I Am Switzerland


abby_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title I Am Switzerland
Synopsis Francois declares his status in things between Teo and Abigail on a cold morning, and apologies are made by Abigail for things she's done.
Date May 13, 2010

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

The brownstone home, number 57 on West 11th Street, is three floors tall, all old brown brickwork as the name implies. A curving stepped stoop leads up to the door, wrought iron barring it off from its neighbours, with the building's number in brass nailed into the painted wood without any glass inset to give a glimpse of the space within.

Once inside, the immediate hardwood foyer offers space to hang up coats and set aside shoes, with a wooden, open flight of stairs curving up into the second floor. The first opens up into three designated areas — a spacious livingroom with a rug of earthen tones thrown in the centre, a generous hearth set into the wall with traditional log-burning capabilities. The walls are exposed brickwork, lined with shelving of a slowly growing book collection. Next to it is a dining area defined as such by an oval dining table, generous and able to expand to sit up to eight people, and usually littered with too many things to be good to eat at until cleared. The kitchen is barred off from the rest with a counter, all stainless steel appliances and a sliding door that leads into a modest backyard. Tucked away to the right is a laundry, cramped but sufficient.

The second floor has more walls, closed off areas — a master bedroom with a connecting bathroom, a hallway that slides between the stairwell and said bathroom, into unfurnished open space that provides linen closets and such storage. The third floor is similar, if reversed, and almost designed to be its own separate apartment, with a bedroom and bathroom at the back of the house, an open social space with a squat coffeetable, and an open, unfurnished space with a balcony hanging off it, street-side. The stairwell spirals all the way up into rooftop access.

It's not awkward at Maison d'Allegre, not at all. Not even a little bit. Especially if all three residents periodically brave the fucking awful weather now and then, keep to their rooms and/or respective levels, no longer limited by the fact that level three was up rigged like an Indiana Jones film. The kitchen, however, remains a stubborn centre of activity, a necessity, and smugly tucked on the main floor without any particular walling off from the rest of the level. Stocked well with food in preparation for not going anywhere. Teo cooks a lot, or normally does.

It's not the Sicilian descending the stairs now, though — Francois is dressed as always in honor of casual practicality and comfort, jewel tones and sensible fabrics. He has something hugged to his chest — a laptop, with a power cord awkwardly gripped in his bad hand. He is careful going down and carefl handling the thing, as if he might break it with anything coarser than the gentlest reverence. Socks are careful not to slip on the wooden steps, gaze directed downward, and morningtime light filters whitely through what the boarded windows have to offer.

Abigail is already in the kitchen, making some tea for herself and in turn, for anyone else who's still at the brownstone and not out in the god forsaken white wasteland that has become New York. Tank top beneath shirt, cropped pyjama shorts, her foot in it's usual contraption and clanking around the kitchen sans crutches. Toasts announces it's completion with both smell and sound and thin fingers pluck up the bread from the slots to put them down on a plate.

She's been hiding out, making herself scarce to the other residents in the house and out of their way by sticking to the third floor bedroom. Out of sight, out of mind possibly what's prompting this, guilt or even something else. Likely guilt. Teo doesn't have the market on religious guilt. Just the majority share afforded him as a catholic.

There's a glance over shoulder to see who is coming down the stairs, blonde hair clinging to her forehead in damp strands, a flush to her cheeks that have been there the last day at least instead of only now and then. "I'll be out of here in a minute Francois. Sorry" Her MO. Get her tea and breakfast before the others descend from the second floor. Helps that she rises with the sun.

He doesn't stop or even slow upon noticing that he's not alone — doesn't immediately offer a bonjour as if worried it would sound facetious in this context, but Abby's presence doesn't have Francois not moseying up to the breakfast count and caaarefully setting the sleek, silver device down upon the surface, fidgeting with the wires to go and plug them into the wall. Does, however, look over at her when she offers her apology and her report, and— says nothing.

Jaw clenches, vague annoyance manifested in the ever understated subtleties of expression and posture, pointed silence. The machine he's brought with him hums as gently as a kitten as it powers up.

Sideways glances to the laptop, watching as the frenchman turns it on, making sure he's doing it right. Her own is pink and most certainly not here but above the bar, a paperweight for now until there's power again. No greeting, she can deal with that as she ducks her head and turns to find the margarine for her toast, some sugar for her tea and make room for the other man in the kitchen as she speeds up her process of making her breakfast.

