Stalemate In The Trenches


abby_icon.gif francois_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Stalemate In The Trenches
Synopsis Small domestic disputes about alarm systems are derailed when Abby returns home.
Date Mar 8, 2010

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

Every smoke canister and flashbang that goes rigged with weights and wired along the doorframes is a smoke canister or a flashbang that Teodoro isn't going to have on-hand to throw at an enemy's head on the field. Such is the way their world works, these days. The field is frozen over, the doors all but frozen shut, Dreyfus' trail gone cold, the boredom mind-numbing, and every other misappropriated cold metaphor you can think of.

Teodoro has been home for sixty-five minutes, now, and fifty-three of them have been spent on the brownstone's third floor, with spools of wire, string, scissors, bolt-cutters, duct-tape, step ladder, the .45 in his shoulder rig, and far more explosive-action devices than he really ought to be spending his down-time with. Already, the level has been boarded up over sections of hallway walls (by default: the windows), doors locked at the knobs and stopped with wedges, but the upgrade in progress comes as a symptom of stir-crazy as well as an uncommunicative sort of misery. Fifty-three minutes' worth.

Dinner, long since finished, is still floating around in the kitchen air downstairs, but it smells only of recycled air up here. Sounds of nothing more than the ventilation system's labored respiration, and the blinded window panes divulge no pearlescent clouds, none of the falling snowflakes tinted for the briefest instants into view by stable lamp light and sporadic rotation-through of pasing headlights, never mind stars.

Szzzt. The silver tape peels free in his fingers, and Teodoro bites down on the edge to rip a segment loose with a sharp jerk of his head, and somewhat greater muscle-memory with his canines than a young man probably ought to have, putting his mouth anywhere near industrial packaging materials. His feet thump a steady cadence this way, then back again; a surprisingly large rat audacious enough to venture lower than the strictest demarcation of the attic.

Fifty-three minutes until Francois finally investigates what Teo is doing to his home.

Because, it shouldn't take that long to 'fix the doors', Francois doesn't think, but it also shouldn't have taken him that long to gather some queer form of courage that isn't meant to block fear, exactly. Anxiety, maybe, although that doesn't seem to be the right word either — he can't find one, not in English or in French. So fifty-three minutes, ticking now into fifty-four, before his ascent up the open wooden staircase sounds out in a series of creaks.

His feet are bare, steel-grey jeans on his legs, a white T-shirt beneath the soft-clothed button down he has open in a deliberate gesture of comfort and partial undress, sleeves rolled half up his forearms, and both hands coming to perch on the staircase railing, having halted some few steps from the landing. He also isn't armed. By the time Teo is looking over, he'll find himself observed, Francois' arms folded on railing, and a ready smile emerging.

Remembering, too, to look at Teo, instead of stare. "Do you need help?"

"No." At least it isn't air piano! Teodoro isn't air-pianoing. This means something, some baseline reassurance that whatever this new madness that's seized him, it isn't— that particular old one. Tape dangles out from between the Sicilian's forefinger and thumb for a moment, useless, partially forgotten. Teo is on the step-ladder, balanced neatly on two feet that are probably bare only because he is worried socks would make his soles slippery and then he would fall and break his head. He's always in socks, these days, unless they're having sex or in the shower or multi-tasking.

A moment, and then Teo strings the segment out onto his other hand, too, snagging the loose end of it with a forefinger. He twists, reaches to cuddle the flashbang more firmly into the side of the doorframe. "You'll have to cut this string to get these doors open after I'm done here," he says, aloud, explaining this new feature to the homeowner about fifty-five minutes later than he strictly speaking should have. "Unless you want to go deaf and blind along with everybody else in this hallway, and wailing under the influence of CS gas. We'll be able to hear it from downstairs too.

"I was thinking about putting a couple contact plates down and accelerant in the surfaces, so any intruder who tramples in would wall themselves in with fire. And possibly get a burning house shoved up their asshole.

"What do you think?" He hops backward off the ladder, leaving the canister and its inscrutable spiderlace of trigger mechanisms-in-progress to sit, as he comes around, his voice matter-of-fact. Too matter-of-fact. A beat, and then there's a tired smile trying the good corner of his mouth. Joke, joke. Funny joke. (The joke is that it isn't one, exactly. He can think of a few demolitions experts who did it, self-checking against a precarious propensity for bookkeeping.) (Not exactly.)

