Never Too Early


francois_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif

Scene Title Never Too Early
Synopsis Odessa invites Francois over to check out her new digs.
Date June 2, 2010

Gun Hill: Odessa's Room

It's said that you can tell where a Frenchman is from, depending on the number of cheek-kisses you are greeted with — or at least, be able to narrow it down to a good guess. Unfortunately, this also spans countries and decades, and so does Francois' track record of journeying, so Odessa might still have to ask, should she ever wonder, where Francois is specifically from when he gently clasps her wrist in one hand and politely kisses mostly air just next to her right cheek — once and only once.

It's also said they'll do that to anyone — which is untrue, particular with foreigners, even ones as literate in French as Odessa. Mostly just family and friends. Maybe she's a friend. Maybe Francois doesn't have much of either.

It's still cold outside, but not snowing or even raining — his coat requires no hood or brushing off of ice and water, and he doesn't immediately take it off anyway. It's freezing, but the paperbag he has clasped in his hand is steamingly warm, still, offered out. "Brioche. There was a bakery on the way. I ate mine already," is added, slight apology. At least it isn't a croissant — the pastry inside is flaky, bread-like, with apricot and berry cooked within.

Odessa was taught more language than custom when it comes to France, but she knows how to return an air kiss properly, at least. Smiling tiredly, she takes the offered bag and inhales the scent deeply with her eyes closed. "Mmm." Heavenly. "Thank you," she murmurs after opening her eyes again. "You didn't have to. I appreciate it." She gestures for the Frenchman to enter her new apartment, which is still so new, in fact, that the living area consists of only an end table and a couch that from the looks of the design came from the 70's. But its burnt orange print velvet upholstery was well maintained, at least.

"You look well," the blonde comments conversationally, moving to the kitchen which is at least better stocked than the living room is furnished. She pulls a plate from the cupboard and gently upends the sack to deposit her pastry on its surface. She's getting around well for someone who's been recently injured as she has.

Judging from the haziness of her gaze, it's likely Odessa's had a dose of morphine recently. "Be it ever so humble," she quips in regards to her new home.

There is a cynical knot to Francois' brow at looking well, because feeling well is something different altogether, but he can accept this assessment with a nod and a critical crawl of study spanning up Odessa's frame and the movements that go with it. He moves with equal ease, for as much as both of them were bleeding heavily the last time they saw each other. The one lying in the snow and on the brink of death was not him, however — he can remember the flood of blood beneath his hands as he willed himself to keep pressure until someone competent could take her away, before the ambulance would take him away.

His hands come up to undo the scarf and allow it to drape over his shoulders. "You look well also. I'm sorry I did not check in sooner." Lifting his green-eyed gaze from the girl, now to dutifully take in his surroundings. Though he has stepped inside, he hovers nearer the entrance, space spanning between them as she deals with what could be an edible homewarming gift. "Is it good, having your own place now?"

"Please don't fret over it," Odessa responds in regards to not checking in sooner. "It's been rocky for both of us, I am sure. I've been largely unfit for company until recently, I think." She attempts what she hopes is a reassuring smile. Part of her housewarming baked good is torn off with her fingers and consumed almost experimentally, like she isn't sure she'll like it. The verdict seems favourable, however, as she's going for another small morsel of it.

"It is good," she admits. "I haven't truly had a place to myself that wasn't just somewhere I was squatting for ages. I'm still settling in and getting used to it, but the idea that I can decorate how I want, and keep everything as I see fit is definitely appealing." She covers up a thoughtful moment by eating another small bit. "Though I suppose it won't be long before I am feeling lonely."

Eventually, he follows — moves deeper into the apartment at a wandering meander. If she invited him to see her new place, he's taking this duty seriously with his appaisel, but it only lasts for a few moments before he's settling his focus back on her. There's a half smile at her comment, a jolt of a shrug beneath his coat. "That is supposed to be the human condition," he points out, coming to stand with his hands in his pockets. He's accumulated another scar — somehow swiftly aged despite the fact that the last time she saw him, besides the fire, was not so long ago, but swiftly healed injuries is not an improbability in this day and age.

The puckered ribbon of shining scar shifts on his throat when he speaks, a final parting gesture from Dreyfus, much like the one she still has to deal with herself. "But you have Abigail. You have me. Perhaps a plan for the future that involved other walking talking human bodies, ah? A lot of freedom."

"I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to call on you all," Odessa admits in a soft voice. "I'm still not entirely used to this idea of having friends. Especially considering the way I seem to have acquired you." The blonde abandons her pastry in favour of crossing the spartan room to gently touch her fingers to Francois' chin and the underside of his jaw, examining the new-slash-old scar.

The pad of her thumb brushes across the ridge of skin there before her hands fall away entirely. She smiles. "Still handsome as ever," she assures him. "Teodoro is a lucky man." Odessa thinks then to cross to the fridge. "Something I can get for you? Water, juice, milk? I could make coffee, or tea? I also have wine. Is it too early for wine? Europeans seem to differ in their opinions on how many hours in the day must pass before it's acceptable." She shrugs. They both know she doesn't care when someone wants to consume liquor, considering she's been known to consume Screwdrivers for breakfast.