She grabs an extra cup though, kettle of water poured over a teabag, releasing water over the crumpled bits of leaves in their sachet before she slides the mug over towards Francois without a word. He can have it, or he can ignore it. She's hoping that he'll take the second cup of tea. Peace offering of a sorts. Her knife is picked up and with that, goes back to buttering her toast.

Much as there was no dawdling approach to the kitchen, Francois goes to pick up the tea when it's offered, with a merci. He hooks an ankle against the leg of the counter stool, nudging it closer to perch up on it, sitting aside to the laptop as it boots up, with fingers caging around the ceramic sides of the container. His thumbnail makes near inaudible tiktiktiks against the side, before he speaks up again: "You don't have to go anywhere, in a minute or otherwise. Unless you prefer to, of course."

"I don't know, I mean, that third floor is pretty comfy. Even more so now that there's no flash bangs or smoke grenades that I dream about setting off when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or get something to drink" She doesn't look up while talking, paying attention to making sure each square inch of the face of her toast is buttered.

When it is buttered, she looks over at him, shifting weight from one foot to the other then offers the plate of toast over to him. She'll stay down here for now at least. Only so much reading of book and showers she can take before even she gets desperate for company. "How's Teo?"

"His health has been improving," says the doctor, with a sedately mirthful twinkle in one green eye as he goes to take a tentative sip of tea. In this weather, steam rising off warmth thick and readily — it takes a while to stop when you step out of the shower, condensed water on windows, and when two natural disasters pass by — the snow and Dreyfus both — taking down the windows and checking for damage is going to be a task. "For other updates, I think you will have to check in yourself.

"You both utilise the same strategies for different things and in this case they work too well in tandem. You abandon for guilt, he abandons out of anger. He only chased me down because he was under misinformation, after Mexico, did you know? Otherwise things might be very different." He blows a cooling stream of air across the tea's surface, sets it back down. "Do not wait very long. A little more time, maybe, but."

"Next time he comes back here, I'll corner him and let him yell at me" Took forever for the two of them to find time and be in the same place for her to yell at him about Francois, as it stood. "Let him do whatever he has to do. I can't promise that we'll be back to what we were. So much… maybe too much, has passed between us this last while."

"I'm glad he's getting better though. Maybe when this is all over, I'll ask Elias to have him take you and Teo to Italy. You both can have a vacation away. For a couple days" It's a possibility. "Forget about the snow for a bit, a real spring, or real summer" The toast is nudged again towards him, then she turns to get more bread out, make more toast. Something to with her hands other than swipe her arm across her forehead and go back to making breakfast for two.

The toast is accepted, if not yet eaten — keeps his hands around the baking warmth of the tea mug, and allows himself a half-smile at her proposal. "Ah oui, perhaps. Daphne says she owes me a visit to France with her, sometime — knowing her, I have since contemplated taking someone with to explore at a slower pace." And that's where he falls silent again, casting a reproachful look Abby's way and only then picking up the square of toast. The crunch of buttered bread that comes after acts like punctuation, or rather, something instead of speaking of vacations, how was Vegas?

"It's better when you have someone with you" She agree's quietly, inhaling deeply, picking up her own cup of tea so she can blow across it and sip. She can read between the lines, read between the bites of toast and the look that he's sending her. "Next time I go somewhere, I'll bring you. I brought flint before, or well. Richard sicc'd him on me. This time I took Gillian and Melissa and Mel brought her kid she sorta inherited and I went to find Robert" The man responsible for her foot.

"I brought back stuff for you. For Teo… Souvenirs. Just, haven't given it to you yet because I've been hiding out on the third floor" Might as well call it what it is. Hiding out. "It's okay, it's loud. Crowded. Warm." A lift of her slender shoulders rise then fall. "Would have stayed for a while more but there wasn't a point. Not the sort of place that you can go alone. Not as fun"

There's no rising to the occasion, on Francois' end. His eyes track down into his tea midway her spiel, angles of consternation making shadows at his brow as he rests his chin on knuckles, elbow to counter. He's not Sicilian, or— in his twenties — he hasn't yelled at her since she's come back, save for that snippy remark the first time about his slit throat. Teo knows, too, that it takes some pushing for Francois to get to a level of anger that includes raised voices, swearing, flung fists.

