Human, All Too Human


young-abby_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Human, All Too Human
Synopsis It's been a very long journey, and there is much more to do.
Date Summer, 1994


It's warm in Louisiana. Somewhere nearby, the sun glistens merrily off the hood of a car, off the windshield and the shining back wheels. Heatwaves bend up from the asphalt of the road, and there are tiny insects dancing off the water of a lake nearby that sends up sun glare with every minute ripple of water. Southern prettiness, swamps never far away, and there's a tree bending its trunk over water. There are buildings in the distance.

Already, too far away.

The cars twisted metal is long since left behind, it's balding wheels at an angle and unmoving against air, the cracked glass of the window having made a spider web. A man identified as Francis Allen should have been more hurt than he was when he'd crawled out of the open door, grass spiking under his bruised palms, body warm as he dazzedly kicked in his ability to shy away from the hurts. Which is only half the story.

And doesn't explain now why his legs have given out from under him. It's 1994, and aside from the faintest of crows feet lines at the corners of his eyes, Hiro Nakamura would have had no trouble in recognising this man as he comes to settle his back against a tree, black jacket drawn tight across him. Just as pale, now, too, his features starkly white and his eyes squeezing shut. He just needs to sleep, or to eat, and he'll be fine.

If he doesn't bleed out first, the crimson contained within his jacket, as if attempting to hide from the world the simple fact of mortality. Francois doesn't at first notice the approach of anyone, preoccupied with the sound of his own heartbeat and breathing.

"Are you dead mister?"

So southern, female, young. Abigail had wandered from home, left to her own devices in the backyard while her mother did the wash. But young kids are bound to wander and a certain tow headed pig tailed blonde girl in coverall's, canvas sneakers and a half drunk hi-c juice box in hand and box of raisins is peering at the injured man.

"Are you going to visit Jesus?"

A small voice, high and unexpected. Francois' eyes bat open, digging the heel of his boot against the ground, lever himself up to slouch a little higher up the trunk of the tree. A breath of laughter, a singular expulsion of air and only the faintest of smiles is given in reply to her honest question. "Non," he says, resting his head back against the tree, focusing on the young child properly. "Not yet. I am just— very tired."

He's pretty sure twice would have been enough. But no. Francois had heard the gunshot sound of a door slam shut while his head was still spinning, the opposing truck likely barely even knicked from where it had run the Frenchman's more modest Volvo off the side of the road. Moments later, a fist gripping the front of Francois' shirt. Dragged him three feet. Odd, that he bothered to do that at all, actually.

Francois' hands tighten on his jacket, the leather kept shut. No introductions really had to be made, back there, but here, he asks, "What's your name?" The question comes out smoothed with American accent, an effort made.

"Abigail. But you can call me Abby. My Momma calls me Abigail. But when she gets mad at me and she goes aaaaaaahhhhhhbigail Marie Beauchamp!" Even at 5 she has perfected her mothers voice as she crouches down, knobby jean clad knees bending. The juice box is offered out to the injured man, waggling it from side to side as if it might make it more tempting. The other hand thrusts out the box of raisins. "What your parents name you?"

His smile widens at her impression, a sort of haziness in his blue-green eyes as clear as amusement is. It had been sometime in the later 40s that he'd discovered what a blessing coffee could be, but any food, any liquid, could do him good right now, and the sugar she's offering has some promise. But Francois raises a hand not to take them, but to surrender, a gentle wave and a tired smile. "You keep them. It's nice to meet you, Abby," he says. "My mother, she named me Francois."

It's not that he forgets to use his American name - it's just her question was specific. "Are you wandering— " His breath hitches in his throat, eyes blinking once, twice, in some sort of determination. To keep awake, to keep focused, some internal struggle. "Are you wandering very far from your mother?"

Oh. Right. She is. There's a quick glance over her shoulder as she wrinkles her nose. "Yup. I wanted to go for a walk, she's hanging Mrs. Modette's linens. I live on the other side of the woods" Maybe just now she's cluing in that he's hurt and her grip tightens around the juice box. "I can go get her! I can run really fast, my dah says some day i'll run faster than him. They can call the poh-lice and the ambulance fer ya" Worry starts to take over as she stands up, ready to do just that, bolt and head through the woods for her parents.

