You Get What You Need


bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title You Get What You Need
Synopsis Or something in the same ballpark, when Francois is dragged back to the site of a broken promise.
Date March 20, 2011

Bella and Deckard's Apartment

A fire door opens somewhere at the far end of the hall. It opens too hard and too fast — fabricated metal jouncing hard off the inner wall. Enough to make the scattered occupants of this floor look up from their romance novel reading and fingernail painting and crack processing.

The stairwell beyond is metal and concrete and slippery wet with runoff from a hole somewhere somehow somewhen. Humidity creeps in with the cold, and a sodden Deckard wrests his captive Frenchman into the hall ahead of himself hard enough to bounce him off the same put-upon stretch of drywall. Problems on the way up, maybe. already ill temper festered under a long walk and a waterlogged overcoat.


Sinuses snuffed hard against the promise of a cold, he adjusts the grip he has on his gun and presses onward with Francois in the unwilling lead, boots dragging dark smudges into dry flooring. Remnant thunder rolls tangible through the hallway's length in dimmer light and a shudder through the windows; Flint's eyes prick cold out of spans of shadow. Wasn't it raining the last time they had a visitor?

Behind, the fire door eases shut on its spring and re-locks with a subdued clack. Ahead, Flint snarls half his gun hand into Francois' collar for the time it takes him to key in through the lock of a familiar door into a familiar foyer.

Francois is 5'10" worth of moody, sodden Frenchman, his posture locked up in silent, difficult protest, giving only as necessary for stilted, foot thumping steps as directed, as if any resistent stillness were knocked out of him from thump into the wall. Exhales in something of a warning hiss when Deckard's hand snags on wool and leather, although a warning for what is debatable — he has a loaded pistol beneath his jacket that he hasn't made a try for since the first time Deckard pulled a gun on him some long wet hike earlier in the evening ago. His hands are empty now and remain so, tensely fisted.

Last time, he went in through the window.

This time, he's led without resistence in through the front door, tracking in rain water that sticks dark hair to pale skin, a slow bruise coming up from suckerpunch to the face within the last hour. At least they're in from the rain, although Francois isn't pleased to be here — once in, he's wrenching himself away from Deckard with a slithery, European curse word mutter.

It's living alone that Bella didn't want. The fear of discovery - fabricated procedures composed paranoiacally - was the excuse for the self imposed exile to hotel residence; the reality is that home can be a strange place to be when it's just you and it isn't usually. Absence gains a murky sort of palpability, drifting in grainy waves like sand stirred up from a lake's bottom by the treading of water.

Her decision is to make it slightly more cozy. The runned down-ness of the apartment lends itself too easily to scenes of desolation, and Bella does not want to invite the impulse. Self indulgence is habit for her, so she had to provide herself an alternative method of expression. It's almost Spring, or something like it, but it's still cold as anything, and the unreal blur of rain against the windows doesn't help. But Bella is cozy, because she's bought a space heater.

She's also got reading lamp and a book - a thin paperback with an old photo as its cover- and a glass of wine, the last two being held in either hand. Her glass set low so she can recline while she reads, she lets the red coils of the heater sear a little spot in her peripheral vision.

That spot is still tinged bruise-green and scab-red when she's peering over the back of the couch, her startled reaction to the clatter of key against lock, then key in lock, causing her to spill wine onto the floor, and a little on the couch, staining red at once and maybe forever. "Shit-" Bella says, since this is one more thing, and as such, she refuses it, setting down the glass and ignoring the problem. Who cares? She doesn't. And it's not as if they tend to have company.

Irony makes a leaden thump atop Bella's line of thought as Deckard arrives with someone familiar. Someone she talked to him about. A new line of thinking revs into motion. Her hand lifts to cover her mouth. Shock widening her eyes as she hides her gape from Francois.

"Oh, God." Eyes just as wide as they turn to Flint. "This-" Down to the gun, then bouncing back to Flint. "Oh no…" The book is set down, place held by the wine stained couch cushion. Bella gets to her feet, her brows finally lowering, then knitting.

"You wanted to talk to him," says Flint by way of halfass explanation, as undeterred by wrenching and cursing as he is by 'oh no's and the like. One last shove for good measure threatens an end table in the entry that he probably didn't pick out and he reaches back to close and lock the door behind himself, clickity clack. "He didn't want to talk to you."

Unfortunately he didn't realize that his participation wasn't optional!!

Is the unspoken implication, here.

