A Little Meet And Greet


francois_icon.gif pete_icon.gif

McAlister, Cody and Lillian by Manhattan

Scene Title A Little Meet And Greet
Synopsis Francois' first day with the Institute is not without diversions.
Date October 1, 2010

Massachusetts: Braintree, Granite Medical Center

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the city of Braintree is just a hop, skip and a jump south from Cambridge. Relatively quiet and rural it is a city in name only, and a far cry from the hustle and bustle of New York. While the tangle of freeways, interstates and city traffic do share something in common with the Big Apple, that is solely due to the inordinately complex and poorly planned out Massachusetts transit system.

On a cold, rainy day in the beginning of Autumn, however, the presence of one black sedan making its way on to Congress street blends in to the other late afternoon traffic cutting through the city. The Granite Medical Center, on the outside, appears to be an ordinary three story brick building surrounded by sparsely forested parkland lit ablaze by the colors of autumnal leaf changes.

It always seem to be raining when Francois Allegre is going to venture into the belly of the beast. It was raining that day in 1945 when Dachau was liberated, it was raining that day they went into the Staten Island Hospital to rescue Teo, it was raining the day he met Roger Goodman. Today seems to be continuing that trend of mother nature pissing on his every action.

The click of the sedan's left directional ticks arrythmically with the squeak of windshield wipers as the car turns towards the parking lot for the Granite Medical Center. No checkpoint, no security guards outside, just an ordinary looking medical building with a largely vacant parking lot, save for a handful of expensive luxury cars parked close to the building.

On the passenger seat beside Francois, a file folder rests where he had left it on beginning the long drive from New York. A dossier — his dossier — one that Francois has repeatedly needed to familiarize himself with. This isn't his life he's pretending to live, and ultimately it won't be his life that is on the line here at this building.

Teodoro Laudani is the one in immediate danger. Francois' is later down the line.

Outside, the wind snags at his houndstooth pattern jacket of wool that looks grey but is more a blend of black and white, in old man patterns a step away from tweed. The deep green of his button down is tucked into blue jeans, and he feels distinctly unarmed. Not just for the lack of firearm carrying, but his veins run with blood that doesn't qualify, and going in without healing feels like it should be as obvious as going in without his pants or similar, or at the very least, mismatched socks. He's been the one to reassure everyone that such a ruse will hold for as long as he needs it to, in the face of flickering doubt in sets of eyes and uncertain smiles. Go get 'em, tiger.

This is a bad time for that to catch up to him. It does, for as long as it takes for him to beep lock his car, creep fingertips along the black, glossy ridge of its rooftop in thought, rain beading its surface. It's only when a droplet strikes chilly down his collar that he jolts himself back to life. Dossier tucked into glovebox, car locked, information as close to memorised as it will ever get—

Francois heads into the Braintree facility.

The inside is as likewise understated as the outside, tile floor and high ceilings, potted plants in terra-cotta pots flanking glass doors, a caramel-colored reception desk behind which are elevators and stair accesses. Glass walled reception offices flank either side of the desk area and the quiet privacy of a busy medical research center seems apprioriate stuffy and uninviting.

On his way inside, Francois is spotted by one of the two young women at the front desk, a smile spread across her face as he approaches. "Good afternoon, welcome to Granite Medical Center. Do you have an appointment?" With one plucked eyebrow lifting up in question, the mechanical smoothness in which the secretary carries out her job is practiced and dutyful, while her co-worker slouches forward in her chair and steals a glance at the handsome Frenchman that she didn't get to talk to.

His gaze scales along the surfaces of silver elevator doors, glass barricades and plaster — never mind healing, x-ray vision might have been a better thing to be envious of Flint Deckard of. It's only a passing glance, appropriately affording the receptionist with his attention, Francois offering a smile and moving on closer, a hand resting on the edge of the wooden desk. It seems more like a dental clinic, here, than a top secret research facility for a clandestine organisation that styles itself after what Dachau began.

He wonders if Teo really is in this building. "Something like that. I was told to report to Howard Lemay — my name is Francois Allegre," he haltingly supplies, a hand up to scuff through rain-damp dark hair in a scritch of blunt nails to scalp.

There's a brief smile that crosses the secretary's face as Francois offers ihs name, a few quick keystrokes at her workstation bringing up his appointment. "Ah, yes, we do have you down here Mister Allegre," there's a tiny, sweet smile from the young woman when her chocolate brown eyes flick back to his far greener ones. "Ah, Mister Lemay seems to be out on business today though, however…" and that news has her teeth tugging at her lower lip, fingers click-clacking on keys again.

"It… looks like Doctor Mc.Alister has taken all of Mr.Lemay's appointments," there's a furrow of the secretary's brows as she looks back to Francois. "If you'd like I could call up and let her know that you're here?" Already things aren't going according to plan, and the sound of the front doors opening behind Francois is only leading to further complications in his otherwise long day.

