Awkward And Necessary


delilah_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Awkward And Necessary
Synopsis The title describes a conversation between Delilah and Francois.
Date April 18, 2011

Manhattan: Docks

The rain comes off and on, like maybe it doesn't so much as stop as have pause between each sheet of silver water, as relentless as many things in New York City seems to be. A minor break in the weather brings about relief enough for Francois Allegre to swoop down the big black umbrella he'd been using in a metallic sheen of water runoff, shaking out like batwings before folding up just as efficiently, handle wooden and practical. He's in street clothes of denims and leathers and cottons, the wind coming in cold off the river as the ferry comes in, and he eyes the minor presence of security that gives a more cursory check of people going off and on than it does on the other side.

As far as he knows, he isn't a publicly wanted man. But he's broken enough laws to be nervous.

Paranoid, others might call it. Manhattan stretches as a gradual backdrop behind him, a little noisy this far south of the crater and at a sane time of day, well away from either curfew gateway. Stepping around the puddles gathered in asphalt as far as he can help it, the Frenchman wanders closer to where rickety metal gates fence off the wider dock area to where the Eltingville residents, and other Staten Island live ins, are herding on out into the wider world. The day is grey and so are the people, and so it's for a splash of colour that he searches.

Francois isn't disappointed by his expectations; his search of the mottled figures yields a couple lighter ones of more heather gray, and then finally the one that sticks out like a sore thumb. Delilah's coat covers the top half, but the garden of color that is her long skirt gives her away. There's no umbrella for her, rather, a big hood for herself, and Walter wearing an enveloping little yellow poncho coat, its hem like a shroud for the arm that holds him close. There is an orange bill on the hood, a pair of googly white eyes at the seam. There is, at least, a baby carrier on under her open coat, but Delilah Trafford is confident in her ability to carry a baby through drizzly weather.

Though looking across the ground for the same someone looking for her, her attention is torn between her task and Walter, jabbering something about the wetness of his hands, supposedly. Backpack hitched onto both shoulders, the hooded girl is turning him around so that they can look down into a rather large puddle formed in the asphalt, as silver as a mirror.

Slinging umbrella up to rest against his shoulder, Francois makes his way over once he spies the woman amongst the crowd. Nervous, a little — she is possibly the last loose end that he has neglected to tie off in his return. Eileen had to seek out Teodoro to run into him on accident, and the same went for Abby and her home invasion of his backyard during his sweeping off the ice. Returning was never something Francois could say he specialises in. Taking in the sight of her, inevitably his attention goes to the infant in her arms, enwrapped as he is in disguising yellow and orange.

Cute. Precious, really. His mouth twists in secret amusement as he approaches, sidestepping the rattling carriage of another family, one of slightly more convention, plastic like a rooftop over the toddler inside and already beaded with rain. Snags his attention, briefly, before looking back at her, close enough not to greet with Europeanly musical; "Bonjour madame."

Dee wasn't angry with his inability to produce himself, just disappointed. But there's nothing she can do, and funnily enough, it is in the past. Walter eyeballs the puddle his mother is pointing to, face bent into an expression that seems to say 'okay, mum, it's a puddle, why are you showing me?'. He doesn't quite get it yet. He will, once he learns that puddles splash. And then he will also learn the term 'dry clean only'. Hopefully by then, he has means of escape. Lilah seems to know that someone is watching her, because she peers up, nearly right at him, before he greets her. She only needs to move her eyes to the next frame, mouth moving from a thoughtful line into a bright smile.

"Bonjour monsieur." Hey, she knows maybe- a few phrases- which is good enough, for now. Delilah moves to close the distance, before Francois really has a moment to. The baby perched in her arms, head on her shoulder, watches her face before swiveling his head around to look too. That is, after he grabs onto a lock of Dee's hair. "Ouch, ouch-"

She's ambushed, then, because Francois swoops in swift and gentle enough to deliver a cheek kiss to the other side, a hand landing as light as a bird on her arm, her hood almost slipping back as a result. The puddle ripples where he steps closer to do so, and he's a little damp all over, despite the industrial umbrella, clinging rain to dark hair made darker and webbed into the weave of the woolen collar on leather jacket. "It is good to see you again," he says, in that ever polite simplicity and stilted formality that can sound false on other people.

He's always good at sounding genuine despite this, and most of the time, he is — like now, telling in the lines that come with accompanying smile. "We have not been formally introduced," he says, of the baby — and really, it's a baby. There is little to recognise save for the basics, the chosen colours that make him up, all four limbs in place, etc.

Doesn't make it any less strange.

Busy with reaching her hand to take her hair from a little fist, Francois has ample space with which to work his European charm. Maybe she wasn't expecting the enthusiasm, as per what is enthusiasm for Francois in the first place. Whichever the case, she lets out a puff of a laugh, pressing her cheek into the gesture, face dimpled with her smile. They are both a little damp all over, really. Dee won't notice any more drips.

