The Indignity Of Stating Terms


abby4_icon.gif francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Indignity Of Stating Terms
Synopsis Teo makes himself the protector of Flint's unstable territory when Francois looks to possibly move in with a well aimed snowball and a talk afterward about his intentions towards pink haired womenl.
Date November 27, 2009

Russia - Spektor home, Ryazan.

Teo was determined to make a fort. Why, why he had wanted to, but it's evening, the sun has set and Abigail's keeping hand occupied in some form other than baking. This is not her home and she's sure she pushed the limits of hospitality by taking over the kitchen the other day.

But the air is crisp, not so much as to wick away ones breath if they breath, but a wrong breath can send you coughing. The snow fresh fallen, and still falling leave plenty of white stuff to mold and form as one see's fit. Be it a snowman, bricks to form an igloo or just pressing it into mounds or balls, it's there to be utilized, or to lay pretty and coat the ground like some winter postcard. Greetings from Russia, wish you were here.

Flakes fall from the sky and lodge in pink curls, the young woman moving back and forth, intent on getting this started for Teo, surprise him. Buckets of snow are made, white dense material pressed into the blue plastic and turned upside down to form support. More snow is pressed in between to shore and connect the two stumps of white stuff together. Over the last hour she's managed to make the base, nice and square. It won't stop the vanguard, but then again, it's not being made for them.

It's not the Sicilian that comes across her, but the Frenchman, but at least he's surprised too. He has the notion to maybe send a snowball flying her way, but that's kind of cheating, especially while the fort isn't even complete. Or at least, that's what he guesses the low wall of pristine ice being packed into place by Abby's diligent hands. Moving down the path made slightly icy from the cold, as careful as his boots will allow him to be, his has gloved hands tucked into wool-lined denim, the grey sweater beneath that not quite thick enough, but the looping scarf around his neck makes up for it.

"I do not know if that will stop them," he says, announcing his presence, and rather than make his way into the house, he veers off the path and crunches over towards Abby through snow and struggling grass. "But perhaps it's not a terrible idea. Are you not cold?"

"It's a present, for Teodoro. He said something about making a fort, when we first got here. Francois, this snow is so pure. It's not driven slush. God, I think I've eaten about four mouthfulls already. Though, you're not supposed to eat snow if you're thirsty, you have to melt it first, or you'll just dehydrate regardless" She doesn't stop moving, knee's indented in the snow as she packs more of the fluff here and there.

"When I can't feel my nose, I'll go in, for some tea. I'm trying to wear myself out so that I'll actually sleep, instead of nap" Satisfied with the snow level, she slicks her head to one side, flip pink hair out of the way and heaves the bucket up and over turns it quick as a flash to make the last support. "Probably watching me and thinking i'm a little child or lost my mind"

He comes to stand a few feet away, much as he'd done upon the sight of Abby and Liz preparing for Turkey Day — hesitant and vaguely unwilling if not overly so, amusement crinkled at the corners of his eyes from an incomplete smile. "You are a child," Francois states, a tilt of his chin upwards, and keeps that half-smile in place to indicate that he's mostly teasing her. "In the long scheme of things, you are young. Perhaps young enough to play in the snow, even. If it is to have a function, then…"

A vague handwave of his long fingered, wool-clad hand. Why not? Fingers are tucked back into his pockets, shoulders hunching under the chill. "As long as you don't get sick, because then I might get sick."

"Heavens, I forgot about that" The getting sick part. She rocks back on her heels, rubbing her sleeve across her nose. "You haven't had a cold yet have you? Or even a headache that you can't just make go away?" Abigail's attention alters from the snow to the Frenchman before her gloved hands beckon him over. There's a throne made out of snow behind her. A seat fit for an Italian king. "There's a lot you're going to experience for the first time, but then, I guess you might know more about that than I do"

She lets the child thing slip, slide by without comment. She's not yet an adult, legally back home, so she's still a child. Child old enough to vote that is, but not to drink. "How are you faring, without it?"

