No Need To Be...


francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif yvette_icon.gif

Scene Title No Need To Be…
Synopsis The young woman who brings Francois and Teo their breakfast this morning makes apparent she disagrees with them on pretty much every subject — without speaking so much as a single word.
Date December 18, 2009

A Cell in Svyato Monastery

It's a room with a view. Francois has willingly lived in worse.

He's up for the sunrise, leaving behind the uncomfortable slab that makes up a bed and the significantly more comfortable warm body that had been sprawled on it - turns out that sharing sleeping spaces with coats is approximately as awkward as the Frenchman had described. His arms are folded on the stoney windowsill, chin rested upon forearms and the beginnings of sunlight slowly angling on in from some obscure angle, fighting cloud cover, trees, and the fact that the wall doesn't stalwartly face east. Whatever - warmth and light go hand in hand, so it's where he's gravitated, shivering from the stagnant frostiness of a Russian morning. He leans, back turned to the ever-locked door of the cell, and— thinks. Or rather, doesn't think.

He's tired, stiff all over, in need of a shower, but things could always get worse. A yawn is muffled into the wool of his sweater, and the toe of his boot scrapes restlessly against the stone floor as he scuff-drags it where he leans.

While Francois enjoys the glimpse of morning light, the door at his back opens, hinges creakily protesting the interruption of their extended rest. The woman who walks into the room leaves it open behind her, the profile of at least one guard able to be glimpsed on the far side of the portal. Her build is slender, her coloring pale: light skin, blond hair, pink-toned eyes. She wears mostly black, but of a nonmilitary cut; the scarf drawn across her lower face is deep scarlet, like old blood. Yvette Volken herself has chosen to bring the boys breakfast today, the tray with two bowls of oatmeal and two glasses of water balanced across one arm. She brings it in to the foot of the bed, for lack of any other supporting surface; regards first Teo and then Francois with a sidelong, inquisitive gaze, her head tilted just slightly.

Something about her presence elicits discomfort, a sense of unease, a sensation that isn't focused enough to hurt and can't quite be localized.

It's about that time of morning that they would be getting fed, as it occured the previous day. This doesn't stop Francois for blearily going on alert, head lifting up from his arms and spine twisting to regard— well. He almost hopes to see Ethan, of all people, as it would dull his own steadily growing anxiety to know communication was possible between he and those on the outside, but if wishes were fishes—

She's young, is what he notices first, not looking so much towards the meager breakfast offered as he is regarding the slice of her face she can see. The black of her clothing is enough to disguise her paleness until contrast factors in. The Frenchman spares a glance to the huddled form of the Sicilian, who doesn't even shift around at the sound of someone's approach, before taking his weight off the wall and moving closer. Green eyes register with some dismay as to the figure of a guard just outside through the gape of an open door, restlessly rolling weary shoulders before he tips his head in a nod to the young woman. "Merci beaucoup."

Tray set on the end of the sleeping platform, Yvette straightens, turning to regard Francois directly upon his remark. The minute crinkling of skin around her eyes suggests some flavor of amusement; the young woman moves forward, steps light on the old stone floor as she crosses the distance to where the Frenchman sits. Up close, it becomes more readily apparent that the skin just above her scarf is discolored — darkened as if by a coating of ashes, veins tinged deeper blue-purple than is natural. She lifts a hand towards Francois' face, intent to brush fingertips across cheekbone; a prickling winds its way around his spine to settle in his stomach, suggestive of familiarity, recognition; the nagging sense that in normal circumstances might send a person searching their own memories for some prior meeting.

Sicily's still in bed, as Sicily is wont to be when it's cold out and there's nothing to read or sail. He had— has— appeared, to all intents and purposes, deep asleep, conserving energy like wolves and bears are wont to do in the crippling crush of winter cold. Coat collar hiked to his nose, long hands and knees drawn in and clutched together underneath, eyes shut solidly enough that his lashes fray shadow at the tops of his cheekbones, inert and unavailable for response.

It isn't until the food's in, wafting its thin scent through the air— that the girl is in, across the floor, backing Francois up against the wall that there's an incidence of movement; perhaps coincidental. An elbow slides its bump underneath the dark fabric of the outergarment. A graceless, snuffling snnghk of air through Teo's big Finnish nose. One eye slivers open a few stickily protracted seconds before the second. Teo blinks twice, fingers crawling white into view, around the edge of his lape.

