Not To Us


abby6_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Not To Us
Synopsis The world comes back in increments, all without Francois having to leave the comfort of his home. Yet.
Date February 14, 2011

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

Snow gathers as thick as paste in the corners of the squareish backyard, made thicker with each shove of the wiry broom as the slushy ice is pushed off the cobblestone. It leaves them as shiny as jewels, slick like a beach. Over head, the sky is a lighter grey, overcast, not so much blocking the sunlight as much as it spreads it even across the doming sky. Francois is probably clearing the last snow of winter, and he's not sure why he's doing it other than the sight of the fluffy ice bothered him when he looked out the window.

He won't even be here, by the time night falls. But he vacuumed too, put the dishes away, made the bed.

His chilly enough for him to wear wool, but the activity warms him and negates the need for a jacket or a scarf, breaths foggy in the air. Since he'd stepped foot in New York City some few months ago, his hair has grown longer— one may call it long, Teo did— and his skin has gained a little colour from French-Spanish sunlight. The sound is ploddingly rhythmic, bristly scrapes, the slight spatter as ice is shoved enough to spray the brick wall that squares in this patch of land behind his home.

Water gathers in jewels along four sturdy clothes lines, empty of anything for now, and blue tarp collects fluid too where it covers a wrought iron set of outdoor furniture.

Something comes hurtling over the back wall, sturdy nylon, straps, black and brown in shade, cinches and pulls, pockets. A day pack that looks new - would even have that fresh smell - landing with a thud mated with a plop onto the freshly swept cobblestone. It's not familiar, nothing about it is, nor the glove covered fingers that slap over the top of the wall that separates the public from this private chunk of new york.

Abigail grunts, effort expended to haul herself up, hiking boots trying to find purchase. Who knows how many people might go through the effort to scale his back wall. THe possibilities are there. Burgler's is one of them.

Abby swings a leg over once she's high enough and it's only a few moments later that she's thudding down far noisier than her bag ever did, brushing off snow as she turns around. She's going to fetch that bag, really, but she's frozen by the sight of the man in the backyard with the broom who's been gone a really long time, by her calculations.

There are a few seconds where Francois grips broomstick as if it could be any kind of adequate weapon, and who knows — with enough skill, anything is. A jab to the throat, the eye, the softer places, a means to lever them down on your own terms. But even as that shock of brunette hair bobs up over the edge of the wall, recognition stills him just as much as it stills her by the time she lands. Which means Francois has more time to react, and put a smile in place, and let broomstick tumble aside with a hollow, wooden clatter on the brickwork.

When his arms go around her waist, they ease down enough so that her feet can come up off the cobble stones. He smells clean, mostly, laundry soap and shampoo, bamboo and citrus. No wine, although the day is young. He remembers some of how nice it had felt to be embraced like this and pays the favour forward wordlessly.

They'll come off, and legs will wrap around the frenchman tight, nearly strangling him with her arms. She might very well grace Robert with the look on her face or even Jesus himself if he had descended from on high. But it's Francois who she treats with the sunshine of her smile before burying it in his neck, breath deep of the man as if to confirm that he's not some figment of her imagination.

Throaty laughter then, lost into his layers of clothing, her own navy khahi's and layers of sweater and shirts, then more audible when she pulls her head back to start peppering his face with kisses as if he were her owner and she a very happy hound to see him.

The long bridge of his nose wrinkles beneath kisses, but they are favoured like the sunshine that you squint into to appreciate as well. The world blurs grey and white and brown brick as Francois pivots them both around by the time her legs are swinging back heavy to the ground, both of them taken on a list sideways, a stumble. He kisses her forehead. "I have missed you." And then her cheek, hand at the other one, and other hand in turn on her sleeve. "So very much. You're alright," is marvelled relief.

He hadn't been sure, even after receiving confirmation in his first day back, verbal reports of everyone's health and wholeness. Seeing it in the flesh is different, like stopping at the curb to watch the military truck for the first time after martial law is only an idea.

"A little skinny, eating like a horse when I'm back, pining for my husband. Lord on high and baby Jesus in his highchair, lookit you" He's touching her and she's reciprocating, running her fingers through hair that is far too long for her liking as her body tries to re-orient it'self back to gravity and earth.

"Took him long enough to done bring you back to us, Teodoro must be relieved. You got a tan, oh but you got a tan, I am so jealous, I'm white as sin and here you are sun kissed"

"I spent a spring in south France. Throw a stone and it lands in Spain almost, but give me a week more and you will never know it."

