Sunshine All The Time


deckard3_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title Sunshine All The Time
Synopsis …makes a desert.
Date October 28, 2009


It's getting colder. Where most New Yorkers note as much in passing and can offer only as much attention as making a decision to take a coat to work or not requires, the homeless and four-legged alike have begun to feel a familiar foreboding for the onset of fall and the frigid wind tagging in on its ragged heels. Wind-shielded, abandoned real estate on Staten Island is going fast for those who know how and where to look. Unfortunately, some are more reluctant than others to concede defeat when someone bigger and badder decides to claim a swath of sheltered decay that they'd been eyeing as their own.

This is how Flint finds himself standing groggy and barefoot at the top of set of dark, narrow, creaking stairs in t-shirt, jeans and overcoat with a flashlight in one hand and a mouldering blanket held warm around his shoulders in the other. He peers into the darkness, and the darkness peers back, yellow eyeshine dished fiery back into the side-to-side rake of his light. Four eyes, twenty fingers, two raccoons. One bag of Lucky Charms torn asunder. Brow hooded, he stares. They stare. He stares more. They stare more. One starts chewing again, one black gloved hand pawing absently amidst scattered crispies after the promise of another bite.

The crunch of tiny teeth working through dried out cereal quite suddenly turns into a crack of teeth scissoring through what would have to be bone. The darkness of the room constricts, it seems, reducing things to the glint of eyes, claws, oppressive darkness until Deckard has the opportunity to squint. Dawn is swiftly approaching, too swift, even, as it seems like across a distant horizon— beyond walls, as these no longer surround him— the sun breaks like eggshell and spills its golden light out across the world.

By the time he's looking back towards the two racoons and their cereal, which is in fact one solitary gangly grey wolf, no bigger than a coyote, working its way through the flank of a mess that used to be a rabbit, it's high noon.

Desert wind whips at the blanket hugged tight around his shoulders, sand shifting between his feet. Over there is a cactus. Even further beyond, yellow and red rock formations jut out of the otherwise entire flat plain of baked desert. A road streaks through the terrain, and a lizard sits on a rock.

The wolf looks up with bright, too keen eyes, suddenly seeing Deckard as if it hadn't noticed before, eyes forward. He doesn't need to do anything, to have the animal clench the majority of the ex-rabbit in its maw, and go darting off at a lope.

Clear eyes rolled up and aside to follow the rapid bleach of blue and fluffy white through black and the grey slag of a dawn that passes too quickly to be appreciated as anything more than a chronological oddity, Deckard is quick to snap back into focus after the crack and pop of carnasials through twiggy bone. For a beat he stands stock still, heart deadlocked in his chest by a shock of primal fear, flashlight held hard and glare glassed pale against inspection in return for as long as it takes the beast to turn tail first.

He doesn't remember to breathe again until it's well on its way, ribs bracing wide to make up for time and oxygen lost. The flash light is dropped first — it sticks into a rest without a sound near the sifting fade of his bare feet through hot sand. The blanket is slower to follow and less inclined to stick around, at least until the billow and roll of the wind under its sail drags it into a flagging catch at another nearby mass of cactus.

Left alone in what passes for pajamas in that it does not involve socks or shoes, Flint does all he can do while the wind whips at his overcoat and sands rough against his jeans: squint blearily after the horizon, and then the shimmer and wave of the road.

For a time, he's left alone with the lizard, the cactus, and dregs of rabbit - snatches of fur stuck to cakey brown smears on the dust and this, too, will blow away into nothing, especially if the winds keep this up. There's no sound of traffic, no sound of anything, really. There are some places in the world that one does not want to find themselves abandoned with nothing but a blanket and a torch. One of them could be the Sonoran Desert.

So perhaps the metallic swing and slam of a car door is something of a relief. It's a brown Kadett— if not willingly brown, two doors and a radio antenna that no longer exists. Parked silent at the edge of the road just out of Deckard's initial periphery, it has its hood cranked up a few inches.

Standing beside it, a hand checking then removing itself from the car handle, is someone who is only passingly familiar - physically speaking. Dark hair is chopped short, conservative, a loose T-shirt partially hidden by an even looser open button down, all neutral colours, as if there were woodwork to fade into. "I won this," is not much of a greeting, voice almost entirely without accent as he moves towards the front end, scuffing a sneaker against a tire. "As much as I prefer to walk."