By now, Francois has listed a little to the left to better look at the set up finagled on the door frame, but Teo certainly has his attention around when he starts talking about setting his home on fire. The look that he receives is one along the lines of the benefit of the doubt — wry cynicism that awaits a punchline, and by the slightly static second of silence that follows, Teo's grin isn't quite enough.

Francois drags himself up a few steps, onto the third floor proper, fingers absently fidgeting with the curl of one rolled up sleeve. "An American term springs to mind. I have a feeling it is not so known in Sicily," he says, a facetious lead in his voice before he offers; "'Overkill'? And a little bit a waste of munitions, I think." He says this with the tone of a daring lover reporting that ye-eess, those jeans make you look a tiny bit— not a lot!!— heavy.

At least, Teo doesn't look a tiny bit heavy in his jeans. Or a very bit heavy, for that matter. It bears saying: even when stretched thin over anxiety, ground into cramping knots from stress, and obviously in 'a bit of a mood' all over, he cares enough for presentation not to let himself go entirely. Guarded in a way that's neither British nor particularly paranoid. He tends to live in an aquarium walled off by his minor vices, and vanity is his favorite.

Other times, however, he lives in a brownstone house that his boyfriend owns, and his boyfriend makes fun of him. The Sicilian loops a stride around the ladder, and over the spools of things lying on the floor, and comes forward with arms open like the baleen of a whale-shark. Of course, Teo is not actually a whale-shark, lacking the heaviness, yes, but more relevantly because he makes a far better koala, latching onto Francois as much as he's scooping the older man up, the next moment. Francois' upper-arms are sandwiched against himself.

A big white Finnish nose, the one trait Teo insists he'd ever inherited from his father, winds up plowed into the handsome luxury of the older man's hair, snuffling around lungfuls of airy warmth.

Hrrk. It's an adequate way to forcibly scrape skin off one's ribs and squeeze air from one's lungs, but also affectionate enough to be smile worthy, which Francois does, a little, inevitably into Teo's own scruffy locks. Hands grip to sweater cloth and feet find puchase upon the roofs of Teo's equally bare ones, tiny tokens of an embrace back that would have otherwise been achieved with, you know. Arms.

"Qu'est-ce qu— " Actually, English is quicker, in some ways, as much as Francois Allegre (and even Francis Allen) has always had a token resistance for contractions that go beyond grammar, and colloquial phrases. "What's up?"

Nothing. Is up. Thankfully. See, eventful in New York City isn't like eventful like most places in the world, too much like Sicily— or the Sicily that Teo remembers— for his personal comfort. Teo's feet are warm and intimately familiar underneath the other man's, a comforting reference to mornings spent defying the distant whistle and screech of the workforce's rush hour in favor of making a game out of their toes.

It's all fun and games until someone loses a quart of blood through a wire-slash in his throat. "Just found out Abby brought Kozlow to John Logan," he roughs out. His hands link behind Francois' back, despite that it is impossible that he does not notice he has Francois sardined armless within his baleen whale. "And I've had a hard time not actively remembering what Dreyfus did to you, these past couple weeks.

"Add shit weather, plus undefined quantity 'x' for possibility Delilah's going to be a target again, divide by tactical successes the other Friday." His arms relax. Tighten again. If Francois were toothpaste, he would be coming out in sausage-like bulges and variations of circumference. Finally, Teodoro settles on a medium degree of pressure. "I am trying to make this house feel safer."

Thought processing renders Francois temporarily immune to the hug-assault he's passively enduring, eyes vague in incomprehension. Abby did what is a recurring theme this week, beginning to eclipse Abby went to Las Vegas and other more minor transgressions. Is brought back down to earth at this next admission which gains a frission of tension through the Frenchman's held form, up the spine, and it has Francois carefully tucking his chin atop Teo's shoulder as he continues to listen. All the while, looking at the spider egg nest of grenades and spun silvery cobweb wire he's been instructed to cut if he wants to use parts of his home.

He would like to touch Teo's face, maybe, or hold him in return. Settles for hooking his fingers into belt loops, encouraging himself closer. "I feel safe now," he says, against the higher curve of Teo's cheek. "Like this, here. Less so with grenades attached to my doors, but I appreciate the gesture." And a smile can be felt, as much as it fades around when he's leaning back enough to look at the younger man.

Hesitates, then has to force out words: "I think Dreyfus got what he wanted, from me. He will expect grenades and shotguns and contact plates now. Relax."