Apartment secure, coarse bristle and scruff still matted with city rain and musty runoff, Flint finally stops long enough to catch his breath and take stock of his latest felony. A hazy beat later, he continues on past Francois to take up looming position at Bella's heel.

All breathing hard through his nose and jaw hard, Francois fairly bristles with indignation and general righteousness by the time he's released, tracking Deckard's walk passed him with a sharp eye and a scowl that at least prevents him from sneering. Scarred throat and bitten ear helping the effect of wary, kicked canine. That tense anger begins its slow leak out of him, but set to boil at anything that might flick the metaphorical gas on. Occupies himself with trying to shove rain off his face with an equally wet leather sleeve, the back of his hand greasing passed his mouth as he finally, then, looks at Bella.

And the looks says: this is all your fault. As opposed to maybe Francois' fault, or even Deckard's. He glances then to the wine. Back to redhead. "I can come back later," is wry. "A better time, perhaps."

Can she say there is something soothing about Flint's implacability? If not soothing, then at least deflating of her gasping spell. There is certainly a momentary confusion as she tries to determine just what is going on, why, and what her part is in all of it. Because while she asked Flint to help her get in touch with Francois, this is not what he meant. Luckily, explanations are quickly provided, and as Flint joins her - taking the position of reinforcement - she understands how this can go. Who she can be. She's done it before.

"Now's fine," so don't worry, Francois.

"You," Bella continues, brow still furled, but with a narrowing of the eyes that gives her look an edge - or certainly tries to, "and I," her finger jabs at the Frenchman, punctuating the key elements of the sentence, "had a deal."

"Non?" comes with a smile, and an accentuation that is definitely in the register of mocking.

The last of his own ragged breathing wound down into a steadier funnel through his sinuses, Flint is slow to let his eyes tick from their slant after Bella back to Francois. Quiet, with sporadic little tell-tale flickers in focus within the unholy burnoff of his glare. Checking that the gun is still there. Checking for twitchy muscle fiber and undefined temptation.

An Azrael for every Gargamel.

He's so tired.

Is the annoying thing. A cold two hours on a boat, when Francois isn't one for boats in the first place, and then the rain, and other complaints. But weariness doesn't do much to dampen him where the rain already has — it just makes his temper shorter. Sarcasm is met with a prideful tip of his head, and there isn't any surprise left over for Bella when she brings up the agenda for the evening. "Oui," is agreement, as placid and chilly as a winter lake, frosted with bitter, and defiantly Francophile. "In the future, you know now to not make deals at gunpoint.

"I have been out of town for the last few months," is honest, if probably— in the long run— entirely unrelated. He is still, under the flickering lambent glare of the gargoyle to her right.

No! What Bella has learned is not to make deals with people who break into her home. Or maybe she's learned how little contractual obligation means to people born in pinko France. Or, instead, she's learned that anything worth doing is worth having done for you. By a thug.

The original wisdom of her gunpoint deal, however, she firmly cleaves to.

There is a noticeable thinning of Bella's lips as Francois gives his answer. Dismissive, is what she'd call it. A child saying 'so what?' or 'whatever'. Smartalecry. She looks over her shoulder at Flint, then tips her head in their guest's direction.

"Would you like to beat him?" she asks then, hand lifted to signal amendment, "if it were necessary?" The gunpoint march suggests an answer, but Bella would hate to assume. And some rhetorical questions do need answers.

The wires and cables drawn taut across Flint's shoulders and middle belt down into a twitch and clench. There's a winding, sinking shift in his weight and a metaphorical light in his eyes to back its literal counterpart, smothering brain activity down into a pinhole filter of feeble reason.

He looks excited.

Initially. It's in the way she asks or the way she phrases it or just the fact that it's her — whatever the spark, it begins to bleed back out of him almost as quick as it's bitten in, not enough to take hold and stay there while he's sober.


All of this happens quickly and is subtle in posture and expression. The uneasy look he breaks over onto her after an uneven beat is less so.

Francois shuts up, and watches Deckard carefully, but if he can read anything in the fleeting nuances of muscle tension, the hollows and planes of the other man's expression, simultaneously younger and older, then it doesn't give him comfort, nor reason to react in defense or otherwise. Tensely silent, though he works his fingers out from fists, remaining at his sides. Splays them. If tendons could creak.

"I take it that it is not yet necessary." His voice is as steady as a drawn knife, probably too much so.

