The Lord's Prayer


eileen_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title The Lord's Prayer
Synopsis Francois makes a confession about what happened in Mexico.
Date July 16, 2010

Brooklyn: Green-Wood Cemetery

The stone is warmed by the sun that had angled up against the face of the mausoleum all morning, though by now it casts a shadow over them both, but still feels it when Eileen's hand is directed to press the pads of her fingers onto the engravement. The stone is black, the colour of which less relevant to her but perhaps deductable based on its temperature. It's easy, to get birds out here, and there's a whole lot of them making a chorus in a nearby tree that hangs heavy with its greenery.

So, Francois knows there would be easier ways to read, sparrows or penguins or what have you hidden in her clothing, maybe her hair!, but it is something of an experiment, if she can read from the raised letters that commemorate the dead family made into ash within the Brooklyn crypt.

"Notre Pere, qui es aux cieux," goes his hint. "Que ton nom soit sanctifie, que ton regne vienne, que ta volonte soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel." The cadence of his voice suggests more prayer than epitaph, and he's moving her hand anyway, curled around her wrist — the wingshapes of the bird making patterns in the stone is what had drawn his eye, the detail of feather and bone. He abandoned his jacket in the car already, cotton shirt since untucked over his slacks more comfortable for the warm afternoon. His other hand had found her back, mostly to stop her if she steps too far one direction and spills over the granite stairs.

Eileen's lips mirror Francois', albeit without any sound to speak of except for the faint whisper of breath the accompanies the iteration. The smooth edge of a glass fingernail curves along the outside edge of a vowel that she doesn't immediately recognize, but it's only one part of the mystery, and as Francois guides her hand a gentle look of understanding gradually dawns on her face, brightening its expression the same way the sunlight suffuses through her hair and creates a pale halo of light surrounding her dark head.

"Plus lentement," she implores him in a low murmur. Slower. Although her eyes are open, she has to imagine an impression of the engraving. Her mind is similarly closed to the birds in the trees, a conscious effort to learn ways to navigate her world again without relying on her ability. While it's comforting to think that as long as there are birds in the sky she'll have eyes with which to see, she knows better than to assume her gift is forever.

Francois' hand stops directing — goes loose around her wrist as he watches Eileen's fingertips inch over the raised impression of bird-shape in the stone, and then lets go of her arm altogether so that she has free to explore it, unguarded, using touch like others use their eyes. It probably did not need Francois, this lesson — but she had invited him to look at the things in the graveyard, and figured she might like to join in.

He steps around her, hand leaving her back as he places his fingertips on the iron bars that locks the hollow of the interior out from those coming in, leaning almost enough for the denser shadow to fall on the tip of his nose as he peers towards the marble benches and shelves inside, the freshcut flowers that could have been left here just this morning, for all that they haven't seem to have perished. His hand goes down to touch the crucifix shaped lock, and considers the pendant he has hidden in a drawer in his bedroom.

It would be nice, to be religious. He never got the hang of it, even if he'd healed many people in the name of Jeeeezus as the South used to call Him. Don't tell Abby.

"It ends with amen."

"Amen," Eileen concludes, and her hands reluctantly fall away from the slab, fingertips curling at her side and around the grip of her cane, which she uses to determine where one step ends and the next begins as she turns away from the mausoleum — not toward the sound of Francois' voice, but the wind teasing the leaves in the trees, green fronds that the birds use for shelter from the rain.

The air is heavy with the promise of it. It is also quiet, no distant rumbles of thunder threatening to make the rich earth beneath their feet tremble or quake. A week ago, Green-Wood Cemetery may as well have been on the other side of the Atlantic. Being here now still has her feeling a little uneasy, but Francois' presence alleviates most of her fears and allows her to relax, breathe in the smell of fresh soil and attempt to assuage the concerns that her companion can't.

Sylar is a risk she takes every time she sets foot outside the Dispensary, and with Gabriel gone — out of the state, she supposes — creeping apprehension has taken hold over her, though it isn't powerful enough to deter her from venturing into the open. "Would you be offended if I asked you something personal?"

That question makes him smile, in light of how long the woman kept a hold of his diary. Thoughts and feelings of Kazimir, bitter secrets, more romantic tales and some allusions towards the fact that his subsequential hooking up with Teo would not be shocking. And she is making sure that a personal question, or the posing of one, would not be offensive. The iron gate creaks a little beneath his weight after he hooks his hands around the spiraled bars, leans, releases on a step back.

"Non, je crois que non." 'No, of course not', spoken with great diction and easy enough for Eileen's learning mind to pick up on and translation with ease.

She appreciates the gesture, her painted mouth adopting a soft, mirthful shape. Unknowingly, she returns his smile and starts down the mausoleum's steps on her way back to the path that winds through the cemetery. It's one of many, but the path is so familiar to her that she thinks she has a fairly good idea of where they are despite not being able to see. Places feel different at night than they do during the day — darkness alone doesn't make it impossible for someone like Eileen to find her way.