Maybe you should at least go armed would be the aggravated wife's retort, regarding her husband's recent beer excesses, the recession of his hairline, or the fact he goes straight to sleep afterward. Bad save, husband. You can't say she's beautiful no matter what she's wearing after the dress diss. You can't—

Teo's lips purse slightly, contorting the hole in his cheek where the Frenchman, even tilted back, can't see it very clearly. Not that said Frenchman probably needs to to know that it is happening. Hnnf. "Every time I'm relaxing or anything like it, something unexpectedly fucking ridiculous happens. Dreyfus on our doorstep. Abigail fingered for going behind our collective backs, lying. My best friend started killing people without a reasonable rubric. And apparently Peter fucking Petrelli has my bird.

"My bird. Probably shuffled him off to his mom because he can barely take responsibility for getting his own cock wet in underaged girls, never mind somebody else's living, breathing bird. Jesus." Teo huddles his shoulders up, attempts optimism, a cajoling. The Chanel cost $820 more, and I really want this one, sweetheart, it's so cute; everyone else thinks it looks cute. "They aren't fucking frag grenades or anything. They just make noise and throw a lot of gas around when they go off. It's like a really enthusiastic alarm system."

"I know what they are."

There is a mildly injured tone to Francois' voice, the same spot nicked by Dreyfus and since aggravated by elaborate security systems, Eileen's courtesy visit. Pride, in other words, although it at least has a tendency not to scar, unlike the silk-seam puckering of glossy white a few inches across his throat. "It is just not something I desire to remember. It is also not something I have objected to, but I am allowed to draw a line, ah? Or assist."

He hasn't squirmed against the hold, either, not stiffened his attempts at returning it, for all that his gaze is level and his voice even. "I feel like you are making up for my mistake. I lied to him about Kozlow, I kept pistols upstairs, I left my phone behind. I was complacant, and I am not, now. You don't have to be scared."

Have to be scared. Teo doesn't stiffen either, but words manage to snag and scratch his ego, too. Maybe if they would have could have stopped their egos hanging out there all the time, there would be fewer problems. Teodoro isn't sure if the transparency of his nervous vulnerability bothers him, or the fact that complacency has room for walking around the house unarmed, or if those two things are feeding off one another. Either way—

— he doesn't bitch or push the point. Noble restraint. "Have at," he says instead, magnanimously. The whale opens its maw, albeit gradually, acknowledging the density of the medium around them. Even space is an object when it's as cold and dark as New York City is, of late. "Your home, your rules, signor. As you like. I guess I should hold off scanning for more bullshit happening 'least until I'm done figuring about—"

Anybody else, he'd prepend with 'that bitch' or, at least, 'fucking situation with,' but he's always had a hard time pinning anything on Abigail. Predictably, his hands go into his pockets to match. He twists his head around, angles his head at the grenades that await Francois' home-decorating decisions.

One moment on the front step, there is nothing, just cold air and snow, mother nature at it's influenced and evolved controlled finest. The next there's one ABigail Beauchamp bundled up for the weather, suitcase and attached to the suitcase, a couple bags of the necessities from a grocery store that was pit stopped along the way. Some stuff has been mailed home, to reach the bar whenever the postal service ever starts running again. Air Elias at it's finest and he's gone, leaving her and her key to the place.

Only the key Abby has, isn't one that will work anymore in the wake of Dreyfus's ambush on Francois beyond the doors, which leaves the blonde to wedge a crutch under her armpit good and knock on the front door of Francois's Brownstone and hope that someone is home

He's not sure he likes that. The release followed by words like his house and his rules, and Francois' uneven fingers still hooked into Teo's beltloops— remain there, resistantly, though he does find just ground beneath his feet as opposed to Teo's toes as well. "Ah non. The operative word I believe is 'our', which is all I am saying, Teo." His hands fall away, then, his good one up to dismiss the set up that Teo has been working on for the majority of the hour.

Fine, take the credit card, get the Chanel — if it'll make you happy.

But there's a knock on the door that has him pausing. Dreyfus didn't knock, incidentally, which doesn't mean Francois can't say, "You go. You're armed." It's not quite as snide as it looks on paper — defeated, maybe, which is what he'd been anxious about coming up the staircase in the first place.

Mollified by the Chanel, Teo nevertheless is not quite so relationship-dumb enough to think that this means everything is well. The hand snagged on his belt-loops has a querulousness to it, and the deferral of the door-answering to him stinks of woe. His mouth quirks upward, because frowning would be too harsh, and he looks at the older man sidelong. The situation teeters on its fulcrum between ugly stalemate in the trenches, the oscillating lines of territorial claims and no-man's-land, concession and boundaries that must be held.