"You would think that with a budget like we have, someone could maybe stop the rain long enough for me to walk from my car to the front door?" It's a gruff, boisterous voice of an old man ambling in to the lobby from the outside. Tall and somewhat blockish in build, he's rounded out in the middle, though the fine tailoring of his navy blue suit seems to hide it some. "Denise— " he agitatedly notes with a waggling hand towards the front door, eliciting a look from the secretary handling Francois. "Denise," he insists again, "don't we have an atmokinetic on staff? Fickland? Ficker? Fickel?"

"Fawkes, Sir?" Denise offers an apologetic smile to Francois as she turns to the gray-haired and round-faced gentleman who offers an exasperated breath and a snap of his fingers as he shakes off rain from himself, moving up to stand beside Francois.

"Yes, Fawkes. That's the one, short little— skittish thing, right?" Grey eyes look up and over to Francois, then narrow, then look back to Denise. "Get Fawkes to turn off the damned rain would you?"

"Mister Fawkes hasn't been… at this branch since March when… when you fired him? During the snow storm?" Denise's smile becomes painted, while the old man's expression sours, then turns puzzled, one thick-fingered hand coming up to his mouth as he glances askance at the floor, then over to Francois as if he had some kind of answer, then back to Denise.

"Oh, I did, didn't I? Well, you know how it is. Fine, fine. It can rain on my parade that's perfectly par for course. Alright," there's a stammering huff of breath and another look to Francois, this time accusatory. "I'm sorry who is this?" There's a wave of one hand to Francois as the old man's attention is directed back to the secretary.

Posture rigid, Francois is a politely quiet presence as what could have been a smooth transition seems to go off course, unsure if meeting McAlister is an ideal scenario. Hand neglected and resting on desktop, his knuckles make pale ridges where his fingers curl in as he watches exchange between receptionist and the old man, eyes briefly widening when attention is suddenly swung back to him. "Dr. Allegre," is automatic and a little tetchy. "It is nice to meet you.

"Is this a bad time?" is directed towards the lady behind the desk, voice ducking lower and quieter, unsure if the impulse to leave and try again another day is cold feet or instinct. "If Lemay is due back soon…"

"Mr.Lemay— " Denise is cut off by the rotund gentleman as he barks words over hers.

"Howie's down in D.C. handling some paper pushing," and at that there's a thick and stubby hand offered out towards Francois by the gray-haired old man. "So you're Allegre?" One gray brow lifts up and a smile crosses the jovial — if not obnoxious — old man's lips. "Heard some good things about you, Agent Kershner put in a good word from the CIA and I think Doctor Sheridan's report was pretty tip-top. I had someone read it to me."

A smile flashes across his lips, a look down to his offered out hand, then back up. "Name's Pete. Pete Varlane, I can take you on up to see Doctor Mc.Alister, she's the one who'll be handling Howie's work until he's back from Washington."

Did he say his name was

"It's never a bad time here, Frenchy, so don't you worry none, let ol' Pete take good care've you."

That name does get a doubletake, a ducked head squint at the older man— possibly older, anyway, it is difficult to tell— as if maybe he could see the logic behind the name Varlane in his features, but that quizzical expression is thrown off by a renewed smile. Francois' hand goes out to shake Pete's paw in a professional squeeze of the surgeon's fingers, darting an awkward glance to the receptionist. "Ah oui," he relents, giving into the current and directional fortitude of the situation as presented. It's gotten him this far.

"Thank you, that would be appreciated." Hand retracted, smoothing the lapel of his houndtooth jacket as he steps back to allow Varlane to move on by him. Maybe that's just a common name, but if anyone on this coast of America has come to understand, there is no such thing as coincidence anymore.

He goes to fall into step with the Institute employee. "What is you do here, Mr. Varlane?"

Lifting up a hand to rest at Francois' back, Pete leans away from the reception desk with a wink to Denise, motionning for Francois to walk with him in a gallant gesture with his free hand. "Oh, I do a lot of things around here. You should know a thing or two about being a man of many hats, and all that?" One of Pete's brows lift, a smile spread from ear to ear across his chubby face.

"I'm what you could call management. I don't typically get involved in the day-to-day busy body people-person work around here, but I've got a corner office with my name on the door as proof that I work here." There's a deep belly laugh that Pete unleashes at his own joke, angling a twisting fist towards Francois side in a joking punch motion, leading him towards the elevators.

"I mostly just make sure things run smoothly here, which isn't all that hard. This place practically runs itself, you know?" Arriving at the elevators, Pete lifts up a hand to call one down with a push of a button, then turns a scrutinizing stare of gray eyes back to Francois. "So you're looking to join Howie's little toy-soldier squad? You don't seem like a military type to me, Frank," did he just call him— "Now I know what your papers all said, but you've got delicate hands." Brows lift and Pete cracks a smile. "Surgeon's hands, you know? Steady, steady things."