"Rusalka," he says, a little hoarsely.

Unease and a sense of misplaced familiarity are not a pleasant twining combinations of reaction. Looking down into pink-tinged eyes is confirmation enough, even with Teo's observation rasped out from the close quarters of the bench not so far from where Francois and the rusalka stand. Inevitably, he stares at that line of flesh above her scarf that's faded into some sort of degeneration, a deadening of flesh he's seen before. That, at least, is familiar, and his stomach flops over like a dead fish upon being tickled by this imposed sense of— something.

He meets her eyes again; leans away from that hand hovering close to round cheekbones, and scrapes together the mirth and courage to flicker a smile at her that's more dimple and laugh-lines than the actual thing. "Grigori's water nymph," is his agreeing assessment, voice coming out dry sounding - it's also a denial. That's all he knows.

The crinkles around those reddish eyes deepen at Teo's observation, though the young woman doesn't turn to look at him right away; she continues to study Francois' face instead, letting her hand stop where it would have touched his skin… if he hadn't moved. That strange touch of foreign feeling invades again, sliding beneath the Frenchman's skin: a breath of contented warmth, the sharper twist of negation. If Yvette had a complete expression, she'd be wearing the kind of smile a well-fed cat might give the mouse caught between its paws; you're wrong but that's just the answer I wanted.

The pale girl shakes her hair back from her shoulders, lets her hand lower to her side, takes a single step backwards that gives Francois somewhat better breathing room. Her attention shifts to the Sicilian bundled up in his blanket, amusement leaching out to be superceded by a less personal contemplation. She crouches beside the sleeping platform, forearms across her knees, expression curious. Some echo of that curiosity crawls beneath Teo's skin, a wordless prompt to continue speaking.

"You wouldn't happen to know where my girl is, would you?" Teodoro is, occasionally, prone to frankness. Like a car-wreck, a bird into a window, or anybody else speaking to an apparent albino mute occasionally disguised as an evil mermaid by illusions cast by some mutant terrorist who wants to sell the nuclear weapon prospectively slated to drown the whole world in the sea. Sometimes, you just have to say what you mean. "Yay tall," he lifts his hand, hovers it flattened at the level a few inches below the crown of Yvette's head.

Presumably, he is accounting for their height difference when standing full upright, rather than indicating the girl in question is a midget. "Brunette, blue eyes. Talks a little bit lahk this. 'Bout your age." Politely, as if just remembering himself, he begins to uncoil his long frame from underneath his coat, pulling stiffened shoulders and long spine upright, at least to sitting.

That Francois feels released in some way is a little unsettling. Certainly, she did not hold on to him. All the same, he runs his hands up sleeved arms, and shuffles towards the corner that isn't taken up by wooden slats and stone. He crouches there, back penned into the two angles of cold wall, arms resting on bended knees and staring speculatively at the woman now investigating the younger man of the room. Head goes back, rests into that nook of dusty corner, fingers lax on his hands.

Whatever is on the tip of his tongue is not immediately communicated. Not yet, allowing whatever it is to simmer in thought for a few more moments. Instead, he chimes in with Teo's sentiment; "We would like to see her. The other, also."

There's only one person who fits that description, and Yvette doesn't have to wonder who it is. It's also quite clear, now, that the girl understands English very well; not just because she clearly knows the person they want to know about, but because her answer is manifested in a sudden shock of cold as bitter as the Russian winter wind. No air moves, for all that; the sensation exists only in their perceptions, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant. She straightens, however markedly less her height is than theirs; regards the man on the bed with something just shy of a flat glare. Yvette's reaction embodies refusal, at the very least.There's only one person who fits that description, and Yvette doesn't have to wonder who it is. It's also quite clear, now, that the girl understands English very well; not just because she clearly knows the person they want to know about, but because her answer is manifested in a sudden shock of cold as bitter as the Russian winter wind. No air moves, for all that; the sensation exists only in their perceptions, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant. She straightens, however markedly less her height is than theirs; regards the man on the bed with something just shy of a flat glare. Yvette's reaction embodies refusal, at the very least.