For a moment, Flint is an object of common study. It's only for the sake of theater that Bella watches him rather than Francois - her 'interest' part of the scene - but that means she does see Flint lurch into some more ominous assemblage of angles, and does catch the glance that marks its definitive end. For a passing moment, Bella feels-

Maybe later. Business.

"I certainly hope not!" is a voice of fellow reason. Bella folds her arms across her chest, looking more stern than anything else. "But if you continue to waste my time with delays, digressions, cryptic statements or bon mots that aren't very much to the point, it will be very necessary.

"You broke into my home," in case anyone here forgot, "I could have shot you dead and the law would have patted me on the back. I risked my life by agreeing to do anything for you. I owe you jack shit. You owe me big time."

"Explain," Bella demands, "how you're going to rectify this, or I swear to God you'll be shitting your teeth tomorrow."

Adrenaline still stuffed like cotton in his ears, ringing shrill between thuds of his tatty heart, Flint appears to be dimly trying to discern whether or not his silence pans out to consent by no contest. Fortunately(?) she keeps going, providing him with context clues like teeth-shitting for him to tilt his brows at when he turns his goshawk glare another ninety degrees. Back to Francois.

The look isn't any more promising than it is directly threatening while his hair dries into uneven patches of grizzle. The lady says he'll be shitting teeth. It could be true.

Caught. In that talking about anything else but straight answers is preferable to being a weasel twice over. Francois doesn't look happy at the prospect of shitting teeth (!!) but is defiantly silent for what will hedge on into too long territory if he can't think of anything else better to do. He doesn't look guilty, either, as he sizes her up with a degree of distinctly European chilliness, but at least he has no real room to summon any disdain. He's cornered.

He switches that look to Deckard. "They will know of this. The network. That you tracked one of us down," and hey, this seems like a good time now more than ever to declare himself aligned with them outside of token favours, conveniently, "for the benefit of the Institute."

"He is not involved," should have the force of axiom, if Bella says it right, "he is being kind enough to enforce a contract, but the contract is between you and I. If the people who threatened to torture me," this is a sore spot, a bruise pointed to with emphasis perhaps too emphatic, "want something from me, they don't seem to have a problem asking."

Bella half-steps back and to the side, interposing herself along Francois' directed line of sight. "You're making good, one way or another. If I need to establish some sort of collateral, I will." A beat, then words transmitted back to Flint: "Is he Evolved?" Information to uncertain end.

Shaming in this case is only effective if the desired effect was to make things worse: Flint bristles without being prompted this time, hackles lifted and teeth shown. There is nothing European about his chilliness, ice cracking rigid through his stare when he steps forward in tandem with the half step Bella takes back and snaps his knuckles across Francois' face a second time. Independently of Doctor Sheridan's ruling.

"I dunno," is his first answer. Earnest. "I don't think so." Not anymore.

Pain cracks white, in both vision and the way it feels, hot and sharp. Francois' hand catches against an edge of wall, the other pawing wrist after this new site of bruising as if he could clean away damage. I don't think so. That old and piercing loss for healing, as sharp as he'd felt when Deckard had helped him that one time and then walked out the door. The side of his fist bounces off the wall as he muffles a curse into his hand. That said hand doesn't go to his weapon again is possibly because he doesn't want this to come down to drawn weapons.

But it's starting to seem like it won't matter. Red draws a line down his chin. "«Come near me again,»" is savage invitation, content to brawl as opposed to repent for his broken promises. But for the benefit of the class— "Believe me, he is involved."

A blanching wince demonstrates just how sheltered a person Isabella Sheridan is. After threatening this man with brutal violence, a single punch has her flinching - she's not used to seeing real violence. Why Francois is still armed, Bella doesn't know - maybe it's some form of ettiquette? - but she'd prefer her threat remain effective virtually. A really good threat need never be enforced.

Still, she tries to make it look like that punch was all according to plan, the attempt beginning immediately upon her recovery from squeamish grimace. Hands folded behind her back, Bella stands with straight spine. "This matter has nothing to do with my employers, or your fucked up little club, and it certainly doesn't involve Flint outside this particular function."

And because she wants to make it final, and perhaps in a dark corner of her because she is curious despite her desire for ignorance, she says to Flint: "That's correct?"