Her cane lets her know when she's reached the bottommost step and to expect gravel after it. She steps down, shoes crunching across stone. "Do you think Kazimir was right about anything?"

Francois is watching her steps, more than her. At first, anyway. At the question, he watches what he can see of her face, his expression dimming to some breed of prideful neutrality in the tilt of his head and lift of his chin, hands settling into pockets. It takes a little while to answer; it takes a little while to follow, too, but both of these he does, the latter after the former. He goes down two at a time, sensible leather shoes landing heavily in the soft summer grass.

"Why is that a personal question?"

"Life is finite," Eileen says. "It has a beginning and an end, and only so much you can fit between. We don't choose who occupies that space, or how much their presence consumes." A robin wings by, too preoccupied with getting from one place to another that the Englishwoman isn't even tempted to divert it. It's in the space in front of Francois one moment and gone the next, disappeared between a pair of iron bars up ahead not unlike the set he'd been leaning against.

The cemetery's mausoleums are home to more than the dead. "He's a part of you, or at least in some way responsible for the man you are. I can't think of anything more personal."

He can think of a few things, but perhaps it's because he's not being very creative about her query, and because of the way he matches her words to other notions, and it's a guilty spot of silence that Francois takes up somewhere in Eileen's diminished periphery. It is too late to say that he finds this line of questioning deeply offensive! but also that's a lie. It's not that.

Into the pockets of his slacks, go his hands, shoulders in a defensive curl as he takes a few steps through grass, sullenly blind to the beauty that landscapes around them. "I was forever fighting him," he says, after a moment, vaguely apologetic. "I would have to believe that non, he was right about nothing, is that not so? But he was at war with the ability that had taken him, so perhaps, that is something. That he knew it was an evil, that his belief that everything was evil was only a— a manifestation of how he saw what he was capable of. It tarnished him, and made all that he did ever after impure."

Condemning words, but they hold conviction. There's a question at the tip of his tongue, but he holds it for now, looks to her for reaction.

Eileen stops, lets the tip of her cane touch the ground, and rests both her hands on its grip for lack of anything better to do with them. The dress she wears does not have pockets, only buttons. Without rubbing the material between his fingers, it would be difficult for Francois to guess what the garment is made from, but its texture appears similar to cotton and contrasts with the smoothness of her skin or her glossy hair twisted into a loose knot at the back of her head and held in place by a series black bobby pins that glitter in the light.

Francois has a view of her profile, all long nose and delicate chin, though her face itself is angled slightly away from him and her lashes drawn low. "All that he did?"

"I did not know him after '94," Francois points out, voice quiet. "And even before that, I knew him as a distant threat, one I could never touch for the last few decades — my closest encounter being that of a hitman he sent for me. My first encounter, he saved me from a firing line, only because he had heard rumours of what I could do. And to him, healing translated as 'keeping the dying alive a little longer'. I'm sorry. I have not much good to say of him. When I knew him, he did not have room for daughters.

"And you speak of how he defined who I am, so…" So. Maybe that excuses his scathing criticism, that nothing of Kazimir held any worth for the world. But while he's not making any friends—

In parks, you will find benches that commemorate the dead. In graveyards, this is probably something of a redundancy. This one happens to be plain of plaques, and Francois moves towards it, a hand brushing her elbow as he goes. "Sit with me?" he invites. Doesn't really wait until he asks; "Do you know how I got out of Antarctica?"

Eileen accepts the invitation, shifting the cane across her lap as she sweeps her dress up away from the backs of her knees and takes a seat on the bench with Francois' guidance. Her posture certainly isn't of much worth to the world, but Kazimir is probably responsible for that also. Shoulders square and graceful curve to her back, she folds one small hand atop the other, hooks her feet together at the ankle and lifts her chin, face turned toward Francois.

Her eyes, although darker and more solemn than when she'd been splaying hands against the mausoleum and mouthing words in a language other than her own, are earnest. "No," she says, and her voice is suddenly very quiet.

He meets her eyes, for all that he doesn't need to, but maybe she can sense it in the way that people know when they're being watched. She can feel his presence enough, beside her on the unpainted wood, both in warmth as well as the subtle sounds of breathing, the way that summer breezes have to curve around him to tousle her hair. "I went down the tunnel that held the weapon," he explains — things she knows, things she heard reported over the radio in broken snatches, but it's always better to start at a beginning. "It collapsed around me. What happened there, I could not tell you.

"I do not know how it came to be, but the power that Kazimir had, it took me." His hands are braced on the edge of the wooden seat — not hard, his fingers relaxed in their curl, but he does feel the need for some form of anchoring as he explains. Confesses. "It allowed me to dig the way to the surface, when they were sending people back to uncover bodies. It fed from them to restore myself."

Which is to say, he murdered a bunch of people, even before he'd opened his eyes for all that he probably couldn't do that at first, eyelids iced shut by the time he'd broken through to stinging air.

"This is also the story about why there is no more healing."

