If You Try Sometimes


deckard_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title If You Try Sometimes
Synopsis You wind up kidnapping a dirty Frenchman to make your cohabitant happy.
Date March 12, 2011


Water clatters down loud, like its made of metal when it hits river water and puddles sparking silver in the gloom of a New York evening. Drums on the docks, on the bodies of cars and the decks of boats, the urban foreshore all fences, parking lots, abandoned construction and a dark enough panorama that one can pretend the city isn't fucked up. The figures that climb off the motorised yacht are as differently purposed as they are shaped. A couple and their child, risking leaving the safety of Pollepel Island in favour of basic luxuries. A Ferryman or two, to check in with the supply hub at the city's core.

Francois is neither refugee nor proper Ferryman. One day he might be in a sort of undetectable transition of priority and allegiance. Running with the pack doesn't make you a wolf, but one day, it'll be good enough. And he's French enough, strange enough, and apparently medically talented enough for Ferry contacts to know who Deckard is talking about, when unearthing his whereabouts. Namely, coming back from the island, to be home for a little longer.

He's breaking off from the group rather swiftly, as if everyone else. No umbrella with him, just a leather jacket of robust brown and wool lining. Feet already soaked and so he doesn't mind squelching his boots through the gathered puddles as he moves over concrete, mud, gravel, away from boats and water. Water streaks down, plasters his hair to his head in which vanity works against him, and beads moisture to run off water-proofed leather.

Home. Wine. Bed. Home. Wine. Bed. A mantra kept silent, in Francois' head only, that urges on each step.

One of those days, one of those nights.

Someone's waiting at the corner, all long bony face and wiry hair bristled into dark spines where it isn't plastered flat to his skull in uneven swaths. Hands dug deep into the pockets of his waterlogged overcoat, he bears vague resemblance to an iron rail with a slap of wet newspaper doubled over it in the wind, runoff cold down his nose and off his brow.

Just familiar enough to draw an unconscious second glance. Until his eyes cut around and turn on, cold-burning argon glow diffused soft behind a slow, foggy breath.

Then he's all the way familiar.

With a Non-Evolved Registration card in his wallet, Francois has no such signal to signify his own familiarity — but presumably, he doesn't need to. That second glance passes across the lanky frame of the man up ahead, turns into a third that lingers a stare on the highlit cyan one being shared back at him, and it does have Francois' steps slowing notably. But he doesn't stop, either. The nighttime drains colour from the evening, making already pale feature stand out white in contrast to hair gone darker with wet.

His skeleton, beneath these days, is as it should be, familiar in kind. No particular weaknesses, no recent breaks. There's a gun beneath his jacket, a reasonably expensive watch on his wrist tucked beneath leather sleeve. This time, when he slows, it's not because he's startled — it's an approaching kind of slowing.

Heat pushes thick at the back of Flint's sternum, adrenaline thump thump in the exaggerated jut of his ears with his bristly coat all slicked back into disorder. The shrill focus of his glare enhances paranoid dislike where it bleaches expression otherwise, a bitter taste in his mouth enough to turn it down at the corners when he turns raggedly into Francois' approach.

Not quite aggressive. Just — not very nice, either.

In any case, he's here and here in person, opting into contact where a phone call would have sufficed. He's even wearing a suit under his coat, tatty lapels dyed the same rain dark as the rest of him.

But he declines to initiate conversation.

The time passed between the last they saw each other and now is shorter for Francois than it is for Deckard. Nice isn't expected, or required behaviour.

"Bonsoir," he greets anyway. The rain is a good motivator to speak up, relentless sheets of silver coming down as only an early spring on the east coast of America can. His hands remain nowhere near where his gun sits, tucked into pockets that contain little more than a set of keys, a wallet. No cellphone in any case. When Francois does stop, he has half a foot in a puddle coming up like black glass, and his posture communicates only temporary pause.

"Bella wants to see you," growls Deckard by way of bonsoir, effectively drawing the rug out from under any easy opening to keep on walking. As long as he didn't have to speak first, abrasive unease left undefined in long stretches of silence and a swallow against the humidity clagging in his throat.