There's probably a gun stowed away somewhere improbable on Flint's wiry person, but he doesn't stand much to gain from shooting at cacti now that the wolf has gone. He's just starting to turn himself around when the creak and thunk of a car door prompts him to twist his torso the rest of the way without waiting for his feet. Francois. Francois and a small, crappy car that looks like it might have done time as a Happy Meal toy at some point in its brown, miserable life.

Deckard can't make himself look surprised to see either, but something more like relief is passingly evident in the easier slant his shoulders take on while he looks the pair of them over. "Raccoons could be attacking me right now," is how he opts to say, 'Hello,' rough voice strained as loud as he's willing to go over the wind. "They might have diseases!" The exclamation mark is purely to account for his potentially exaggerated volume and emphasis. He is neither excited or particularly emphatic in expressing what doesn't really even manage to qualify as real concern. Francois probably does not care if raccoons eat his feet. Not when he can just grow them back again.

Said feet are currently burning through calloused soles, and he can't stand where he is to to try to make points about how independent and unbothered he is for nearly as long as he might like before he's forced to abandon half-buried flashlight and tatty blanket to their imaginary fates. Out here, short-shorn hair is a boon, but there's already sweat damping at the grizzled bristle of semi-kempt beard growth and he's more reluctant to part with his shabby coat than he was the blanket by a long shot. "Is this a metaphor for the future of my sex life?"

Francois smiles across at him, forever tired, as if he's smiled a whole lot in his long life before for too many reasons to count on two hands. He's mostly clean shaven, if traveled and in need of a proper bed to lie down in, a bathroom of his own. "Perhaps, by the time this is all over," he admits, with a gesture of his hand. There's the accent - it lurks behind English, contractions ignored, careful syllables behind what would otherwise be a good attempt at generia America. "But that would not have been my intent."

He sweeps a look up and down Deckard, eyes dark brown beneath his ever serious brow, shoving his hands into his pockets as sun beats down on his shoulders, the back of his neck. Rather than the pallid, pale thing he'd been in the forests of Russia, his skin is beaten with a healthy glow, almost a tan.

"Sorry about the raccoons. I thought this might be a nice change of pace."

Flint's progress through the sand is slow. It sinks away from the splay of his toes and flows too loose for his center of balance's liking. But patience is something he's in the process of relearning, and he gets there when he gets there, his own nocturnal pallor offset by a vitality that nearly seems unnatural in its hew into hard edges and steep drop offs around his long face. It's not so deeply interred that he isn't breathing hard once he's near enough to squint at what's under the car's open hood, curiosity about what lies beneath winning out first and foremost. As ever.

He's in still less of a hurry to sweep a look down Francois, shoulders set and posture upright when he finally does. Not necessarily aggressive…PER SE. Except for how it kind of is, especially with short-cropped hair lending him a cro-magnon air that does little to flatter the shelf of his brow or the sockets caved in stark beneath it. "And hanging out in bed with Abigail? Same thing? Or just feeling frisky." There's accusation to the neat clip of his teeth that fills in for a question mark when he drifts into a half circle around the car's opposite sidel.

Francois' head tips to the side as Flint approaches the car, watching him with his arms folded across his chest, before his spine straightens upon accusation. His brow goes up on surprise and vague affront, a hand moving up from its resting place in the crook of his elbow to curl inwards towards his chest as if to say, moi?

"Non. I woke up in bed with Abigail," he says, with what could almost be a head toss, hand resettling back into place. "You put me there, je me souviens."

Leaning against the over-warm metal of the rundown car, Francois casts a look instead out towards where the Mexican half of this particular desert spreads out to what could be eternity. "She likes you, very much. And I care for her more than she would understand. Than either of you would."

Brows hiked higher at that je me souviens~ than they've been in a long time, Deckard pauses in touching gingerly at the car's baked hood to regard Francois with blue eyes buffed bold and scrubby hair bristled against the orange stretch of coarse desert at his back. Time passes. Heat shimmers across bare primer in vermiculate waves of distortion and the sky burns too bright overhead. "Yeah," he says finally and at an exhale.