"It's good to see you too, finally.. I hope you've been well, Francois." A tiny jab at his lack of presence, but she leaves it at only that. "That you haven't." Okay, so maybe there's a little more in that too. At least the girl is still smiling honestly through it all.

"Francois, Walter. Walter, Francois." Delilah lifts up the hand that had been grabbing onto her, and Walter presents one little five-fingered fist in a puppeted wave, just for the Frenchman. His big blue eyes echo his father, while for now, the rest is all Trafford hair and freckles. He says a few monosyllabic things, giving Francois an odd look, terribly hard to read.

"I have been variously bruised and neglectful of others," Francois says, with a more halved smile, this time, more wry than easy warmth. He could press the point, that he's been totally trying to save the world since he got back so she can forgive him re: heroism, but he tends to see Flint Deckard's ratchet-cut scowl at these deviations towards egoism and stills his tongue. Besides, it's no real excuse. "But well enough, yes. Bonjour, Walter." A hand drifts to her elbow, then, the other going out with a sweep of folded umbrella.

Shall we? Not that either of them have urgent appointment, but to get out of the milling crowd, perhaps, for all that they have the rain covered should it come thundering back down. "Did anyone tell you what happened?" Anyone could be Abby. Teo. Reynard.

"With you? I know that Hiro supposedly took you…" Delilah sidles nearer to him as he gestures, prepared to follow him with baby in arms. Though Walter seems very interested in the umbrella, watching it swing about from his perch. She doesn't continue for a moment, an evident mix of sadness and something more disgruntled, reserved for the Nakamura man. "But nobody told me what happened after, really- just- you were back, one day." She was also busy with her son at that point, and even if she had wanted desperately to see Francois, it may have been difficult at that time. Even so, it has been months since. Now is a good a time as any, isn't it? Fine.

"I just thought that maybe- it was better to not ask questions. Take the blessing as it was." Delilah looks slightly up at his face, with her own wry little smile. "So does this mean you want to tell me, or are you just finding out what you still have to keep from me?" Motherhood has been sharpening her intuition, though she might claim that half of it was taming Sable Diego, not raising an infant. "I know some things are best kept secret."

"A little of both."

Francois will cede to your powers, Delilah, as they wander, moving at a more liesured pace than the rest of the bustly New Yorkers — which is mostly the male's fault, lead meandering and more caught up on her words and his response to charge on for shelter. "We were not supposed to say, in any case, of the blessing. It was not Hiro, but someone with a power like Hiro's, and that is a secret best kept by few." He doesn't say but out loud, but he does tip his head some and focus his sights ahead of them as they move. His elbow brushes her's, keeping close.

Hands wring, more nervously, the sombre wooden handle of his umbrella. "He said his name is Reynard. I believe he has occasionally been seen around the Ferry network."

Delilah's immediate reaction to hearing about someone like Hiro out there is not a surprising one. Her eyelids arch open more, and through the bewildered look she listens, intent on learning more. It brings a host of other things to the table- things that she only let on she was truly scared for the other day, privately, to Sable. Time and space isn't a toy, not when you have someone to look out for. She stays equally close to him as they walk, baby curled against her and a worried expression threatening behind her eyes when he explains further.

It's good that this guy is supposedly on their side, but does anyone actually know him? She hasn't heard of him, though maybe that is the point.

"He must be with the others, the name doesn't ring a bell. Sorry. Why tell me now, if you've been back? Did he leave again?" That is the most sensible thing that Delilah can think of, that he is gone and Francois doesn't need to worry about telling someone else. Somehow, the wringing of hands makes it less likely it is that simple, an observation made in the back of her head.

A shrug seesaws on either shoulder, casting her a regretful twist of a smile. "I think he is in trouble," Francois says, after a moment. "Injured, when I saw him a week and more ago, but he was gone before I could help. Perhaps it is— a lot of responsibility, to do what he can do. I thought perhaps if you saw him before me again, you could help him." Explanation as to why is pending. Or forthcoming. Francois talks around things, to the frustration of relationships, platonic and romantic, past and present. Speaking of which—

"He appears to not be from this time, as I am not either, but in another direction. And more than only a decade, I think. I know. I believe it is the truth, anyway, so does Teo. The only thing he has lied about is his name, which is not Reynard. It is Walter."

There's an explanation to be expected, when Francois mentions that maybe Delilah would be able to help this man he is talking about; she is a helpful, welcoming person, but when it comes to injured men flitting through open space, she isn't an expert. He has more experience with both, in fact. Delilah gives the man a dubious little look when he implicates her as involved. Subconsciously, her hands adjust themselves on the baby, shifting him to the other arm and allowing his hands to find the plastic beads of a necklace under her coat collar, bright red pearl shapes that he grabs onto, fingers making attempts at finer motor skills.

