Red Badge


abby6_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif francois_icon.gif ghost3_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Red Badge
Synopsis Francois receives visitors at his home and a reminder that whether or not he survives his illness he won't have to die alone.
Date June 16, 2011

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

By the time Teo drives back into the garage, that owl's ceaseless woop woop woop is still going incessantly. Makes him wish he could find the thing or had something to throw, but it wasn't bothering Francois when he'd left the man under the sheets, and it seems like poor form to curse (Abby) out an otherwise innocent bird (Eileen) when it's just his nerves being identifiably raw, so. As it is, he hits the remote to shut the garage door behind them and then tries not to hear the bird still woop wooping outside as he climbs out of the car and goes to get Eileen's open.

He would have gotten Abigail's too, of course, but blind girls have some small priority and he isn't sure Abigail's still the sort of girl to find such minor gestures of chivalry flattering. He seriously doubts she'd wait for him to come around to hers, anyway. "He's in the master bedroom," he says. "I put a mini-fridge up there for plasma, but I haven't. I mean. I don't know— how, or when I should— but he's been coughing up a lot of blood, so it's probably time."

He knocks the shotgun door shut with his hip, and insists on carrying something of Abby's— anything of Abby's— up to the house, though there's an arm out for Eileen.

The stairway up is filled with a leaden gloom despite that Teo kept the windows unblinded and chinked open all through daylight, a stillness interrupted only by the bird still carrolling outside. Something sour fights the crisp scent of detergent in the air. There's a laundry machine going in the recesses of the house, grinding wearily away at another one of the Sicilian's effort to keep disease at bay. The whole of it feels later than it is.

Blind girls take presidence, over seeing girls and Abigail's not about to quibble over chivalry or acts thereof by men both upright, healthy and otherwise irritated. Nor will she indeed wait till he can come around to her side of the door. Bad enough the chance the trio took with Teo driving around two very wanted terrorists. If it was up to her it would have been her hauling herself up over the back wall out of view.

She at least relinquishes a backpack, not having brought much since she's not got Kasha with her and it's the toddler that really comes with a lot more baggage. "Eileen or I can do that, take care of that. Show you how to handle it too in case either of us aren't here." Keeping her voice low out of respect for the ill frenchman who's sequestered away in the house that love - or some semblence thereof - bought. "Francois?" She calls out, voice rebounding and bouncing across walls and floor, remembering times when hoofing it up these stairs was far more bloodier and just as worrisome. She casts a glance back to make sure Eileen(and bird) are coming, trusting the woman to ask her or Teo for help if she needs it before forging ahead.

Eileen's hand finds Teo's elbow and rests there rather than linking arms with him like children do. She's come a long way from the greasy, half-drowned kitten-like creature that Phoenix kept prisoner in the bowels of an abandoned mental institution back when loyalty was still a question for everyone involved. Cygnets turn into swans and little English girls turn into whatever it is that Eileen has become, glossy and sleek and dressed in lightest wool.

She is carrying a book, fingers curled around spine and cover held against her breast somewhere above her heart. Whatever it is, it's old — though probably not as old as the man they've come to see even if its pages have gone yellow and Francois' teeth are still white. "Do you expect him to answer you?" she asks Abigail, not unkindly.

He doesn't, which is rude, but that's because he isn't properly awake. Pessimistically, Francois doesn't entirely trust random voices anymore either.

The room is one that's kept someone sick in it for a little while, now, but not neglected. Crumpled bedsheets, the man beneath it stripped down to shorts and a grey T-shirt marked by Columbia University across the chest, blotted damp at the back, beneath his arms. He has successfully stayed in bed, this time, turned over on his side with an arm roaming out across the sheets, fingers splayed and fidgeting small with the folds in the fabric. A lack of appetite and bringing up some of what he does it is finally beginning to show in harder lines in his face, muscle-mass depleted. Even open as bleary slits to observe lamp-light off knuckles, it won't take a long time to miss red-stained corneas, the iconic red eyes of this brand of plague.

Mostly weak and tired than actively writhing with fever, right now, Francois isn't standing on ceremony, concentrating instead on being still in wait of the next coughing fit or coming nausea.