"She doesn't like you." Just in case that wasn't already clear, somehow. There's an electric twitch somewhere up Flint's spinal cord that kicks him to re-enforce something the Frenchmen can probably souviene well enough on his own, and then he's quiet again while he watches to see where barbs catch, if they do at all.

"She's losing her mind. They all are."

If barbs do catch, Flint is the one best qualified to tell if they do. Outwardly, there is only Francois angling his chin up in a proud tilt, expression impassive— but bothered, detectable in the glance away, upwards towards where a sky from a memory arcs blue. "That changes nothing," he says, and that much is honest. The soles of sneakers scuff against road as he turns his back on Flint, pacing around his car. "History—

"History does not change because people do not appreciate it. Perhaps if she knew that it was not I, but you, who could return me to her— perhaps she would not like you very much at all."

A darting glance, almost apologetic, although very neutral at the same time, if very could be applied to that term. Wind kicks up, blows sand high enough that squinting becomes a good idea. "They are losing their minds." Again, neutral, neither agreement or argument. "And how does that make you feel?"

"She's been angry at me since day one. The way she broaches the subject with anyone who might be able to force it out of me. The way she looks at me when she's thinking about it." A snort of air puffs at cooking dust caked thick across the car back and Flint holds his ground, watching Francois pace as he finally sets to shrugging and wresting clumsily out of his coat. Sweat already rings under the pits of the dusky grey shirt beneath, patchy across the space between his shoulders and dark at his collar when he lets black wool fall against the hood and draws in an easier breath. Cooler without it.

"It's irrelevent, anyway. I dunno how to return anything. The Library in Midtown had my name blacklisted all the way up until our brother from another blew it up," …is a deflection. A faltering one, even, complete with jutted jaw and a furtive sideways glance of his own in the opposite direction, twitch mirrored for twitch.

Convenient that he should already be avoiding squinty eye contact when the question about his ~feelings~ rolls around. Abigail, Joseph, Teo. He shakes his head into a hazy shrug.

Leaning with his arms folded against the roof of the car, tentative at first to test his skin against it before settling, Francois listens with all the attention in the world. There is not much else he could do. "I— " He begins, then tilts his head in some correction. "Francois had this ability for almost seventy years. Do you think it would have been that long, if it was an easy thing to give away? Besides. I am not asking that you do. So oui, it is irrelevant. This is what you are now.

"You could help them, if you choose to. You have." Chosen or helped is either lost in translation, or left ambiguous. "Abigail— eh, bien. She will understand in her own time. I hope it will not take too long." He runs his palm against his forehead in a human gesture of wanting to shift the oily grime of sweat catching the dust in the air.

"I'm not good at helping people." In the end, it seems better not to address the subject of longevity at all. He stands with shoulders sloping gradually back into their natural slouch opposite Francois' post, self-assurance less forced where the heat and the conversation have started to sap at his resolve to be Something. Or at least appear to be Something. There are dozens of relevant angles he could follow that up with. Who and why and maybe even how.

Instead he finds himself studying the road, termination invisible at both ends. There's more desert for miles in every direction.

"Is there something we're supposed to be doing?"

Perhaps he's meant to be following up on those angles, which is not a point the Frenchman makes in anything but body language and expression. Francois' eyebrows had already lifted in a cynical kind of way at that first statement, silent in judgment, and they stay there at that question. "Well, Flint, you had written like you desired to talk to me," he states, back straightening some from his slouch. "I apologise about your journal. I had a lot on our mind that day. But non, I am not trying to lead you anywhere this evening.

"As you can see," and his smile comes up wry, a glance in the same direction Deckard had studied the unending road, "destination is only an idea, out here."

"Yeah." He had, hadn't he? Left hand scrubbed up against the grit wearing its way down into the lines around his face, he lets it fall back to his side with a dead flop. "Mainly to beat the hell out of you." Maybe he just hasn't gotten around to it, yet. In the meanwhile, he turns to scuff himself awkwardly down into a sit with shoulders and scruffy head rested flat against the car's hot flank. The sand's worse down here. It's also easier to avoid getting into another staring contest.

"They don't want me or my help," is the best he can come up with when he speaks up again, bony fingers pushed through sand a shade cooler behind the squat of a worn out tire. "They want you. In different forms, maybe. Expressions. I dunno."