Truce! or at least its proposal, comes in the form of said gun unholstered from under his arm, pressed into Francois' hand, even as he swoops a long step back to push him toward the stairwell with shoulder and chest. "We can go together," he announces to the hallway, with its various spools, cutters, grenades, and the curl of Francois' ear near his face. "I'll put the kettle on if it's a guest while you entertain."

Abby's hand descends on the door again, knocking sharply. "Francois? Teo? It's really cold, lord I hope someones home" Because it would suck to have to try and break in, or knock on other doors and see if there's anyone else who's holing up. THe boarded over windows seen through the glass make her worry a bit with her choice to hit up here instead of heading straight for one of the shelters.

Mmnnkay. The pistol is taken only after there is the beginning of a protest at the back of Francois' throat, but it dies, and he quirks a smile at the Sicilian, if a weary one. Which shouldn't be surprising — everyone is tired in this city. Truce is accepted by the eventual steps after token resistance back against Teo's torso, but there they go, the eventual patter of feet down the staircase that will reach Abby's ears later than her voice will carry. "Not a guest," Francois says, letting momentum persuade him the rest of the way down.

It's a good thing they changed the locks. It's a good thing Abby did not attempt to break in. Tucking the pistol into the waistband of his jeans, Francois disables the shotgun guarding the front door in the manner which Teo had to show him how, before bracing himself for the winter outside and opening the door. He'll have to hope he can exude a little chilliness to counter it.

Tada. Jeans, shirt, open button down, and a pistol back in his hand, Francois sweeps a look over Abby, and steps back with a waltz's delayed timing. "Come in, quick." One can almost feel the warmth racing out the open door.

Physically. Metaphorically. Teo's face changes when the door divulges the sight of her, past the deactivated shotgun's dangling shape and the wooden frame's four sides. It's hard for his expression to come off entirely blank, ever, thanks to the fact he has a scarred hole sliced up his cheek, but smiling properly would be totally disingenuous and he has some small personal policies against that level of deceit, where most of his friends are concerned.

He pulls the door aside anyway. Motions her in as a corollary to the Frenchman's verbal invitation, though no doubt Abby won't need to be asked twice. Looks over her shoulder to check for Elias, but Elias is already gone, assuming Elias was the one who had brought her back. He shuts the door the next moment, with a sharp-shouldered zeal that whuffs a knife's slice of cold air into his own cheek, locks it up with a stolid click-clack of metal on metal. "Buona sera," comes a few jarring seconds late.

No indeed, Abigail doens't need to be told twice to come in quick before all the hot air is let out to warm up New York. It wouldn't even warm up a mouse, and she's zipping in, trying to bring in as little snow as possible to the not so humble abode of the Frenchman. "I almost asked him to take me back. The moment we hit the cold air. Lord on high, I am surprised that anything moves out there." The door is closed behind her by Teo, the shotgun set up looked at long enough to cause a pause in her spiel.

"If I could find Alec, he would probably turn his nose up at that" Bags are pushed to the side, gloves pulled off and hood swept back to reveal still blonde hair, tanned skin and a smile on her face for the two men. "How have things been while I was gone?"

Unlike Teo, Francois doesn't have policies about false smiles to friends no matter what his mood might be — the one he has for Abigail is quick and reserved, but more than chilliness, discomfort, happiness to see her or even bridled anger, the Frenchman just appears to be unprepared for her arrival — it's been a matter of moments since her name was brought up two floors up from here. "Fantastique," he replies, moving then to drag in her luggage further inside to settle against the edge of the foyer, back half turned to her once he's done as he goes to hold out the pistol, handle first, towards the Sicilian, with a glance from the exchange up to Teo's face.

"Talked to signor Logan about Aleksandr Kozlow, and he said you turned him over.

"Bad surprise. And I say that as a firm believer in good ones." Teo is, at times, blunt like concussive trauma. He has the gun in his hand, now, accepted in its safetied state, stuck into the rig under his arm. He turns around to start to help with the luggage, but stops halfway through the process, stiffly, abruptly, in the manner of a man catching himself mid-sentence saying something he principally regards as beneath him. Not that helping with luggage is beneath him.

