To Protect and Be Protected


b_daphne_icon.gif francois3_icon.gif

Scene Title To Protect and Be Protected
Synopsis After Francois spares Daphne's life, she tells him some of the truth of her situation — and once again finds a friend in the Frenchman, who in this time and place is able to heal.
Date April 30, 1945

The sound of rain falling all the heavier down upon the tent fills the space, engine growls occasionally edging in on the periphery of hearing, the intermittent sound of boots hitting the ground just outside as men walk by, as only a sheet of tarp separates them from the outside environment. Though the space is almost generous, Daphne Millbrook and Francois Allegre are not afforded privacy — two other men stretch out on the low bunks, one unconscious to the world and the other, furthest from them, makes his presence known with occasional dry coughs into his bedding, back hunched to them and sleep attempted.

Having any kind of room alone is a luxury Francois does not come to expect — he does, however, have coffee, a tin cup of it, rich lukewarm liquid that could probably stand to have sugar or cream. He asks for neither and apparently wants neither, silent as he sits on one end of the empty cot, allowing Daphne to occupy the other end. His eyes shut, nose almost disappearing into the rim of metal as he takes long, deep sips.

It becomes increasingly obvious that he's uninjured, in comparison to many, refugees and soldiers alike. No bruises, scrapes, no scars or even sores on his skin for as much as he's clearly sickly. He hasn't spoken since helping her down to sit.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Their positions are not so very different from their first encounter — sixty-five years in the future — with Daphne ill in the Den. She stares down at her hands in her lap, each clutching the other, trying to hold on to something, and right now she's the only thing she can trust — and she's not too sure about her mind at this point, come to think of it. Maybe it's all a dream, another hallucination. She hit her head getting thrown from the window, after all. But the logical part of her mind tells her it's not — there were two time travelers in the room with her when Daphne was thrown from the glass. And her hallucinations simply aren't this creative.

She runs a hand through her hair, tangling in the still-damp locks and heaves a sigh. "«I didn't know him at all, doctor. I don't know how I got here, to Germany, to the field he found me in, but I didn't know what else to do. They would have killed me if I didn't help them, yes? I thought about running but I was afraid they would shoot me,»" she says, all in one rush of awkward French.

Francois neither turns to her nor answers until he's finished drinking — it doesn't take very long, as she's finished navigating her way through her French vocabulary by the time he's lowering the cup, running the cuff of his shirt against his mouth, backs of his fingers smoothing up the bristle grown along his jaw. "«They would have shot you,»" he agrees, setting the cup aside with the care of making sure it doesn't get lost any time soon, before inspecting his hands for dirt. Satisfied that they're clean enough— no real care taken to the crescents of dirt sunk in beneath slightly too long fingernails— he reaches out.

Rests his hands on Daphne's wrists, fingers curling around. The effect is immediate, a pleasurable warmth glowing beneath her damaged skin, suddenly, the stress of her ankle through to the cut on her head, bypassing the more minor bruises as pain is pushed away by that warmth. Francois glances up at her face, now, a cautious curiousity visible.

As the gift he no longer has in the future is felt in that flood of warmth, Daphne's breath catches in her throat and she lifts dark eyes to his green, lips parting with some wonder. Tears flood to her eyes at the sudden assuaging of pain as well as with the knowledge that if he had his gift in the future, they could have avoided so much pain. The very thought of not having had to suffer and not having had to fear for so many weeks is almost crushing.

With a shuddering exhalation, she whispers, "«Thank you, doctor. You have a beautiful gift. I … can trust you? I have one, too… and I'm looking for someone else with even more extraordinary powers than mine, so that I can go…»" her voice cracks, and she forgets the rather simple word in French, murmuring instead simply: "Home."

It's a slow process, and by the time Francois is retracting his hands, Daphne can feel she is only somewhat healed — skin and bones and muscles still tender, but the fresher pain is depleted. His stretches his own fingers once they've separated, observing the creak of tendons beneath thin skin, before folding his arms around his torso. "«The only one I know who has a gift,»" and there's a wryly crooked smile accompanying this emphasis, a breath of air tunneling through his nose that looks even longer in his gaunt face, "«was killed on a firing line today.»

