Unbreak My


francois_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Unbreak My
Synopsis "No one deserves to be left broken."

In which Francois administers medical treatment to Teo, finds out the injury came from a friend turned serial-killer, and finds something about the situation disconcertingly familiar.
Date April 2, 2010

Upper West Side — St. Luke's Hospital

St. Luke's Hospital is known for its high-quality care and its contributions to medical research. Its staff place an emphasis on compassion for and sensitivity to the needs of their patients and the communities they serve. In addition to nearby Columbia University, the hospital collaborates with several community groups, churches, and programs at local high schools. The associated Roosevelt Hospital offers a special wing of rooms and suites with more amenities than the standard hospital environment; they wouldn't seem out of place in a top-rated hotel. That said, a hospital is a hospital — every corridor and room still smells faintly of antiseptic.

The loops of hemostats resemble cutting scissors, braced securely between gloved fingers greasy smeared with blood and antiseptic. The silvery prying length of the tool is probably not an encouraging thing to see disappearing into a gaping wound and yet, here we are. Teo isn't a patient at St. Luke's Hospital, and Francois certainly isn't employed by the same facility. Stands to reason that no one actually knows they're here. Besides a brisk phone conversation, Francois hasn't said a lot to Teo, terse when he'd instructed him to "just crunch it" when he'd handed over the percocet, and began rolling up his sleeves to his elbows.

Now, there's a soft sound at the back of his throat, but no particular syllables shaping coherency. He's probably found the bullet, which is slowly eased through the ruined pathway it created in Teo's side. The crinkle in the Frenchman's brow was visible since he'd arrived and hasn't yet gone away.

Not that he'd want to be anywhere else or anything, except asleep. His jaw ticks against a stifled yawn — this would be a bad time for it.

Teo, on the other hand, is uncomfortably awake at this hour. The percocet must have kicked in because he isn't gritting his teeth against a lot of shrieking or twitching nearly as much as he should have, but there is still a solid block of soreness down his alcohol-swabbed side, pulpy and too-warm beneath the chill of evaporation. That— there— was definitely a grating, wasn't it?

Of metal against what. Bone? Staring at the blank white of the hospital room's ceiling, images and speculation come easily as neon spots of light. Blinking both away, he swallows thickly, twists his head on the flattened mush made out of combined pillow and wadded shirt, to watch the metal round come away between the tips of Francois' tweezers. Looks shiny red. For the nth time, the question strays back into his head on repeat: Where's Deckard?

And the answer hanging off its coattails like urchin children. The next room, asleep. "Grazie," he says.

Clink. That would be the bloodied, flattened bullet dropped into a metal pan, and the hemostats are abruptly detangled and left to fall with a slightly louder clatter, and Francois releases a breath as if he hasn't been breathing very deeply for the time it took to fish the projectile out of the Sicilian. "De rien." Guaze is used to mop up excess blood that's bled afresh, and there's a lot of it, everywhere, including— against all probability— a smear of red high on Francois' jaw from some misplaced swipe, smudging fingerprint.

A glance, now, to blue eyes, study roaming over Teo's face gone paler than usual. And maybe something else that makes his attention snag and ask, "How are you feeling?" instead of going straight for suture kit or bandages. He hasn't decided, yet, whether to close the wound.

"Numb. The cold kind, I think," Teo says. He holds up his hands like a toddler presenting cuts, smudges, or newly soaped digits for his parent's inspection, his elbows set apart on the gurney on either side of him. There's a good amount of blood flowing despite his prone inactivity, but not enough to form a pool below the line of his supine torso. "My fingers are tingling." He inhales. A wet noise, through his nose. "Like the feeling's coming back into them.

"So I don't think I have frostbite." The splayed digits give a self-congratulatory wiggle to his own face, before drooping slightly, the splay gone out of them. His blunted fingernails recurve down toward his own sternum, fanning faint shadows over his chest, the curl of fuzz, the knight chesspiece tattooed over his heart. "Might be catching a cold, though."

That gets something like a grunt, almost annoyance, eyes going haughty and hooded as Francois— twitches a hand like he might try to get a read on Teo's temperature, but they are clad in surgical rubber, shining with blood. Gloves are peeled away, no trace of cornstarch on these ones, and when he does touch his palm to Teo's face, his skin is warm. It's probably more affection than anything doctorly, but the slight pull of a frown hasn't faded yet. Glancing back, Francois shifts a leg, hooks a rolling stool with an ankle and draws it inwards to sit.

"I wish I could just heal you," he says, the words sounding obvious and blunt, but required speaking. In the way that he compulsively writes in a journal in an effort to relieve himself of the same words. "It will scar less if I close it, but it's been open and left untreated for a little while." Still, he's drawing the suture kit on over, though there is an air of choice for Teo to make. Which doesn't stop Francois from adding; "Are you going to tell me about it?"

