daphne_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Enough
Synopsis Two friends discuss the heartache of not being 'enough' when Daphne returns to New York at Francois' beck and call.
Date August 16, 2010

Maison d'Allegre

Francois bought this house— got Sarisa Kershner to buy this house— just as winter was receding only to crash right back, and so the rooftop of le Maison was more of an idea than a reality, choked with thick snow that seemed to fight its iciness in through the house from top to bottom. Now, it's the closing book of a late summer, and New York City is a far cry from other places that boast cheerful seasons. It's overcast, humid, and there are some damp patches on the concrete from prior warm rains still puddling, where other more tilted surfaces are baked dry and clean of dampness.

There is logic, in being up here. The only correspondance that Francois has had has been birds with Eileen, querying about survivors, about evidence of movement that looks remotely Insitute, putting her to task when he can afford the requests to be discreet. And untelling. He's waiting for a bird, it's true, a new message in a piece of paper so small it could be the size of a large sawdust curl, so as best to attach it to the leg of a raven, starling, diving osprey. He's waiting for someone else, cross legged and invisible from the street, his back against brown brick. At least he told Daphne come up. Before switching off his phone.

Again. In other news, he's made sangria! The white kind, blanc, riesling and mint and soda water, dry as a desert, a couple of helpings conformed into a glass jug, ice swiftly melting, the work of boredom, of wanting to drink creatively. He already has a fat glass of it for himself and an empty one waiting for her.

When the phone call came, Daphne had found that the fear and guilt hadn't faded with distance. Hundreds of miles away in the open country of Kansas, the horror was still much too close. Her father couldn't chase it away, no matter how big and strong and stoic the farmer was. It was good to see him, to ride with him on the tractor and walk with him through the corn fields, but — let's face it — they'd never been very good at conversation. He was the strong silent type. In her past, she was neither strong, nor silent — it was a mystery to them both how they could possibly be related.

Love is sometimes enough, in short bursts of time. She hugged him and told him she loved him, that life was good, that she was happy. But in the long term, she knew that Lawrence was too small for her. She was planning on leaving anyway — but Francois' call gave her a reason. "A friend needs me," was enough of an answer for her father, whose loyalties run as fierce as his daughter's. One thing they did have in common.

And so it is that she's appeared in a streak of blue and red in front of the house, then moves through the house to find him… peeking here and there… the open window that leads to the roof gives a tacit explanation of the word "Up," and she steps out on the roof, coming to sit beside him.

She touches his back and tilts her face up toward his, dark eyes searching his face for what's wrong. "Docteur?" she murmurs, so many questions in two syllables.

His hands go out to make sure that the two sitting wine glasses don't get toppled in the whirlwind of Daphne's arrival, one thumb pinching in the sliver of paper with its legible writing against his palm so it doesn't get snagged and toppled over the edge of the building. Then, he pours a dose of sangria, muted liquid glimmering at the bottom of a bell shaped glass, and this is offered out by the stalk. Misery loves company, except when it doesn't, except when Abby knocks on his door or Delilah is making her rounds.

"I made this today. It is not very authentic, for a sangria." He sounds sober, anyway. "I forget how they make it in Argentina. Usually with red, but, I'm trying to get rid of the white. I think there's usually fruit involved." Tiny smile. "This is how someone I knew made it, anyway. Long time ago."

She takes the class, pulling her knees up toward her chest and wrapping one arm around her shins, the other hand bringing the white wine punch to her lips, sipping. "It's good. I like white wine, anyway," she says softly, leaning a little against him as she stares out over the other roofs toward the horizon.

"Next time I go to Europe, I'll pick you up some wine. Champagne, Cava, whatever tickles your taste buds," she offers, then tips her head to look at his face. She wants to ask about Teo, but isn't sure how to bring it up. Is he still at the medical triage? Did he run off? But she's a runner, an escape-artist, and she knows that pushing too quickly at answers someone isn't ready to give is the surest way to get them to run away.

Metaphorically, in this case, of course. Francois can't outrun her physically, but emotionally, he has more practice than even Daphne Millbrook. She takes another sip, swirling the pale fluid in the glass, watching the reflection of the light on the glass.

Teo would probably have questions, too, like what the fuck is Francois doing with his wine! for instance, now that the only bottles left in the house are the decadent red too sharp for the Sicilian to enjoy. Why, he has improved upon it, refilled bottles with it, intent on drinking it with a friend, maybe several friends, maybe none at all intermittently. Crushed mint leaves turn up at the top like dead fish in a polluted lake, but it's a lot prettier than that analogy gives it credit for, ice cubes like gems.

Her lean is less returned, more nudged against — neither complaint nor encouragement, but acknowledgment. He feels her. "I hope I didn't summon you from somewhere like that. I— I wanted to thank you, also, for your help that night." Francois doesn't have to be a genius to know it's a sticking point, for her, her weeping and muttered French on the rooftop, tiny rabbit fear.