He's trying — honestly trying not to actually look suspicious with his jaw set hollow and his brow hooded against a steady pummel of rain, but it doesn't take more than a beat or two for the effort to force his eyeline unhappily off to the side somewhere. "She wants to ask you something."

It's the kind of guilt that comes with overdue library book freshly remembered, because. Long decades mean a mess of broken promises, what's another one. The name Bella rings familiar enough, though, that there's no hesitation before the weary familiarity, Francois' gaze ducking, mouth twisting, glancing back down the path he just walked which is incidentally free of any of those he rode in with. "I have been out of the city," he offers, giving Deckard the excuse, like he doesn't really intend to be put in a position wherein he can offer it to Bella.

Stubbornness is already lifting his chin, straightening his posture. "«What is her question?»"

The answer is that Flint doesn't know.

The complexity lies in how to say so. She didn't tell me, vs, "I didn't ask." Which is what he goes with after he turns it over in his head, already coarse English made moreso by the weather.

A cat streaks past, soaked to the bone, and Flint's head turns automatically after it. Tall and gaunt and shorter and prettier. The cat isn't interested and it's not the one he's missing anyway. "«What do you think it is?»"

"Docteur Sheridan?" Institute psychologist, liar, bargainer? Francois' mouth cut into a half-smile, slightly detached from warmth and sincerity. He doesn't notice the cat, distracted by rainwater running into the corners of his eyes, down the back of his neck. "«I think she wants her revenge as I promised her.»"

Francois' shoulders curve in, a shrug, as he could dismiss the deal he'd made at ya know gun point. "I cannot imagine much else she would want with someone who broke into her home, who wanted her to lie for dangerous people. She did much for me. It is unfortunate I cannot do much for her." Won't, rather. He could, probably, and there's a desert dry tone of voice to imply as much rather than try to deceive the man in front of him.

"You remember what she asked then? You believe it different to what she might ask now?"

Flint remembers. Hazily.


He remembers being unhappy. Stepped over and talked around, a bleary blink straying his goshawk glare out of focus to labor after dizzy recollection. The same look tracks rapid over the near prow of Francois' cheek, tension etching tentatively into the wires wound thick through his neck after the tail end of a conversation he was more audience to than — directly involved in.

Which isn't in itself worrisome.

The slow step he takes closer to encroach more completely in upon personal space might be.


It doesn't drive Francois back a step in turn, but it does get his attention, trying to read something in Deckard's expression that isn't age or dourness or rain water running down the sides of his nose. It doesn't mean he isn't uneasy. He is. But it doesn't display itself in the sit of his skeleton, just the sharpness of his stare back. "Maybe," he repeats, as if to ponder where it fits over which question he asked. The first one more rhetorical, the second one more needling. And yet—

"She wants the ghost," he reminds, his consonants becoming clipped. Tense. "She wants— wanted me to hand him to her. She was quite insistent on the subject."

"I wanted Teo," Deckard reminds both of them after a long beat, whiskey fogged quiet on his breath at closer range. Sewer rat shic isn't really for him — even with the coat to bulk him out, he looks shoddy. Ill-cared for — too bony around the hands and face.

A shivery breath tangles him up midway between September and an unwieldy turn all the way back into the present, temper licking viper quick in a twitchy, slivered show of his teeth that's clamped hollow and quashed before it can catch. Memory grinding on rims, scraping after anything that'll take a flame.


As long as someone gets what they want.

And that murky silence is all the warning Francois is likely to get; his next step applies more pressure than the first. Indirect as it is. Sideways.

Riposte hits a nerve, recoil making muscles tense over bones. A cynical sounding exhale sounds a little like laughter, too audible and compulsive to be intentional affect.

And this time, Francois does step aside some, giving up territory in favour of following in reverse-mirror logic so that the younger man does not fade into his peripheral view or worse, out of it. The barrage of silver, icy rainwater is inconsequential, but does pull an unguarded shiver from him as his hands come out of his pockets but do no wander for the grip of his gun.

The allocation of the name Teo without added qualifier means different things, he knows that much.

"Well I do not have him on me," is swift sarcasm, hands out, spread fingers.

The rope is cut, the weight swings. With a trebuchet build of momentum mounting to sling, stare focused too shrill with potential energy on the edge of movement, Deckard measures what there is to measure and strikes.