Moving on closer, Francois hesitates before he crouches down, letting on knee settle in snow, close by Abby rather than letting distance span between them, despite vocal paranoia about the common cold. "I have not yet gotten sick, although the wine from last night— it did me no favours this morning," he admits. "I miss it more than I require it, although I am used to using it on myself, now and then. It is how I lived for as long as I have — usually in the morning, when well rested. I suspect if I were hurt, you would hear my complaints more frequently." Snow is scooped between hands, clinging to the wool of his gloves, and he obligingly moves to shove it around her recent bucket-full of packed snow.

Now that makes sense. That morning with Flint. It goes unspoken as she pushes some snow towards him. "I hated using it on myself. Better used on others. Just enough that my hurts weren't so bad, that I could keep doing. Colds though, some other things, never really touched me. Either that or I just fixed them without realizing" She cups her hands, the red woolen fabric pressing snow, compressing it so she can make a finial for the top sides of the chair.

"The secret to drinking, and being fine in the morning is drinking a lot of water and taking some advil. Because the alcohol molecules will bind to water and when you go to the bathroom, well, you can figure it out. But, if you're drinking just alcohol, there's not enough water and so it circulates in your system repeatedly and that is why you have a hangover" There's a slight pause as she realizes how this sounds and looks over. "Bethany, she's a regular at the bar. She's going to school for chemistry, and it's how she cheats a hangover. I've never really tested that theory"

"I will have to keep it in mind," Francois says, somehow diligently roped into making a secure base for the fort without actually being asked. Of course, on his words about her being young enough to play, perhaps playing, by extension, makes you young. He would hope so. Once done on that front, he tries to wipe gloves clean of snow, absently, studying her as he does so before he suggests, "Possibly it worked without you. It does that. What occurred to Monsieur Deckard is— a very extreme version of the same thing, oui? I'll admit that I wasn't shameful about healing myself. The only scars I have are the ones Dreyfus has left me with."

"Maybe" That never occurred to her. That maybe it had done what it was doing to flint but in more sneaker, back ways. "But how were you raised with the ability, really, would be the difference between yourself and myself. I was to save it for those who needed it, and cutting my finger while cooking, or a scraped knee when I tripped" Abigail shakes her head, working side by side with Francois, their breaths causing the air to steam then dissipate when the heat is overridden by the temperatures and it soon becomes the same.

"As for scars" She takes a glove off, using her teeth to pull at the red fabric and when enough of her digits have been loosened and she can pull it off easily, she proffers over her palm. Smooth skin, the lines that populate everyone's that people can claim to read are there. "I walked around for months with it. I refused to let someone who could change faces, manipulate the skin to take it away. The night I … sent Volken back to where he belongs, I fell off a bridge into the water. I sliced my palm on some of the metal. I healed everything the next morning when I could. But I never did for that. I kept it as a reminder for the longest time of what I'd done"

There's the sound of wool pulling from a hand, and Francois' is warm by the time it comes to clasp around Abigail's, a thumb resting against the shown palm where the scar apparently ran. He's silent, for a moment, snow falling while he remains obviously in thought before he peers back up at her. "It was a shameful thing, to kill him?

"I suppose it would be. I never wanted to, only to— stop him. I tried to convince him to stop, you know? It was something of a fool's errand and almost got me killed. I feel like a coward that you were the one who had to." A beat, before he offers a smile. "Tell me again? How it happened. It makes for an interesting story, as bitter as it might be. You did save the world."

Was it a shameful thing? Abigail looks down on her palm, thinking about that day on the bridge. "It was a terrifying thing, a shameful thing and when I am old and I am grey and I have passed on and I stand before God I will accept that I did what I did out of love of life, love for those that I know and those that I would never know but who could sleep in their bed content and unknowing how close it came. That I did it because I was the one who was supposed to, and the only one who could" And now Flint is the only one who can, if the dance starts all over again.