"No. I was in Kansas. I wasn't planning on staying long, but it'd been too long since I saw my Dad, and things like that… well. I felt like I should," the speedster says, the words tumbling out as fast as usual but with a little softer tone than they normally do. "And you're welcome, but you don't need to say it. One, you know I'd do anything for you that I could, and two, I probably did more harm than good, in the long run, but I guess all's well that ends well. Or at least, ends with us not getting blown up in a building — no thanks to me on that bit."

All's well that ends well — she doesn't know the right Teo is still missing, that she doesn't know that other Teo at all, that Francois is still without. She shrugs, her shoulder moving where it leans against his arm. "In the future, I'll still have trouble saying no to any favors you ask of me, but I totally understand if you don't. I mean, I wouldn't ask me either."

"I would ask you. Twice." Another minor smile, before he breaks his attention away from her despair before he looks at it too closely. Agrees with it or something. A small toss of his head that rearranges freer brunette strands, the lines at his eyes deepening in their tension as Francois goes to take a deep sip of the acidic beverage, green loosely shuttered against the angle of the sun. Should probably stop dancing around the subject in the ridiculous way he tends to even when he does not want to.

Because he has to tell someone he imagines could sympathise more sufficiently. "It did end well, but not perfect. I don't know how to explain, exactly, there is— complications in it. The Teo we rescued is Teo, or a version of Teo that came before you and I. I think." He didn't really pause to study the timeline of that, that maybe Daphne had known the Teo that was before Ghost took him away from everyone, but he presumes it. "The Insitute copied him — a clone. One was the one we know, one was this other one, with lesser memories of the last year. Less— just less of most things. Younger.

"He told me he's not mine. There is no sign of the other." He can't really will himself into the optimism of a yet on the end of that. How brightly the building's remains had burned, broken brick and flagging flame on nearby trees.

There is a quirk of a smile at the word twice, appreciation and affection shining in dark eyes, though they grow more and more worried and her expression grows more and more somber as she listens. "Another… A clone," she repeats, more to herself than for him to verify that yes, he did hear right. After all, there's a ghost living in Corbin's head, she's been caused to sleepwalk by an oneiromancer, she's been sent back in time to 1945 by an agitated time manipulator. Why not clones, too?

"Oh, my God," she whispers, realizing that they fled so quickly after they thought they had Teo and Gillian, along with the sick man, Lynette, and Noriko — how many others had they left behind? Was one of them the right Teo.

Daphne doesn't voice these fears; he is certainly already has thought of all the ramifications of their limited time and their flight from that place. Instead she sets down her glass and takes his hand, fingers interlacing. "What can I do?"

"Ah non, nothing. I think." Which is notably different to not asking her. His free hand downs the rest of his sangria, and for want of somewhere better to put it, the sliver of paper message for Eileen is dropped into its damp insides to stick, a corner of blue ink smearing in response, too curled over to bed read. Francois' hand is loose in her's but not unyielding — conforms with her grid, feels a touch chilly long the knuckles, never one for great circulation.

His eye lashes are low but not enough for his eyes to be technically shut, free hand now making a hold for his chin, elbow to bended knee. "I am going to talk to Sarisa Kershner. She is a relative to me, and works in government — she could help at least confirm that he's dead." That word, in defiance of Francois' claims that Teo is Teo, but not Teo enough for there not to be death involved. His hand loosens from her's only to join with his other, briefly prayer-like with palms together until they turn out, fingers curled like a drying leaf, heels of palms to brow and bent like he could curl up in on himself.

Disappear, vanish, maybe blip out of 2010 and back into 1994, leave behind a cleaned house and Daphne with a helping left of sangria. That doesn't happen, and if Francois required being invisible to break over, he wouldn't have called her anyway.

Her brows furrow as she listens, nodding as she picks up her glass when her hand is vacated, taking another sip and setting it back down on the other side of her. For once she is quiet, no words rushing out, and she's content to sit, quiet and still, not fidgeting with the hummingbird need of hers to move. Effectively stuck in this moment because no matter how fast she thinks or speaks, no matter how long a minute seems to her, there's just not enough minutes to come up with the right thing to say.

"I'm so sorry. I … the other one, he … he can't be what your Teo was? If your Teo is…" For some reason, she can't say the word dead that he has managed to, but she makes a little gesture with her hand to fill in the blank. That very final blank. "Oh, Francois. I'm so sorry," she repeats. Is there anything else she can do or say?

Hands together again grease along either side of longish nose, the slightly crooked tilt to it, eyes blinking opener and yeah, damp, a kind of leaking mechanism instead of outright crying or anything. It wouldn't have been an easy burden on the conversation, ridiculously accessorised with empty wine glasses, the angle of sun making the crowns of their heads warm. Distraught, though. Francois is capable of imagining the worst, and sorry is what the littler Teo had said, too. Daphne is a watery smear out his periphery.