"«A lot of us do not exactly know how we got to Germany. The Americans will make sure you're home, in time. You could even go with them I think, if you have a story that makes sense.»"

Her face crumples and she looks away, to the other men to make sure they are not listening, as she breathes deeply a moment, trying not to sob. The tenuous hold she has on herself is slipping — she saw men shot at point blank range, men who had done evil, unspeakable things to other human beings. They deserved to die — but she didn't need to see it. She had attempted to help one of them, lied for him — all to save herself.

She frowns for a moment and reaches into her pockets, searching for something that will make her story more believable. Her hands come out and she glances again at the other men in the tent, before dropping the contents on the cot. A cell phone. A movie ticket — printed with the date 04/08/2010. "«My home is New York City, but … but it's not now»," She manages, handing him the movie ticket. The cell phone she taps. "«This is a telephone. Everyone has them. I think… I was in danger before I woke up here. Someone with a gift, a gift like yours — he can move people through time and space. I woke up here.»" She is pale as she watches him, to see if he believes her. If he yells for the others to take her away — well, at least now she can run.

Taking the ticket stub, Francois reads it without comprehension, but sure enough, there's a spark of curiousity or something when he begins to get the gist of what she's saying. The glance from the telephone to her face is full of doubt, because that's not even close to a telephone!!, but despite himself, he can't help but pick the device up too, fingertips curiously running over the keypad, turning the thing over in his hand. "«I can't…»" With more swiftness than his other slow and deliberate movements, he sets the cellphone back down between them, the ticket next to it.

"«I heal,»" he says, finally, tensely. And quietly, too, suddenly. "«That is all I can do. Vol— »" Voice tripping over the name, a wealth of conflict, old anger and hurt, brimming in his eyes before he lets go of a breath of air he'd been holding tight in his chest. He scrubs a hand against his heated face, the tremor kicking up again with the movement. "«That man you were with. He kills. If your home is— that far away, you will have to hope that your friend will return for you.»"

Her face contorts again, but this time in empathy to the pain she sees on his face, at the guesses of what he's been through. "Francois…" she says softly, reaching to touch his hand before she stops and drops her own. He is a stranger. He does not know her. Still, the way she says it — like he's a friend — might seem strange to his ears.

"«He … I do not know the word in French. His touch, it …»" she moves her fingers swiftly in an oscillating sort of motion, to indicate tingling, but gives a frown and a shake of her head. She shivers at the thought of it, that she had her arm around his shoulder for that long trek in the mud.

"«I don't know if my friend came too— they said I was alone. There were two other American women who might have gotten thrown into the past, but I don't know. I don't know if I'm alone here or if I need to find them or… I don't know if the time traveller is alive to come save us. He was being attacked when I fell.»" Down the rabbit hole. Ironically, or maybe not, the movie stub is for a showing of Alice in Wonderland.

His name is different to simply docteur, which sounds affectionate and familiar in New York City circa 2010 but distant, odd if strangely appropriate in this scenario. When his name crops up, the look Daphne is dealt is mildly suspicious, the same sort of stare she'd been given when she had spoken the word healing back at the firing line. Another difference, between his tenacious older self and this more withdrawn, younger creature — Francois' first instinct is to veer away from the concept that someone knows of him and put distance between he and this mysterious woman, as opposed to grip onto her and demand how and why.

He strikes a happy medium. He just doesn't ask. "«There are many camps like this,»" Francois eventually says. "«Perhaps we will hear tales of other wandering American women. But— I got the man who was looking after you killed. I can protect you.»" This, the wan war survivor states — and it would probably be more cynical if he hadn't already done so.

Daphne chews her lower lip as he promises to protect her — when he looks so frail and in need of it himself. But then again, the more things change, the more they stay the same — he took care of her, he ministered to her sickly needs when he was hurt back in 2010. It's not so surprising.

