Table of Three


francois_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Table of Three
Synopsis Teo and Francois confront Odessa in her role in ending the conflict with Dreyfus. Things don't present themselves according to plan, and there are minor crossed wires as the Charlie boys reconfigure.
Date April 11, 2010

Old Lucy's: Upstairs

Sometimes, Teodoro cooks to put people at ease. This methodology may not be entirely as wholesome as it appears, being distinctly conscious of its wholesome appearance. A young man with ragged hair and soulful eyes who cooks. It isn't quite being a cartoon of oneself, and it isn't malicious by any means. But if Teo did intend to launch malice by surprise, probably, he'dve cooked to start them off.

Meat sauce and spaghetti, the former prepared some hours earlier, and ergo brought on in a frozen-solid brick. Teo is reheating it in a saucepan, periodically poking the deconstructing chunks with a long-handled spoon, muttering something under his breath. If he's giving the counter corners a slightly wider berth than usual, giving room to the red-haired ghost seated on the kitchen counter, that's his own business. Not for sharing.

Basil, salt, and beef filter individual strains of odor through the artificially heated air. There's more dust hanging in it than there was before Abigail left, but it's still easy to breathe here, at least except for the weight of expectation and bloody stakes that permeate every fucking minute, these days.

"This is— probably setting the wrong tone," he remarks aloud, not looking up, despite that Frenchman and temporal manipulator are both in view. Pasta hits strainer and sends up a hissing roostertail of steam into his own scarred face. "But I figured it'd be a better than setting a bad tone. The other option was to kick down the door and say, 'Your time's up.' You look well."

Odessa doesn't bother to do things like dress for company when she was told she wouldn't have them, and so Teo and Francois will just have to accept her Supergirl-themed cami and panties. Coupled with the evening's first unannounced visitor roughly an hour ago, she's just not caring about things like decorum. She could do with a cape, though. If not shorts.

Sitting at the kitchen table, she picks at a plate of half-finished cherry cobbler. "Daiyu was just here," she comments conversationally, as though it were as simple as saying something like Aunt Milly called. "Lucky you missed 'im."

So Francois isn't half-naked, because it's cold— to him, anyway, psychological thing despite the damp warmth of a kitchen in use and central heating— and probably impolite now that he doesn't live here anymore. He's gone so far as to remove gloves, coat and scarf, pacing with too much cageyness for someone awaiting food. Unless hungry, which he isn't, especially. Arms folded, shoes navigating along the kitchen tile, and he casts a glance at her over his wool-clad shoulder, a brief twist at the waist to look at Teo, back at her.

"Then I suppose that means you are still standing in good stead with Dreyfus' people," he prompts, pacing coming to a halt.

"'Cause you're not dead," is Teo finishing that thought, bending backward slightly to aim a smile out of the doorway. It's a nice smile, despite that one corner of it is as unmistakably exaggerated and artificial as Splenda compared to sugar. The sentiment, at least, is no ersatz laboratory-grown knock-off. "Which is good. How I prefer to see you." A beat, and crows' feet threaten the corners of his eyes, a glance at Francois that doesn't quite last long enough to finish any joke or serious meaning.

"You ready to jump ship, then?" Click-clack. The gasflame dies, to no discernible shift of the temperature in the living room. The collinder tilts in his grip, sends a slithering pile of noodles into a deep brown bowl provided. He's coming out in a moment, pasta in one hand and the saucepan gripped by an olive-green pot holder in the other. He offers this situation like it's a joke, a little tiredly: "Or have you decided to throw your lot in with the Chinese ninja his happy urban-guerilla friends?" Both food vessels land on the table.

"So it would seem," Odessa confirms for Francois. "Though he says he came to me on Sasha's behest." It's perhaps a little too familiar, or somewhat telling, the way she doesn't use the man's last name the way she does all the others she's supposedly working with. "Not sure what that should mean, exactly." A half shrug.

Odessa finds herself almost afraid to believe Teo's sincerity. Okay, not almost. She doesn't trust anyone that says they prefer to see her alive these days. Except perhaps Abby. "Daiyu wants me to kidnap a child. So, yes. I am ready to jump ship." As if to imply that if she hadn't already made up her mind, this sealed the deal.

If any of Team Charlie have children, they did a really good job of hiding it. There's a half-beat where Francois tries to think if time travel works enough that maybe he misplaced some spawn somewhere along the way himself, studying the whorl of steam coming up off the pasta set down before the young woman as if he could scry from it, before he shifts a glance to Teo — not one directed for him, this time, but studying him just as analytically as he might eye Odessa. "Washington Irving?" he asks, aloud, looking back to Odessa with query in his eyes following the one voiced out loud.