The elevator chimes and slides open, revealing the walnut faux-wood paneling and empty interior lit by a fluorescent bulb in the ceiling. "C'mon, the business you want's up on the third floor." As Pete explains that point, he's rambling like a whirlwind into the elevator, leaning over to the keys to press the button for F3. Also on the keypad, Francois notices a B1, B2, and B3 level, each one with a keyhole next to the floor button, outlined in red.

He scans a stare down the keypad in the elevator, an eyebrow ticking up briefly at the three basement levels, before he's more studying his shoes than his surroundings, like a young man's glance to see that the blunt patent leather toes are unscuffed and without mud.

In truth, he's more summoning the memory of Margaret's sketched map, trying to remember what correlates, what does not, and what F3 is going to be. More offices, if Francois were to guess. "I did apply for a research position," Francois mentions, settling his hands in his pockets and allowing a smile Pete's way. It's almost genuine, enjoying the exchange if he forgets about its context. "But as fate would have it, steady hands have their other uses, it seems. Like you say— many hats."


The doors to the elevator slide shut, and Pete is offering a steady nod of his head and a purse of his lips. "You seem like a good guy, Frank. I like you, real business and class. You know I was worried you were going to be like some of the other French people I've met, never been much for the country— no offense," as if that makes it okay, "but you've got panache." There's a jab of Pete's hand at Francois' bicep gently.

While Pete is incessantly talking a mile-a-minute, Francois does find correlations between the facility's layout and Margaret's map. What that captive agent managed to produce is by and large making sense now. Three floors above and three floors below. All of the above-ground facility is administrative, offices, server rooms, conference halls. It's the facade for the operation.

Thankfully it isn't going to take a long journey down for Francois to eventually find what he's going to need. The first basement level is the training facility, spanning the entire grounds of the Granite Medical Center, larger than the upper levels since it spans the size of the ground beneath the large parking lot. Margaret wasn't aware of what was on the third basement level, and hopefully that doesn't become necessary to know.

Somewhere on B1, however, Teodoro Laudani is kept in a state of unconsciousness, ready to be plucked and pried and picked at.

"Oh ah, word to the wise about Doctor Mc.Alister," the only person that Pete doesn't refer to by their first name or a mangling thereof, "she's— largely unpalatable, like a pickled egg or something. There's admittedly some visual similarities between the two as well, but… just don't make direct eye contact for too long." Whether Pete is talking about a person or a bull isn't entirely certain at this point.

He can put up with Frank if it means he has panache. There is only a tolerant crease of a smile at Pete's observation of Francois' homeland — being a foreigner for the last sixty years, one gets used to it.

Wry confusion ladders lines across the slope of his forehead as eyebrows lift at the other man's assessment of the woman he's about to meet, Francois' mouth pinching in thought. "Well, that paints a vivid picture. I'll be sure to remember that, merci." By the time the door is dinging open again, Francois is, as ever, arm out first through the doors of the elevator— in some subconscious gesture of worrying they'll slam shut at any second despite proven instances that it doesn't quite work that way— and stepping aside to allow Pete after him.

"No eye contact?" is repeated, a mildly cynical— if not exactly mocking, an expression of amusement— lift of an eyebrow.

"The woman is like a bull rhinocerous," Peter offers in a huffed cadence of speach, both of his hands waving in the air as if wild gesticulations would somehow make things more apparent. "I'm not joking, Frank, she'll— " and then Pete just freezes in his tracks, as if some sort of preternatural awareness kicked in, his leather shoes skidding to a stop, both hands out and one hand motioning as if to warn Francois no it's too dangerous, but the slouch of a frame moving around a cubicle wall into view suddenly has Pete standing up straight and adjusting his tie.

Theresa McAlister is exactly as Margaret described her: a big woman. Near six feet tall and as blockish in build as Pete Varlane is, Doctor McAlister stares beneath a furrowed brow with muted gray-green eyes towards Francois and his more talkative companion. Tight coils of brown hair frame her wide face, lips painted a shade of red a touch too unnatural and jaw both square and squared.

"Mister Varlane," Theresa offers with a look to Francois instead, "is this Mister Allegre? The Front Office told me he'd be coming up."

Doctor Allegre, is compulsive correction, but remains unspoken— for some reason!— as Francois turns his attention towards the woman who happens to have a good two inches on him in height. Unconsciously, he squares his shoulders beneath the grey lines of his woolen jacket in the same kind of twitch that has Pete Varlane did, and then is the first to offer his hand despite most instincts telling him that avoiding skin contact with any person within this place is probably a good idea.

"Thank you for seeing me on short notice," he offers. "I was told you are filling Lemay's appointments, and Roger Goodman desired that I report to him here. If today would be a bad day— " Francois keeps saying that, and it keeps not working.

"Would you look at the time," Pete notes with a chuff of breath, not bothering to even pretend to look at a watch as he eases away on his heels from Francois. "I've got this thing happening where I'm not right now, Frank, you know how it is. Busy-body people-person stuff," there's a wrinkle of his round nose, and Pete flashes a look back to Doctor McAlister with an expression that's more grimace than smile before retreating down one of the halls with a click-clack of his shoes on the tile.