Eileen is beginning to get the very distinct impression that they aren't just sitting down because Francois desires to take some of the weight off his feet. Her grip on the cane tightens instinctively, and without gloves on her hands her joints make no sound. Instead, fingernails press into the soft palms of her hands and she sits up a little bit straighter, rigidity settling into her petite frame where there was none before.

Francois can't be taken anywhere nice, evidently. He's forced to take silence as permission to go on, and she will hear him take a breath of summer air, release it again. There's a slight shift of the bench as he leans back into it, lets his gaze wander over the graveyard. "The Company found me, and delivered me back to America. To New York City. I only showed myself to Teo, and I didn't tell him what happened. He never questioned it. So I lied, about myself. Elaborately. Flint Deckard was in Mexico, with Abby, and I requested to go there and he came with me.

"He found out only when we had gotten there. He hasn't been as angry with me since as he was then — not for what I was, but because I'd lied. And also for what I was planning to do. I left him before I traveled the rest of the way there myself. I found Flint, and— we fought. I made him fight. To trigger his healing, and so that when he came close to taking my life, my power would be forced to leave me. It takes the dying, you see, and so it tried to take him, sensing the injury I'd inflicted.

"But his healing burned it out. Burned brightly, until they were both no more. I expected to die that way, but we both survived. Not even so harmed. Sore," is kind of a joke, a hesitant one. One can imagine being sore, after dueling entities of good and evil, supposedly, make your bodies the battlefield.

His hand places a little closer on the seat, but he doesn't touch her. "My eyes had gone blue, like his. And sometimes I would see him, in small ways — between waking and sleeping. Teo says there are better things I could have done. But I could not be his prisoner again."

By the time Francois has finished his explanation— admission, Eileen's cheeks are damp, and the moisture gathering along her jaw, in the corners of her mouth and at the point of her chin have nothing to do with the impending rain. A jostle might knock her cane from her legs, bare below the knee, as both her hands have gone to her face to wipe it dry with her palms. Or attempt to. This particular strategy isn't working so well.

Even in the dark, the difficulty she has looking at him now is so great that she's lifted her eyes above and past where she imagines his shoulder to be. Not trusting her voice, she continues saying nothing at all, unaware that the makeup used to outline her eyes is streaked across her cheekbones and fingers, crescents of liquefied mascara wedged beneath her brittle nails.

"I like to think that the reason I could handcuff Teo to a car in the middle of the desert," Francois is saying, as he opens the fold of his jacket, "or shoot a man in greeting for reasons I didn't try to explain to him, is because of the power that had saved my life. But I think I am capable of these things on my own, too, so it would be an unfair excuse. I feared what I prevented."

The soft handkerchief is folded over, and the curl of an index finger comes to rest beneath her chin. If she lets him, he will try to clean her face.

One of Eileen's hands finds the one holding the handkerchief and hooks cold, clammy fingers around Francois' wrist. The finger at her chin, she allows. The rest, she does not. She pushes his hand and the cloth away, firmness compensating for what the gesture lacks in force, insistent but gentle.

When she finally does speak, her voice has a quavering note to it that swiftly thins out, making it difficult for her to finish. "He had more to answer for," she starts. Doesn't get any further than that.

Both hands retract into his lap, Francois' gaze down at the white cotton he fidgets to fold over thrice. It's an old fashioned kind of addition, but this is youth in his awkward silence, uncertain how to proceed. Finally, he says, "I am sure he did. But he had not the opportunity to do so anymore, ever since Abigail took him on the bridge. Not without taking the life of someone else." Like. His. Not to be vain of anything.

If Eileen were to tell Francois that she did not have the urge to strike at him, it would be a lie. Her hands are sore with wanting, and to keep them from trembling with nervous energy she has to place them on her chest somewhere above her heart but below her collarbone. You don't understand seems like a trite thing to say in this situation, and so her response to the Frenchman's argument is more silence still, filled with the unsteady hiss of breath passing in and out through her nose.

Her mouth is closed, lips narrowed. Eventually, she feels like she owes him more than that and says, "I'd like to be alone. Please."

A deep, quiet breath is meant to push away the weird kind of tightness in his torso that comes along on the back of her words, Francois' gaze remaining dropped where it is until he's pushing the square of cotton in his pocket and casting another glance about the graveyard. Without a word, he obeys, pushing himself up to stand, hands locking at his back as his footsteps carry him audibly away, the crunch over gravel, subtler on grass, and then nothing at all to Eileen's ears.

Of course he won't really go anywhere, nowhere he can't see her at a glance. He can wait.

If you're going to pick a place to cry, a public bench in a cemetery is not a poor choice. A young woman dressed in dark colours, her face marked with greasy black tears, shouldn't be considered an unusual sight. Neither should the older man standing vigil just out of her earshot, in case either of them were followed here by someone who might wish Eileen or Francois harm.

She doesn't need birds to know he's not strayed very far, but it's easier for her to pretend that he has.

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