It's too loud, a brief moment, even if it is brief: of wooden spoon rattles stainless steel, because Teo startled, badly. Washington Irving? He stops talking for a moment, which leaves the Frenchman the opportunity to keep doing so, his lips met hard an pressed anemically white against the fairness of his complexion. He doesn't meet either of their eyes, for the moment. Skates his gaze past Odessa, then Francois, intimating that he's paying attention and still here, but merely requires a moment to compose himself.

During which time he will go and retrieve plates and silverware. In parting, though, he gives Odessa two inelegant but straightforward monosyllable of gratitude. 'M glad. 'Thank you,' he thinks, would be too little credit.

There's a faint bit of confusion that washes over Odessa at the mention of Washington Irving. "No, that isn't what he said," she murmurs. "Kid's name is Bai-Chan? I have no idea what he is to Charlie. He said he and Sasha plan to use the boy as leverage. For what, exactly, I'm not sure." Odessa watches Teo somewhat warily. It isn't that Francois doesn't hold her interest, but he seems to be less concerning at the moment.

Scraping a chair out, Francois goes to sit down at the table, hands resting against the edge of it and restlessly dragging fingers through his hair. The name evades him entirely, and so it's to Teo he looks again, an eyebrow raising to communicate je ne sais pait. There is impatience for what they had come here to say, and recognition that he shouldn't be until all intel is squared away.

"Wu-Long's child." Absurdly, that probably means an avalanche's worth more to Odessa than it does to him, but he remembers because the ghost remembers. The long-limbed and dour-faced brat that scaled the walls of the Grays' home, sleek as a cat in his tiny man suit at their wedding, sharp as a cat in class, if one was to believe the reports of proud Mrs. Sylar. "Eileen was raising him. Could be he wants to trade for Elisabeth, figures Ethan would throw her under the bus to spare the bird a broken heart.

"I don't know what he's supposed to mean to the rest of us." Teo's voice sounds better, which is separately awful, but he isn't smiling or anything as he sails back out of the doorway with short tower of plates and flatware in hands. He sets the table with a ruthless sort of expedience, making an equilateral triangle out of it. Abruptly, such borrowed domesticity's more a crutch for himself than any gift of sustenance for them.

The fork Odessa was using to pick at her semi-abandoned cobbler clatters against the table as her eyes go just as wide as the saucer in front of her. She stares up at Teo with some level of incredulity. "Wu-Long's son?" The woman's elbows come to rest on the table on either side of the neat setting that's been placed in front of her, her head rests in her hands. "So what is it you expect me to do? Daiyu made it clear that if I don't come through on this, I'm fucked. Tell me how you want me to handle it."

Kitchen chair creaks a little under Francois' weight as he rocks it back on two as opposed to four feet, knee braced against the underside of the table and foot lending some stability and balance as he watches Teo for his explanations, watches Odessa for her reaction. The last two legs of his chair come back down against the tile with twin clacks of wood to tile. "First we must know when he wants to take the child," he says, ignoring the food save for picking up a silvery fork with which to play with.

Four prongs set against the table, balancing it under the tips of two fingers as he talks. "Because if Bai-Chan's caretaker is alerted, it might be too clear to them how such a thing happened. So we must act before he does, and by then— " His smile goes a little crooked. "It hopefully will not matter."

"Dreyfus first, Daiyu second," Teo agrees, eventually. He drags a chair out to sit on with his foot, and then is rather promptly helping himself to Italian food. In a few moments, pasta winding around his fork, smoothed over and textured with meat sauce, fragments of vegetable and a rich redolence of basil. He doesn't eat it, or not immediately. Looks up, finally, meeting Odessa's blue-eyed gaze with one of his own, thoughtfulness turning down the one corner of his mouth that actually has mobility to it.

And some uncertain form of sympathy. Yes, Wu-Long's son. They were friends, right? Eileen, Odessa, Wu-Long, Ethan. That whole terrorist subclique. There are several. "We're moving on Dreyfus," he says. Clarifies, rather. "Capture over kill, but if we have to do the latter, we will. Have you learned anything new about him? Or Sasha?" The second question's an oblique reference to another conversation they'd had before. Oblique because Francois doesn't know about it, and nor does Teo want him to.

Darker blue can't quite hold ligher's gaze. Taped and splinted fingers come to rest on the table top, palm flat. The other hand curls to grab a fist full of hair as a low whine escapes the woman's lips. "This was so much easier when I was just expected to kill people." Whether she means Charlie, or Dreyfus' men, well… "Fuck, no, I didn't find anything out," she admits in a growl directed at herself. "I have no resources. I can't do shit."