Her other hand traces where the jagged line laid diagonally across her hand. "On the bridge. We teleported in, the Haitian from the company negating Norton so that we could teleport. Ethan, Teo's aunt, Eileen, they showed up, Helena, Gillian, Brian" She rattles off who all was there, relaying the gun fire, the yelling, how Kazimir had lain in Gabriel's body and commandeering it. "Norton got close enough and he forced him out of Gabriel's body. Lord on high, he was beautiful. I see it now. Not pretty beautiful, but the kind of beauty that.. a terrifying beauty. All smoke and just moving, constantly with the faces here and there like they were pressing up to the surface. And then Gillian took my hand and I prayed and there was…" Abigail looks up at Francois, up and over as her palm curls around his thumb and her other hand closes over both.

"He burned. I burned white, so white, and I thrust my hand up into what he was and her just burned, turned to ash and screaming and kept my hand there till there was nothing more but smears of soot across my face and I breathed him in, and her just clung like every single snowflake out here clings. But he was gone. Just like that"

Francois listens, with all the attention afforded to her of one who requested to hear the story, again. It's fucking freezing, here in the snow, his knees turning numb with it as denim soaks up icy water and chills his skin, but at least their hands are warm, sharing it between them. He swallows, once, when she's done, briskly shaking his head to dislodge the lighter of the fallen snow from his hair, though not much he can do about the damp melted in.

"I have seen it once, that form he takes, after the first time I hurt him. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing. He killed a man to restore himself and I was too scared of what I'd done to further it. Never had I hurt someone with my gift."

A pause, considering his words, the image they paint. "I was a young man, then. I regret that I wasn't there with you then. But now I can be."

He must have come out of the back. Must have, given there's no long, swinging stride on the sidewalk, no blithe whistling approaching from yet another nocturnal cyber cafe foray or frost-rimmed door clapping from behind them, no warnings or rustling side-effect of the environment. Instead, there is but a gulf of silence, and in it, the single blurred harpoon of ice-mingled snow lancing through still harbor. A snowball. In italics and round, like emphasis and punctuation all in one compacted handful.

It pats a sturdy impact on the inner wall of the fort, past Francois' butt and his far aside from Abigail, a foot to the left of his hip. Leaves a starburst sheen of powder, in a noticeable disruption of texture against Abigails handiwork.

"Up against the British colonials and France," Teodoro Laudani shrewdly observes, one shoulder braced against the corner of the Spektor house. His features are deliberately playful in the dark, eyes almost crescent-shaped from suppressed laughter. "This one is going to be easy for fascist Italy."

"I didn't know that I could hurt someone with it then" Always heal, never hurt. But she knew now that it went both ways, the same with Kazimir's ability. Abigail's unaware of the cold on her knee's, they make her knee's feel good to a point. "You weren't able to be there for me Francois, because we stole you, we stole you and brought you here. Because we saved you" But now he can be and the corners of her eyes crinkle, looking over at him like with just a look she might discern the exact meaning of that, the precise motivation behind it even as she leans in a fraction to bring noses and faces, foreheads closer, violating that distance rule between woman and men, swallowing hard even as her hands tighten around his.

Only to look to the damage - very little - of the fort's humbling beginnings with heated cheeks and a lowered head. Teo didn't see that, she'll repeat that to herself as she scrabbles backwards so that she can grab Francois and tuck him behind the throne, give them cover from the Italian. "The South will rise again Teodoro Laudani!"

The transition from close quarters and warmth that has very little to do with healing light, Francois knows— a nervous system going on unnecessary alert, expanding blood vessels, heating skin— through to the spatter of cold that makes a sound sort of like pfftt and Abby gripping his arm to drag him back behind the shelter of snow. Blinks, once, before his head catches up with him and even Teo will be able to catch the sound of low laughter at both he and Abigail's words.

"Bon dieu."

Children. Still, Francois' fingers rake through the fluffy white snow upon the ground, spoiled only by kicking feet and scrabbling hands, but top-most and undirtied. "You know it was frostbite that made ill as many Italians we injured during the war, oui?" The over-arm throw of fist-sized ball of compact snow is bordering on aggressive, direct, like a stone thrown to the unwanted stray dog lingering around the light spilling from a home. Done with a smile. Son of a—

The blast from Francois' overhand skims the house's corner, loses most of its mass and momentum there, but nevertheless gifts the offending Sicilian with a sprinkling of compacted fragments and powder snow. Upside the face.