Teo ushers two women into the room, a tall figure, familiar, says nothing immediately but he can guess idly that Francois' lack of response has as much to do with suspected misperception as physical exhaustion. He's read a little bit about this sickness in the past few weeks. When he ran out of case studies and autopsy reports, he'd started following Blogs, which was probably a bad idea on several levels. He thought about killing a couple trolls he'd found lurking around in the comments sections of the he-just-passed-away-thank-you final posts. Just in a facetious kind of way, but. That probably isn't really super healthy.

"Francois, Francois." Bringing Eileen to a stop by the bedstand, he sits on the edge of the bed with the backpack on his lap as if it were Kasha instead of just a backpack. "Eileen and Abby are here to help. They're both here in person." He tips to the side to show the willowy young women past his shoulder, tightens his grasp on the bag and starts to hand it back to its owner. An edge of skin-warmed metal on his finger brushes by the edge of Abigail's hand as it's transferred over, but the next moment, his hands are fussing through Francois' blankets, then his hair, the fabric of his shirt. "Need some more eyedrops, babe?"

Never smart to troll the blogs. Or google yourself. Not that anyone in here would likely try to google themselves.

"Not if he's sleeping. If he isn't, I figured give him enough warning to get himself to whatever state of presentable that he wants to be in when he see's us" Whether he really likes it or not. "Been a while, since he had the both of us fussing over him. Less tree's, less holes, more people chasing after us" She glances over her shoulder - the corner of her mouth turned up a fraction in a faint smile - to the more put together female in the room. "No mosquito's" She herself in khaki shorts, turned up at the cuff at the knee, long sleeved cotton to hide the ink on her back from general sight. Pale white legs on display and in need of some sun.

Teo leads them in, giving the Frenchman the heads up with words that make the former blonde of the pair murmur. "Hallucinations?" Everyone can hear it and she stands there back from the bed, letting Eileen and Teo get in there, taking the bag back with only a hesitation at the ring on the specific finger. It's brushed off, filed away. Another day and time to ask about it, in the bedroom of Francois, is not the place. Pink lips purse at the sight, brows scrunch inwards, concerned and worried even more now that she see's him face to face.

Eileen occupies herself with pulling up a chair that she hopes she can sit in for long periods of time without acquiring a stiff neck or a sore back. Stiffer neck and sorer back, it turns out as she settles there at Francois' bedside — the healing cut on her cheek and mottled bruising under her clothes are a reminder that her body still hasn't forgiven her for the last fight she picked, and probably won't for another week.

The book she places in her lap, and she reaches out with a hand to rest it close to Francois' shoulder without putting herself in Teodoro's way. She confirms one half of Teodoro's claim with a touch. Yes, she's here.

A sound with enough n's in it to constitute as a no turns down Teo's offer, Francois rolling onto his back slow enough to be cautious of drowning on the stuff he chokes on. A hand finds resting purchase on Teo's wrist where the Sicilian's hand has plucked at damp cotton cloth at his chest, and then he looks to follow the touch to his shoulder, Eileen sitting dainty nearby. His other hand doesn't respond to her — instead, it comes to rest where knife stabs had gone in and out of his belly and bled bright in Louisiana. As if checking. Blood-stained glance flicks towards the final figure in the room, before he moves.

Haltingly, an effort made to sit up in bed with his back still squared against the bedhead. There's no jewelry on him, from rings to wristwatches. He hasn't been properly dressed since he started hallucinating. "As long as they didn't bring Hiro," scratches out of his throat. It is at least lucid, if it's a joke.

There's a grumbled almost-curse shaping the air in Teo's lungs, but he doesn't actually say anything of it, something along the lines of you think you're so funny. He rolls the hem of Francois' shirt down his hip and moves his forelocks for the third time in the past fourteen or so seconds, and stands up suddenly, appearing to have some difficulty breathing or knowing what to do with his hands. Probably not symptomatic of illness. Not exactly.

"There are a few other rooms. We haven't really known what to do with them. One upstairs— Abby's stayed in one before I believe, and a few— any of them can do. I got two rollaways, but there's actually one with a frame already there— upstairs, and you know how these work." Jolting over and aside grammar like a bad undercarriage driving over an uneven road, Teodoro goes over to the desk he'd mostly-cleared, picks up a baby monitor, and brings it over to the bedstand at Eileen's side, and puts it down, and then picks it back up again to show Abigail.