Fleeting inspection has him obediently still, green eyes wandering up to regard, first, the crown of her blonde head, then more towards the ceiling. If he's self-conscious about the aesthetics of his neck, it's squashed enough to manifest as nothing more than an overt lack of it, chin tilting up some against her fingertips, and an abashed smile pulling at his mouth at her assessment. "I lived in Beaudeux for almost a decade. One thing you learn is that it is never too early for wine."

Moving up towards the kitchen, he finds a corner to lean within, a passing sweep of the insides of her fridge before letting the back of his skull rest agaist cupboard doors. "Fortunately for you, we are not ordinary friends. Most of our acquaintances were made through exceptional circumstance. I have done worse things to Teodoro than you have to us, probably."

"Red or white?" Odessa produces a glass more suited for red, but it's a safe bet she'll fill it with white and expect him to forgive the faux pas if that's his response. "I couldn't agree more, really. If it's not hurting anyone, then it is never too early." She holds up two bottles of wine. "They're both from Australia. Or was it New Zealand? The lady I bought them from assures me that the Syrah is delightful. The white, on the other hand, is exceptionally fruity. I'm not sure if that's your thing." Either she is remarkably good at keeping a straight face, or did not at all catch the double meaning to what she just said.

Two blinks, and a smile, equal measures of tolerant and amused before he says, "Red, if it is from Australia. White, if it is New Zealand. It is a climate thing, when in doubt. Next time I shall come prepared, and show you how to make a good sangria to fortify against the cold, although many of my countrymen would say it is a waste of good wine. But I've lived in Argentina and Mexico both for longer than I have France, let alone Beaudeux."

He's good to talk wine. It's one of his topics. Everyone's got one. And it might be easier to discuss than friends-making and futures.

Odessa scrutinises the label of each bottle before putting the white back in the fridge. "The Syrah it is," she announces, pouring a generous glass for a generous friend. "I would like that. I've never had sangria that didn't come premixed. I must admit, I'm rather fond of it." She holds the glass out by the stem. "I do hope you like it. I did warn the woman who sold it to me that I would likely be consuming it with a Frenchmen and an Italian of some considerable taste, and so it should be up to your standards."

It's his better hand that goes out to take the glass of red, lifting it a little in thanks and agreement before Francois takes a tasting sip, keeping his casual lean back against the counter edge as he does so. When he's done, he adds; "'Considerable taste' is very generous a descriptor. Teo isn't good at red wines, so you know, but that only means more for me, I think." Setting the glass down, Francois goes to heft himself up to sit on the counter, stealing bad habits from boyfriend, perhaps, of sitting on things you're not necessarily meant to.

Considering Odessa's lack of furniture and her own propensity for sitting on counters, she's not about to complain. Pulling a juice glass from the cupboard, she fills it with grapefruit juice before making half an attempt at pulling herself up to sit as well before clutching her stomach with a wince and a hissed intake of air. "Right," she mutters, "not so mobile right now. Leaning is good." So she takes up a stance much like Francois' previous.

"Speaking of stitches and injuries," which they only were in a roundabout way, "have you heard? I'm opening my own practice, so to speak." Odessa smiles thinly before raising her glass to her lips again for a sip. "Eileen asked me to join the network, and I'll be operating a clinic for its members."

His eyebrows go up, unreadable assessment flashing as interest somewhere behind his eyes before his mouth pulls into a smile above where he'd been going for another sip. This, after the predictable stop-start of going to help Odessa before contenting the situation with only a flash of sympathy and settling back. Bullet wounds are a bitch, and so is restitching them, to be honest with you, especially with his hands. Francois' ankles cross, and he deals her a meaingful, "Congratulations. Where will you be setting up?"

"Thank you." Her glass is raised in acceptance of his congratulations. "I haven't decided on a space yet. Eileen has been giving me time to worry about myself first. I suspect I will set up shop in one of the safehouses. Probably not here, though. Don't want to keep my work too close to home, you know?"

"And," Odessa adds quickly, aborting another sip of juice in favour of speaking further, "I'm going to have my first real legal identity!" Which is certainly something to celebrate, in her eyes. "I will officially be Doctor Odessa Gale Price. What do you think? Got a ring to it?"

Really? Really Odessa? This seems to be what Francois' eyebrows are saying — but he doesn't want anyone scrutinising the means with which he got a two million dollar New York house, a lucrative doctor career plucked out of thin air and a new brain, no matter how many collapsing ice holes he had to jump into or how many nuclear weapons he clung like a lizard to the side of in order to get it. One and one, by the way. "It does have that," he says instead, half into his wine, breath steaming the curved sides of it as he takes another draw of the thickly powerful flavour of the syrah.

The glass is situated between both hands, between both knees. "Depending how long it takes for me to find a surgeon willing to look at my hand or someone with a more advanced solution, and how I am with interviews, I may be asking if you require an assistant if only to occupy my time."