More blaise about things, McAlister offers an askance look to Varlane's retreat, then advances on Francois, offering up a manicured — though paw-sized — hand. "Don't mind him, I'm not even really sure how he has this job." For all that Pete implied of her ferocity, McAlister seems to be a largely amenable woman. "My name is Theresa McAlister, you can just call me Theresa if you'd like. I hear you're the new healer come on board?" One brow raises at the question, red lips quirked into a small smile.

There is a slight swivel to Francois' posture as he watches Varlane skitter off, faint amusement bracketing his mouth in shadowed lines, before he's gripping the woman's hand in his second handshake of the day, second hand returning the clasp before retracting. "Oui madame— Theresa. You can call me Francois," which is very different to Frank. "I'm sorry, I've only been introduced to your name today, I thought I'd be meeting someone else — they said you are a doctor?" It's not prying, or even cynical, but a prod for conversation and head tilted curiousity as to her specialty, his hands coming to fold behind him.

"Neurochemistry," seems an improbably answer from a woman who looks like she could bench press Francois, but she is what she is, "yes. I'm pulling double-duty with Howard Lemay's department while he's in DC for a DHS cabinet meeting." Offering an askance look ot Francois, McAlister nods towards the cubicle farm she'd been walking through and begins heading in that direction.

"I'm going to keep this short and sweet since I have a lot of work to do today. You cleared with security, you've got good references and your psyche eval is clean. Now I don't know you from anyone, but I give people one chance with trust with me. If they cross that line and ruin things, then they're done. Done, being a somewhat relative term around here." Talking as she walks through the hall and past rows of cubicles where most of the computers are unoccupied and powered down, Theresa seems to have a direction in her stride, likely the door at the end of the hall.

"What I need is for you to fill out some NDAs and some other necessary paperwork before we can get you your security clearance badge. Formality, will only take over the weekend I imagine." Theresa steals a glance over at Francois. "Are you moving up here to Massachusetts to work full time? I noticed your residence is still listed as New York City. We're going to need you here close to full time once you start your training, so I'd recommend getting yourself a place up here if you don't want to stay in the trainee bunks."

Following a few steps behind her at an efficient clip of his walk, Francois drags a look around the place as they go, impatience having him set his teeth against lower lip. There is severely nothing to see this way, but not for a lack of looking around, though he keeps it to a politely curious minimum.

"I don't wish to take up more of your time, pas de probleme. I'm renting out my home to a couple of my friends in New York," is a smooth lie, unhesitating, which might explain any lack of paperwork revolving around his million dollar residence. "They needed the space more than I do, and once I formally transition from St. Luke's— I am not wedded to the city, non.

"I'll take a look at the local real estate. How long to do you anticipate processing my employment will take?"

"That depends," McAlister so unhelpfully notes as she reaches the door, turning around instead of opening it, crossing her thick arms over her chest. "On how well you perform, mostly. Monday we'll have your security badge, then we get out on the field in a training suit of Horizon Armor for field exercise, bring you down to the labs probably the week after to give your ability a stress test, then there's some evaluations and… probably by the end of the month we'll know if you're cut out for it or not. You seem to have the fast track though, you've got some big weigh pushing you forward."

"If you come on in," Theresa twists the doorknob and pushes the door into her office, smiling fondly, "I'll have you fill out that paperwork and come monday you'll be all ready to go." Which, in turn, put a timer on Francois' rescue of Teodoro.

He has tog et him out before the stress test of his ability.

Or that is going to be a very awkward day.

A timer isn't a bad thing, and for all it forebodes potential failure and uncertainty beyond, it also makes him think that maybe this will all be over soon. It's been a long two months. Longer, maybe, he hasn't been calendar checking. Nodding to Theresa once she's done with her stand in front of the office, Francois steps inside as directed, distracting from thinking ahead to remembering the memorised details of the dossier in his car in preparation for being able to write it all down, tick the correct boxes.

Forever, there is that analytical ticking gaze over the content of her office. Paperwork at the right angle to be read, anything on her computer screen that isn't just a screensaver, keys to subbasements or swipe cards that he isn't quite sure is smart to take unless she's as busy as she says, or anything that contains the word Quincy.

He sits, stealing a pen up off the desk. "Thank you very much," he tells her, sincerely, for her insight.

Nothing so incriminating or as easily accessed presents itself to Francois on his time in Doctor McAlister's office. Twenty minutes of paperwork and filing lends itself to a fruitless time of espionage and a little bit of a cramp in his writing hand. Though for all the time spend in McAlister's office, he finds none of the aggressive nature that was presented when Pete was trying to warn Francois of her nature.

By the time the last forms are filled out and McAlister has halfway filled out a spreadsheet on her computer while he works with signing the last couple of lines. Little more than a payroll form, it unfortunately provides only serial numbers, dates and monetary compensation that means little in the search for Teodoro.