It doesn't take much to recognise a breakdown happening right before one's eyes.

"I don't know anything," Odessa whines. Tears fill her eyes and she's hiding her face behind her hands again, the fistful of hair still loosely held between her fingers and matting to her cheeks with the dampness forming there. "I can't do this. I can't do anything." A high-pitched keening sound, heavily laden with anger and frustration and a fair amount of self-loathing, accompanies a tantrum consisting of slapping her good palm on the table's surface, rattling cutlery and crockery. "I can't fucking function!"

There's a slight list to Francois' posture, leaning away from this show of emotion, managing not to start when her hand connects down against the table. Short silence is likely what is to follow, before he's setting down the fork onto the food Teo's gone and cooked in an attempt to— whatever the opposite of this, is. He flicks a glance at the Sicilian at her words on how murder is easier, and searches the table uneasily for answers.

There are none. Just comfort food. Sets down his fork without particular frustration into his pasta. "Demoiselle, this is too important for us to count on someone who cannot function. If you cannot help us then you cannot help us." There is a degree of checked outness to his demeanor, but his words are expectant of answer.

"It's okay, there's another plan," Teo hastens to reassure, combining his fork into the hand that he's carrying his knife with. He reaches over to grasp Odessa's shoulder from over a few feet of table, meets Francois' gaze with a helpless shrug seesawing faintly through his shoulders. He squeezes the temporal manipulator's arm gently, once, before withdrawing into his own space, unsure in the presence of mortal distress in his own way, both like and unlike the reasons behind his lover's carefully maintained distance. "A trap.

"You don't have to do anything except— maybe pretend to leak a little to them, and verify with us how they take it." If that's all right with you, says his look, where you happens to be the Frenchman with the skeptical face sitting over there. His mouth thins into a line, albeit one with the fish-hook twist at one corner.

A deep, shuddering breath, and Odessa seems to be calming herself quickly. Though just how plastered her hair is to her face suggests that perhaps she's done a great deal more crying than she let either man see. Slowly, she reaches up to tuck the wet locks behind her ear and watch Teo while he speaks. "I can do this. I can get my shit together and do this. I can. I swear." She shakes her head quickly, whether to shake off her doubt or Teodoro and Francois'. "I'm just… I'm tired. And Daiyu showing up here rattled me more than I realised, I guess." She nods her head, trying to sound something approaching reassuring and sane. "I'm fine. Just tell me what you need from me."

Francois watches the exchange with some amount of ice in his stare, before lowing gaze to sauced pasta in front of him and going back about picking up the end of his fork. Twirls up the long strands as if this really were a dinner date instead of pretend. By the time he's back to studying Odessa, there's enough smile back in his eyes to communicate a degree of sympathy, but isn't, for once, the first one to jump on laying down the law in the things to come.

The look Teo gets back is never mind me and goes to take a bite of dinner. Can't talk with your mouth full.

Teo's shoulders square slightly, his elbows on the table, and he stretches a loosening torsion of back muscles over scapula. A minute transition of weight on his chair creaks it audibly, nails and wood. "Liz Harrison is going to use herself as bait," he says. "It'll be announced on the news. FRONTLINE sting operation, rooting out corruption and shit. Sarisa Kershner's going to be in on it, and the plan is that Dreyfus will attack when Elisabeth is being taken in. That's when we show up.

"We need to make sure they know what to move in, when to do it, and make sure they do, so we can ambush. Details haven't been hammered out yet, but things on the FRONTLINE side are in-motion. Appreciate it if you were there on the day to help us fight, too." There's a momentary lag between monosyllables, there. He'd almost said kill, deferring to her earlier speech, before realizing her earlier speech wasn't something to defer to.

Odessa nods slowly, listening to Teo speak, but watching Francois across the table like she's afraid he might just be about to reach across and slap her at any moment.

Perhaps because she wouldn't blame him.

"So you want me to report in, and paint them a pretty picture of Elisabeth's plight and emphasise how much of a sitting duck she must be?" Her gaze lingers on Francois long enough to gauge a reaction to her interpretation before shifting to Teo, since he did ask the question.

Fortunately for Odessa, Francois doesn't look like he will slap her. He might slap Teo, though, from the somewhat startled look the Frenchman trades across the table. Curbed, quickly, hastily setting down eating utensils and pushing his plate to one side, he stays quiet and watchful as Teo continues, flicking a look to Odessa as he sets his chin into his hand, elbow on the table. "It will be light touches only," he says. "We do not want them to sense a trap — they would be cautious enough as it is, with the presence of law enforcement.

