Petit à Petit L'oiseau Fait Son Nid


berlin_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Petit à Petit L'oiseau Fait Son Nid
Synopsis Little by little the bird builds its nest.
Date March 19, 2018

The Bunker: Rooftop

It's been cold, these past few weeks, all clear skies and frost on the windows. Francois has no preferences for any one season, save that he favours the start of them all, when it's still a change. This winter seems as though it will linger forever, and yet—

Here he is, on the flat rooftop of the Bunker, overlooking the murky river after the sun has set, instead of within the warmer confines of his own quarters. He has with him his evening glass of merlot (and next to his foot, on the ground, an evening bottle of merlot), which he is slow to drink, in no hurry. While he is alone, there are other places he could have gone if aloneness was the true aim — he likes to go for drives, and he will often retreat to his quarters to read, or find some other anonymous sanctuary in the scattering of twilight businesses building themselves up onto their foundations throughout Rochester.

Instead, he is here, dressed soberly but comfortable. On his left hand, wedding band and engagement ring worn together at a knuckle on his left hand, and perhaps his thoughts have taken a turn for the personal as he rotates both loops of silver idly. Beside his absences when off-duty, it is one of the rare indications that he has an existence outside of, well.



Berlin doesn't mind the cold, there's something comforting in it, which might be why she has made her way to the roof herself. She has a coat, but that's part of the comfort of long winters. Seeing someone else having the same sort of idea makes her pause, but it's not enough to send her back downstairs. Not this time, anyway. Instead, she comes over to stand next to him, but looking out at the view. Such as it is.

"I didn't think you were supposed to chill merlot," she says after a moment or two, glancing over at him with enough of a smile to imply that this comment is a joke, or something close to it. A glance goes to the rings, but no more than a gaze pulled by movement before she looks back out again. "I'm interrupting," she notes, apologetic.

"Oui, you are," Francois agrees. "And for that you have my gratitude."

Said as though she had interrupted a moment of boredom or indulgent idleness, as opposed to anything worse. The movement of his fingers stop, semi-conscious, hand curling, and he glances down at the drink in his other. "Mm. It warms me anyway."

That Berlin did not make a retreat when she could have is noted if only because he might have anticipated she would. Of the younger ones, she seems— well, unfriendly is not the word Francois would use, out loud or otherwise, but it's the one easiest to reach for. More that she seems to have her own space, and at that, so does he. "You ought to have brought a glass."

The response gets a warmer smile when Berlin looks back over at him. "You have mine, too. Because I was coming up here to think too much," she says before she turns from the view to look over at him. Her arms fold, not from the cold, but as if she were uncomfortable.

"An oversight on my part," she says, as far as the glass. But one she doesn't seem to plan on correcting. Instead, she moves to sit on the roof's edge, legs swinging softly. "You seem sad, Lieutenant. Even with the wine." Which is a shame, her tone might imply, as if wine should be some sort of cureall.

"Mm. It is part of my je ne sais quoi."

There are moments when Francois appears to be more consciously leaning into his heritage for some kind of affect — and now is such a time, with that statement, offering her a smile that is nevertheless on the milder side of smiles. Perhaps, though, dismissing her observation outright isn't exactly what he wishes to do, so he considers it, and looks back at the river turning from grey to black in the thickening night.

He gestures a little. "I'd never been here prior to the Civil War. Still, there are whole streets on which no one lives or has business there. Corners where construction begins at sunrise and doesn't end until sundown. It will take time to piece itself back together, and in that time, there will be time to think. It is a period of time I know of, and think about as well. Perhaps I am given to melancholy when I do."

This may, in turn, be its own kind of deflection — but it's spoken with gentle thoughtfulness.

"It does work for you," Berlin says, as if this were a fact that were well established. And maybe it is. Among certain circles. She doesn't seem offended by being deflected, and when he comes back around to it, she looks a little surprised. His words get something of a sad smile.

"You know, I didn't see much before it, either. Safehouse to safehouse. Raid. Run. Repeat. It's odd, but, this all has a stability to it. Things crumble, we put them back together. However long it takes, we make a new world out of the dust of the last one. I like to think we learn a little bit as we go. Make things better, inch by inch." For all that it's an optimistic view, she doesn't sound particularly cheered by it. "Do you think we do? Make things better as we go?"