"All done?" Comes with a raise of one of McAlister's brows as she turns in the chair, rolling over towards where Francois is sitting, tucking her legs under her desk and reaching out to take the paperwork, flip through the pages and then offer a fond smile. "Well, alright then…" gray eyes lift up to Francois and a smile crosses the large woman's lips.

"Looks like this is all filled out, which means you're pretty much done here for today." Reaching across her desk, Theresa picks up a card from a small plastic case containing more, flips it over and takes Francois' pen, scribbling on the back, then lays the pen down. "Howard would probably want to make you wait until your badge came in, but…" Doctor McAlister offers a crooked and self-pleased smile, "I think I could probably let you head down to meet some of the other trainees you'd be working alongside with, if you have the time, I mean." Flipping the card around between two fingers, McAlister offers Francois another smile, she's trying not to seem intimidating.

"I put my personal number on the back there too, ah… you know," she offers a nervous laugh, "in case you think of anything you might need while you're here." The card is offered out, both of her brows lifted expectantly. "Feel like a little meet and greet?"

The nervousness, from such an impressive woman as herself, the conscious effort to seem amicable, has the Frenchman blinking in disarmed confusion, although it doesn't filter into his expression, schooled as ever into neutrality and polite interest, and his green eyed gaze darts down to the offered item."Oh! Thank you." And Francois takes the card, turning it around in his fingers before he's opening his jacket enough to tuck the rectangle of cardboard into a silk lined pocket within, rising to his feet.

He casts her a brief smile, all white teeth. "To be honest, I would love to look around, if it would not impede on your time. I certainly have enough of it at the moment, and I have only so far met yourself and— " His eyes narrow in some sympathy, which is a bit of a show, having liked the old man's company enough. "Varlane."

"Varlane's harmless, and I mean that in the least flattering way," Theresa explains as she rises up from her desk, her head canted to the side as she steps to move to her office door. "He's here twice a month and spends the rest of the time out on cape cod pulling in a paycheck. To be honest, I'm not even sure how he's still around here, but the first thing I think you'll get to noticing out here is that the fiscal responsibility of the Department of Defense leaves something to be desired."

Opening the office door and headed out into the corridor, Theresa rolls her shoulders and cracks a smile, still carrying Francois' paperwork in one hand as she heads to the elevators. "I'll take you down to the trainee level in the basement, see who's kicking around the common area, show you the residences and the medical wing you'll be working in. Then I guess you'll probably be good to head wherever you're staying tonight."

Reaching out to press a button on the elevator, the doors swish open, and as she gestures for Francois to enter first, Theresa asks oh so subtly, "Where are you staying tonight? Sure is a long drive back to New York…"

There will be a time, maybe in a week, maybe two weeks, when Francois and Teo will be sitting in the living room of his New York home, and they'll talk. Maybe Teo will relate to him the strange psychological torture of prying telepaths and dream manipulators, or perhaps that conversation won't be easy enough, and Francois can find the balance between complaint and storytelling in describing the last two months. The raid on Staten Island, and the mark lines over the littler Teo's shaven skull. Sarisa's support, Roger Goodman's chilly disdain, maybe even Pete Varlane's eccentricity.

What Francois will not tell about is this part, or he may start slapping the Sicilian over the head and shoulders and never stop.

"I was thinking of driving to New Jersey or somewhere in upstate New York," he says as he steps into the elevator, turns back towards the doors and folds his hands back behind him in gentlemanly posture, "so as to avoid the curfew. There are a couple of motels I have pegged out. Spare myself another drive tomorrow, ah?" It's not even a lie, needing to get within some sort of range to relay intel over non-electronic channels. He only trusts Eileen's messenger birds so far.

"Motels," McAlister notes, lips pursed and head bobbing in a series of short nods as the elevator doors close, "Yeah I could see how that would work. I'm just fortunate enough to be able to only have to drive about fifteen minutes up into Milton to be home. Gotta love a government paycheck, you know?" One of her brows raises as she withdraws a square-topped key on a beaded chain from inside of her slacks pocket, walking over to the elevator keypad.

The key is slid into the lock by the B1 keypad entry and turned with a click, followed by the elevator lurching into motion as the button illuminates. "Bet your motel room won't have a hot tub," Theresa cracks a smile, angling a look up to the elevator floor tracker as it begins counting down. "But I'm sure it'll make due. You military types always are tough ones."

"It will have a shower that only runs cold," Francois agrees, a glance again to the keypad, and then up towards the countdown above the doors, "and mysterious water stains on the ceilings. And I will have slept in worse places, for lesser reasons than preserving the weekend for myself." Smalltalk sounds like it's coming from somewhere distant, something that has little to do with his own tension that he seems to only remember in jolts, when he has to lie or omit something, remember that he's not really here for a job.

