Bad Futures


cardinal_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Bad Futures
Synopsis Cardinal and Francois talk of the aftermath of the Institute raid, and wind up discussing recruitment instead.
Date August 21, 2010

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

It's late, by the time anyone— tangible— rattles at the doors of the brownstone home, near identical to the others that press shoulders with it down the West Village avenue, with its thin walkways and wrought iron. Late evening light from both the moon in the sky and successfully operating streetlamps shards in bare illumination through closed curtains, but these ghostly attempts to break through the darkness are carelessly flooded away when Francois' fingers seek out the living room light.

It's a clean space, with small signs of clutter like the scattering of paper messiness that makes the dining table unusuable from its original function; clean, drying dishes that might get put away, or might not; folded clothing in the tucked away laundry that remain in a similar limbo.

Only one person lives here, really, and takes about as much care of the place as is strictly necessary, stubborn against allowing it to slide into disrepair but not attempting to impress anyone either. Francois shoulders himself out of a light jacket and hangs it up, formerly pulled over the more formal lines of work clothing, a tucked in shirt that, the first thing he does, is untuck it out of the waist of slate grey slacks, wrestle himself out of sensible shoes, and pad socked feet for the kitchen as he undoes his cuffs to roll sleeves to his elbows.

Brown leather messenger bag is noisily swung up to land atop dining room table, left to slide partially but catch itself before it falls all the way.

A sharp rap of knuckles upon the door herald the arrival of an unexpected guest, although the most unexpected thing about it might be that Cardinal actually bothered knocking rather than just sliding into the room and appearing within.

He's been trying to be better about that.

A pair of dress slacks and a black t-shirt are worn by the man on the other side of the door, the disheveled look suggesting a tale of someone who started changing out of a more businesslike outfit and gave up half-way through before throwing on a t-shirt and calling it a day. And shades, of course. Always shades.

A look is thrown back over Francois' shoulder in the direction of a knock on the door, tempted to ignore it despite the obvious signal that someone is home as indicated by the warm indoor light pressing against his curtains and making patterns on the open eyes of his front windows. It does take a good several seconds of staring into the fridge and deciding that nothing there is of worth to bother with so immediately that he can't answer the door, and despite the tightening knot of strange anxiety low in his gut, Francois retraces his steps.

Does pick up a handgun stashed conveniently on his way there, even since his first home invasion. You never can be too careful.

The door is opened about three inches, the glimmer of one green eye barely visible before Francois is opening the door the rest of the way, rue making expressive commas at the corners of his smile when he sees who it is, and he makes a little bit of effort to hide the shape of handgun against his thigh. So he stands, feet in argyle patterns, and armed. "Bonsoir, monsieur."

A dip of Cardinal's gaze touches the gun at his side, and he nods a little — either in recognition, approval, or both. "Francois," he greets in affable tones, his head tilting towards the opened door in an easy little gesture, "Sorry for just showing up like this. Liz has your address. You mind if I come in?"

He gestures with a thumb back over his shoulder, then, "If you're busy or something, I can come back later."

The safety was already on and so nothing needs to be clicked or depressed back into place, as Francois opens the door wider for admittance and doesn't deign to use the weapon to gesture with — a head tilt, instead, in invitation. "I'm not busy," accompanies the gesture, before Francois is abandoning the front door entirely to allow Cardinal in at his own time. The immediate front door opens into its small foyer, the staircase directly in front of it zigzaggingly disappearing into the second storey, but off the left, the living room and dining area opens up, a kitchen sealed off with a counter, and all of which is lit in low yellow light.

The gun is set down on breakfast bar, not out of reach. "I wasn't expecting company," is used to dismiss the clutter of some of the surfaces, because Cardinal might— care, or something.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition." It's a humorous reference that - probably - is entirely lost on someone who missed the glory years of Monty Python. Cardinal's hand slides up the door's edge as he steps within, pushing it closed behind him and making sure it's locked. One can never be too careful.

A chuckle, faint, his head shaking as he walks along slowly within, looking around himself to take in the environs of the man's home. "Don't worry about it. I've lived in far worse. You should see what Liz's apartment was starting to look like before we got the new building."