Coincidence is a tricky thing. It dictates that cutely cultural middle names can match the same ones used by rogues and troublemakers because of a common literary link. It dictates that people can meet, and not know that the other one is going to later become a key figure in their life. It dictates that coincidence itself, essentially, can also be a bond of kismet- destiny- fate- whatever you might like to call it. And it even dictates that sometimes, a few words can send blood rushing into your ears, a loud, pounding wave that really only permits a stuttering response and feet that move nowhere.

"Wh- pardon?"

Francois' hand curls around her free elbow as they walk, comfortably companiable but also a precaution. Delilah does not seem the swooning type, but she is holding— Walter— and her face has gone a different colour in subtle hues in time for the percussion in her ears.

Meanwhile, he doesn't look like he's kidding — this close, there's the missed edges of stubble graining along his throat and jaw where he gets lazy about it when unemployed, and the distant suggestions of healed bruises making discolouration in the dip of eye socket. But not kidding, most certainly, but he does seem to be aware he is implying the ridiculous, with a comma of expression indented next to his mouth, the way he isn't really looking at her directly.

"His name is Walter Trafford, and he cited you as someone he would rescue. And Teo. His family." He won't go into how she's a grandma. Maybe he'll leave that one at the door of her wayward future son. Or present day son, for all that he's only charming the ladies in a certain way at this age. "He said it is why he rescued me at all."

For all the time that Francois has known Delilah, he reads her well; not that it takes terribly much to be able to read her. Generally her emotions are always so positive. So when that faint look of mixed dread and shock comes around between her features, it is distinctly- new. The tiny fingers playing with her necklace tickle at her skin like needles, painfully there. Initially, Lilah tries to take a half step back, only to remember where she is by the root of hand at her arm.

The redhead has a sharp intake of breath, filling her lungs abruptly, looking once down at her son- intensely so- and then up to look harder at Francois. Maybe daring him to say 'you should have seen your face!'. He doesn't, much to her silent disappointment. Dee can feel the dryness in her mouth, all of a sudden, when her tongue moves to wet it. She glances back down, but this time at their wet shoes.

"I didn't want to think about what Samson said. I told myself it had to be Hiro-" And she believed it. "But this…" This makes her feel lightheaded, and the hand on the baby's back shivers out of something that isn't the cold. "That's his middle name, you know. I haven't told anyone, figured it's something for him to decide. But it's- on his certificate." Because this verification is apparently more important than the fact he has come back in time.

"Rescue?" That isn't the only part that she doesn't understand, but first things first.

There is vague and vaguely selfish relief that there is something Delilah knows enough for Francois' words to make some sense, intriguing lighting illumination behind his eyes, but he doesn't press while that question snags onto the break in conversation. "Ah, oui. It was Hiro that brought me here, ten years forward. He seemed to— change his mind, perhaps, and felt it was a mistake, and took it back by bringing me to 1954, where I would have been had I aged as a normal man. France, even.

"Re— Walter helped Teo bring me back, once Teo found where I must be. It is a, ah. Convoluted story. Which did not help my motivation in seeking people again." A twitch of a weak smile, but hey, she's holding his hero step-son in her arms, which is a good enough diversion.

His own attention diverts to the child, even, happily oblivious to all this talk of his own future. "Perhaps, should he meet you, he will tell you more than he told us."

"So Teo went with him." There's something poetic about that, and despite the rattling headache she smiles weakly. "Did you- either of you- know who he was?" If he told her that, she missed it. How long has he known? And not told her? The story didn't help his wanting to see others, but how much of Delilah was that he didn't want to spill the beans on …Walter. Mother hugs her son tighter, subconsciously and perfectly protective. Why? She's not sure yet, but it probably has something to do with the red dot.

"He- you mean he's- just- wandering around somewhere? Injured?" Harried and also some marginal awe- a different kind of worry from the one for a Hiro suddenly bursting into her hall closet to steal a sword that- well- it's not his anymore, she supposes. Never was, if what Samson Gray said was in fact, face value.

"So he's- wandering around God knows where, and he may or may not actually come see me. How perfect." That's sarcasm, by the way, even though considering, she seems to be taking this in stride. A thought does occur to her, however, a moment after she resorts to bitter; her voice changes, soft as Francois is regarded with brown eyes. "Is he …scared to come to me, maybe?"


Lying would be ungentlemanly at this point. "I only found out the last time I saw him," Francois says, voice quiet and thus rough, as it tends to get. "He had been shot, in the shoulder. A muscle wound. Last I saw, it was a little old, but clean, kept for. It should be closed, and so if you do see him, tell him so for me, s'il vous plait. But he had been so dreading, I think, saying anything to myself and Teo, but something made him do so — he said that in all his time, he never interfered, when going back.