Or frustration, depending on your interpretation. He steals another sip of tea. "Did you find Robert? Did he return with you?"

"No he didn't. He's got things out there that are keeping him. Somethings.. wrong in Vegas and he has to be out there" Out there for who knows how long, if you go by the words he said before he wrenched her ankle from it's socket. "We talked, apologized, possibly.. back to where we were before. It was when he touched me. I came up as flashing sign 'evolved' to him, when I didn't before and he thought someone had, was pretending to be me. He didn't know about the formula or.. that I took it. so."

So, there is why the guy she was seeing, landed her in the hospital and subsequently, in Francois's spare bedroom not long after. "he can't touch me right now. Keeps wearing gloves and when he kisses my cheek, it causes him pain so.. maybe it's better he's in Vegas right now and I'm here. He's got more important things to worry about right now" Like, keeping up something, and for a little bit longer till it can be swept under a run.

'on the bright side, I haven't manifested yet. Apparently, we'll know when I do, can't miss it, it'll be just obvious, so I was told. But I didn't end up being able to get him to tell me what, because we were leaving and he was busy" The tea cup is put down with a quiet click on the counter top. "How are you?" Something she hasn't asked and her eyes go to his neck for a few moments.

Maybe he has another woman is what Francois really really wants to suggest, but as with at least 70% of all petty gestures, he manages to bite back on it — more effectively silenced when Abby asks him how he is. There is some kind of strange pity in the look he sends her, mostly missed when her eyes track down, instead, to the unchanging ribbon of scarring on his throat. "A handful of nights before Dreyfus came by, Teo and I said that we loved one another," he reports, both hands curling around the tea on the counter. "And I can't tell if ambient strangeness since then is because of either happening.

"If you want the truth, I could have used you in the first week." So he doesn't yell, or punch, typically, but honesty is its own sharp edged knife, as gently spoken as it may be. "Your friendship, and healing words. Perhaps I could have used Las Vegas, as much as fun is not what I needed. But I am alright, now, merci. You have caught me in better times."

"Instead I was turning over the man who killed your old lover, burned down my house and killed tanya to the Linderman Group and then running off to Vegas little the horrible friend that I am" A hand comes up, forefinger scratching at the side of her nose then rubbing crosswise underneath it. "Was afraid of what Peter's healing would do, what you'd think of me for getting him the copy of that gift, so that you wouldn't die, wouldn't be stuck lingering in a hospital bed for ages and then after… after I just.. I wasn't thinking, you had Teo but… I'm trying to give you both space to be with each other and not have me standing there and… they were replacing my cast because all your blood and then other stuff had ruined it"

She turns around till she's facing him proper, leaning back against the counter proper, teacup picked up and cradled in her palm even as the toast pops again. "I'm not the smartest chicken in the coop, dont' always think straight and sometimes, for all that I try to be… good, I fail. I'm sorry Francois. I am very very very sorry that I was not there when you were awake and aware and needed me"

Hands laying flat on the counter, Francois' fingers curl, neat nails inaudibly scraping against the polished surface as he studies the backs of his hands and how they differ from one another as she talks, tea sitting in the V his arms make in their casual lean. When she's done, his hands ease forward an inch, but distance is enough that he won't be touching unless he gets up and moves around the counter, and he does neither in this instance. "You have saved my life twice now," he offers, after a moment. "Unfortunately for you, I like you and so it is not always enough."

And hands retract again, go to pick up toast to tear away a piece. "I did not have an opportunity before, so— thank you, also. For doing what was difficult, to save me."

"I couldn't let Teo's heart break, much less mine, if you'd passed. Not while you still had a pulse and there was something I could do. It's not me though that you need to thank. It's yourself this last time. If you hadn't had those supplies there, I don't think I would have been able to start stabilizing you for them to come and get you. There's the agents, who helped get you into the van so that we didn't wait around for the ambulance. Teo, Teo for deciding to come home when he did" A hand rises, rubbing at the back of her neck as she looks down into her cup. Taking thank you's and accolades has never been her strong point, shoving them off on others.

Her tea cup finds it's way back to the counter though, pushing away from it and taking a hesitant step towards his end of the counter and a palm sliding across the top, inching towards him. She stops though, far enough away then turns her palm over, seeking contact from him.