It is white. Has a handful of buttons. Sound output in four-five rings of concentric holes, plastic, sturdy, battery-operated, stubby white antenna. She's seen one before. "I can still be here with him most of the time, but if you guys could take over for an evening or a day here 'r there, I could. Get some more work done, and. Shit like that."

"If anything remotely Asian even thinks to rear it's head in your vicinity, I think it'll find itself the center of all negative avian attention followed by a very crispy state not unlike pig on a spit" Hiro is a dead man if he thinks to show up anytime soon. Baby monitor plucked up, fingers flicking the switch to on and the channel that the other half of the ensemble is set to before turning it off, lest there be feedback. She's got one for Kasha, for when she's down in the terminal and needing to roam to other rooms while the little girl sleeps.

"I am surprised you didn't get the one that lets you actually watch the other person" Slant a glance his way, then down to his hands. "I have to go away in a few days to do some Ferry business but I'll stick around till then and come back when I'm back. That okay Francois?"

Not is that okay Teo. Francois is the one that has to put up with the fussing. The cooking and the turnabout that is fair play for guilting her into eating when she was sick.

Eileen removes her coat to hang over the back of her chair, leaving her in her cardigan and the blouse she wears beneath, a floral skirt in dark hues with a splash of red that matches her flats but not the polish on her nails, which are lacquered and clear. It is summer outside, wildflowers are taking over New York's patches of green at an ivy creep, and it felt wrong to visit with her friend in shades of gray and black.

He isn't dead yet. She opens the book in her lap and there is one such flower there, freshly cut with a long stem and white-pink petals forming a shape like a moccasin. There are things being bedridden makes you miss out on, and although Francois isn't well enough to go outside for some fresh air, this does not mean they can't bring a small part of the outside to him.

"My evenings here or there are yours," she says.

Blogs talk about the fluid in the lungs being the thing, the breaking point that makes the transition between homecare and hospital, because there's stuff chicken soup doesn't cure. Shift in position is quick to inspire irritation, Francois turning enough to muffle small, meek coughs into his palm as Teo talks to Abby and Eileen gets herself settled, and then, inevitably— harsher ones, until dilute blood is palmed away, sinking back into lying down and breathing wisping irregular through clogged airways. He reaches to drag tissue box closer, tugging the fabricy paper from plastic slip.

Doesn't answer either of them, settling on his side, spits saliva, blood and mucus into tissue, blotting his mouth of it with his back to Eileen before tissue is crumpled in his hand and he breathes. Passing the buck back to Teo, silently, whose schedule depends better on the two ladies. Francois will just be here.

Teo nods his head a little robotically and twists his head around, looking for something he knows isn't here. "I just rigged a few extra units, but there's one with a camera," he says. "The main one, I mean. I guess I should've gotten more of them." A line engraves itself into his brow but he just crosses his arms before he keeps talking about how he'd broken his screwdriver taking the back out as it was. A least it works. All of them work.

"Grazie." His voice sounds smaller than it was before, and the Italian doesn't seem to come quite as fluently like it had been instinct to say it thus but he'd gotten caught up overthinking it for a moment there. "Both of you." He angles a sidelong look at Eileen's pale profile, then his eyes drop, sliding nervlessly past the side of Abby's leg. Pasty creatures the lot of them now. Terrorists are the non-fictional equivalent of vampires or ghouls, creatures of darkness who observe brutal traditions and inconceivable necessities.

"If there's anything I can do to repay you guys, I. I mean, I'll make sure this place has enough groceries whenever you're staying over, and if you have any preferences I can get it. And if," he clears his throat. Seems self-conscious, all of a sudden, and his voice is quieter still when he starts to speak again, a thumb moving behind his other fingers like a caged tiger, but his thumb is spinning his ring, the recursive herringbone pattern gleaming dully in the half-light. "If there's anything I can do for the Ferry, of course, I will. I know there must be other v— patients."

No answer from Francois save the sound of sick lungs that she had hoped would not be something that they'd hear for a long time. But thanks to a red haired dreadlocked nere-do-well, that hope had been dashed. Abby's fingers tighten around the plastic reciever, making the item protest a bit before she's shaking her head, turning away from the bed and Francois in it, leaving this shift to Eileen.