"Ah, but you said that Abigail doesn't like me," Francois notes, not moving to try and become face to face once more, content to lean and bake beneath a desert sun with light glaring off the brown metal with almost as much shine as it glances off sand and asphalt. "And Teo does not trust me. The first time we met, he held me at gun point, even as he was bleeding. I am a necessary evil.

"Which is ironic, considering!" That part is made with an attempt to share a smile, leaning over, voice pitching up to engage with the other man. A token effort.

His fingertips drum against the hood of the car. "This is difficult for both of us. I feel there is little more you can learn from me, and as long as you are learning little, there are other things that engage me. They ask me about Volken, about the past. I am not memory for them. Only for you."

"The ability," clarified at a tolerant gravel, Deckard tips a glance up after effort made, registered and sloughed off like dead skin before he sets to idly brushing sand from the creases in his jeans. As is common in their give and take thus far, there's a span of windy silence before he decides he has something further to say.

"Teo didn't pull the trigger."

At second glance, it's a bolder assumption than he originally considered and his free hand lifts to brush unconsciously at his sternum. He doesn't remember a trigger being pulled. He doesn't remember a gun being pointed at him, either.

"Ultimately, him being fixed was worth more to him than what he thought I wanted."

There's dejection to observation, but no tangible distaste past that. It is what it is and making even this much of a point of it has worked his brows into un uncomfortable knit. "Do whatever you have to do. I have a lot of free time to be possessed in lately."

More silence, as ever, characterised by the fact that no, Francois can't argue with the fact that Teo didn't pull the trigger. That he was ultimately healed. These simple facts read from two different angles. "I had to convince him first. I had to convince him I was good for you," is finally stated, and then the sound of foot steps, rough against the asphalt, as Francois comes to stand a couple of feet ahead of Deckard, dust on his boots and caked up his jeans.

"You cut them no credit because you do not feel you are worthy. That is your fault, not the world's." His words are brisk, and as arrogant as Abby claims he is. "But if there is one thing I have left to teach you, it is a faith in humanity. Believe me, you will have to have it, or this gift will be the death of you."

And then, his hand goes out, an offer to help him up. "And thank you," is added, quieter, a little inexplicable. Perhaps for time granted, to do what he has to do. Francois' eyes remain kind. "Come, it is time for you to go. You're getting cold."

"Convenient for all of us that you're so convincing," crosses out a beat before Flint clamps his narrow jaw hollow against reproach, he even manages to cut in a slllightly dirty look as he reaches up enough to grasp at Francois' offered hand.

Hangdog despite himself and disinclined to maintain physical contact any longer than he has to, he finishes dusting off without energy once he's up, perhaps unsubtly freeing himself of Francois' nasty imaginary sweat as he does so. Again, there's a dirty look, but it's quiet and sore and resentful without anger ever finding enough dry tender to catch a spark on. Teo, of all of them, has made his stance more than clear.

Dusting eventually slows when he registers that he's only transferring grit onto his palms and then directly back onto his shirt, green gone patchy under five-fingered stretches of pale orange and tan while he waits for the world to turn itself over again.

There's no pantomime on Francois' end, of making to go into the car, of driving away. For all the world, it could not even be there— and isn't— as the Frenchman stands silent as he watches Deckard. Kindness has dwindled into only the most distant of stars in his eyes, and as Deckard settles in to wait, he thinks only to say, "If you were not worthy… if I did not feel as though my words had value, or if I did not think you could do as good a job as I could, then perhaps I would simply leave you here. In this desert.

"Do not think that I couldn't, Flint."

And while, theoretically, there is an eternity to respond, the chance to do so might be stifled out as darkness, coldness, the interior of the ramshackle shelter in which Deckard has discovered for himself all slams back into reality.

…Wait, what?

Nothing about the threat jives. Not with the desert, not with his idea of Francois, and definitely not with the amount of slack he had assumed existed somewhere in his leash. To do and deny as he pleases, when he pleases.

Tension clenches into Deckard's shoulders and across his chest in a feral jolt of movement that isn't even close to timely. His heart's already tripped tell-tale behind his sternum and Francois is gone, leaving him sweat-soaked and cold to the bone with one coon vanished and the other nearly nose to nose with the flashlight abandoned at his feet.

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