His head pops out of its momentary meerkat huddle a moment later.

"Frostbite isn't an illness, monsieur," Teo crows back. It would appear that he had been there for some seconds, at least: there are at least two snowballs he wastes on the throne in quick succession, and a third shining like an egg on the snow, near his boots, even as he crouches down, braces his back against the wall to begin and pack up another round between his gloved hands. Gloved: this, surely the winning tactical advantage. "That's bits falling off," he calls out, "and mine are greater than any geographic challenger that would dare'n try."

"Frostbite is an injury! Not an illness" The pink curled woman so lovingly informs the physician. She's gathering snow though, but not snowballs. "He has a weakness. He doesn't like the cold" It's whispered, a quiet confession to the Frenchman beside her with a very evil grin on her face. "A two front assault! You go straight for him, carry as many snowballs, and pelt him and run straight for him! I'll come from the side, and stuff a few down the back of his sweater! He'll surrender!"

She pops her head up, throwing a stolen snowball in order to keep Teo busy while she and Francois plot. "Think you can do it?" Conspiratorily she looks to him, grinning like a madman.

Upon correction, Francois puts indignance in his voice when he asks, "And who's side are you on? Regardless— " And his voice pitches up, especially for Teo's ears. "It put them in hospitals, with what tails they had left between their legs!" All the while, he works with Abigail, compacting snowballs, head tilted as he listens to her plan as they huddle behind the slightly battered fortress, fingers numb by the time he has a few gathered in his grip.

"Ah, oui. You get the easy part, I feel." But no rejections, as he lets one of the icy projectiles down before placing that hand on her shoulder, and a kiss on her forehead. "Bonne chance."

And then, he's moving, leaping over the low snowy throne, a slight spray of ice when the toe of his boot catches it, the sound of the crunch-thud of boots through the icy terrain. Just above Teo's head, snow explodes against brick, raining down on him before another is soaring in a more direct trajectory.

Teo's hands stop mid-snowball, his features pulled into an expression of utmost disgruntlement, furtive around the Spektor house's angled shoulder. Did he j— :| He j— he— Francois just—

He's adequately distracted by the kissing of foreheads that he fails entirely to remember to cheat with his ability. As such, more by virtue of vice than by virtue, he doesn't cheat at all. The sudden implosion of a snowball above his head rouses him with a start, makes his eyes wide and flattens his brow out of its irritable creasing. HUH. France approaches. Hefting a handful of his own artillery, he lunges out very abruptly, fires once, overhand, dead down the center at Francois' torso, even as he drops into a crouch over his arsenal, fetches up another.

Francois careens from atop, and Abigail comes from the side, angling around the throne, falling in behind the frenchman to use him as her meat-shield, or more appropriately, snow shield while she darts away, around, booted feet clomping through the snow as gracefully as she can to come from the side like they had planned. "Ohhhh teodorooooooooo!" She croons into the evening air before descending upon the crouched over Italian, aiming a fistful of snow right at the gap between bare neck and clothing that he usually protects when standing upright.

Fucking cold. Francois sputters just a little, veered off course when snow explodes against his chest, stunningly chilly, but he only slows for a second before veering enough around the corner to throw the third he has on his person just around the time Abby is planning her ambush. "Vive le— " — doesn't get awful far, laughter carrying the rest of his words away as Francois ducks to gather another handful of snow, mercilessly hefting it at Teo in more of a spatter than a true projectile while the pink-haired comrade still has the advantage. She isn't entirely out of the way of the attack, either. "Vive le France."

This sensation is—

Motherfucking cold. With a hoarse curse that would make even his own dear mother blush, Teo arches like a cat, almost bends in half backward, pops upright and jolts forward, away from the awful intrusion of cold, ahhh, ahhhh, only to find himself barrelling straight into the Frenchman's extra armful of the free-zing white stuff.

It goes up in his face like he just burst through a pillowcase choked full of popcorn, bits going down his shirt, spraying up his chin, and he whacks into the war vet chest-first, crashing Italian knees into French knees before they wind up sandwiched by gravity inches from having squashed Abigail's lovely little fort. There's sputtering— laughter— a canine whine of objection huffing past Francois' ear.