"Okay," Odessa confesses with a sigh, "so it's a fake ID and some papers. But it's the best a girl can do when there's no record of her birth." She knows a sceptic when she sees one raising his brows at her from around his wine glass. "It was more fun when I was playing make believe," she murmurs around the rim of her own.

"I could look at your hand for you, you know. I'm not your level of experience, but I have been a surgeon for roughly nine years." Which puts her at seventeen when she started. Thank you, Company. "Or, you know, you're welcome to assist me. Whatever's clever."

"Non, I believe you are above my level of experience, if you have been a surgeon for nine years. At least in more delicate ways." Setting aside his glass, Francois peels back a sleeve at his left arm, before offering out the hand to see. He's had it too long, this way, for him to be overly flinchy about showing it off, for all that it's not a pretty side. Scarring— superficial, mainly— ripples white and stemming from the jut between his index and middle finger, both of which seem set oddly from his knuckles, which in turn shift wrong beneath his skin.

She can see that it probably hurts, and see that a doctor would not appreciate the hindrance it would have on his craft. "To be honest, I am looking for a method that might be quicker than reconstruction," he adds.

Odessa sets her glass aside and moves to stand nearer to Francois to inspect his outstretched arm. "I wish I could offer a quicker solution," she responds almost absently. She takes on an entirely different quality when she's examining him. Perhaps it's to be expected. She's plying her own trade, after all.

"I admit, I've never attempted anything as ambitious as this…" Odessa gently rolls the man's sleeve back into place. "Usually, I was called in to reconstruct fresh injuries. The concept is the same, but the execution is… more complicated." She frowns faintly and shrugs. "Perhaps you would be better off with the advanced resources a hospital could provide you, in as far as expediency goes. But if you want to keep it quiet…" She shrugs and tucks a strand of blonde behind one ear. "I'm all but certain I could manage to make it better. It just might be a slower process. More steps."

Francois makes a noise at the back of his throat — non-committal as well as agreement. More steps. Taking back his hand and taking a deeper draw of wine— for all that the sun is shining on merrily through the window— he shrugs. "It was a bullet wound, and originally a simple procedure. It might have required corrective surgery later, but." He splays his hand, stretching tendons up beneath flesh, nose wrinkling some before smoothing. "Kozlow used his power while it was still healing, as with Teo's face. So that is that. Even if we found a healer, you cannot heal what is healed."

For all that Odessa has a sort of misguided affection toward Sasha Kozlow, she does feel sympathy for both Francois and Teo. "I am sorry," she feels compelled to say. If only because she still has that misguided affection. "I'll do the reconstruction for you, if you like. If I dare to say, I'm a mite better than some doctor who has to be sure they put you under long enough to cut you open. I'm painkillers and done." She smirks and shrugs. "Advantage me?"

"Oui, advantage you," and a smile for reply, if almost shy. If Francois can be shy. Reserved might be a better guess, green eyes lowering to the shallow red pool of his wine, switching to the webbed scarring. Silence, as opposed to eager agreement, but he would probably have refused by now if there was a no on the horizon. Trust old men to be finnicky with change. Or picky about who fixes their hand — or touches it in any way that goes beneath the skin, to be honest with you.

A shiver of a headshake, mainly at himself, and Francois shakes his sleeve down further, covering at least half the back of his hand. "With my luck, his power is such that it will just grow back the way he made it. But if it does not, and I can get it fixed, then I might be alright to carve my own path in the medical world. They pay trauma surgeons well." A blink, before he adds: "Not that I am in it for pay."

Of course. Except that anyone is in for three hundred grand a year.

"Mm. I do hear this fairy tale that we doctors are supposedly paid well for our services. I just assumed all doctors were locked in subterranean basements." Odessa's sardonic. She obviously doesn't think as much, though one might wondering, considering the source. "Then again, I'm a bit fairy tale myself." She takes to settling back against the counter once more, remaining conversational, if somewhat at a loss.

"You are welcome in my home any time, by the way. Whether you need a place to stay the night, someone to share wine with, or just… A shelter from the storm." Odessa doesn't even shift her gaze to look at him when she makes the offer. She stays looking somewhat blankly ahead at her fridge. Or kind of past it. "No questions asked. No strings."

The last of the wine is knocked back, the curve of the bell-shaped glass knocking light against his jaw like a tapping, thoughtful finger, before he reaches to go set it down near the sink. "It is appreciated." Whud-whud, go boots to kitchen tile, Francois reaching out a hand to curl it around her wrist, as if to earn back her attention. "But do not feel as though you owe me. Not with surgery or your hospitality. I have an aversion to such notions as much as I might to me owing others," he tells her, in such a certain tone that it's impossible to separate out what is a polite sentiment from honesty.

Odessa's dark eyes lower to Francois's loose grip at her wrist before wandering slowly up to meet his eyes. "Just friends," she promises. "Not because I feel I owe you." Maybe not completely.

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