Pretending that the topic of conversation is less than worthy of his fullest attention is, however. Such pretense would only be adopted were it required to induce a fall sense of security before ambushing somebody with a bullet to the face or a sword-cane through the neck, and however darkly these accusations and revelations find his mood, that isn't what this is. He stares at Abigail, then, as pale as she is tan.

And that would be the reason why Teo's only saying Buona Sera but not looking like he means it. The smile is very promptly wiped from her face and any attempt made to shed any of her winter clothing is aborted. Her hand comes out to close on the luggage, not wanting to let it get further away from her, a murmured thank you to Francois and glance to the Frenchman before she nods to the Sicilian.

"I did"

Confession laid out for the both of them. "Then I called Matthew. I never lied to you" Just didn't speak the whole truth, just answered precisely what Teo asked of her. "I called John Logan and asked him to come and get Kozlow while Peter was healing Francois" Her hand stays closed around the hand of her suitcase, the other around her crutch. There doesn't seem to be an apology forthcoming though.

Now she gets a look from Francois, almost hurt in the insult that I never lied to you would even fly. His jaw tics, arms left to dangle at his sides as opposed to striking any indignant poses — no folded arms, no hands on his hips. "You have a liberal interpretation of truth-telling," he notes. They're not going to make it out of the foyer, at this rate. "Teo told me what you did, the day both of you found me — merci. It happened because Dreyfus wanted to know where Kozlow was, and I told him he was dead.

"This might have saved me some trouble, ah? Had I known. You were not honest, Abby, you went to— " A hand gesture, vague and trailing westwards. Francois is moving off into the main area of the floor. "Went to Las Vegas."

Teo doesn't seem surprised in the slightest, which isn't to say he isn't angry. Plentifully so, and obvious: he's glaring. Probably, he has a lot of loud and hard words for his feelings, or at least his perception of the young woman's behavior, but they seem dammed up behind the snarled scar tissue in his cheek, the white of his teeth and the scruffy cut of his jaw. Or, perhaps, merely making room for Francois to make his own specific grievances known.

They are pretty legitimate grievances, after all. Somewhat moreso than offense taken almost purely on transgressed principles, perhaps. In the time it takes for Francois to speak, Teo's features school to a more restrained sort of grim. One of the Sicilian's hands goes up on the wall, and he stoops nearer to her, brings his broken face up near enough to study the subtle bloom of pupil against pale iris, the pristine definition of her brow and the cold-ruddied apples of her cheeks. She doesn't look all that different, but you know what they say about appearances.

He sniffs. A hooligan's gesture, or maybe more of a feline conceit. Straightens again, pushes off the wall with his splayed hand. Turns away. "I'm really fuckin' tired," he says. "Gonna get some sleep. Scissors are right there on the third floor, if you need to get the doors open."

"A small part of the reason for going to Vegas was to avoid more questions. I never expected to get away with it and Logan can tell you that. I even said as much in that basement to them" Her teeth chew at a corner of her mouth to scratch an itch there, take a deep breath and let it out quietly. "I went to find Robert. Teo knows that because we talked about that. Find out what happened, escape the snow, escape.. stress. You and Teo went to a safehouse and I went back to my place."

He's moving towards her, face close to hers that makes her stiffen beneath her layers and jacket, looking back at him as if expecting something. Yelling, hitting, something. Not that he's tired and going to sleep. Relief seeps through he that he's turning away but knows this likely isn't the last of anything concerning this. "I had a reason" She protests quietly, eye's closing. "I didn't decide to do it till I dropped Peter off." She's not making a move to follow either man further into the house, sticking close to the door and her things.

"A bientot," he tells Teo, hands twitching like they might chase after the Sicilian, but ultimately, Francois lets him go unmolested — if only for Sicily's sake. He waits for the other man to finish taking a few more steps before resuming the conversation, which he does with the same enthusiasm with which he might want to bite down on tinfoil. "A reason is good. Better than no reason. You expected to need one and you expected to get caught, but you, by extension, expected it to hurt also."

His arms go out. Flop back down. Unprepared, as stated. "I only just knew of this, a few minutes ago. I was already mad at you for leaving without a word, for escape." That actually accompanies a smile, still weary, as if amused at his own neurosis — dismissed now, at least. "This is not among the better reasons why."

The results of what happened with Dreyfus did leave scars behind — with the necrotic handprint on his leg covered by grey denim, all that's left visibly would be the white ribbon of scarring that stretches a couple of inches across his throat, and he scratches slightly unshaven skin next to it now, with his better hand. "Are you staying?" is asked quietly, without impression of what Francois would prefer.