Flint split a knuckle on that last one. Not the first time their blood has mingled, and not painful enough to slow him flipping his knife open off his belt while he watches Francois recollect himself. He still has his revolver drawn in his right hand, six shots brassy warm in the cylinder, sights nosed down at naked baseboards for now. One step and a folding blade ahead when he lifts a boot, leans, and sets it down six inches closer: the slow rolling start of taking the Frenchman up on his invitation.

A really good threat has to involve guns and knives and preferably the use of one or both. A really good threat requires stitches. Promptly, when they're asked for nearly by na—

Bella's voice funnels his way through a muffled exchange about involvement and he furrows his brow at her.

"Oui, of course, it is between you and I. You said."

He just doesn't care, is the insinuation when Francois sneers these words out. His eyes are on the knife, however, tracking up the snaring tension in Deckard's arm and then settling on his face. It seems more important to watch the man in front of him than it does pay Bella the respect of eye sight, temper trapped and suppressed like something entrapped in his ribcage, heart thudding as the pain of fresh hit continues to ache even as it lessens. "I'm Non-Evolved. And you wouldn't believe me, would you, if I promised the same thing twice? Did you have your demands figured out before you sicced your dog on me?"

Which is a little hypocritical, seeming like a similar kind of animal as the reason he isn't leaping at Deckard is that he's leashed by threat of gun and knife. Or the fact that he has paused coming nearer. Palms blood away, risks a look her direction.

Clearly Flint's mind was somewhere else, a Lucretian soul spread into his limbs, caught up in the appearance of menace. Okay, maybe actual menace, but he stops when addressed and that's good. Because however little she may have planned, none of her plans really were supposed to involve grievous bodily harm. This may come as a disappointment to some; she extends her apologies. She just doesn't like unpleasantness.

"You have a fair point," Bella acknowledges - she'll permit that he is truthful about his duplicity - "but that doesn't leave us with a lot of very cheerful options. I said I'd take collateral. Right now," she removes the glasses from her nose and gestures at Francois with them, "it looks like you're it."

Closer to Francois than Bella, now, Flint holds his position without any further advance. The only blood on his knife is his own. The only warmth in his pistol is from being held overlong. A lack of further taunting or threat for even a few minutes gives him time to wind back still further from the edge, chemical serenity quick to fuzz around the fringes of his temper while he settles in to see what she decides.

"«You made a deal,»" he reminds once he can do so quietly — without spitting it through his teeth. Tall, gaunt, slouchy. Damp. Still missing a few narrow lines of neckbeard behind the hard slant of his jaw. "«The wrong one. Has it ever crossed your mind,»" Bella was irritated the last time they started nattering in French. This time he tempers it with a dragging return to her side, ameliorating irritation with the unspoken promise of continued obedience, "«That you might be the bad guy?»"

The French equivelent of sorry has two extremes. The first, light and flippant, an elbow in the hallway, a passing glance over some wrong doing and a handwave of dismissive in two syllables. The other, slightly more dramatic: I am desolate. Neither of these are said.

There's a quiet, exhaling sound at that last comment, neither disdain nor relevation — amusement without arrogance (for once), a tip of his head. Francois can, at the very least, admit to something. "I did make the wrong deal," he agrees, in English, and manages not to qualify it with complaint of circumstance. They wouldn't have pointed a gun at him if he hadn't've broken in, too. "And I lied about what I would be willing to do for your risk. I don't want him hurt. Any of him," more pointed.

"Parfois," is belated answer. To Deckard. From time to time.

Again, this honesty after the fact is appreciated for what it is, but it isn't fucking much if you ask Bella. The exchange in French is much more tolerable in the light of Flint's continued reinforcement. Instead of fantasizing unintelligible things said about her, she imagines unintelligible things said on her behalf. And anyways, she has more pressing irritations claiming her attention. Her pet peeve will have to wait.

"What would you do, in my position?" Bella asks, the strain on her patience evident in her voice, which has a taught quality, one complimented by the tightness of her shoulders and the close, defensive angles her arms form as they cross her chest. "I'm giving you a chance to offer something better than a pound of flesh. I'd suggest you take it."

"All the time," Flint answers in English in turn. "«From the start.»"

Now is a weird time to be affectionate but Bella is warm and dry and he is cold and wet. Enough for him to lean some of his weight forward into her while he watches Francois from over her shoulder. Waiting to see if he has an answer.

Francois has time to think. Maybe. He takes it any case, his attention chasing after Deckard until unfocus kind of meshes the shapes of both he and the lady together in a vague outline in front of him, and fingertips pick after lips to see if they're cut. Red smears but it could well be from teeth as well. He has nothing to say, in English or French, to Deckard's statement, but he doesn't expect the other man's waitful glance has much to do with it in any event.