Even if his interviews at St. Luke's felt like similar lying, half-truths and being as charming as he's capable of being. In fact, this entire process here at Braintree feels less deceitful — until he remembers. "How long have you worked at Granite? Do you interact very much with the trainees?"

"I've worked here since the Commonwealth Institute purchased the building after the DoD changeover. So… since November? It hasn't even been a year yet but there's already been a lot of changes in the administration. We used to do detentions here on temporary basis of Evolved that were arrested for Lord knows what crimes…"

All the while that she talks, Theresa has forgotten the key in the door of the elevator. "Round about February we got a call for all of them to be shipped out, they were taken off to the primary facility in Cambridge I figure. We didn't exactly get told where they were headed. We lost a good third of our staff then too, they were shuffled to some other facility or another, that's when we became a primary training center."

The elevator begins to slow down, and Theresa is still flowing freely with information. "We get mostly jarheads and roughnecks in here now, all wanting to try out their hand to be on the list for Zero, like you. There were originally only five trainees here, four've them got brought on by Desmond Harper about the same time all the detainees were taken away. Good people too. Now? We have seven trainees for a team that only has a five-man roster. I heard they lost some people though, so that might have something to do with it."


The doors slide open to a concrete floored hallway with smooth white walls and domed lights in the ceiling, very clean, very sterile looking. "Come on, I'll introduce you to whoever's here." Maybe it's Francois dashing good looks, maybe it's just a simple mistake, but Theresa forgets her key in the lock as she turns out into the hallway, one hand preening her hair as she walks.

He's a step behind her by the time Theresa is escorting him out of the elevator, hand palming the key and curling it tight against his fist as he keeps pace without hesitation. There is heavy suspicion, in his stare at the back of her head, cloying paranoia that this is some sort of test, but it probably wouldn't matter if it was one or not. Instinct and getting spooked can feel dreadfully similar, sometimes, and even after this moment passes, Francois might still have issue splitting the difference.

The key drops between his fingers, chain caught on a knuckle. "Madame?" A skip ahead has him better aligned with her, offering out the key she left behind. "You left this."

Halting a step out in the hall, McAlister turns and looks down to the key, then sharply exhales an exasperated breath. "Oh my God thank you," Theresa quietly murmurs, reaching over to take the key as she looks askance over her shoulder, then back to Francois. "That would've been my head if I'd left that in the door. Damn, thank you so much." Color graces across Theresa's cheeks as she takes the key, letting her hand brush against Francois' momentarily in the taking of it.

"Seriously, I appreciate it. I'm not used to the new security clearances and I'm always misplacing that damned key," her lips creep up into another, smaller, smile beforre she turns and jerks her head into a nod towards the end of the hall. "C'mon, I think Norton and Salanger are here, you can meet them at the very least. I think they'll like you, Allegre. You're a good guy."

"Pas de problème," Francois dismisses, hands folding together and offering an easy smile as he moves with her towards the end of the hall, giving a slightly bashful nod at her assessment of whether they'll like him or not, mouth pinching in a tolerant line as he glances around. Back over his shoulder at the elevators, clearing his throat a little. "New security measures? Because of new things to secure? That is the, ah, the housing for the trainees or non?"

His questions are light, conversation, in the wake of her gratitude.

"Something like that," is Theresa's frustrated answer as she leads the Frenchman down the hall, tucking that key laden chain into the pocket of her slacks. "I told you we used to do detentions here, before the changeover?" One of the telepath's brows raise as she stops outside of a door, pushing on it from the outside, then groaning when it doesn't open, making a see? gesture as she unclips her security badge from her lapel and slides it through a magnetic lock.

"Well they gave us a new one, out of the blue. Pete's been handling all the affairs related to him, so I don't even know why he's here or what he's doing. In fact, I have a fair reason to believe he's part of some volunteer experiment, we've had more doctors coming and going — no offense meant — " she ensures with a hand gestures towards Francois as she pushes the door open, "than I'd care to deal with."

The door opens to a room discordantly decorated against the Spartan hallway. Hardwood floors, warm mocha colored walls, dim lighting and the sound of cracking billards bouncing around on a table mix with the scent of a cigar hanging in the air. "Boys," is Theresa's greeting as she steps into the room, only to be caught off guard by her greeting only being half right.

Leaning up from the pool table, a young brunette woman with big blue eyes is staring past Theresa at Francois, lips pursed in mid-speech and brows raised behind dark bangs. As she straightens, one hand self-consciously brushes her hair back over the shoulder of her black uniform, a smile fantly ghosting on her lips.

"Hey Terry," the young woman offers as she sets the rubber end of her pool cue down on the floor, "this Doctor Allegre?" She asks with one raised brow, as if suspicious of the notion, or perhaps fishing for intel.

Across the table from her stands a tall and dark-skinned young man with short cropped hair, a single gold ring in one ear, his uniform matches the young woman's. He looks like he's of some mixed Indo-Asian descent, but it's dark to pin down.