"Vive le SOUTH!" Abigail whoops, jumping up and down, pumping fist into the air as Teo is flopping on the ground and spasming from the cold. Living with him gave her that little insight to him and how to defeat him. Well, when it comes to snowfights how to defeat him. Nose scrunched, grin wide and almost reaching her ears, wide enough to cause an ache in the back of her head as she stands, nay looms above them with her hands on her hips.

"Put that in your smoke and pipe it!"

Crap, wait. No. "I mean, put that in your PIPE and SMOKE it!"

"L— " — was likely more fancy French, before Sicily goes soaring into him. Snow is not actually the softest thing to land into, and Teo could eat less, and so breath is driven from Francois' lungs. Upon managing to draw it back in, breathless laughter escapes in in turn, childishly cackling and bright sounding. A knee goes up in an attempt to knock Teo aside, much like he did the raptor that one time, but that was just dreaming and he's not aiming to bruise.

Only cause frostbite, as Francois rakes a handful of ice up from beside them and distributes it squarely onto the man on top of him, arcing damp crystal pieces going just about everywhere but mostly on Teo, at least. Abby's announcement and the correction thereof gains a snort.

The assailants are merciless and Teo's weakness is being unabashedly exploited. Under different circumstances, this would definitely warrant a psychic blast and a sound Sicilian language lashing, but instead he is left trying to empty the back of his shirt of snow at roughly the time that Francois iiis piling more of it onto him. There's a scrabbling fit, another blorf of protest, laughter caught up in gasps, like a fish dying of drying asphyxiation and finding the process of its demise completely hilarious.

It turns out, Teo is not fat. He's heavy because athletes are, all muscle and sinew and healthy, horse-like appetite. He finally changes tactic: decides to turn the allied enemy one against the other— and perhaps more importantly, to remove one of them from their weapon of choice.

The one he chooses happens to be Francois, because — proximity is convenient. Also, Teo is as often scandalized as intrigued by the notion of actually mahandling Abigail, and so that is a personal taboo. He gets up and peels Francois out of the snow with him, a long arm hooped around the Frenchman's throat, making a out of him, with a wad of snow in his hand held dangerously close to his jacket collar. "Move, signorina, and he gets it," he warns, nudging his meat-shield.

Francois is taken hostage, and Abigail's gloved hands cover her mouth in some semblance of an attempt to quash an exaggerated gasp. "Oh dear" She says dramatically, moving that hand to her forehead. "Oh my, whatever shall I do. Francois! Tell me! Should I save myself! Should I try to save you?!" Her other hand hides the wad of snow behind her back. "Flee, I should flee" Sage nod of her head, curls slithering this way and that on her shoulders before she goes to do just that. Or not.

She rushes forward, feinting to the left before she immediately goes right, to get around and go for the snow down the back maneuver again. "Let the frenchman go you Italian Stallion you!"

Any moment now, Ivan or Katarina are going to stare out the window, call the CIA, and ask that they get adult warriors in for their mission, please. For now, this is snug, and— "Never surrender," is the Frenchman's advice, in defiance of the stereotype, hands gripping onto Teo's arm looped around his neck in case it might become useful later. Breathless and a mixture of hot from exertion and (did we mention the) cold from icy tumbles. Francois is not the pristinely peacock brand of European, especially not now, dark hair this way and that and speckled with ice melted and not.

Abby feints this way, goes that way, and Francois' hands lock on Teo's arm after all. "Italian Stallion?" is repeated, and then there will be nothing doing for the snow gathered in Teo's own hand when, slightly kamikaze if only because the Sicilian happens to be this much taller, Francois still attempts to wrest them both to the side. One leg steady and fast in an attempt to keep himself upright as he tries to— well—

Pull Teo over and down while Abby is resuming her torture.

Yes what is with the jamming of unpleasantly cold substance down the back of Teo's clothes— he peels back, careful to make sure the pressure of the side of his arm pushes down toward Francois' collarbones rather than running a genuine risk of choking, hurdling one foot behind the other, trying to backpedal faster than Abigail can circle. Not fast enough! Worse still, the fort looms ahea— behind, and so it is, that Teodoro grows desperate, inventive, and, um. Quick.