"Merci," she says softly, her eyes shimmering again as if she might cry. She hates that she needs protecting. "«There's one more thing you should know — because it might help us both and I don't want you to be frightened if I use it,»" she begins. "«I have an ability, too. I can … I can run fast. Like… faster than airplane fast.»" Much faster, especially compared to the airplanes of 1945, but she isn't going to get into physics with him, even if he is a doctor. "«I didn't try because of my leg before, and because… because even if I run away, it won't get me home.»" This time the word comes, and her voice doesn't crack on it. "«If we are in danger, I can bring you with me, to get away from danger.»"

Either his own gift, witness to Volken's gift, or whatever it is the latter man had to share with Francois in his discoveries as to the idea of superhuman ability, allows Francois to nod. Albiet once, and stiffly, and after a long and drawn out silence. Still, there is something he understands better as opposed to the specifics of Daphne's talents, and he offers it with a smile that speaks more of his younger years, suddenly, as much as it's tired; "«Then we can protect each other, yes?»"

The speedster nods, more than once, a vigorous nod in contrast to his stiff subtle affirmation. "«I'm so glad I found you here»," she says in that rushing way of speech she has, though the French is stilted. Only too late does Daphne realize that might sound strange, and she offers an awkward smile. "«I mean — a friend. Someone who understands… someone who doesn't think I'm crazy»," she amends. "«In the future, they know about people like us. We're not alone. But it isn't easy.»" She pauses, and reaches for her cell phone, slipping the small device into her pocket after a curious glance at its display. ET would like to phone home, thanks. "«Being different is never easy.»" A lesson she's learned twice over.

The bunk shifts beneath them as Francois levers himself onto it properly, although there's no wall to rest his back against in the way he might like. His legs, long looking despite the fact he only hits 5'10", fold up onto the thin mattress. "«Only if it gets you arrested,»" he wryly notes, roping his arms back around his midsection once he's settled, briefly raising a hand to scrub over the severe cut of his hair, gone slick from the rain outside and still drying. "«I was an asset for being different, is that not so. They called me 'doctor' too. Not for my education.»

"«How did…»" His words die, a kind of distance settling in his eyes as he studies the rumpled fabric of the cot between them. Before Daphne can really think he's drifted off, he drags that bleary look back up at her. "«How did you know what you are? How was it given?»"

She's already told him, once, but it hasn't happened yet. Part of her fears it never will — does meeting him now change what happens in the future? Quantum Physics never made any sense to her, and the movies always handwave over the plot holes. She swallows. "«Given?»" she echoes, wondering at the choice of words. Was his a synthetic power, then?

"«Without my power, I cannot walk.»" She frowns, and adds, "Cerebral Palsy," with no attempt to make the words French. She scoots over a little on the cot to give him more room, lying her head down on her stretched out arm as she watches him, before murmuring gently, "«You should sleep. You look so tired.»"

She does, too, but luckily she has not seen a mirror, or the vain part of her ego would be incredibly bruised at the sight of herself. "«I … I'm always impatient, but there's nothing I can do for now.»"

Francois opens his mouth to protest or deny, then closes it again. It would be lying, the obvious and unflattering kind. Probably, the Francois that Daphne knows better would have enough vanity to wince at this scenario — this one's ego needs a few of those decades to develop something close to that. Gripping onto the side of the cot, Francois goes to lower himself down, curled in on himself as opposed to a lazy limbed sprawl. The sunlight creeping in on the edges of the tent's interior has waned, but fever brightness can still be detected.

It can also be heard in the mutter of his words. "«A soldier gave it. Gave it to me. The healing. I should find him again, and tell him to keep it, ah?»" His eyes slide shut, a wrinkle of tension in his brow smoothing out after a second.

The fact that he doesn't want his power, that he would wish it away, brings a slight smile to Daphne's face. At least there is that — at least this Francois gets that wish, even if sixty-five years in the future he will wish he had the power back, to heal his friends and also strangers, to keep them safe from the flu that connected them in 2010.

It's a strange and surreal end to a strange and surreal day — sharing a cot too small for one of them alone. Daphne tries to stay awake, not trusting the unknown, but soon the patter of the rain on the tent without and the humid warmth within lull her to sleep as well. She sleeps curled in toward him, to protect and be protected by, both.

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