Within kitchen, but not cut off from the rest of the space, Francois leans his arms against the dividing bar, absently picking up envelopes and sorting them, some opened and some not. Bills. Letters. Boring, mundane, printed things that he can only deal with so much of before going insane. It would be nice if his ~roommate~ was around again to help him take care of it, and Abby's out of town too. He missed Monty Python, as well as normal living particulars that comes with owning a home, having a career.

Like taxes. "That's kind of you to say," he notes. "What can I do for the Spanish Inquisition this evening, though?"

"That little… rescue operation got pretty crazy near the end," Cardinal says quietly, cutting straight to the heart of the matter as he glances over the scattered envelopes being sorted, then looks back to him with a subtle furrowing of his brow, "I never heard— did they get Teo out?"

There's an awkward pause, "Ah. Either of him?"

A wrinkle of tension shows in Francois' brow, a glance down at the unsorted documents in his hands as he absently sheaths them together by order of date, for want of something to fidget with. "We got Teo out," he responds, head tilting a little. "As well as the other names of those we knew were captured. Only, ah. A Teo. A check of the floor didn't find anything, and when I saw him— " He shrugs. "He didn't have his scars anymore. I thought it was the copy, the one he was meant to go into, and he recognised me.

"It was a bad judgment, however. So we have one, and it is, in many ways, Teo. Just not the one I know. I can explain more but it may make less sense," he adds, with a crooked smile.

"I know the feeling. If I tried to explain half the things I know, I'd sound ridiculous…" A rueful note to Cardinal's voice at that, his head shaking just a little, "…I think I understand a little, though. I, uh. I know about Ghost, although I don't really comprehend how all that's been working out since then."

A hand comes up to rub to the side of his head, "I'll keep an ear out for other - uh - hims, then."

Francois splays his fingers a little in a shruggish gesture, a nod of acknowledgment for the name that Cardinal repeats. "There is Teo. Then there is Ghost. Then there is the one that came to be when the two were mixed together — mine." It's a simple laying of claim, not designed to make anyone comfortable, but a fact — it's the only Teo that Francois has ever met, past and present. "The one we freed is the first. There is now also Ghost walking the streets, possessing the body of someone else. He believes that the third is still alive and kept."

He shakes his head, sets envelopes aside and moves for the fridge. "Who knows if that is true, and what he'd have to gain by telling of such a thing, but oui, I would appreciate it if you hear anything. I am not so opimistic. Would you like a drink? There is wine— red— and beer."

"Alright, ther…" Wait. Wait. Cardinal pauses, his brow lining a bit, "There's… three Teodoros?" There's something of a headache heralded in that question, his expression somewhat pained. "Well. He never was a simple type've person."

He closes his eyes behind the shades, and nods once, "Beer. Yeah, beer sounds good, thanks, Francois… heh." A look back over, one hand lifting in a wave across the room, "You know, if it wasn't for Teo, I wouldn't be involved in any of this?"

Twin green bottles are taken from the fridge, making simple work of removing metal caps that clatter into the sink, the implement used for it set aside before he returns to the counter. One set down for Cardinal to take, the other kept.

"Mm," Francois says, at first, a fond kind of sound, before he takes a swig of beer. American in brand and in taste, as opposed to the European titles briefly visible on the wine bottles when he'd opened the fridge. "I think that is true for me also. Abigail and Eileen were the ones that brought me here — Hiro Nakamura also. But Teo introduced me to the Apollo missions. Et toi?"

A gloved hand sweeps out to pick up the bottle, and Cardinal brings it up in a casual salute before tilting it to his lips for a brief swig. Once he's swallowed it, he gestures with it towards the other man. "Nakamura… guy worries the shit out of me. Never know what he's doing in the background."

He grins, then, "I walked into a bar to get a drink, and found Flint Deckard putting a gun to Teo's head."