Also obvious and blunt: "You are healing me."

Drugs, blood loss, or English as a second language provide Teo an excuse for triteness, obviousness, bluntness, stupidness. He means it, though. His cheek smoothes down against the curve of the older man's palm, by which the reader may take to mean, his cheek isn't smooth at all, but he fits it. Or Francois fits his hand, for that ghost of a moment before sutures and other sanguine, bodily concerns take over priority.

And Teo acquiesces to this, gives his answer nonverbally before the words go: "G'wan." Gets his arms out of the way, bends them underneath his head. It is an unnecessarily casual posture to adopt, under the circumstances, but a little bit of stupid boy braggadocio never went awry where Allegre was concerned. It makes it easier to study Francois' face, too, without inconviencing him with having to make actual eye-contact.

What with the sutures, and all. The silence may be interpreted as hesitation, before Teo answers: "Deckard's the eviscerating serial-killer who's been on the news these past couple weeks. I chased him down to talk, and then we shot each other."

He will just have to clean the wound once more, ply Teo with antibiotics, and hope that his want to do more to the wound before sealing it off with pristine white cloth is actually good instincts instead of some kind of post-healer control freakishness. Francois can blame molar-crushed thrumming percocet for the braggadocio, too, and he only rolls his eyes beneath the tip of his brow, and picks up silvery scissors. Trimming ragged skin might be almost as painful as the stab in and out of the needle.

This all doesn't happen, of course, because Francois stops and looks at Teo's face instead of leaking bullet wound. Okay. Okk-kay. His pale skin absorbs the eye-needling light over their heads, bleaches out a neutral expression. Far from Carlisle, Sasha, a run in with the police, a common criminal, far from these things that Francois had imagined that were not as important as doctoring.

He sets the precisely sharp edges of tools back to Teo's injury. Begins to work. "Oui? How did that go." The talking, presumably. Francois can see how the shooting went.

Eye-contact. Just what Teo had not ordered, but he doesn't blink or shift his gaze away. There is a tiny, glistening and faintly convexed version of Francois Allegre reflected back to the original in each black discus of his dilated pupils, but he isn't so far gone that the knit of his brow doesn't change a little, rue. His fingers shift underneath the back of his head, and maybe, for all of two seconds, he feels foolish about this, but it fades.

It's too cold for embarrassment, and the questions posed to him are too important. "I think the shooting went better," Teo answers, after a moment, slightly disjointedly, a drug-hazed fugue pushed back with effort. "I—

"Thought he was going to kill me, after we talked. But he didn't." So that was good, is the intimated conclusion there. He draws his tongue across the bitter powder coating that the percocet left across the fat teeth in the back of his jaw. Despite the hours-old sweat and blood that should be rife from his skin, he can't smell anything organic for all the iodine and alcohol in the air.

"I don't know how to fix him. He says he doesn't want to be, but he wishes someone could, and I think he's saved enough lives not to des—" ah. That stings, a jump of the ribs against Francois' knuckles. "Deserve half a miracle his own. Que'en pensez-vous?"

There a soft shh at the twitch that follows his work, more urge than order. Please don't feel pain. Kind of a tall order, admittedly. By the time Teo has finished his explanation, Francois is about ready to set thread to the wound. Shakes out his left hand with an irritated clench to his jaw. "I think that I spent a long time also, trying to fix a serial killer," he notes, his tone clipped and going into that imperiois place that sometimes means he doesn't always make friends so quickly, for all that he is kind. "One that laid me out worse than you are now, several times.

"He was also never a friend of mine."

This, he grants, before protest can rise up, and all the while, Francois lays down his stitches, an awkward stiffness in his left hand, predictably taut beneath scarred skin. "No one deserves to be left broken. Did I do it?" Hard question, rattled out blithely. But Francois wants to know, anyway. Even to him, Mexico feels like a long time ago without being such.

Teo doesn't like that comparison. Francois hadn't expected him to, of course, and it can come as no surprise when the shaggy line of the younger man's bearded jaw locks up behind a stubborn polygon. Deckard's no Kazimir. Sure, the Sicilian finds his response to stress and misery less than proportional, and he wouldn't presume to think there was no cause for Volken, but 'Fuck you' is on the tip of his drug-disinhibited tongue.

It doesn't wind up leaving his drug-disinhibited tongue, fortunately. Fortunate because he'dve regretted that. Gooseflesh smoothes gradually on the insides of his arms, belying the folded sprawl of his arms pillowing his head. His eyes close and open unsteadily under the fluorescent light. Thoughts occur in his head like the last dissipating bubbles in a carbonated drink, making winking flight toward the surface. Kneejerk annoyance is one of those bubbles, goes thankfully quickly. He thinks a lot of things about how Francois describes his decades chasing Volken, and he's a little less thankful at how hard those notions are to keep grip on.