She asked him a question. "Perhaps this," he suggests. Hand drops. "Safety. Sanctuary. Flint will know that the Ferrymen take in worse creatures than you, madame, from Humanis First through to killers, if they are desperate enough to lay down their arms in return of protection. If your ties to the Institute put you in danger, whether because of the things I have done or not, then I will do everything in my power to help you. If you would have that.

"The only other thing I have is a car and spare change."

What, in essence, Francois is offering is his guilt. At least that's how Bella thinks of it. The logic of 'one good turn deserves another' is awfully amicable, and its very amicability makes it hard to turn down without really seeming like the bad guy. Her moral ground of dubious altitude already so, to secure what little definite advantage she has in her mind, she interprets the breadth and length and even the more or less explicit insult of his alternative as an attempt to buy off his shame. A generous recasting, but we make the world we live in. Bella just wants a more livable world.

Patches on Bella's shoulder get cold unexpectedly as rainwater seeps through her shirt in spots. There is a momentary flinch away from the discomfort, until she registers just what - who - it is. She relaxes and eases back, one arm lifting from the barricade before her, hand snagging loosely beneath the collar. Her eyes remain on Francois, however. Taking time of her own. Letting him wait it out.

Because she's going to say: "All right," and that will be that. Further, she'll say: "I'll need another way to contact you," which is reasonable considering Flint-o-gram may not be the optimal method. What she does not say, however, is that Francois has paid his own debt; that says nothing about what Bella still wants from Laudini.

"He'll have to convince the others," sounds more like a cautionary statement than an accusation, but just barely. Bella isn't trusted. Francois said so himself. And she certainly isn't liked. The hatchet-hewn angles that define his overlong face harden and hollow at reference to killers and the like, but he doesn't bow up again.

Instead, he folds over his knife and pushes it back down onto his belt, flinch soaked without a twitch so that he can bleed some of his tension out into his lean when contact is resumed. "«The only thing I need to kill you,»" Flint says past her after a beat, "«is an excuse.»"

The next breath Francois takes is shallow, chin tipping up in what can be interpretted as prideful, as the French he'd inadvertently passed on as well as hallucinations and horse riding skills offers that statement. Bella doesn't know the language, but the barb can be divined from one man's tone and the other's reaction, even if the latter is all subtle cues — a flickered glance away, a line of tension through his shoulders, bruised jaw.

"I will," he says, agrees, to the part in English. "It is why it is a task. One I think I can accomplish."

And as for the next part, Bella's question, it would be the French bit that has Francois hesitating over the reminder that— "Flint knows where I live. The West Village place. I do not carry a phone often," like how he doesn't have one right now, "but people leave me messages there. That is good enough?"

Which in tone, sounds like: can I go?

"It had better be," Bella says, finality weighting her words. The answer being 'yes' he can go. And in case there was confusion, "don't come back here, and don't tell anyone where we are - out of common courtesy if nothing else." She turns her shoulder towards Francois, telling him she's sure he can find the door on his own. She looks up at Flint, scanning his face, trying to discern his mood and its direction of drift.

At some point she will need to consider what she thinks it means that Flint brought a man to her at gunpoint. The explanation he gave is the truth entire, she's sure, but meaning is a joint process and she doesn't know how she feels about it quite yet. But that point sits further down along the coast of chronology.

Flint's eyes are on Francois, unblinking coals sunk stark into his skull. He's tired and soaked through to the bone, mood bleak as the weather and difficult to discern beyond that. There isn't much about the flat line of his mouth or the hood of his brow to color detail in around his general displeasure. Just the fact that he doesn't look any happier to see Francois leaving in one piece than he did when he confronted him in the street that way.

And for the second time, permission is granted.

Francois moves without ceremony or second glances, his movements neither meek nor petulant. Matter of fact, if anything, his mind elsewhere and removed from remembering to express himself in stomping feet or slammed doors. His fingers crawl over the locks as he lets himself out, the slick sound of shifting metal mechanisms no louder than the close of the door once he's through it. Beyond the wood, his skeleton pauses, scuffs and itches fingers through where hair would be over skull.

And then he's gone, striding swifter down the hallway. Back to the mantra as it had been before. Home. Wine. Bed. And ice, somewhere between one of those things.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License