"Which is why it's a contigency. We shall let you know." His words come out clipped, some kind of rebuke that isn't actually directed at her, even if he keeps his focus on her's, now. "I did want to ask, how does Dreyfus consider Jensen Raith? Do you know much of their relations?"

Frenchman's mad, and Teo is sharply and unpleasantly surprised. That much shows as well, though it's quelled much more expertly than his lover does his annoyance. "Less the sad plight's portraiture, more practical, logistical details. Mostly telling us what they do, because sometimes the fucking situation changes unexpectedly." To Teo's credit, his irritation rarely comes across as properly defensive, because he bristles, stares, and curls his lip.

Stays relatively civil, however, and isn't two seconds before shooting Odessa an apologetic half-grin. Saluting with the handle of his fork, as if to say, he's interested in the answer to that question as well.

Odessa's missed something here, she's sure of it. She's somehow in the middle of an arguement that must have little to do with her. She hopes, at least. It still makes her squirm in her seat, insecure as she has been this evening. "Well…" she starts in a quiet voice, attempt to answer the question coming from the direction of France. "The way I understand it, Dreyfus hired Raith to kill Abby, and since Abby's still alive and Raith isn't returning his phone calls, the boss isn't thrilled. But he's not given us any orders to just kill him or anything." She makes a small face, glancing between the two men. Does that answer your question?

Metaphorical hackles have eased back down by the time Odessa has finished, Francois listening with his attention squarely on her as fixedly (and exclusively) as a spotlight. The corner of his mouth hooks up in a half-smile of approval, back straightening up and taking head up off hand and tuck his elbow back off the table. "Merci," he responds, hands folding in his lap as he tilts one quizzical look to Teo as if to get his read of that— never mind prior snippiness that flash-froze the air across the kitchen table just moments prior.

Annoyance has sunk Teo's head slightly between his shoulders and his fork in his food. He's more than a few mouthfuls in, by now, voracious yet unaccountably tidy, careful to keep the food shunted off to one cheek so it doesn't come out of his ruined one in sticky saliva excess. He's still listening, though, like he'd promised to in his obscure way. Finally, he asks again: "He doesn't look at Raith with suspicion? Far as it goes with Raith and Eileen meeting me regularly?

"Or did you keep that to yourself? You mentioned you'd figured that out before you came clean with Abigail." Teo scoops at sauce, glancing down at his plate, briefly. It's obvious, however, that none of his ire is directed at Odessa herself. Likely, little of it is pointed specifically at Francois, by now. Enough blades and edges to cut at anything.

"He figures," Odessa explains, "as far as I can tell," and feels the need to disclaimer, "that Raith's a mercenary at heart, and whatever they're up to involving arms or other such things is purely a way to make a quick buck." She shrugs, "Sasha's the one who's been following Eileen and Raith, so I'm not sure what he's been telling Dreyfus, only that my orders haven't changed."

Francois' retreated into listening mode, with his arms folded and food cooling rapidly and again, that creak of his chair as he rocks back on it as he thinks. "That is good," he simply says — either just to articulate the thought out loud or for their benefit, it's difficult to differentiate. "And hopefully your orders will continue not to change. If everything goes well, you will be free of them soon enough. If not, then we will have to rely on you a little longer, so I would recommend to continue to do as you are.

"We will take some security measures for the child but hopefully nothing they will notice. I will talk to Raith," and this part is directed to Teo across dinner, "as soon as I can get in touch with him safely."

Teo depicts his acquiescence in one broad-stroke of a hand. Go ahead. "You can use my phone," he tells the Frenchman. "He almost always picks up. Especially now that he's off heavy-duty while his arm's fucked.

"Grazie." The latter goes to Odessa, for her intelligence and the limitations she admits that it has. It's good to know the percent reliability of the information one is working with, after all. There's a faint disfocus to his eyes, like he's already moved on; is considering other possibilities, logistical concerns, deferring to Francois to do the talking. He eats pasta with unchanged celerity.

Odessa files new information away for later, nods her head for now. "I'll make an effort to check in with Sasha and Dreyfus in the next few days to drop the breadcrumbs. If you can't beat me to Bai-Chan, you should know that I'm meant to take him to Fresh Kills Harbor. Doesn't mean I will, but it's where I'm supposed to hand him off."

"Merci," bookends the other Eurotrash expression of gratitude, and for now, that seems to be all the business Francois has for the evening, and he wanders his attention back to his food. There is, perhaps, an iota of docility as he goes to tug his plate back in front of him, and begin again at eating. He'll do his thinking over other possibilities, logistical concerns in relative silence.

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