As she speaks, Francois drinks — two modest, neat sips. Being the kind of man who has a nightly glass in his hand, he is indulging in stone cold sobriety and has no interest in changing that beyond the warm relaxation that strong wine brings. And then there is that question, and he wouldn't have minded being three big glasses deep before coming up with an answer. His laugh is subtle, light.

"I think there are those who look at the wreckage and think, 'never again', as they lay down new bricks," he says, after a moment. "And I think there are those who take inspiration from such things. Fortunately, I believe those in power are of the former, and so are we. This country was very proud, once. Non, arrogant, I mean. Now there is a different pride."

Berlin lifts her eyebrows at the laugh. As far as answers go, it's a telling reply. Not what she expected, but when he goes on, her expression shifts to understanding. "That's a good point. And worse— people who think they're the former, but are actually the latter." She lets out a sigh, looking outward for a moment. But then back to him again. "The young are always arrogant," she says, but with a grin. Because she is young. "Things went off the rails here. I hope we learn. Here." The rest of the world has it's own growing pains to get through. One mountain a day.

"Pride won't be enough," she points out. For a moment, that seems like the end of her statement. But then she remembers to add, "It might be a good jumping off point, though. There's a second chance here to try to get it right. Don't get too many of those."

"Very rarely," he agrees, on second chances.

And Francois isn't sure which chance he is living in now — maybe his fourth — but it doesn't mean he takes it for granted. His blunt nails fidget against curved glass. "Sometimes people say things about the arrogance of the old," he adds, humour played straight and dry, "but I am sure they don't know what they're talking about."

A smile curls up one corner of Berlin's lips, repressing the urge to laugh too loud. "Well, they don't have your experience," she says in wide eyed innocence. "So we'll give them a break. I'm sure they'd never say so if they met you." Her heels beat a quiet rhythm against the edge of the roof, matching the gentle smile that comes to settle on her face. It isn't always like this, of course. Sometimes she seems more reluctant to sit and talk with him. But tonight is a good night.

"It would be totally barbaric of me to try your wine straight from the bottle, wouldn't it?" Spoken like she expects him to be offended, although the smile gives away that she only means it in good fun.

"Well," is said like Francois is maybe granting an exception this one time, and like perhaps he has never, himself, drunken wine out of bottles on rooftops in his long life, "it is already chilled."

So much for civility.

He reaches aside and picks up the wine bottle. It is half-empty, which isn't pessimistic if you think in terms of progress. "We're in the wilds still, anyway," he says, setting it into her hands. "For a little while longer. Did you come out here for the air, yourself, or to be alone?"

That first word is enough to get a smile. A broad one. It might be the tone it's said with, though, as there's a sort of knowing look about her. "You're the best," she says as she's handed the bottle. She smells it first, but that is her last nod to civility before she takes a drink.

"Just for the quiet," she says, but she doesn't seem to mind that quiet didn't end up meaning silence. "I'm never alone," she says, a finger tapping her temple, "feels like. And I love the girls, don't get me wrong. But, you know." And he obviously does know, since he is also up here.

The wine has very little sweetness to it and a lot of richness at the same time, full bodied enough to be enjoyed with the pairing of a meal. Certainly an international luxury, hard to get, expensive — but what else might Francois care to put his wages towards if not nice bottles of wine? He makes a hmm sound of agreement — both to never truly being alone, and also, yes, he knows.

"It's a very little life, this one," he says. "Even as we do bigger things, in this gigantic country. You," and he sort of swings his attention back around to her as he has a thought, or advice, to impart, "should travel, when the dust has settled here, or even before. The wine you taste now grew from the fields of Burgos, in the Ribera del Duero of Spain. Have you never wished to?" The phrasing is a little odd, as if her being here were more of a choice than it probably is, but maybe that's just a matter of language, his tone curious.

Whether or not Berlin appreciates the rarity of the wine, she does seem to appreciate the taste. Because she takes another drink while he talks. Sweetness, it seems, is not required. She looks at the bottle, not necessarily to confirm its origin, but to hide a wistful look that comes over her features.

"Of course I have," she says quietly. She looks back up at him, gaze studying him for a long moment, nails tapping on glass. Contemplative. But then her expression quirks into an amused, if light, smile. "My name all but cursed me with it, yeah? Wanderlust." Which is hardly true, since she's never attempted to go further than New York's Safe Zone unless it was part of a mission. "«You've traveled,»" she says, her French sounding easy, well practiced, "«did it bring you joy?»"