"He denied that he could be," he says, voice a little muffled into his own hands, which are dropped. Another proud head toss. "That is enough for me for now. I want to, uh. Give him a chance to be, I think, and give mine a chance to have survived somehow. I'm just so tired of missing him now."

Daphne's dark brows contort into a sympathetic and pained expression as she sees tears glitter in his green eyes. She presses her full lips into a thin line and nods, to show she understands, before taking his hand again, or rather simply slipping hers into the loose assortment of fingers, palm and thumb. She nods again. "I think if he is the same at the … crux of him, he can't help but love you back at some point," she whispers. "People… they change, yes, but they are who they are, and I think they do what they'd do because it's who they are. Like you."

They never did have this conversation, but she laces her fingers with his, and twists her head to try to see in his face more directly. "Do you remember, when you put me in contact with Odessa, because I needed to save Hiro? Something went wrong — I don't really know, exactly, but somehow I woke up in 1945…" she begins. She chews her lower lip a moment — he knows she'd met Kazimir somehow, from her last visit with him, the man's name making her nervous enough that it raised alarms for him. But she still doesn't go into those details. She simply shakes her head. "You helped me. Because it's who you were. And you helped me now. Because it's who you are."

He looks at her, now — or studies the waggle of her chin as she speaks, his gaze as downcast as he is. Confusion isn't magic enough to totally banish everything else, including the saline-sheen of his stare, but it gives Francois pause enough to look her in the face as she talks about something that— "I don't remember," he intones, apologetically — not doubtfully, somehow, because he knows Hiro, has even experienced one past visitation, but somehow, this one—

Maybe due to being half-dead, a few inches from raving. The thought's enough to open up capillaries, a warm flush that diminishes as soon as it begins. "I must have been good company," is a self-deprecating jest, gaze lowering again, a small shake of his head. The Institute managed to dredge up those memories too, but none of them contained Daphne, which is arguably a glimmer of gold in oily soil.

Hard to miss. But he does believe her anyway. "He's in love with other people." People is hardly flattering, a small edge of woeful ex demeanor shining through the genuine mourning.

Her eyes glitter as she smiles wryly at his self-deprecating joke. "I know you don't remember, but … you don't know what it meant for me that you were there. Even if you didn't know who the hell I was, some crazy girl from the future with a cell phone and God knows what kinda crazy story? I'd write it off as a hallucination, too, and you were very ill," she says, that quick ramble returning to her speech. "But trust me when I say it, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you. You saved my life. They would have killed me — I showed up with him, he used me," she explains, shivering and looking back out over the tops of buildings.

Daphne sighs. "Other people are complicated. I … Corbin, he's in love with a ghost. I thought it was metaphorical. Turns out no, she's really here. Or so he says," she mutters, a little moment of self-pity for herself, but Francois' feelings take precedence. She tips her chin back to him.

"It doesn't mean that once he knows you, he won't love you more," she offers, though the question that her voice lilts into defeats the purpose of trying to reassure him. Daphne scowls, annoyed she can't be of greater help. "I'm sorry," she whispers again.

This last claim gets a small chuckle, small smile. Maybe, maybe not. The nest of tangled hands around her's squeeze a little before dismiss, to better draw his knees up, to curl his arms around them in a casual kind of tuck of comfort. Got teased for being a pussy about the cold, when Francois sat like this in Russia, but it's a warm, muggy summer day. "I didn't know you had a boy," he notes, not quite trying to use her angst to swing around the spotlight or anything.

Much. He's quietly reserved on the subject of saving her, of 'they' killing people, which is possibly little wonder. "No sorry. I am enough."

She echoes his pose in miniature, resting her chin on top of her knees. "It's complicated. But then, when isn't it?" she asks lightly, a shrug of her shoulder to appear nonchalant. "I probably wouldn't be in New York anymore if it weren't for him. Also you. Melissa. I don't think many others would even miss me if I was gone." She studies the horizon, her dark eyes narrowing a little pensively.

"I run away from things. I think I'm usually enough, on my own, too. That I prefer it that way. But when I'm not… it kinda sucks, to be honest. To not be enough for myself or to someone else. Probably easier not to try. I can deal with the first, but the second…" Her voice trails off, frowning. "It's weird how that sounds like the same problem, doesn't it? Our situations are so different, but it all comes down to the same thing."

With a wrinkle of her nose at that, Daphne adds, "It sucks, doesn't it."

I probably wouldn't be in New York anymore if it weren't for him. Quirks a mild smile. He's thought of things in those terms too, with a little more permanence than Daphne's ability to fly across the land in American flag blurs. But it doesn't really apply. There are things that hook him here too well, even if Teo was the first person to call this place home in a context that enveloped the Frenchman too. Francois drifts a hand out to toy with emptied sangria glass. She is correct in other ways.

Like that last thing. "Oui," he agrees, damply, but with a little hapless mirth. "I have more sangria in the kitchen."

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