Hwwuh. Thanks, Francois. She probably wouldn't have gone all liquid-nitro on their guts if he hadn't turned a query for information into a request. Teo's features squish pale for a moment, before smoothing with a blink of some difficulty. Cold. He's never taken to that well, and if he were to develop a sudden affinity for it, it probably wouldn't be in the bowels of a monastery. "Okay, okay," he acknowledges in what sounds and feels like a long exhale. "No need to get…

"I have no idea if you're angry," Teo admits, blankly, belatedly realizing he doesn't have any real frame of reference. "But it felt like it. We're from New York. I don't— know how much Zhukovsky's told you, but we aren't trying to fuck up anything particular you have here." Well: Teodoro isn't, anyway. Francois is the one who dispensed that casual invitation about staying afterward to exterminate vermin. "'S just the end of the world again. Are our comrades okay?"

The way she looks down on Teo suggests a much greater distance than actually exists between them; the turn of Yvette's head, and then of the rest of her body, gives almost literal meaning to the phrase cold shoulder. Apparently she disagrees more than a little with the Sicilian's assertions. Rose-tinged eyes flicker to Francois, the sensation of cold less than it was but still a disturbing undercurrent in their perceptions; it carries with it a frisson of pain honed out of the general discomfort her proximity seems to induce. The short, sharp gestures of her hands are clear and definite words; but not many of them, and the young woman seems not to care overmuch about whether they are understood as she turns around and crosses the distance to the still-open door.

That strange measure of indefinite pain, again, is more familiar than the recognition she'd demanded. Francois' back goes rigid, the hairs at his nape stand on end. It feels too much like Kazimir, without the damage, the greying of skin. It's enough, almost, to have him letting her go — but instead he presses a palm against a wall, and levers himself up to stand as much as joints aching from the cold feel a little sharper from that undercurrent of discomfort. "Mademoiselle.

"How is it that one so young can be so loyal," he starts, words slow and ponderous, careful, "to Volken after he's ruined your face so?"

Spoken to, Yvette pauses on the threshold of the cell. It's a heartbeat later that she looks back over her shoulder, pale gaze focusing on the Frenchman. Why, he asks; a simple question, a complex answer. Particularly without words' convenience to explain by. The young woman regards Francois steadily, and as she does he feels the slow gathering of warmth and affection entirely out of place with his surroundings, with the cold cell and the stranger to whom he speaks. The caress of gloved hand against skin; the feathery tickle of laughter caged within but experienced nonetheless; a bedrock beneath of what could only be named trust despite everything concerning the man of whom they refer. The love of a daughter for the man she calls father.

The sensations shape only slowly, but are in the end cut off with unnatural abruptness, leaving a moment's impression of emptiness. She holds Francois' gaze afterwards, her own expression cool.

Sometimes, questions are spoken for reactions. They can get more than the answers, by far. That the girl is clearly mute would have meant that asking such a thing would indicate that the Frenchman would gain more from her response than her attempts at an answer — but what she gives him is disarmingly specific, and does better to communicate more than words would have done. His expression goes frozen with incomprehension, at first, that physical response of warmth lingering and detached for a moment before he feels it, shoulders slackening and struggling to suppress the smile that wants to go with it.

Creepy. His hands curl into the fabric of his sweater before he realises he's staring at the ground in reverie, and drags a look back up towards her when that subtle warm leaves him so quickly. "Ah," he responds, voice uncertain. "You loved him. He never deserved it, mon chéri." The way he looks at her communicates only sympathy and pity.

She watches his reaction, and when Francois speaks, Yvette's response is no more intimate than the minute lift of her chin; not as scathing a rejection as the previous lash of cold, but profound nonetheless. And that, it seems, concludes the morning interview; the young woman resumes her progress out the door, closing it quite finally behind her.

It's no more than Francois expected, no particular shrewdness in his words. Honest ones. Ineffectual, in the end, but that's alright. He waits until the door shuts, and regards their breakfast with a look of distaste at the knowledge he's going to eat it. Hell, there's even a moment of pondering about whether Teo would give him half of his in return for Francois' coat and extra warmth — dismissed the next moment, old prison sentiments and negotiations shelved as he moves towards the tray.

A second or so later, his coat is draped carelessly over Teo's shoulders, and a full bowl of porridge passed over. "Bon appétit."

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