This, Francois chooses to say as opposed to trip too hard over her words at a midpoint, and chooses to be distracted by how her hair is much too brown, giving winter-thinned skin an even peakier impression, but whole and healthy. Even if he likes the blonde and did not mind the pink. His hands find hers, warm through the gloves, and he sends a glance towards the backpack lying neglected on the cobble stone backyard.

Minute papillon.

"Were you breaking into my house?" isn't as indignant as it could be, green eyes narrowed.

"As if I would break in! I was going to knock. Leave my new number with one of the Teo's. I could never break in. I don't think I'd even know how to pick a lock much less get around a latched window. But I can't just walk up and ring your front door when who knwos might be watching"

Fingers interlace with his, one last kiss dropped on his forehead. "You missed the 8th. Delilah, she had Walter. She had walter in my car just shy of the Jersey border, all bawling and red faced yelling, just pulled him from outta her belly before he could slip on out." She's till even to this day a bit in awe of the infant that she delivered. Jealous a touch of Delilah.

"You've missed so much. Most of it not good but… you know" She wobbles her head, squeezing his hand tightly. 'We should go in"

And they do, Francois' free hand pushing back the sliding glass door so that they can track winter slush into the kitchen and the rubber door mat. It's instantly warmer, the chill seared off skin and hair with the help of a well-used thermostat, and there's a clean smell to the air that indicates that the Frenchman had only continued his tidying outside. The carpet bears sweeping vacuum lines, dishes stacked to dry. "I know," is mostly all he has to say on the topics of the things he missed, attention drawing back to that thing she said.

Before. As insistent as a black hole. "Took who long enough to bring me back?" he queries, scuffing fingers through his hair, the sweep of brunette pulled back from familiarly scarred ear, as bitten white as it had been when he'd left.

"Mr. Nakamura. Last I heard he had taken you, like he'd taken others, off to go fix things and make things right in the end" The warmth is nice, the clean smell nicer. Cheap motels when she's not down in the GCT means she sacrifices cleanliness to a degree.

Once inside, she's leaning over to peel off boots, flex toes. Oblivious to the when's and how's of Francois's journey to the south of france. Just now, that he was there. Her boots are kept near the door, refusal to track more further into this clean sanctuary. "I want to keep touching you, I keep thinking you are just me hallucinating, how long have you been back?"

"I could pinch you," Francois offers, moving towards the electric kettle and fidgeting with the on-switch until it starts to reboil the already still steaming water inside, with a mechanical, gurgling growl. "Mm. A few weeks now. The only people I have really seen, besides Teo," just the one, "have been Richard and Elisabeth, and that was because they had helped find me. Eileen, also, had to discover me on my doorstep, so please do not be very offended. I'll have to explain myself to Delilah as well."

Tea is made, for the necessity of warming up, something pale and vaguely green and wine-like in appearance, although probably tastes like a honey garden. It also allows him to have his back on her, mouth pulled out of amicable smile. Mentally pacing around whether to correct. Whether not to correct. It's different, to when he refused her information based on what she would not ask — he'd be lying this time.

And still says nothing, just tilts his head towards the low wooden shelves for the earthernware for her to retrieve.

Tea is many things. Warmth, comfort, tradition and ceremony. Southern, oriental, english and so forth. From the specific kinds, to how water meets bagged or loose tea even what it's served in.

"How can I be mad at you? I've gone through phones in the last few weeks. Before that I was calling Teodoro and asking for updates once a week. Too busy burning robots in the ruins and working on my Russian and going back and forth to the Island" If Eileen had been here, presumably, he knows about the island.

Abigail maneuvers around him, touching his shoulder before she reaches up for the appropriate dishes for their tea. "Have to go back soon. I have to grab Kendall, get him to come back, I think a few of the others in the Ferry are gonna start looking for a safehouse and I was going to look in and see if I could help before I go back to the Island"

Have to go back soon has Francois shying from filling the mug completely, giving her just a few mouthfuls of the warming tea — green rooibos in South African tradition, spiky loose leaves with a couple drifting free. "I am headed up to the island as well," he says, a little stiffly, but not formally. "Eileen believes I can help, in her absence. She has, ah, her partner in the Dome crisis. She is staying here," a head tilt up for the third floor indicates he means the house, no the wider area, the wider city, "for a time. Presumably until she finds a way to will it vanished again."

Just one helping of tea, and it's passed to her, leaving his own empty but giving himself something to fidget with, his hands free of scars thanks to Constantine's talents, although throat still suffered those ribboning ripples. "I would offer this place, for the network, but I admit to wanting a home for a little longer."

