Long Time, No See


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Scene Title Long Time, No See
Synopsis A healer, a time traveler, and a sibyl pick their way to the center of the universe for something of a reunion, and then a request.
Date November 12, 2009

Isaac's Loft

For a man who could technically live any given day over as many times as he could humanly wish, tonight already has a certain singularity about it. This is the best sushi he has tasted in New York since his arrival, however temporally confusing that terminology may be, and the inaugural boot of the mainframe at nii-san's new headquarters went extremely well, in tangible part due to the handful of bugs he caught going through the system for her the other week. Sometimes, it's the little things.

For Hiro Nakamura, they stand out more in a calendar inundated in epically-proportioned, self-propagating tragedies and butterflies with wingbeat effects that do not merely cross oceans but vast chapters of time.

He's in the loft tonight. Isaac Mendez's— you know the one; an unlikely location for escapism, but then again, not even Hiro's leisure time can be readily interpretable as such whimsy. He is seated on the entrance catwalk, boots swinging down into the empty air above multitude strings, leather coat flared out across the concrete behind him, a black plastic carton segmented for Dragon Rolls and wasabi-clouded soy sauce to his left and tempura motes adrift in the radish sauce clutched in the half of one hand. His sword lays in its sheathe on his right. He pays no mind to the absence of electric light nor the presence of lightning crashing outside.

For all that his power acknowledges few limits, few boundaries; that Hiro Nakamura, technically, could go and be anywhere in the city, any time — there are only so many places where his presence is a high probability.

She picked the wrong one, or rather had her timing off just enough, the first time through. Missed. Having her own two feet, a little ingenuity, and the Frenchman who isn't quite French anymore to work with, it takes Tamara far longer to make it to Isaac's loft. Long enough that the thunderstorm outside is less than an academic consideration, even for the sybil who knew it would probably pose an issue.

Dripping wet, bearing more resemblance to a blond drowned rat wearing clothes of ambiguous rain-soaked and gloom-muddled shades, the teen leans her right shoulder against the doorpost and stares at the outside lock for a long moment before applying her ability to its defeat. Tamara pushes the door open with one finger, letting it swing inward only slowly; old, disused hinges creak loudly in the relative silence. She doesn't step in, but remains as if her weight were a necessary brace to the frame of the door; it isn't, of course. There's enough room beside for another to pass by.

"Give it a moment; curiosity came back," she says to her companion, voice wearily quiet.

He even has Flint's express permission to be here. In that, this is what Francois needs to do. On an intellectual level, perhaps. He should feel anticipation or nervousness or suspicion, but none of these things truly arise. Beneath a coat now fairly soaked with rainwater is a suit of pinstripe, shabby and grey, straight from Deckard's wardrobe without particular concern. This place isn't recognisable or meaningful to him, but he'll accept the latter if Tamara says so.

Pale blue eyes dart down to her, his long face drawn into a tight kind of misery from being rained on, but relaxes some, lines easing and unshaven angles softening. Rubbing his face, Francois ducks his way into the loft. Water runs off wool and drips onto concrete.

Standing upon the elevation that looms up a couple of feet over the larguely unused space, Francois huddles beneath his coat.

There's no one there.

All the same, his voice rings out rough and tentative; "Hiro Nakamura?"

There's sushi, though. Dragon roll, rainbow roll, tempura crumbs weighting on oilpaper at the bottom of a brittle orange basket, just no one. And— oh. Yeah: no sword, either.

Both weapon and wielder are only another instant reappearing, without fanfare or singular sound-effect, perhaps a subtle displacement of air swishing a sinosoidal curve through the hem of his coat only a foot above the interrupted meal. Naked steal in hand, tip pointed downward but inevitably menacing anyway, cutting edge curved narrow and rigid as the crescent moon that reigns somewhere above the vaporous discord of cloudcover. Hiro's face is blue and stoic in the dark, his ponytail settling against the disciplined line of his nape.