"Francois," Theresa offers as she motions to the two, "This is Lillian Weiss and Cody Salinger. Two of our resident trainees. Cody is a psychometer and object reader," and at that he lifts both of his hands, thin black gloves concealing them along with a smile. "Lillian is a recently manifested probability predictor."

What a fantastic combination of powers to run into.

As a spy.

"Volun— ?"

But the question doesn't make it much further out of Francois' mouth by the time they're clearing the hallway and into what looks like a rec room. Which is good, is throat was closing around the word anyway, and a sudden, potentially irrational rageblackout is bad timing. Breathe in, breathe out, hoping that tension translates to shyness by the time he's stepping up alongside McAlister to present himself to the two trainees, switching green eyed gaze from one to the other as introductions are made.

His smile becomes minutely fixed by the time powers are being spoken of too, half of him committing them to memory, the other half short circuiting briefly. "Just Francois. Please," he adds, hands splaying to ward off the title he had been keen to cling to just before. Of course, the telepath to the left of him could have read his mind by now.

As far as he can deduce, she hasn't. "Dr. McAlister was showing me around. It's nice to meet you."

"It's nice to see you too," Cody offers as he leans his pool cue against the table, "Mister Lemay mentioned you'd be coming by, I'm glad we're going to get the opportunity to meet face to face. Oh and," there's a sheepish smile from Cody as he lifts up both hands, "please don't be shy about things around me, I know what kind of stigma carrying an ability like mine can breed but I assure you, I respect the privacy of my co-workers."

Cody's self-deprecating commentary earns a theatrical sigh from Lillian, lifting up one hand and offering it out to Francois. "Don't let his attitude get to you, Francois. Don't let the gloves fool you either, Cody's psychometrics are by proximity not skin to skin contact, the gloves are a social buffer meant to put people at ease." Young as she is, Lillian seems to have an educated and clear cadence to her speech, matter of fact mixed with warmth in unusual measure. Not quite the faceless rape monsters that most people associate with the Institute.

"Thanks," Cody says with a sharp sarcastic edge in response to Lillian, his posture slouching and one hand coming up to scrub at the back of his neck, "That's really— thanks. Now he's going to avoid me."

Clearing her throat Theresa offers a patient smile and a raise of her brows as if to say well, that's them without so many words.

On the topic of paranoia, Francois manages, barely, not to hesitate when it comes to taking Lillian's hand, offering more of a clasp and squeeze than the professional shake he's given Varlane and McAlister. "I shall not. But as long as we are clarifying things, I do not do papercuts, minor bruises or headaches. Life threatening injuries only, s'il vous plait," is offered dryly and with a cut of a half smile, as he retracts his hands and slides them into the pockets of his houndstooth jacket.

"You mentioned Norton? What does he do?" is offered both to the two trainees, and angled towards McAlister as well, back on the rails of what he came here to do, which was to gather — not to react.

"Norton?" One of Cody's brows lift as if not quite figuring out exactly what it is that was asked, but a moment later there's a snap of his fingers and a broad smile. "Oh, Trask!" Exhaling a breathy laugh, Cody waves one hand in the air and offers a thoughtful smile, tucking his hands into the pockets of his track pants as he leans against the billiard's table with his hip.

Lillian offers an askance look back to Cody, one brow raised, then rolls her eyes and turns her attention back to Francois. "Norton Trask, he's a negator. Former New York Police Department too, I think he's on vacation, isn't he?" Blue eyes angle over to Theresa as her brows pinch together, lips purse and shoulders rise and fall into a shrug.

"I forget, he's new here. Or, relatively so, the last month. He's a good guy, a little on the quiet side but he fits in well enough." While Lillian offers a bright smile to Francois at that comment, Cody seems to have his own input on the matter that is voiced only as raised brows and a blown-out sigh as he walks over to the ashtray where a cigar is burning, then boosts himself up onto a stool.

"These two and Norton will be your team members," Theresa notes with a fold of her arms across her chest, "and it's good to see you're already lining up with not letting them take advantage of your ability. Francois here," Theresa clarifies, "is a healer. A pretty miraculous one at that," and that has only a tiny touch of incredulity in it, as if wonderng why he's here and not off saving cancer kids.

"Oh, that's fantastic," Lillian exclaims, folding her hands behind her back and rocking forward on the toes of her boots. "Better for when Lemay gets us all battered and bruised in training or— I guess— if we're missing an arm from the sounds of it." Her nose wrinkles, as if teasingly passing judgment on Francois for not wanting to heal her bumps and bruises.

Francois' hands splay in guiltlessness this time. "The day you lose an arm, you will be glad I did not expend the energy, ah?" 'Out of my hands', says a vague wave, though a smile remains to seal the impression that he's jesting. He's really not, of course, of course, but no one has to know that. Though they probably could. If they wanted to. There's a glance back towards Theresa, as if to check in that incredulity did not settle in her expression, become a permanent feature. Fingers fidget to fix the sit of his sleeves.