Francois' mouth twists in a reluctant smile, before he finds himself parroting someone, likely the long-limbed Sicilian variously found upstairs or braving the cold; "Humility is so boring." Tea-warmed hands go to clasp around her offered one, misaligned digits splayed along her wrist and correct ones curled into her palm like a hermit crab ducking into its shell. "You made Kozlow useful. More so than perhaps we ever intended, to be vain," he says. "Merci."

"It worked?" Incredulity in her voice, taking the kiss on the cheek, releasing a held breath. She holds tight to his hands with her own fingers, much as she can, other arm coming out to wrap around his neck and hold him close, cheek to cheek for a handful of moments. "I wasn't sure it would, I was hoping it would, that Logan would use his ability and make him talk. I remember enough about it that.. if he gave him enough pleasure, it was sure to make him spill his mouth"

That could be taken and mistaken, so many ways. "He was going to kill himself, he's already broken his wrist and the handcuffs cut down to the bone. He'd just disappear if I gave him to Matthew and the Linderman Group, they have a good track record of putting killers to leash. If they don't.." Well, she imagines that they no longer become problems and the earth has a bit more natural fertilizer wherever they're buried. She lets go of him, sheen of sweat on her forehead and her own skin warm to the touch, fever warm moreso than before. "Do you know what they're going to do with him?"

As they draw away, a hand drifts up in a feeling brush of the back of his knuckles high on her cheek — a gesture that is affectionate as well as judging of the fever that doesn't seem to be going away. Francois' hands gravitate once more back to tea, elbows on the counter. "Non. I do not much care," he tells her, another shrug, shorter and hackling. "I just know what I might do with him if I had a say in the matter. Or imagine it — I was never as good at vengeance as others."

Back straightening, Francois takes a last bite of toast, brushing his sleeve across his mouth as he looks towards the laptop as if fprgetting he'd brought it down. The newspapers don't deliver anymore — Teo had showed him how to access similar things through the device warming the counter, and so goes a morning ritual. "You should relax, today — there is some ibuprofen for your fever, still."

"Last time I gave in to vengeance, I lost my tongue. It's not for me. I can't even stnad to see someone chained to a radiator and not being cared for." Fever's only getting worse and the burn of 101 is evident on cheeks, forehead and from touch as she turns to go back to her toast. For all that she is hot to touch, the faitigue that often comes with that temperature isn't there. "Ibuprofen isn't touching it Francois. Keeps going up. Been like this since the injection. I feel fine just… sweaty and hot. No more rollercoaster on the thermometer"

Every square inch of the face of this toast is coated in a thing layer of butter, knife scraping across it's surface to leave the yellow substance in it's wake. "So he gave up what's needed to find Dreyfus? To end this? Is it being passed over to Kershner and Matthew or is team Charlie going to deal with it again?" Because, that went so well last time. Well, a little bit well. They did get parts of his entourage, but not him.

"I don't think you need to worry about it," Francois says, somewhat quietly, shifting to go and open the laptop up, peering at the screen before cautiously navigating its functions. "Time will tell if his intel is good, or uncorrupted by his new keepers. But suffice to say that we can use both things— government and ourselves— at once, non?" And that seems to be the extent that Francois is willing to permit in updating Abigail on what Team Charlie is and is not doing. Whether because of her, specifically, or because of some kind of pride injury, is reasonably unclear — fuzzy in gentle, absent tones.

She had, at one point, told him he was the one to finish this. He has not. Click-click go keys and mousepad. "You should visit the Suresh Centre, perhaps — they might offer insight or know a way to make you manifest faster, if this is a symptom of that, ah?"

"That… would be a really big bucket of worms Francois, given that I was a registered healer, then I lost my ability and it took a lot of blood tests and explaining that some man switched my ability out and I never got it back to get me unregistered. Showing up, genetically positive for the evolved gene…" Though he has a point. "I could go to Parkman. I know some people in the company too." She falls quiet, frowning at her toast. "I know a lot of people I could go to, there was a doctor not long ago who looked at me and said I was fine except for a fever. They thought it was my ankle and stress at the hospital"

There's a glance to the computer and craning her neck to see what's on the screen as her own toast has a chunk taken out of it by her own mouth. Only after she's swallowed, not one to talk with her mouth full, does she inquire. "Would you go with me, if I did? I'd ask Teo but.." But right now neither is talking to the other.