The switch to another common language gets a smile out of Francois — the half kind, but also the less practiced kind. He makes the same transition, his words smooth and swift. "«I occasionally found joy in my travels,»" he says, which is different. "«But pursuit of happiness can occur anywhere. Normally in other people. To travel is to see what you are fighting for, I think, and to sample other lives. Like wines.»"

He casts his attention back out, riverwards. It's not quite a hair toss, raising his glass imperiously. "«I recommend beginning with France, of course. You have the language.»" And with that, he slides the rest of his helping down his throat in a neat swoop.

Berlin can't help but smile at his smile, hers a little fuller. Melancholy might suit him, but it seems other emotinos do too. "«Only occasionally?»" Her head tilts, curious, but she doesn't ask more than that. And since she doesn't actually wait for an answer, maybe she doesn't expect him to share. "«I never thought about that. Seeing what we're fighting for. All of it, not just my little corner. Do you suppose Hana would give me a vacation? Around the world in eighty days.»"

She watches him turn back outward, not minding the way her gaze turns toward admiring. But when his makes his recommendation, she chuckles, shaking her head a little. "«Beautiful land, tumultuous history,»" she says, although she doesn't see that as a bad thing. She hop back onto the roof, turning back to the view as well. "«And art. Food. Music,»" she says, with a spread of her hands and a brighter smile, "«and dancing.»" She remembers a moment later to set the wine bottle down, with a bit of a sheepish expression.

"A working holiday, perhaps," diverts back into English, on the same par of humour as her suggestion that Hana might grant her a vacation. Francois managed to leave America behind for a little while, under the Wolfhound name. It would be a lie to say he didn't enjoy some parts of it.

It would be a lie to think that any of them didn't enjoy some parts of this. "«You could travel from Paris to Brussels within two hours. To Düsseldorf, to Amsterdam. It is easy to imagine finding occasional joy, with so many places as neighbours to one another. To walk down roads that have existed for hundreds of years. Of course, I have seen it all before,»" is a return to form, glancing to the bottle she set down, adjusting its sit so its a little less precarious. "«You will have earned it.»"

"I'll let you pitch that one to her," Berlin states dryly. But not without a crooked smile. "«Maybe one of the wolves will do us a favor and hideout somewhere exciting.»" Not that the work is ever boring. "«Different,»" she amends.

Her hands move to the ledge to brace her as she leans just a little toward the view. As if she might be imagining a different sight there altogether. His pitch is a pretty good one, after all. Good enough to get a soft sigh, anyway. "«Of course,»" is echoed, though, and she cuts a sideways look his direction. "«But it isn't dull yet, all the same.»" She's confident of that, however far and wide his feet have taken him. "«I don't know about that. It's hard to feel like I've earn anything yet, except a chance to prove that I can.»" It isn't a pitying statement, rather the opposite.

Francois doesn't argue the point. They are where they are, and there they will remain until some undisclosed measure of time. Accidentally convincing a young officer to be discontent with her lot in life seems counterintuitive, but all the same — it seems important, for all their sakes, to find perspective where they can. And sometimes, the sheer scale of the earth, its depth and its breadth, has a way of doing that.

He tips his glass a little in his hand, the half-penny sized droplet of wine gathered at its middle dispersed into a blood-tinge film along the inside. For much the same reasons as the above, he concedes to her second point as well. She does not sound aggravated by it, besides. "America is handsome enough, for now," he says, after a moment. "I've seen plenty of it too. And oui, «we all begin by proving ourselves»."

He takes the wine bottle by the neck, and lifts his weight off the railing. "I cede the territory. Only fair you have a turn of the rooftop for yourself, before you retire for the evening."

Berlin lifts a hand to make a so-so gesture, as if she thinks America holds fewer beauties than other places. But it's only meant playfully. Even if the country has seen better days.

"«It is not such a bad place to begin.»" When he picks up the bottle, she turns toward him, as if trying not to be rude. "Thank you. For the company. And the wine," she says with a nod. And probably for the territory too, seeing as she turns back outward, settling in like she has no plans to move again anytime soon.

"Bonsoir, demoiselle."

Francois leaves her to it, his presence dwindled to footsteps set to a wandered pace, and the opening and closing of a door. In his place, Berlin has to herself the clear, cold sky, and the continuous sound of the river.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License