"Little more, it's okay" When Francois doesn't fill the cup, motioning with her forefinger to tip in some more. There's weeks to catch up on. When he gestures up to the third floor, where she stayed so long ago, short of a year ago, there's a smile. "No, you shouldn't turn this place into a safe house Francois. I am sure that Eileen and the network would appreciate the sentiment, but be selfish. You're not wanted or on the run, and you have been for so many years, you deserve your peace and quiet and not needing to worry about it being taken away from you"

She curls a hand, fingers in the hair at his nape, shaking her head. She'll leave a note for Eileen then, a mental note that the avian telepathist can be found here in case she needs to leave a message for her. Slip over the back wall again. "If anyone can make that thing vanish, it's her. She's stubborn and strong willed enough" She gives, with a smile, taking her cup from the pair so she can hold it close, soak in heat and savor the smell. "She setting you to work with Megan or jsut wants someone level headed there? I coness that I haven't been there since we found the patrol dead. I was trying to find a way to get Peter to a healer to help one of the survivors'

"A little of both. I am sure there will never be a shortage of doctors and I have given the impression to Eileen that I will not act irrationally." Francois gives a self-deprecating head twitch at that. He didn't bother to correct her, clearly, although this may be the vain kind of modesty — Francois spares Abby from saying any such thing out loud. "She has told me a little of what the network has suffered. At the very least, my having not been around for it may grant me some objectivity."

Little chance of that. He is more honest when he adds: "That or no one will listen to me, in which case I am content with applying sutures and playing nursemaid for the sick."

'Looots of sutures, some broken noses" She gestures to her own that up close, isn't as straight as it used to be and a bump on the bridge. There's the faint line of where the bird's beak made a gash across her cheek. Someone could have used Francois not long ago after a drunken run in with a blind girls fist. "But they could use a doctor/ They only have megan and myself and people who know first aid and all that information in your head would so come in handy" The knowledge injected there by some older woman in a trade for memories.

"I don't think I've ever sewed so much. someones always coming in with some cut from chopping wood or scuffling, patrols or falls. But they'll listen to you. The accent will make them listen. Makes me listen"

Most of the time.

Abigail blows gently across the surface of her cup, cool the tea before she takes a sip. "Food is rationed, so stuff your bag full of food. Instant oatmeal is nice, and I like to tuck in chocolate bars. Give it to the kids when I go back. Granola bars. Stuff that won't perish and I can snack on if I get hungry"

One raised eyebrow at precisely the right angle to communicate a degree of European cynicism for the idea that Abby listens to him, but then, it's been a while since she's had to. Even before he disappeared. "Mm, d'accord. I can bring some fresh things over perhaps, and we can make proper food over canned goods. Frozen sauce, soft pastas. By now the hunting must have thinned or disappeared, oui? I am not a cook but— "

He reaches, levers open the freezer door enough to show the contents. Food for weeks. "Teo's designs, my doings. I've been bored." A flick of his fingers shuts the thing again, and he gives a sheepish shrug before dosing himself with some tea.

'Thinned, at the least. We've been careful not to eliminate all the deer, lest it draw attention" Abigail reaches out, thumb gently smooshing that risen brow, push it back down in a silent 'I do tooo'.

And there is a lot of food, oh my. The cup is put to the side as she's suddenly interested in what Francois has been cooking in his bored bouts of domestication upon his return, the corner of her pink lips lifting. "See, it's not that we won't have a place to put stuff so much as how to get it to where we are. The boat only has so much room for people and supplies" But frozen sauce that has spices and isn't just huge bland nutritious batches…

"Very bored. I see. You get bored, you cook, I get upset, I cook." Emotional bakers, there's quite a few of them in the Ferry.

She pulls back when she's done looking and he's done showing, fingers curling about the cup of roobios to take it back, lean her layered hip against the counter and soak in the tanned Frenchman.

"I missed you. I thought of you often"

"I clean as well." Her hand is waved away like a pesky fly, a small smile touching at his mouth to communicate suppressed amusement, before it dims again. His gaze shifts like people's do when they glance from someone's left to right eye, as if reading were possible, and Francois settles into thoughtful, vaguely guilty silence while Abby awaits to hear the appropriate me too, of you. He uses that hesitation instead to sip the tepid, herbal tea.

Shrugs a little, a little less formal and schooled in fidgeting motions than usual. "I wasn't on any mission from Hiro. He set me back in the fifties, to the year I would have been in at age thirty-six. He said he was undoing mistakes. Teo and— someone else, I am not at liberty to share his or her name and talents— brought me back after some research on their part.

"Cardinal as well, like I said. Eileen, I am told." So much for wait and see how long it takes her.