Fucking bubbles. "I don't think you did," he says first, but his second question— albeit disguised in a statement— crowds in fast on its heels. "I didn't know you were trying to fix Volken." A loud inhale. He glances sidelong.

"I was." The glance doesn't get a return, all profile and astute concentration on trying not to damage skin as he closes traumatised skin together with glistening thread and shining tools. He'd forgotten to put a new set of gloves back on his hands, and now blood and antiseptic smear against his knuckles, but Francois doesn't pay this much attention.

Not that, nor Teo's annoyance. "Knowing that my gift had been passed on to me, and knowing how mine interacted with his— nor was I blessed with the knowledge that he and I weren't alone in that way— it was my hypothesis that the man carrying his burden was not, himself, evil."

Thread is being tied off, now, snipped. Tools are set down, and he sets about cleaning off his hands, now making eye contact and shifting to sit a little closer up the gurney that Teo's laid out on. "And so I wanted to help him. Stop what he was doing, oui, but help him, because I empathised. By the time he had shed his original shape, moved on into Santiago's body, I knew it was perhaps too late and too futile to try, if it never was before. But by then, also, I was told it was not my destiny to kill him." Tissues are set aside, and Francois folds his arms against gurney railings, though not before switching off the immediate overhead light that had spotlit the bullet wound.

"I don't believe that Deckard is like Volken," he clarifies, gently. "But I believe that you and I are not so different. And almost as prone to injury."

The corner of Teo's mouth goes up and down slightly. He glances down at his skin, looking for traitorous scars, but his skin has held few since little old Hadley smoothed him over. The metal plate was gone before that, as was the hole the bullet had drilled into the front of his head. That mess of stabs from the pirate man hydrokinetic are blanked out, and his calluses are restrained to a brown knobbling over neatly specific zones of his hands.

Really, Francois has no right to talk. He gets shot once. He blinks when the light clacks off the tiny puddle it had sat on the freshly sutured hole in his side. "Well," he says. "Yeah.

"You could say that. In terms of knock-offs in decreasing extremes. I'm a smaller, younger, more geographically limited and less accomplished version of you," cheery the way a man can get after a near-death experience, because it's either that or rocking in a corner. Carefully, he unfolds his arms underneath his head, levers himself up on his elbows. Lets out a fractioned exhale when his bullet wound creaks momentary protest against the torque and pull of skin and muscle. "Makes sense I'd try to work lesser miracles."

Francois is still looking at where Teo's head was before the younger man levered himself up. A second later, docteur is shifting to collect bandages and tape, urging Teo to remain still with fluttery touches to his shoulder, before he sets about sealing gauze in place. He's silent as he does so, at first, until he finally glances back up at Teo's face and lets out a sigh. "That is not what I was trying to say," he says, with reserved irritation, some for Teo, some for himself. "I meant that I do not want to see you hurt yourself on someone else.

"And also that I understand." Flustered, slightly, at words of lesser miracles and decreasing extremes. He's not sure what that says about Teo but he's not sure what that says about himself. "And the only thing I truly accomplished was passing on my power, and non, that is not humility, or the point."

Is Teo being deliberately obtuse? Surely, that would be beneath him. Or possibly not, one might determine, when one finds the still-chilly point of his damp nose nuzzled up against one's cheek, and a kiss tucked into the corner of one's mouth, with the tender hope of a recently scolded puppy. Don't be mad. Don't be maaad.

Teo is even staying still, insofar as that he's sat up, achieved upright, his hands on the railing, but careful not to twist the suture or squirm under gauze. You will never have a better puppy than this.

He dips his chin back down, clearing his ruined mouth so that he can talk with it, and at a lower volume afforded by proximity. Partially because Francois smells nice when he gets right out of bed, and partially because he thinks touching will translate directly to sincerity and make Francois less irritated. "By 'lesser miracles' I mean… doable ones, that's all," he says. "You know. I'm trying to be optimistic. The hard part's the next part."

The first best thing might be levering himself up onto the gurney along with Teo and blink asleep right there, regardless of blood, rubbing alcohol, and the increasing likelihood that they'll be found for the longer that they're there. The second best thing might be to simply shift up close enough for the railing to press against his stomach and to rest his temple against one strangely cool shoulder. Francois opts for the latter, once he's done with bandages, having only smirked a little at the kiss until he was finished.

"Non. The next part is the part where you get some rest and heal." Barring that last part, Francois may be projecting a little, his voice having not shaken off that sleep-rough quality since he was first phoned. "As for the hard part, what will you need?"