"So it is changed, now, I do not know how. But he fled, for all that we did not present him with reason to do so. So perhaps it is even more difficult, to visit his mother." A hand goes up, a sympathetic one, and snags an errant lock of red escaped her hood, to tuck it back into place. "If I see him first, I will stick him with negation drug and frog march him to Eltingville. But if you see him first, and you get passed the conversation that you must have, you can tell him I am sorry."

For what, he doesn't specify, but maybe he isn't sure either. Walter didn't explain, exactly. That hand drifts to rest on her back as they walk, Francois going quiet to let her speak, reflective in his pause.

There is anger, and sadness, and these are two emotions that Delilah is sparse with; but in the end, she is simply- overwhelmed. So that she doesn't dwell on what she is angry about, or what she is sad for, she takes the moment that the walk creates to try and put an image together in her head, even going so far as to peer down at the baby boy's fat cheeks and big blue eyes. His hand has gone from playing with her necklace to below the top of her blouse. Okay, yeah, she can understand not wanting to see her- not only is she his mother, he'd have to see himself too(doing things like groping said mother).

"Not so fast." Delilah laughs, though she does not go any farther than half-hearted admonishment.

"God, no, don't march him into Eltingville." Something that Delilah would never do is make someone with that kind of ability walk through a checkpoint. "It sounds like at least I put some kind of values in him, right? Or maybe Magnes read him Ninth Wonders. I'd like to think it was me, though." Her voice is soft again, more ponderous than anything. Francois has successfully told her what he felt she needed to know, though it won't stop her from thinking about anything and everything all at once.

That gets laughter, a little lightness from Francois that is more genuine than before, a swift smile that tells of a kind of youth he doesn't actually possess. "He is his own person, I feel. In the little time I saw," he says. "But he is father, his mother. There is much of Teo in his manner, but I am sure he has your heart. You will see for yourself in time, I am sure." Okay, okay — Francois won't march him to Eltingville. Maybe to the docks, at the very least, or just tie him to something until Delilah can get there, but—

By rights, it won't be necessary. Francois hesitates, then notes, with a hint of smugness that is neither forced nor well hidden, "But he can speak French."

A radiator is a tried and true method of chaining someone down. A bit warm, but it works. Delilah of course would not condone tying him down either. If he is who and what Francois has said he is- a grown man- can make his own decisions. Maybe with a little help from his friends.

"I'll be honest, I'm trying to not yank my hood down over my head and deny we had this conversation. And forget the one I had with mister Gray, and forget that he gave me an honest to goodness katana for my baby shower. Deny that I ever drew blood and saw the red. I'm trying very hard, because if none of these things happened, I'd be a normal woman with a normal little boy in a relatively normal little life. But as much as it is tempting…"

Delilah laughs again, less strained, when monsieur Allegre states the most important fact. This man- Walter, allegedly- can speak French. "I bet that's a lead-on for renaissance man." The baby in her grasp wiggles himself around, peering at the umbrella that Francois carries in his hand, then up to the crown of his own head where there is an orange bill protruding. Walter's hand goes up, investigating the plastic rim.

"Ah. You would suit normal. I suspect most of us would. But then we would not be all together as we are."

Francois certainly wouldn't be. Dead in 1994, or much earlier still, perhaps in Dachau, or not at all — an elderly man who was a doctor in France for a while rather than the healer-soldier he otherwise went for for virtue of having super powers. He likes this option, and a shrug with an affectation of shyness communicates as such as he lapses into quietness. He has said his piece, and this is where he offers to— maybe drive her somewhere, on his illegal license, or get a coffee. Mind veers elsewhere.

"I'll trade you. That umbrella-" Delilah leans her hand in to tease the wrist of the one holding onto it, departing a moment after. "For this duck." Meaning, that she wants him, before doing anything else, to hold his stepson. "He hasn't got his feathers in, so you can't let him down, you see. He can't fly yet." The redhead turns slightly, pulling them both to a halt and all but holding him out to the Frenchman. Awkward, given the conversation- though completely necessary.

"He cannot? That presents less problems, I feel."

Meanwhile, it's a nice umbrella, with sturdy prongs and thick black coverage, but Francois is probably getting the better end of the trade. His smile is crooked at her gesture, and when hesitation comes, it's more at logistics than unwant or discomfort — he isn't bad with children generally, especially when they don't expect to hold a conversation yet. The umbrella winds up hooked on her arm, freeing both his hands to receive the child within the duck, an arm safely beneath and around. The, "merci," is a polite interjection that goes with any exchange.

But it also comes with brief, fleeting eye contact, before his focus squares solely on the infant version of the Walter he'd seen. It's the blue eyes that is the most jarring, but— it's easy to split the difference. Fingertips marvel over the smallness of a hand.

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