"Long time no see," he offers, in return. "You look like you're feeling better." It's true for both visitors, and likely unfortunate for it. Though rain-matted and bedraggled, at least this time Tamara isn't unconscious and broken in his arms, nor Flint in hunter orange and directionally-challenged panic. Consciousness and purpose are good things to have in Hiro's book. (Sometimes a sword is better.)

Better is relative, and sometimes not by very much at all. The sybil smiles at Hiro, a thin and rueful expression; her lockpick hits the floor with an unceremoniously dull thunk, its purpose having been fulfilled. So has hers, tonight; she shuffles into the room in Francois' wake, compounding his trail of drips and drops with the splatters seeping from her own clothes. Sidles away from him, along the wall, one hand brushing over its surface.

"Better and worse," Tamara replies, as she sinks down to rest with her back against the wall. Wrapping her arms about her knees, she rests her head against damp denim in what shouldn't be a comfortable posture at all, half-lidded eyes dark upon Hiro. "Finish your dinner," the seeress gently chides the time-traveler, despite apparent lack of concern for the minor issue of being soaked through herself; she draws in a breath and lets her eyes close entirely, yielding to fatigue.

As the prophet curls up to sleep, Francois twists enough to regard her helplessly, not quite realising how firm he'd leant on her guidance to bring him here and perhaps steer the conversation. Back to the time traveler, marveling in silence for a few moments before he drags himself closer to the sword-wielding Hiro, and affection sets in as readily as fatigue did for Tamara. It's not an expression Flint's face shapes itself around very often, but it comes easily to Francois.

If it's genuine or not, that's another matter, but he is capable of being warm, even as wet as a fish and just as cold. "Very long time," he agrees, with no small amount of reverence. He knows the familiarity is not for him, but doesn't question it either. "It was, in fact, 1957 last we met, though perhaps it is only I who experienced those years to their fullest."

Despite that Deckard doesn't sound like Deckard, the truth is, he doesn't sound altogether like a dying Frenchman either. It takes Hiro a few seconds, braced on the catwalk, politely suspicious about the lanky gentleman closing in and the tiny girl heaped up to his right to latch onto that date, to skim through his mental Rollodex of dates, times, names, to light on the correct one and parse the considerable gap between apparent logic and probable truth. Catherine Chesterfield had told him about the transplant job that Tyler Case had done between Abigail and the grave-robber, but.

Buh. It's fortunate that Hiro's past experiences lend themselves easily to the credibility of the incredible: the katana tip has elevated a few inches already, as it is. "Allegre?" he asks, genuine surprise finally marking a departure from simplified confusion and surprise. Hiro's mouth acquires a fish-like smallness. He blinks his eyes, flicks sword tip a fractioned distance aside with the faintest coruscation of sound. Standing three strides closer than he had been a moment ago, Francois can now tell that there's new rainwater speckling the shoulders of his coat, plotting a likely course for his teleportation a moment ago.

After a moment, his brows cinch together, unmistakable consternation. He fetches a glance down at the spidery maelstrom of strings below. Almost to himself, he mutters: "I was not expecting this."

A wider smile at the name, because it's as accurate a guess as Hiro will probably get, although Francois remains cautiously still. No sudden movements to attract the sharp edge of the big knife. His back stiffens when Hiro disappears, reappears all the closer, head at a cant. "My apologies," he states, sincerely. He's been ruining many people's expectations, lately.

A hand is up and out, to reassure and placate. "In many ways, I am Francois Allegre," he agrees, brow laddering as he lifts it. "But in all ways, I am what you call kami. I am healing and memory. For reasons no one was expecting, I also have a voice. With which to make a request.

"You said you would see me again." Though Hiro has all the time in the world, Francois does not. No one else does. "I know you meant me, and not the man." He stops, there, voice leading even if he goes quiet, studious.

"Is it the reasons no one was expecting?" Hiro raises his head another inch. Two. Eyes narrow and dark in the broader pallor of his face. "I have said many good-byes to many people in my time." The observation bears doubled weight, not only of pragmatism by itself but the concatenation of events, the progression of tragedy through which that knowledge was won.