Twisting like a cat, he swaps over, starts to try and summarily hoist the Frnechman onto his shoulder, sack of potatoes (or pommes frites, is possibly more accurate) over his shoulder, except that his foot's being struck out from under him. He does topple, sideways, levering Francois' center of balance into crazy crossways, the heel of his boot skidding with a yelp.

Success again, and with the deposit of snow down his back, Abigail's arms encircle Teo's waist in an effort to help bring him down and limit the amount of damage to the delicate Frenchman. Sure, her knee's are protesting all this activity and the bruised and battered parts of her are gonna make her go soak in a tub later to appease them, but she's happy, laughing and genuinely enjoying herself, forgetting about unpleasantness back home that she's abandoned. down they are all going, into the snow.

With Francois trying to do this and then Teo trying to do that and then Abby's diminutive frame doing naught for the athletic forms of both Europeans— all three going crashing down into snow, Francois squinching eyes shut when cold goes right up his face. He shakes his head as briskly as a dog, catching Teo in the face with the hair gone shaggy with dampness, expels a breath of laughter before simply lying still, ribcage going in and out in steaming breaths.

"Bon dieu," he comments again, and moves a hand back to patpat— someone. He's not twisting around to look and risk getting more snow down his clothing. "It is a draw, oui? Like in football instead of wars."

Ffpppbt. Teo manages not to get any of the scruffy peacock's matted feathers in his mouth. Less saliva for everyone involved. A careful, hitchy attempt number one verifies to the Sicilian that he has room in his lungs for air.

"Wars have stalemates," he points out, his voice rough from mirth and cold, and a slight chatter in his molars from… cold, just cold, not mirth. Well; the whole point of building a fort had been to conquer his distaste of cold, head-on, and few things seem more head-on than summarily tackling one's enemy into the hard floor of Russia. He is happy to hear Abigail laughing. Francois, as well, despite certain offenses. It's better like this. There will be time for vicious tempers and loss later. "I th-think someone owes me mugs of hot choc."

Oof. Men are heavy. One leg trapped, someone's groping a hip. Teo's demanding hot chocolate. Abigail looks up at the night sky as she twists enough to throw an arm over the two men as she wrenches her leg out from underneath to minimal protesting and drops a kiss on either man's cheek. "I will go in. Get the hot chocolate started. you both can untangle from yourselves" Hands used to push herself up, Abigail looms over them in pink haired glory. "Told you the south would rise" And then she's gone, feet light as she's streaking off around the house to head in and do as promised.

Fingers dig into snow, and Francois rolls and claws himself out of the crush of dog piling, slower going than Abby springing up to go for warm beverages. His jeans are wet with ice, and a shiver has set in to rattle his bones and click teeth together, danse macabre only with flesh. That he'd been prissy about simply getting his hands in the snow is a stark contrast to now, covered practically head to foot in it.

"You have remarkable timing, Sicily," is an accusation once Abby is out of range, though the smile Teo gets is good natured. Stiffly, Francois gets to his feet, offers a hand up as he does.

"Si. It is my other power," Teo answers, accepting the hand up with the same wolfish comraderie that they had shared when raptors were their main concern. Once he's on his feet again, he swats snow off his clothes, peels the back of his sweater away and lets the icy granulation— and more than a few drops of moisture— slick off the skin o his back and drop out. He is pawing at his sleeves the next moment, glancing up, momentarily, blithely after the way Abigail had left.

There's no way he wouldn't have known, once he mentioned hot chocolate, the South was obligated to uphold old-fashioned hospitality.

The smile he crooks up at the Frenchman is a little too bright to fit in with the dopey big-nosed jock aesthetic that Teo is normally content to lumber around with. "Don't think I don't realize you could make yours better, if you really wanted."

He's still breathing hard enough to lift shoulders beneath his own jacket, steam curling in and out of a smile that is entirely sincere. Francois runs a damp sleeve against his face, removing the spatter of ice granules clinging to skin and a five o'clock shadow, then fingers brush vain through his hair, as much as it fixes it not at all apart to dislodge snow like so much sparkly dandruff.