The way Francois' mouth twists expresses some amount of agreement with Cardinal's assessment of Hiro, for all that the time traveler saved his life — it's intimidating to have someone who can so easily shape it too. It's a subject he leaves alone for the time being, in favour of hearing Cardinal's story — and both eyebrows go up at this concise summary. "…he has queer choices in friends," he notes, a little helplessly. "But I suppose that is par for the course these days."

"Actually, that was the old man being a friend," Cardinal admits with a slight shake of his head, "In a weird sort've way— see, he had x-ray vision, and recently Teo'd been to a healer. It got rid of a plate he used to have in his head, so Deckard thought he was some sort've impostor." And the fact that he can tell a story like this means that the world has gone insane. "Anyway, I was so curious I started looking into them, and… well, here I am."

He shakes his head again, taking a swig of beer, "What about you? How're you — adjusting?"

Oh. Francois' ongoing narrative that Flint Deckard is a terrible person marginally derailed, he takes a sip of beer, studies the gathering of moisture up the long neck of the bottle, and then the ring of it made on the breakfast bar. He uses a telephone bill to lay across it, soak up the excess moisture, and lay the blunt end of his drink upon it instead. "To?" he asks, without glancing up.

"The world?" Cardinal's brows both raise a little bit, "I mean, it hasn't been that long since you were… what, like, the fifties? Hell, even I have trouble keeping up with life and everything sometime, it must be even weirder for you."

"Non, you are correct. The world changes swiftly. I was rescued in 1994," Francois notes, indicating, perhaps, the linear nature of time by dragging the curved bottom of beer bottle a few inches across the surface he leans against. "But I grew up in the thirties, mainly. Moved to America in the fifties. In many ways, it's where I remain, some of the sensibilities. But there are fundamentals that have remained constant — take the Institute, par exemple. That had its roots in the 1940s and has not changed, or it has not changed in the ways it needed to."

A shrug, but he doesn't go to drink again during the pause he constructs as he thinks. "Things are quicker, but that only serves for people to make the same mistakes with great speed. As for my adjustment— it is not easy, but I have kind and patient friends."

"I never really got the… full story," admits Cardinal with a rueful shake of his head, tilting his beer towards the other man, "I've been so busy trying to change the future over and over that - well, some things fall through the cracks. God. You must've seen a lot, in your time - a lot of changes…"

A slow shake of his head, "Well— hopefully we can keep some of those mistakes from recurring."

"The phones got smaller," Francois notes, in a lighter tone, suggestion of a smile. It's a repeated joke, the marveling about how the unwieldy brick-things of the early 90s transformed into things worn like a shell against the ear, sleek devices folded in half, or three times. A blink acts as agreement about preventing the repetition of mistakes, but one feathery brush of eyebrow goes up at the comment that came before. "If you would like to know, I spent a few decades trying to preserve a future," he says, conversationally. "I met Hiro Nakamura in the fifties, and he told me how it was— not my destiny, to vanquish Kazimir Volken.

"And so I did not, in return for his saving my life both then and later. So that one day, Abigail would. I do not know if it was a correct decision. Maybe things would be better now. Or maybe it never mattered. What is so special about the future?"

"It's the only thing we've got." A swig of beer's taken Cardinal's weight sinking against the breakfast bar in a bit of a lean, his head shaking slowly, "The future, plain and simple, is hope. The hope that things can get better. That our children, if we have any, will have a better life than we did… or someone else's kids, anyway."

A wry look back to him, "That's what we do. We see the bad futures and try to fix them."

That gets some silent consideration, a tipping point, if you will, as if Francois is considering whether to take such words seriously or dismiss them entirely. His gaze drops away, off passed Cardinal's shoulder to regard the primly empty space of his livingroom. "I almost imagine that I am already in a bad future," he notes. "And I cannot say if there was anything I could have done to change it, but it would have been— difficult to think in such terms." A glance back, a tilt of a smile, and he upends his beer for another sip.

"Then there's the future further than this one. If I am alive long enough to see it, I would see it be better. My vision— c'est difficile à expliquer. Do you see a lot of bad futures?"