Perhaps more and worse than that, he is equally aware or suspecting of the veiled details of the so-named request, and that veil is shredding. Stoic Hiro might sometimes be, these days, but rarely elliptical in the words he actually speaks with his mouth, however complex the ideas they convey. "You learn to mean it. I have. But I am glad you are here." The blade falls away, finally, razor point ending an inch above the floor. The diminutive swordsman reaches out— reaches up to grasp Deckard's raw-boned shoulder.

"You must feel angry: it seems that Volken is not finished with this world, and I asked you not to kill him, all those years ago."

Crows feet wrinkles deepen, and he lifts a hand to tentatively grip Hiro's arm in a return of that touch, before it falls away again. "I would have felt angry," Francois concedes, dipping his head to the side. "If not that I have a new purpose. I'm protecting the host of this ability. Teaching him. Very often, disturbing him." He doesn't sound pleased about that, nor malicious - surgical, in many ways. Francois, the man, was like that too.

"Volken, his legacy, remains. And more than that, I gather, or so the prophets say. Perhaps this would not be so, had you allowed me to finish what I had started. To hell with time and space."

His voice is soft and acknowledges that he knows very well that it was Hiro's destiny to not allow such a thing to happen, more so than it was ever Francois' to kill Kazimir. "Non. You allowed me to live, in return for allowing the future to come to be. I would not change those things. But I would ask you keep your promise to the man I used to be. Not just me."

The grip on Deckard's hijacked shoulder tightens briefly, before releasing. He shifts to grasp the sheathe of his sword and return the weapon to its resting place, inches of remorseless metal vanishing. For now, Hiro is carrying his sword at his hip. "Do you want me to bring something back to him?" The question is slow, almost challenging, though with none of the ADHD terrier impudence that one could have expected from him only a few years ago.

To Hell with time and space. A notion better dismissed as hypothetical, but Hiro doubts Allegre would have come all this way to discuss hypotheticals. He stoops and crouches in a whisper of leather, takes up his tiny tray of scrolled eel and avocado roll, straightens again. The kami is made a brief offer with the squared-off serving ends of his chopsticks.

Francois glances down at this offering, and its omega-3 and fattier choices of eel and avacado. Its diminutive portion makes it good for you. These factors scroll unwillingly through his mind even as he shakes his head in a polite decline. Si'l vout plait. "Perhaps. I want you to find him, after I left him. And perhaps give his body a proper burial, if you only find his corpse, if the Vanguard man did his work well. If you find him alive, then perhaps you could stand to be less cruel than you were the first go around."

The rain pitterpatters the windows, and Francois regards Hiro levelly. "Abigail Beauchamp would show you the way. Eileen Ruskin would understand as well. They know each other, I think."

The raven girl is known only through a matter of degrees of acquaintance to Hiro Nakamura, but the name rings a bell, loudly, and he couldn't forget Abigail if he tried.

It isn't a request he can in good conscience refuse, balanced neatly on the fulcrum of pragmatism and conscience, with room for options. Hiro swallows the neatly compressed mouthful of seafood and vegetable, pushes an errant grain of rice across its plastic bed, thoughtfully, before he flips the lid out from underneath the tray and begins to pinch it shut. The vast remainder of the roll is left. He moves carefully past Deckard's greater height, steps up to where Tamara sits propped up in her enervated curl. Sets the food down on the floor beside her and begins to pull off the heavy folds of his coat.

Busy as he may be with this minor work of charity, however, it isn't really an afterthought when Hiro asks, "The authorities never found your body, did they?"


Francois turns in place to watch him approach Tamara, simple observation in the angles of his expression. Long fingers come up to push and rub against his jaw, disdaining the state of unshavenness he finds it in. For as many mornings he thinks to be vain about his shared appearance, Deckard neglects all the others. "They should have, but I learned they did not. Does destiny work in the other direction?"