He hooks his far fist into a knuckle-ridged club at the side of France's face. Just the one blow, and then a break. To see what happens.


Boots scrape wet asphalt in a stagger off in the other direction, a flurry of muttered French too swift and too quiet for even Deckard's ears to pick up on, but he can probably make out rough sentiments, like son of a bitch, and bits and pieces of words, like c'est ridicule. What happens next is that Francois does not pull his gun — he does retreat some steps, substantially more room on an open street than a bedroom to work with and not be forced into flaily slaps and rolling around on the ground.

That said. There aren't any pretty redheads around to end it early with a pointed gun at him.


"I am not helping Sheridan. I do not trust her." Or you, unspoken, but communicated in an open look of disdain over the edge of his hand, the back of it pressed where bony knuckles split pain beneath the skin's surface. Fucking ow. "Do you, trust her? With Teo?"

"It isn't Teo." Flint's chased people around this tree before, mantra grooved deeper into his skull than most of the supporting evidence, these days. There's an impatient frustration to his still having to say so after all this time, disdain registered and reflected in bitter kind. It shows his teeth and narrows his eyes into electric slits, poisonous blue flecked through the grizzled bristle around his mouth when he snorts through runoff and steam. Raking argument forcefully aside to calculate his next move.

"And she hasn't asked me to." Trust her. Right hand flexed open against the promise of fresh bruises tomorrow, he claws it back into a slick fist on his way to closing the distance wedged in between them by Francois' stagger and retreat.

The hallucination of a year and change ago got it right, the kind of still anger that slots in steely in posture and expression, the hard angle of white jaw, the flash behind dully sea-green eyes. Back then, it was because he was disappointed. Frustrated.

It shows now, hand lowering and this time standing ground by the time Deckard is moving closer, for all that height advantage goes to the American. "Manquer de fermeté," is quiet sneer, meaning. The absence of strength and conviction or maybe in this case ~friendship~. "Tell her she can find him herself. If she wants to get even so badly. I am going home now." So get out of my way, says an imperious tip of his head, soaked hair, fresh bruise, burning-coal irritation.

Deckard does not get out of the way. Roughly as imperious as a broken stick with dog shit on it, he pauses to read Francois' look in an uncertain flicker and shutter of his eyes. In technicolor, the dissonance of familiarity coats oily down the ridge of his spine. What color is left in his long face drains out with the rain — but fear isn't enough to stay him for long. This isn't the same Francois and he's not the same Flint.

This Flint draws, cocks and points his sodden semiautomatic at the Frenchman's after a stretch of gorilla-browed contemplation. Stubborn. "That wasn't the deal."

Francois' hand latches at the hem of his own jacket, a few moments too slow — given more certainty, a second's swiftness, his hand might by now be clasped on the handle of firearm that is now made visible (for all that it was plenty visible to Deckard before) beneath leather and wool. First, he wishes it would not rain. Second, he wishes for no guns to be going off at all, and not just because it would attract attention. He doesn't take pistol out of holster.

Nor moves his hand far from it. The other hand goes out, splays, suddenly placating. Mortality does this. "Neither was this," he says, trying for a step forward, gravel shifting beneath the heel of his boot. "So tell me what it is now."

The effect progress has on him is predictable: Flint bristles like a dog when stepped towards, tension belted taut through the back of his raised arm. Water runs from the sleeve, through the sleeve, over the sleeve.

"She wants to ask you something," he says, slowly. Reminding the both of them again. He might have already said so, but in this instance it bears repeating, lest they forget why this is happening. "We can go from there."

And she isn't here.


It's weariness over anything else that has Francois' eyes hooding a little, but he doesn't further approach when he senses that change in Deckard's posture in response. Doesn't get within disarming distance, if he could hope to risk it. "D'accord," is rough-throated consent, sandpaper tone, after several protracted moments. It's as much as he gives, uninclined to make things easier even if he wants things to be less shootier.


"Great," says Flint. Super. "Turn around."

He can see through coat and spine and ribs and sternum all the way to gun any way Francois wants to spin it, his own weapon lowered only slightly into a less conspicuous angle. Rain drums hard off his skull, another sniff promising the onset of a cold to go with other regrets.

"And start walking."

Allegre already knows the way.

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