Then, an arm gesture, a half-bow. "Jamais de la vie," isn't as sincere as his smile, letting arms drop down, head tilting as he regards Teo. Only a minor hesitation, studying the smile and the sharpness it carries, before Francois points out; "She likes me."

The sharpness dulls, the cutting edge of the thing turned back inward and laid away; sheathed, not gone. Teo acknowledges the older man's words with a gesture of his head that isn't qui-ite a nod, an upward cant of his chin. "She likes me too.

"And I like her. But I've known her a long time," a year, or eleven, depending which calendar you're counting from, "and I can't quite bring myself to allow just another apocalypse to convince me that she doesn't have enough time to find some happiness she'd be proud to talk about. To her friends. In the daylight. That probably makes me a bossy asshole." The corner of Teodoro's mouth extrudes, curls upward, more like a germinating tendril than a new thorn's first protrusion, though the difference is very slight, as subtle as the thing itself. He hides his gloved hands in his pockets and pulls up his shoulders.

The cold is getting increasingly unpleasant in that the reasons he's tolerating it are dwindling. Not that they are taking this conversation inside or anything. Francois' arms fold around him, stubborn in a way, but mostly cold. There's affront, now, in the tilt of his head, like when Teo had suggested Francois would back out of saving the world. It probably worked better then rather than now.

"You must not think highly of me, monsieur," Francois eventually settles on— tentative and more uncertain than a man of his age might have been. "To think she would not be proud? Or that I would not want her to be happy? I like her in return, you realise."

The affront is studied from afar, Teo's brows hitched together in harder concentration, now, trying to discern its origin, as if merely from the shape of the injury in Francois' pride the Sicilian could then determine where humility, honor, or his understanding of the girl who'd just gone inside looked like as well. He doesn't falter, quite, but he does pause to think that what may seem terribly obvious and righteous to him may not be to others.

There are plenty of people who do not agree with his Catholic sensibilities, after all. He frequently disagrees with his Catholic sensibilities, and he's the one harboring them. And God knows, eleven years later, his insight into Abigail Beauchamp was not what it once had been, never mind the other way around. "Abby is never wont to be proud or happy at the expense of another man's humiliation," he offers, at length. "A different time, more time, after the other thing is ended. Or no, I don't think she will be proud."

The math equation is possibly too simple. He is back there, and Abby is here, and maybe it's just geography after all. Francois does not disagree with Teo, mild surprise writing across his features not quite as pale as usual, still red at some points from tussling, life and warmth. He glances back, now, towards where yellow light is spilling from low windows. Eventually, she will wonder if they've fallen into a snow drift.

"Mm," is neutral, leaning reluctantly towards agreement. "Then— " His head tilts, a jutting of his chin upwards to Teo. "Then it is a choice of her's, oui? And we can trust she will make one that she is both proud and happy with. Come," and his smile is sudden, a crunching step back taken towards the house, away from ruined snow fortifications.

"It is cold out here, and warm in there. We will not do ourselves the indignity of stating terms and conditions on something that is not our concern, as we both desire the same thing anyway."

Hot chocolate. Happiness. Profitable returns in investment. Abby's happiness, or Abby herself. What could Francois possible mean~? Teo squints, honest surprise of his own ceding to childish suspicion, before cracks a sudden grin. There's a rustled jiggle of his shoulders like settling his feathers. The jiggle doesn't really work, of course. His pinions are clogged up with sticky cold bits of Russia and it's awful. "That's where the bossy asshole part comes in," he points out, but there's slowed acquiescence to that statement, and he's coming along anyway.

Toward the door, and the great indoors. More crunching, a sniff, and then a sandy scuff when he kicks the chunky runoff from the roof away with the blunted toe of his boot. He looks at the march of Francois' boots for a moment; then up at the back of the man's head, dimly amused to find pips of snow still melting there; down again, to the mid-point between those two extremes of the Frenchman's frame, his features going still, protective fierceness momentarily exchanged for a different kind.

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