"Sa— Kershner, also," Francois says, looking up from the screen. "She would arrange that you'd be able, if I asked. She almost got me employment there, until I became distracted with other necessities. I can go with you, if you agree to rest yourself today — and not in a hiding out sort of sense. As for Teo— " His head tilts a little, going back to his reading of the lit screen. Considers his words before announcing: "I am Switzerland."

"You are a very handsome Switzerland and I will respect your Switzerland status." A smile curling up the corner of her mouth. "Provided you can make good chocolate" She counters, picking up her plate and cup so she can thump and gimp her way to find a seat beside him. "I will… I promise I will rest today, not hide out upstairs and stay down here with you and take Ibuprofen so you can see that it does nothing and just… relax. There anything on the news? Any chance of the snow ending soon?"

She hopeful, tremendously, that there will be an end to the snow and hoping that the evolved person who's doing it, will come to their senses soon enough. "What does Sarisa have with you? That she's getting you a job there, got you this place" It's a polite and curious inquiry and the self imposed exile is taking a back seat to everything. "I met her. Once. She thanked me for saving the world, gave me a letter from the president, told me I'd never have to pay taxes ever again and looked at me really strange when I wouldn't shake her hand or take the offer of a healer"

The weather blinks up on the screen after some careful typing and clicking. The plummetted temperatures are enough to make one cold just by reading them, and Francois doesn't verbally comment — just nudges the laptop for Abby to view with a wry lift of an eyebrow, before nudging it back. "Sarisa— well. She told me that she is only able to read people as deeply as she was able to read me if they are blood related. Her theory is that I am a grandfather, or— maybe a great-grandfather. We don't know, specifically.

"We aim to find out when it's safe for me to have family," he adds, with a shake of his head. "As far as I know, she would be my only living relative and I've— I'll admit, indulged in her generousity. But she would not have had it any other way — she criticised me for thinking too small when she asked me what I wanted."

"She is Kershner. She has a great deal of power to weild and strings to pull. If you are her family, DNA tests would show a paternal linkage to a degree, easily done where there's not a thousand feet of snow on the ground sweet Lord on high, is that the temperature" Her nose wrinkles in disgust. "No wonder my ankle doesn't like me. Your hand must be bothering you, how can it not be bothering you"

But the weather derailed her and she sips from her tea, nudging the computer back to his direction. She's done looking. "She's a psychometer. Amato Salucci was one. I don't think I've met any other" There's that smile again. "If she is one…" There's a glance sideways to him. "How many other children do you have Francois? At least one it would seem"

"Mm." That has him splaying his left hand, curling fingers inwards — never into a fist if he can help it, as if to relieve the stiffness that sets in. "You are correct, it does not like me much, not in this cold. But I've avoided a great deal of scars throughout my life — perhaps they are just catching up, now. I should show you the one Peter left behind, actually — I've gotten used to it on the basis that it's exceptionally strange. It resembles a hand print. If you squint, you can pretend it's a tattoo."

And other coping mechanisms. It takes a while to get past news about the weather, news about what the weather is doing, especially with his typing in tandem with his misaligned hands, as well as distracted with conversation. "I don't know," he admits, about family, another shrug. "Perhaps none, perhaps more. It was not something I kept a record of — not my place, either."

"Wonder how many I would have had" She muses quietly, a glance to his chest, arm, back, trying to see if she can see it. "You will have to show me. I know someone who can make it into a tattoo, or if there's color, she can turn it not color without any pain at all, I promise. She's the one who's done my back, will be upset about the new one on my foot" There's a deep inhale, testing her ribs and their daily improving status that no longer leaves her coughing if she does what she just did.

"I'd like it. If you'd take me and if you asked Kershner. I'm worried. Keep thinking I will turn into some fly like Peter thinks I will" She watches the hen pecking of forefingers to keyboard. She does much the same, only a little bit faster. Not much, but a little. Technology, amazing as it may be, is just at a distance for some. Down her head goes, laying her temple on his shoulder then thinking the better of it since he'll need to move his hands to peck at said keys and sits upright once more.

News on the World Cup is the last thing Francois checks as he says, "I may take you up on that, oui," around when Abby's head is nudging down on his shoulder, picking back up again. He smiles, briefly, before looping an arm around her, less intimately than a grip around her waist but less brotherly than an arm slung over her shoulders — somewhere midway and amiable, a brief embrace. On the subject of tattoos and what passes for them— "Come — I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

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