veering from spear.

So— "Gillian," is a swift response from Francois, gaze going down to study the tangle of his own fingers, occupies his mind by trying to remind himself what food they brought. There's guns, bags of saline, silver implements and maybe some of them are cutlery. "A girl named Lynette, two others that are unfamiliar to us. Another from the Apollo missions, Noriko." Things in cans, thick soups, heated over portable stove. Someone probably brought some bread, or crackers. He'd have to go away to do that.

And he will. "And you." Obviously. His hands have drifted out to help Teo sit up but remain. Needy, and Francois hates that, and has hated it, treated like walking wounded for the last month, pitying him instead of the man that got captured, or so it seemed. It's weak and pathetic and somehow he feels it sharper, now. It's not fair on the one who actually suffered. Still, he'd like eye contact. "Chéri?"

"No, not really."

There. Oh, except not really, even Teo knows that, but it's clear enough, and clear also in the sharp delineation of his shoulders, slumped, huddled, his fingers burrowing into the flesh of his stomach through the fabric of his sweater, pinching out the feel of something that isn't hunger. "The other one," he clarifies, with effort, if only because the mild points of contact between the Frenchman's palms and his own shoulders jolt it out of him like a static shock.

A pang of guilt. He isn't the old soldier who overcame his proximity-related paranoias with prediatorial, glacial serenity, and he isn't the one who had become accustomed enough to Francois' spontaneous tactility to forget who'd started it, and when. He is a little younger than that, newer, less— knitted, and ever concerned that his touch is inextricably connected with harm, and bright enough to know that this time it really is. He examines the wrinkle of fabric over Francois' shoulder. "Mi d— I'm sorry."

Whole conversations can be had this way, with touch, as well as the deprivation of it when Francois' hands finally keep to themselves and he slots himself back further into his chair. His expression is a careful one — polite puzzlement, the gentle inquiry of someone with good bedside manner trying to understand the words of the delirious, but it breaks when Teo— apologises, defeat making his jaw a little slacker, smoothing the lines from his brow. There's a new tension in the build of his shoulders.
It's difficult to grasp, this concept, with Teo right in front of him. Even without the facial scarring that he came to know so well (and maybe especially because of it, given his understanding, or misunderstanding), the concentration camp severeness of bristled dirty blonde along the younger man's scalp. The Institute's facility is still burning, tainting the forest air with acidity.

It's difficult to pick the difference. Aside from the fact that Francois' touches aren't welcome. "What do you know of him?" It's the first intelligent thing he can think of to try and fill the spanning silence that followed.

Perhaps Teodoro mistakes his meaning, deliberately or in honst confusion. "I didn't even get to see the copy," he says. "I don't know what they did with him. I woke up a few times and noticed that the facility was going to Hell in little degrees, but I didn't hear much in the way of, uh, salient— tactical details. The drugs were pretty fuckin' intense.

"I don't— I still don't know why everybody was covered with minced meat. I thought they just had guns." He tangles his fingers together on his lap, folds his socked foot under his calf, a canine approach to conserving heat as long as blankets or such are in rather short supply, and he can't be altogether certain that the cold is, strictly speaking, a circumstance of external temperature. Francois isn't vaulting off to trumpet the need for mission phase two, at least. That's—

He doesn't know how to feel about that. He doesn't touch his healed cheek or roll his tongue against the wall of his mouth the way the other one used to, though the absence of small gestures is doubtlessly a negligible difference compared to the ludicrously pervasive similarities of face and figure. Even with the hair shorn down near to nothing.

At this point, pain feels like something viewed from an astral plane — removed and alien, but probably that has to do with Francois being so tired he can't feel his fingertips. Standing on solid ground until news that the Teo in front of him is the wrong one floods everything, ocean-sized amounts of information that he drifts upon and isn't sure about the horizon at all. "We encountered some problems in the hallway," he says, out loud, a million miles away. "It was very horrifying. The Institute was a lost cause even for the government — madmen running the asylum since Monday, and it is now Friday.

"It is very fortunate you aren't hurt. There was an airstrike launched and the building is no more. You— " Breathe in, breathe out, though the exhale is a little shakier. He doesn't know how to answer this question. Everything seems impossible. "You remember who I am," he comes up with, loose argument.

Oh. "Oh," Teo falls sharply silent, befuddled then embarrassed at his earlier stupefication. "Yes. Not— not all that clearly, but yeah. You're Francois Allegre.

"The doctor. You used to have Abigail's ability. And Kazimir's. You're his boyfriend." That absurd third person. He tugs at the rough-seamed edge of his pant leg, and glances down at the fan shape of creases that his foot is making. It is easier than watching Francois absorb these revelations and realizations like a sponge taking up blood.

He can hear the shaking in Francois' breathing, asthmatic. "That sounds like a pretty nasty clusterfuck. The doctor was out of his mind, 'course. Kind of surprised the hallway team was hit by nothing worse than gas and flying meat." Brittle token humor, not quite a joke. No punchline. He clears his throat, a noise like two objects making friction against the grain. "I'm not him."

They'd passed bodyparts on the way there, and they flash back up in recent memory in technicolour recall. The doctor seems weirdly jarring already, dampens the latter blows that come, already looking away and down. His demeanor is woefully embarrassed to have perched here and held hands dotingly, to have imagined going home, of resting. Francois is silent and still, drunk on weariness, and though his arms and shoulders are slack, posture lacking, the rigidity of his own tangled hands might rival the chords that hold up bridges.

Francois nods in acknowledgment, showing Teo he knows, it's okay. Imagines picking through the ruins, finding something alive, but the government are going to be all over it. Maybe birds—

He can't cry here, and this simple fact has him standing. "I'm glad we got you out," he says, apology for; "Someone will look after you. Excuse me?" Sweetly turned upwards in query, but already leaving, before he can try and demand that Teo is Teo is Teo, like Abby said.

Teo is Teo is Teo. This Teo thinks so, to a point, but there's a certain probability that his other incarnations remain alive, somewhere out there, and that at least one of them would be rather displeased at his decision to insinuate himself into the Sicily-shaped hole bleeding in Francois' life right now. It's odd, how this paranoid respect coexists alongside the pessimistic assumption he's the only one left. The Institute doesn't fuck around, after all.

He has to lock up the urge to grab at the Frenchman's sleeve, shoulder squaring under the effort and breath moving through his lungs like a net dragging for corpses. "Of course," he scratches out, and then, to the older man's turned back and the uncertain outline of his shoulders. "Thank you. I'll let you know if I remember anything. Someone around here probably will."

Francois pauses by the edge of the angel-white sheet separating Teo from the bed to his left, looking back when there's more to say, a hand snagging onto the fabric as if stilling himself on a doorframe despite the obvious difference. Looking for things to touch, maybe, or an anchor of some kind. He nods at that, imagines that if either of them were wrong, there'd be more of an effort made to stop him from leaving, before he's gone, swiftness unhurried, but quick.

A hazy silhouette, for a second, at the edge of the makeshift curtain, and then only one set of footsteps in the several making audio ambiance. Does not route to the kitchen, in search instead for air and sky.

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