Always the articulate one, Teo angles a wad of spit into the trash can off the end of the hallway table. Gets one bare foot onto the lowest step of the stair, then skips the two next ones like a thirteen-year-old would go bounding, but slower, leaning into his next stride, ends up a few feet further up. "I'll make a point to make sub-bullet points, next time. You know, under 'What the fuck happened?' Or maybe not." He raises an arm without looking back, and then the ceiling is subtracting his head from view anyway, then his shoulders, and then there's only his feet turning on the landing.

"I knew it would hurt" She agree's with him quietly, Teo's parting words and behavior, Francois even, bringing about submissiveness, shoulders hunched in and chin down, flinching with each swear word. Like a beloved dog that knows it's done something really bad, wrong and shouldn't have done, but did it anyways. If she had a tail, it'd be tucked between her legs. She doens't like the swearing, it feels like he's saying the F-word on purpose as a way to hurt her. Being alone in Vegas is suddenly looking very appealing.

"It's what I do Francois." Barely audible once Teo's bounded up the stairs. "Things.. thing get too much, I bolt. This isn't the first time." For bolting, taking off somewhere without telling others. With taking someone with her and making sure her cellphone is on her so that Wireless can say where she is when inevitably asked by Teo. "New York. Milwaukee. Vegas" She shifts uncomfortably, looking down to her suitcase even as she lifts a hand to rub at an eye.

"I'd like to stay, but I'd understand if I'm not welcome and I can get Wireless's help to find out which safehouse is still operating. Groceries are for the both of you either way"

Francois feels that maybe implying that welcome is a necessity is too much politeness to deal with in this context, if a series of blinks and a glance away is to communicate anything. "It is ridiculous weather," he states, shoulders curling in and up in a hunching shrug. "Teo has a new alarm system installed on the upper floor but I have his permission to undo it, if you can keep to the one room. And do not mind boarded over windows." It is unreasonably dim in here. "We're not going to resolve our differences in the foyer, I think.

"Come. We don't want the extend argument muddied by my sending you out into the bitter cold. We have enough transgressions." Francois has no idea. None. Elisabeth had been astute, in suggesting Teo make him talk to Abby — but needing more than five minutes to prepare is not out of the question. Without looking at her, he goes to pick up her suitcase.

"I can stay on the couch tonight Francois. It's too late to be dealing with using scissors on things and rooms with boarded up windows. I'm pretty tired from traveling" Elias's brand of travel isn't stomach friendly and she sends a wary look up towards the staircase as if she possesses Flint's ability to see where Teo is. "I'll just stay down here tonight, if it's alright with you. My ankles bothering me and I don't want to deal with stairs tonight" Lie. She doesn't doesn't want to be on the same floor as the Sicilian. But she makes no move to keep him from touching the suitcase, just licks her lips to get more moisture into them and follows behind him further into the house and away from the door and foyer.

"Thank you"

Thunk. It makes the journey of the suitcase much shorter, letting it drop next to one of the loungeroom sofas that look pretty awesome to sleep in, frankly — Abby's exile to the bottom floor won't be uncomfortable until she wants to shower. "Je t'en prie. It's nothing." They are of a similar cloth, these two former healers — Francois' methods of escapism occasionally manifests in impulsive journeying, too, and they both like to touch their closer friends, forbidding various traumas and reservations. This is about when he would embrace her.

He wants to, is the thing, and Abby can probably see it in the tense horizon of his shoulders through to his hesitations. Whether it be lingering trauma and reservation, or hurt evoked from something pettier than Kozlow and more Vegas shaped, or bizarre loyalty to his boyfriend's anger— Francois resists. Or maybe he thinks she wouldn't welcome it after all.

These mysteries and more. "I think he could use company," he excuses himself, with a glance upwards to indicate where Teo is surely back-down on the bed and glaring angry holes through the bedroom ceiling. Francois steps sideways, goes for the staircase.

Only a mute nod is evoked from Abby, coming to stand beside her luggage only when he's stepped away, heading for the stairs and the man above. She'd welcome it, the embrace, if she didn't feel like she didn't deserve it. Self imposed exile. There will be time to talk later, yell, scream, curse and do whatever it is, that shall be done. Another room to open in the place so she can sequester herself there and away from them, wait out the storm of all kinds.

"Bonne Nuit" in her halting french, one of few words she can speak back in his milk tongue and when his back is turned, that's when she starts peeling out of her winter gear finally.

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