"Please, don't let me interrupt your game. I should probably think about going soon before it gets much darker." There's a hesitation, a glance from Lillian to Cody as he adds, "She should be difficult to play pool with, non?"

"Should," Cody admits with a furrow of his brows, "this is actually a trust exercise, we're studying the ethical application of Evolved abilities and— " Cody's long and detailed answer for politeness and completeness' sake is interrupted when Lillian sidles by and reaches up to pinch his nose between two fingers and promptly declare:


It's hard to have any dignity left after that, and as the brunette slides back on scuffing footfalls away from Cody, she's picking up her pool cue and offering a smile to Francois. "I just saved you from a lecture, you can thank me with a coffee or something sometime, once you get settled in?" One of Lillian's brows raise with an inquisitive expression on her face that Theresa quickly shoots down.

"Any way," has an air of irritation to it that might be directed at the skinny little brunette sidling up all nice-nice with Francois. "I'll show you the medical wing and then we can get you out of here," Theresa blusters as she practically pushes Francois out of the door.

There's an apologetic glance skimmed over to Cody, forehead wrinkling in some sympathy, even as he's opening his mouth to either deny or accept the invitation for coffee from Lillian — but McAlister is saving him from that dilemma, offering only a quick wave to the two before he allows for hustling, the fall of his footsteps light as he heads for what is presumably the medical wing. Itching to get to his car and right some shit down more than he is to check out the details of what might have been his workplace, in another life—

But patience has gotten him this far, and as habit would have it, he's taking a look around as he goes, stepping aside for Theresa to resume leading the way.

Stepping out of the lounge, Theresa offers an apologetic if not thin smile to Francois before she turns and begins heading down that dreary looking corridor again to take a turn at the very end just past the door they'd come out of. Rounding the corner, there's another elevator in clear view of Francois that is passed right by. The caged metal elevator looks to be used for moving freight, likely how heavy medical equipment is moved into a basement.

If he's understood Margaret's maps right, the elevator leads up to the shipping bay at the back. A quick, cursory look inside of the elevator notes that it doesn't have a security key lock on it. It's obvious that the security on this building is much more bark than bite, and that corners may have been cut given the facility's overall low importance.

When Theresa pushes open the door to the medical wing, there is perhaps a small sense of respect for the fully furnished surgery facility. Clean tables, sterile tools, medicine and good lights. The Ferrymen would kill for even half of this setup for their own, but instead they must sit in squalor and dark and risk infection for their wounded, all for the sake of personal liberties.

There is perhaps in that no small surprise why Francois chose the side he did.

"It's not much to look at," is Theresa's unintentional smack in the face to the Ferrymen's need. "But I think you'll be able to make more than good use of it."

"Non, it's more than adequate." This, tossed over a shoulder as Francois steps in a little further, gaze skimming over reflective surfaces and halo lights, seeking out more the dark shapes of cameras or anything that might allow a second set of eyes through this way as fingertips dance along the edge of a work bench, before he's cautious to keep his hands to himself, palms together and fingertips interlaced. His mind still lagging back with the freight elevator and the directions of the roads and open space outside.

Catches up, soon enough. There's a pang, for the Ferry. Resolution to do better at squirreling out supplies from St. Luke's, maybe donating to the clinic in Gun Hill or leaving them under the care of Eileen. He's rather sure that Endgame has funds, at least.

Exhaling a deep sigh through her nose, Theresa offers Francois a fond smile, if not somewhat tired, when she makes her way over to him in the lab. "That about covers everything, really. It's a breath of fresh air to see you here, Francois. You've got a good way about you," she admits with a smile, unaware that Francois is looking past her, to the whirring camera dome in the middle of the hall. It's hard to tell which direction its looking in, and that itself could be a problem.

"If you want, I'll take you on back upstairs so you can get on your way." Theresa seems to have abated in her persistance about trying to find Francois an ~alternative~ place to stay for the night, and her disappointment rings audible in her tone of voice.

"Uness there was anything else you wanted to see why I got you down here?"

One brow rises. Maybe she's not entirely done.

Intent to go home, despite promising tildes around ~alternative~, Francois catches an exhale in his throat that's something a lot like a chuckle, absently skimming knuckles against stainless steel surface beside his hip. "That is everything, I think," he lies, after spending an artless second trying to think of a graceful way to skim into conversation that might directly tell him where Teodoro is. But it's a bit like handing over the forgotten elevator key.

Investment for the future. "Thank you, so much, for your welcome. I have no idea why I was so nervous for this day," he says, turning his back on the medical wing, and heading for out.

Were Theresa McAlister more alert to the possibilities of snakes within the tall grass, she would have been the one to root out Francois Allegre. But her telepathy is a uniquely invested kind, one that requires prolonged eye contact and visible exertion on her part. Unfortunately for Theresa, she won't be locking eyes and exerting anything with Francois tonight.

His secret is safe. Now he just needs to find a way to wield his secret like a weapon.

To save Teo.

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