"He did what?" In truth, she heard Francois, what he said Hiro did and she's seeing red all of a sudden. Hiro took him back to the fifties? "He took you back to the fifties? You weren't even from the fifties when he brought you forward, it was 1995, why didn't he drop you off then? Why did he…"

She's going slightly white knuckled and warm, still at the mercy of her emotions more negative with regards to her ability but she's not about to loose it in his home. "Oh he's… no cinnamon buns for his arse" And more, if her tone is anything to go by. Hiro might rethink ever showing up in front of her if she has a shotgun next time he see's her. "No cinnamon buns at all, just my boot lodged between that glasses wearing little time traveling…" Mentally insert swear words here.

But Cardinal and Eileen found him and Teodoro and another time traveler got him back and she's going from angered to sheepish. She didn't do anything. All she did was… Was indulge in married life and then the Ferry.

"I was born in 1918," he reminds her, tone rueful. "And I am— in more apparent ways— in my mid thirties. That takes it into the fifties. That is how I understood the logic to be. Now that I do not have long life, I think Hiro expected I carry out the rest of it where I was meant to be, as well as relatively out of the way to make the present less complicated." Another sip, before Francois loses the taste of the South African beverage. The contents get tossed into the sink with a slash. The run of water, sharp punctuation.

The topic tends to give him energy. Restless and wolfish. "Although not long away enough. The thing that I saw, for the vision we all shared last year. I saw myself, an old man. Physically, I mean. White haired, and my hands— " Marked, veined, imperfect. He is vain, about his hands. "But it is fine now. Passed by."

'Who's he to dictate that you belonged in the fifties? The lord saw fit that what we shared, went to you and you lived to when you did till you ended up in the woods in Butte la Rose. That's like.. that's.. ooh I could get a really big stick and beat him, I really could"

Her fingers tighten around the cup even more before she puts it down, wrinkling her nose in disgust. "Hiro Nakamura is going to get the swift end of my boot for doing that to you if Teodoro doesn't shank him first. I cannot say how glad I am that what you saw didn't come to pass in the end because I can't imagine my life without you here, in it. You're…"

Important to her. "And you are not going to be white haired for a long time if any of us have a say in it. Though I suppose you'd look a fine sight, and very distinguished, tremendously distinguished" Okay, there's a smile as she pushes away from the counter so she can wrap her arms around his neck, press her cheek against his and murmur a little prayer that he ended up back here despite Nakamura's meddling.

It's a good point. Which has Francois imagining if this was the cowardly generous alternative to something else. Something more final.

He is generous in turn with hugs, arms wrapping warm around her slim waist and folding her close to him, eyes half-shut and allowing himself the pleasure of soaking her in and easing built tensions. "I can wait, to be tremendously distinguished," he mutters, huffing a muffled chuckle into the padded shoulder his chin rests against, the errant strands of dyed brunette. "Come, I'm giving you tea like a house wife. I have wine and a little vodka from last year. Teo or Eileen can join us, whoever comes first."

'ohh, no Vodka. Last time I drank Vodka… a blind girl broke my nose. Terrible, horrible. Lord I was stupid. But wine.. I will gladly take some wine and keep my shoes of a little longer" While longer. "You can tell me about how beautiful France is, and I can tell you about the Island and what to expect, what you'll want to pack"

She buries her nose in the crook of his neck, inhaling deeply, burying the smell in her memory. He smells so clean, so fresh and she's letting the anger at how close it seems, that they all came to loosing him dissipate little by little.

«I will thank god you come back to me» Murmured in broken Russian. To me. Not to us. To her. She grips his neck, a bit of a shake before she lets him go, smoothing his hair, clothing. "I should trim your hair for you. It's so long, untidy. You are hadnsome, but more handsome when it's short. More dignified"

"Well, you should be blonde." So there. Hiding from the government be damned. His hands go up to clasp her head gently enough when he drops a kiss on her crown, releasing entirely to take out a bottle of white from its long neck in the fridge door. "But I will take your feedback into consideration, mademoiselle, if only because I missed you too. And thought of you often." Maybe he'll have to get the pictures back, off Teo or Eileen, and display for her his new skills.

Ones he should probably try to maintain rather than cook for millions and waste food as pragmatically as one can. The wine glasses clink together, musical, in the relative quiet of the house.

"Or pink or as red as the wine, and my hair as long as the distance that it would take to pour the wine on the floor. But some things… they must be sacrificed" She moves for the freezer while he moves for the glasses, intended to at least stuff herself with real food, homecooked food, comfort food while she's here. Fuel for the inner fire. She'll stick around, steal a few hours at the least, of company and happiness instead of the lonliness that the cheap hotel room brings.

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