"You're my family. There's no debt between family. I don't want to hear anything about repaying us or I'll drag you by you're ear out back and kick your ass"

The baby reciever is clipped to a back pocket, backpack slung over her shoulder and starts heading for the door. "I'm going to go downstairs and get some tea going, see what we'll need for groceries, make soup. Eileen, you'll let me know what you want when you come down?"

"Yes," says Eileen. Yes to tea. Yes to letting Abigail know what she wants to eat. Yes to inflicting physical violence on Teodoro if he thinks he can turn this into a debt he owes them. She places the flower on Francois' nightstand.

"You can stop fidgeting," she advises. Teo, not Abby. "It makes you look like a rabbit." Which is not an entirely unflattering comparison. Eileen likes rabbits; ask Benji. "I brought a book with me," she tells Francois. "I can be quiet, or we can read it together if you like. I promise not to put you to sleep."

Yeah, Teo, implies a bloodied eyeroll up to look at him. This is not a flattering conversation, for Francois, talk of debt more so than Teo needing some time. That part Francois understands to feel guilty enough about. The backs of his knuckles grease away excess blood from the corner of his mouth and tosses the ball of tissue away, prepared to sink into feverish, quiet misery while the adults have grownup talk, except Eileen says a thing to make him smile. Even chuckle, although it's a raw, stuttery thing, scratching at the back of abused throat. "Lapin," he asserts, pronunciation as good as it would be if he were well.

"Mon lapin." Teo can tell them Francois is being delirious, so it's okay. Except he makes an effort, coughing once, twice into his pillow before watching Abby walk away, lifting his head to try and tilt a look back at Eileen. "What book?"

Teo proceeds to turn an insipid shade of pink. He puts one big hand up on the top of his head and starts to rub at his hair. Uncertain whether or not he should stay. Go? Bring the tea. There's an Alice in Wonderland analogy due somewhere in here, he's sure, as he parks a hip against the bedpost by Francois' foot, shooting Eileen a frown she must know is there whether or not she can see.

She does see: a longer shadow stealing across the driveway from the gate. The owl's bill hooking shut long enough to regard the figure with momentary curiosity, fleeting on its feet, a sinewy grace to it, glancing up for just an instant; the acknowledgment of blue eyes and a face weirdly like the one across from Eileen's blind profile now. And he has a key.

By the time Abigail reaches the kitchen, the ghost is there waiting for her. She knows the one. A little over six foot, bristly head, heavy at the shoulders, but not the way that men who've been to jail are, his eyes soullessly pallid but exactly the same, in color, shape, acuity of regard, as the other incarnations of Teodoro Laudani she's ever met. "Evening," he says, poking the key back into the pocket of his trousers. The other Teos never wear black cotton trousers or long coats; only this one. "The Frenchman looks pretty fucked up, huh?

"How do you feel about buying back his life by letting Dr. Sheridan off the hook?" The kettle hangs lightly in his grasp, the handle over his fingers. He offers it to her. "I won't hold you to your answer before you get through your questions. It'd probably be a bad idea based on inadequate information."

"Language" The kettle is lifted from Ghosts hands when she finds herself not so alone downstairs as she had anticipated, aborting the call she was halfway through punching the number in for. Instead, it's tucked away into a pocket, ruining the line of her derriere and she's laying down a stinging slap in the hopes it will remind the future version of their beloved Sicilian to not use such words around the should-be-blonde.

She knows the woman in question and the other look sent Ghosts way is one fraught with pursed lips and flared nostrils. Whatever is going to go on downstairs, those upstairs won't know even as she's turning on the water tap, glancing over her shoulder with a query hot on it's heels.

Teodoro's clones are better behaved than Gabriel's clones — or at least that would be Eileen's thought on the subject of the man downstairs, but then she has to remind herself that Teodoro is one of Gabriel's clones and she's pressing out a breath with the same force required to set what's happening down in the kitchen aside, at least for the time being. This is a complicated situation.

There aren't many these day which aren't. "Red Badge of Courage," she says, and that isn't complicated. Neither is reading the words as they appear on the first page when she opens the book, thanks to a sparrow nestled cozy in the dark curls of her hair. "Stephen Crane.

"It's about a soldier."

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