Five of Teo's callused fingers wind up tugging at Francois' hair, smoothing it around the white curve of his ear. Pretty ear. Pretty hair. Barring the gloves and those substances nastily streaked over them and rimmed around one or two fingernails, and conventional perspectives on his twisted hand, Francois is pretty all over.

If they'd swapped a little less spit and sweat before now, Teo might either feel horribly shy getting his grubby mitts and person all over him or take conceited pleasure in it. As it is, there's only a little of both. A pang, because the Frenchman would so obviously rather be somewhere else— and probably with him; greed at the physical warmth, proximity, notes of mahogany and rum in that cologne.

All these relevant thoughts and more. Thank the Lord for Percocet.

"I'm not sure. Is part of the hard part." Teo's voice thrums through his shoulder and into the older man's ear. The rest of the hospital feels far away. "I'll take him over to the Garden tonight and I figure we'll both sleep like the dead awhile, there. Do you want to come with?"

"Oui." This, he says, without expressing doubt at the trek to the Garden in their conditions, in this weather. He can try to corner Alex Knight minutes after an evacuation and scold about why he's not being friends with his boyfriend, but this remains out of Francois' meddling jurisdiction — as long as he can supervise. Hopefully, Teo was not being politely obligatory. Reluctantly, he lifts his head up off Teo's shoulder, considers a thing—

Before leaning in to kiss, because, the French don't ask and Teo probably deserves it, what with near death experiences and all, back alley surgery and the taste of crushed painkiller. That, and there might not be much of it for the next few hours. When it ends, Francois' back straightens enough to drop another kiss high up, next to the Sicilian's still chilly nose. Not much fear of a cold, apparently.

Surely, this means that they're good. Teo hopes so! Thinks so. He is gross and funny-smelling from artificial chemicals, so probably, this is not evidence or runoff of Francois' wild lust or pragmatic compromise to acquiring the next best thing to an electric heated blanket. Whatever unhappy misinterpretations or differences of understanding had occurred with the shootings and the Deckards are apparently not so great that they were irrecoverable.

"I'm glad you're okay," he remembers to say, blinking. When he blinks, his eyelashes leave a ghostly impression of prodding on the curve of Francois' cheek, even if they shouldn't be quite that close. Suddenly feeling out of pain enough for self-awareness, and enough self-awareness for generosity, he puts his arm around the older man's neck and shoulder. Repeats himself, for clarity: "I'm glad you're okay."

Teo probably feels more than sees Francois' smile at that, pausing for a moment to indulge in being half-held, "Anch'io. And you," before shifting to withdraw and nudge himself back to the mess they've both made, from bloodied pliers and delicate scissors, crumpled latex gloves, discarded plastic and cardboard from the suture kit and the flattened bullet winking in the pan. Considers tucking away the steel instruments and leaving the rest here for some unhappy nurse to deal with.

And this is why he is unemployed. "Get dressed," Francois invites on an exhale, after a quick glance down to make sure bandaging hasn't somehow slipped off in between application of medical tape and just now. "And promise to go slow."

That's what she—

It's actually more a funny joke, considering a couple times what happened when Francois happened to be in control of the pace and in a whimsical mood enough to interrupt a more langorous rhythm. It comes as a surprise to no reader that Teo thinks about sex about every three minutes or so. There are worse things. Being shot, for instance. Being in pain. Salacity is something that fits in between rather than causing fatal distraction, at least, and improves upon the blank discomfort of wait-time.

There is going to be a lot of wait-time, it feels like. Teo thumbs the hollowed sleeves and wrinkled front of his shirt into some semblence of order, before squirming into it, carefully, limb by limb. Sweater, second, the methodical insertion of hands, then head, fingers unrolling the thickness of the weave down his torso before he gets impatient enough to yank. Boy, he could use a shower.

He loops his leggy frame over the gurney's railing, onto the floor. His boots squeak meltwater against linoleum. While once one of his main functions was mopping up blood and detritus and that isn't entirely gone from him now, well. Other things to do. Escape vehicles and boats to charter. He claws his hair flat. "This is the sound of me promising."

Bloodied tools click together, things crinkle to be gathered and disposed, and the wheels on France's chair squeaks along. "Tres bien," is distracted praise, as he proceeds to get his own shit together as Teo does so as well— slowly. By the time Francois grips Sicily's hand on the way out from their curtained off corner of hospital— which still looks a little grisly if not too bad, not quite the site for murder, just one of bleeding— fingers and palms are clean of fluid and tension.

And by the time they're negotiating how to get to Staten Island from here, and Francois is coming to understand that there is no such thing as obligation in Teo's invite at the logistical awkwardness of wheelbarrowing an unconscious graverobber across neighbourhoods and across rivers so much as there was necessity in an additional set of hands, ruined or not, it's begun to snow again.

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