His head rests back against the tree trunk, watching her as she speaks, that wan smile almost fixed in place but no less genuine as that worry crosses her youthful features, ponytails swinging along with the movement. "I am sure— sure one day you will run the fastest," Francois hears himself say. "Yes, please. Abby— " He drags the tip of his tongue across his dry lips, his throat as dry as sandpaper, trying to coax words from them that don't sound so graveled. He draws his hand away, then reaches out, palm upturned. "Give me your hand," he asks, voice firm, gentle, paternal in some ways.

Stranger Danger. Strangers mean you should run, even down here in the south. Not everyone has good intentions towards little girls. She starts as he tells her yes please. But then he's asking for her hand and with palm upturned, her impossibly small hand slides into his after she puts the juice box down and wipes the sweaty grubby hand against the legs of her coveralls. Blue eyes wide and trusting, much like they are so many years down the road. "Okay"

Little fingers work their way to between his and hold on tight. "It'll be okay Mister Francois. I'll run very fast and Momma will come with her big box and she'll fix your boo boo's. She's very good at fixing my boo boo's she kisses them so better and she sings to me while doing it. I can sing to you if you want"

His hand is warm, if clammy, unpleasant in that respect, but perhaps it would have been a nice handhold, as far as they go, in other circumstances. "It can help to sing," Francois agrees. "Although, when I was a doctor, I didn't use to. Perhaps— it would have been good." Another hitches breath, a wetter rattle in his throat, his brow tensing in consternation as he observes her hand in his.

"Tout le monde est sage," he murmurs, singsong and quiet, the words mumbled beneath his breath but certainly sung. "Dans le voisinage, il est l'heure d'aller dormir, le sommeil va bientôt venir."

As the words tumble from his mouth, there's a distinct and giddying warmth that travels up Abby's arm, bone deep, blood deep, curling through her body to settle warmly around her heart, a gentle tingle. Francois' smile is gone, and a rivet of pained fear crosses his features for a moment, around the time his hand loosens. "Je suis desole. I think— you must run, now. Thank you, Abigail, you're kind."

Her hand never leaves his as whatever Francois does is happens during the singing. She doesn't care or know what the feeling heralds be it the transfer of something from him to her or the clamminess that means shock. She just hums along to it partway through, her hand in his and holding tight with a beatific innocent smile on her face that only falters at the end from the look on the frenchmens face.

He lets go and she darts forward, putting a kiss on the apple of his cheek. "Don't go to Jesus Mister Francois. I'll get my Momma, I'll be back 'fore you know it. I'll be really fast, I promise. Have some raisins" The box is nudged closer to him before she turns on her heels and palms pressed to the ground to give her leverage to get up, Aigail's off running towards home. The underbrush giving way to sure little feet that know every inch of her world that is the forest, pigtails bouncing up and down while she calls out for her Mother. Going fast as her short legs can carry her.

Francois' hand comes to rest over the box of raisins given to him, watching her go and only shifting a look away when she disappears through the trees, and now it's a battle against unconsciousness, the illumination of the sun doing nothing to make him not want to simply shut his eyes against it.

He who has come only in part to a freedom of reason cannot feel on earth otherwise than as a wanderer…

There's a certain emptiness, gutting, despairing, and whatever it was, whatever he thought made him what he is, runs away with the girl. What seems like a very long time ago, someone had told him that one day, that weapon would vanquish the foe - but it would not be wielded by him. Given it to her, in all her youthful concern, to steal that kindness, to let it grow and manifest and endure.

…though not as a traveler towards a final goal…

A cough racks his body, Francois shifting aside the flap of leather of his jacket, where blood makes his shirt rosy and rust-coloured, the three slices of that wicked hunting blade now bleeding freely, unchecked. She'd asked if he might meet Jesus, but after his final act… he's not so sure.

"God have mercy."

…for this does not exist.

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