It's an honest question, bright blue eyes inquiring and head canted again, doggish, as he warms his palms together in an effort to stave off the chill plaguing his knuckles. "The prophet," he nods to Tamara, "would say so."

Leather lapels like wings fold around Tamara's rain-thinned shoulders, settling the round-lipped density of its collar on her mopstring hair. Hiro leaves the sleeves trailing empty and tuberous on either side of her hips, straightens, smoothing his hand down the thinner fabric of his sweater sleeve.

"The other direction?" Hiro asks, tilting his head fractionally. His ponytail remains slightly damp too, tassels weighty black-on-black. He comes to a halt at the railing across from the displaced Frenchman agan, and fails entirely to look any less formal or unrestrained despite having doffed his outerwear for the comfort of the tiny adolescent. "Does Destiny sometimes do what it is supposed to?"

Francois ducks his head a little, scuffs the heel of Deckard's boot against the ground. His arms fold around his long torso, comfortable in this body as much as it isn't his, territorial shaving disputes aside. "I spent a long time trying to make it so, and succeeded. Or failed. But I am a doctor, Hiro," he states. "And a healer. Destiny is for time travelers and prophets. You can tell me, when you know.

"Will you do it?" Back on track, pragmatic words are aimed to Hiro with a surgeon's precision, tilting his head downwards to observe the other man beneath a serious brow. His peppery hair is made darker from the rain, brushy buzz flattened as much as it will be. Water tracks from behind his ear and into his collar, forces him to shiver once.

Maybe you will show me. Hiro doesn't say this aloud, merely watches the other man from behind the opaque, frosted pane of his discipline-fortified reserve and personal losses. Ando comes very fleetingly to mind, is pushed away with haste, displaced by this, here, now, what's being asked of him.

And why. "I will take your friends back to the place and time that Abigail remembers. I will help them try to find you," or what's left of you, "and we will see what destiny there is in store for a healer. Maybe there will be something I haven't thought of before. Time-travelers and prophets think about the Butterfly Effect, chaos theory, strings of fate, going back, and correcting things that have already been done or leaving things as they are.

"Destroyers like your nemesis, that akuma, think of what they can gain at the expense of other people." Despite that adaptation and exposure have bled most of Hiro's ethnic accent out, there's still a bee-winged zz in that word, other, bright and quizzical. Hiro's gaze hoods slightly; he glances down into the vacuous gulf of the studio below, where Mendez's muses and mutation once reigned.

It looks no less mad now. Overhead, lightning mumbles. "We all try to fight them, but it seems that destruction is winning. It may be time for even the prophets and time-travelers to consider something new." It's as much of a concession as he's likely to make. He'll bring them back. And from there—

From there, Francois doesn't have to arrogance to guess. He inclines his head to the other man, acknowledging concession and assurance. He can't even make promises for what might happen if if if

Time stretches like spiderwebs, like the mess that Francois shears a glance off towards. Healing gives more time. That is really all his contribution to the continuum, but he also lacks the humanity to care. "Thank you," he says, in English, the bridge of understanding between once-Frenchman and Japanese. He doesn't think to correct Hiro, either, about the fact that Eileen and Abigail— especially Abigail— are far from friends.

He jerks up the collar of his coat, and makes for the door. A glance to Tamara slows his step for a moment, before it maintains.

If there's any part of Hiro's brain reserved for wondering if anyone and who, if somebody, has been privvy to a mad knot of identity confusion regarding Flint Deckard and his Francophilic passenger like some mad spin on the internal conflicts and misappropriated identity dramas of X-Men 171-2— well, he doesn't let it on. Nor does he feel any particular urge to warn Deckard's old associates or inquire after anybody's failure to alert him. Cynically, Hiro Nakamura might think that the former gun-runner's body is better off without the gun-runner in full control of it.

Or he might just like Francois well enough. The word doesn't mean to him what it used to, 'friends.' He watches him stilt away in that overlong body. "Good night and good luck."

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