"You'd be surprised." Cardinal's thumb taps absently against the neck of the beer bottle he's holding, his gaze on it, "We… do our best. I wasn't invited on Apollo, actually, there were— arrangements made. Kershner was rather vexed." A twitch of his lips, wry amusement, "The nuclear bomb was one. Pinehearst was another. This one - November 8th - is the next."

There is fondness for Kershner, of all people, in the way Francois' eyes go mildly crescent at this news, a soft and quiet chuckle through long nose, as the edge of his thumbnail overturns the edge of the lable plastered to beer bottle. "Ah, oui, that is an immediate future. Problem. You will have to work swiftly. I— " Something— remarkably obvious, granted— occurs to him then, hesitation and then amusement sparking through weary green eyes. "Elisabeth is a part of this, oui? No wonder she has no time for herself."

"She is." A slight nod from Cardinal, "You might be surprised where we have allies. When it comes right down to it, most people… want the world to still be here, at the end of the day, and preferably at least recognizable." He grimaces a bit, "We're trying. There's just only so much we can do. A lot of food on the plate, not enough to eat it."

"You do not go only halfway with your burdens," Francois notes, after a second of study, glimmering doubt although it's vanished the next second, quick as salmon in a stream. "I have lended my assistance to the Ferry, out of a belief of the good they do. If you need a set of hands, you could have mine. I do not know what use you might have for a surgeon who can shoot straight, when it comes to changing futures, but there it is. I do not have a lot of love for November the eighth, and the things that are already happening in its name."

"No… no, we don't." It's always we when he's discussing it. It isn't an ego thing, or at least not in that sense. He acknowledges his team freely. Cardinal's gaze flickers over— and a faint smile twitches to his lips. "You underestimate yourself," he says quietly, "You're more than just a surgeon who can shoot straight. You might know… better than any of us… the danger that's coming. You lived through something similar."

A half-smile, then, one of appreciation and boring modesty, but inevitable too. "I try not to oversell myself. No one should. But I would help you, if you believe that of me," Francois grants, with a nod towards him, not exactly shy— only reserved. He pushes his weight back up from the counter, sipping back the frothy dregs of his beer and using the edge of his hand to wipe his mouth, turning to set the emptied container off and to the side, making a small, futuristic city out of twin empty wine bottles, skyscraper long necks and gleaming a similar dark green. "Especially if your immediate goals consist of finishing this Institute also."

"Oh." Cardinal looks to Francois over the edge of his shades, his eyes glinting hard as steel, "That goes without saying. After what they did at the hospital… we'll see them burn. This was just one strike in a war, Francois, and as much as I hate to say it, probably a small one." The beer's regarded with a frown for a moment, as if it were its fault that the Institute wasn't gone yet, and then he garners his terrible revenge by taking a hearty swig thereof. "That's just one goal, though. We've got a lot of irons in the fire…"

He tilts the nearly-empty bottle in his direction, "You sure you wouldn't rather try and live the quiet life? God knows you deserve it."

"I might also deserve the people I love to be unhurt, or unkidnapped. Still alive, as the case may be." Standing across from Cardinal, now, Francois leans back against the far counter, the bleaching quality of the kitchen lights as opposed to the warmer tones of illumination in the living spaces, making him seem paler than he is — which is a shade or two towards grey, considering his natural fairness. "If there is a quiet life waiting for me," he says, head tilting to the left in a dismissive shrug, "then I will get to it eventually, non?"

"Try telling that to Elisabeth." A rueful note to his voice, the bottle in Cardinal's hand tilted back to his lips to swallow the dregs and foam, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and stepping slowly over to add his own emptied beverage to that city of gleaming coloured glass and foil labels. He tilts his head to look back, the faintest of smiles tugging up to his lips. "Alright. If you want to step onto the board… stop by the office sometime. I'll show you around. Introduce you to a few people. See where you might be able to help out."

Folding his arms about his middle, Francois catches his attention on the reflective gleam of glass nearby, watching the distorted image of Richard Cardinal instead of the real thing as he talks, before the older man wanders his attention back to younger. "Oh, an office. That must be what you mean before, about Elisabeth's apartment.

"Oui, I would appreciate that."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License