Immortality, or Something Eerily Similar [Kodachromatic + Peregrine]

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  1. "You have in you intuitions of immortality, trust them; they are right. Follow them; they will lead you to your Father's house." -Reuen Thomas

    Mattiew Tousseau rose with the rising sun, and not insignificant aid from his bedside alarm clock. His body was almost immediately on autopilot as he padded through the apartment. First stop was the bathroom, where Tousseau stood brushing his teeth. He stared sleepily at himself as he did, looking at his body in the mirror. Faint impressions of muscularity, now regressed to the nondescript firmness of masculinity. Cheeks fuzzed with curly wisps that would grow into the beginnings of a beard in a few days. Eyes still heavy with sleep. Sleep, and perhaps some faint wistfulness with regard to his immortality, it seemed.

    He spit into the sink and continued with his morning, showering and dressing. Attire was simple enough: dark blue jeans, simple brown chukka boots, a heather gray long-sleeve sweater and a lighter grey pea coat. Though his spaces were warm, Tousseau knew very well how the European cold would cut to the bone if one was not dressed properly.

    Stepping out into the lobby, he was greeted by old man Pep. A warm smile lit the old man's face, and the two spent a few minutes talking about the game this evening. "Don't suppose you'll be watching tonight?" He asked. His old voice was gravelly, rough in its enunciation and heavily shaded with the 'e's and 'ou's of his native French. Tousseau shook his head no; his Tigers de Toulouse weren't playing until tomorrow. Patting the old man's shoulder, he stepped out onto the street and pulled his coat closed. Still early in the morning, he didn't suspect even noon would lift the November air above 40. Cold air plumed from his lips as he exhaled deeply and started down the street towards Martin's bakery. In a few minutes' time, he was settled at his favorite corner seat and nursing his first coffee, watching the men in their wool suits and overcoats and women in their skirts and stockings parade by. There was even another observer, it seemed, perched across the street at the large (though not the largest) fountain. Interesting, he mused. Tourist season was certainly over (who traveled to a town about to be seized by winter time?), and yet she seemed to sit perched as if waiting for something. She was no local, to be sure; her red hair was much too natural.

    Tousseau examined her curiously for a few moments longer before sipping his coffee again.
  2. The light of the gibbous moon may never be as bright as that of a full moon, but there was something about it that cast the city into a true feeling of night. The witch's moon, it had once been called, and on a night like this it was easy to tell why. It provided just enough light to make the city glow, but not enough that things could be easily seen. Shadows seemed to shift wildly, and half dreamed shaped danced in the darkness. Nowadays, people never looked into the shadows for the leering face of a denom. They all hurried home resolutely, glancing over their shoulder only to see if they were being followed by another mortal, something that could be detected by the eyes. Or they challenged the night with drunken bursts of laughter, drowning memory in spirits.

    There were times when she missed the honest rituals of the pagans, those who looked at the world and saw god and spirits in everything. They had taken her in as blessed, had not shunned her for her unaging body, and taught her about the little, beautiful things in life that would keep her sane as the ages wore on.

    Elisa Romanelli found one of those beautiful things that night in Paris, and halted in her tracks to study it. Someone who had been walking close behind her nearly ran into her back. The man let out an irritated noise and brushed past her, never looking up from his feet. It was a shame, for had he done so he might have noticed the beautiful thing himself, and it would have made his evening better, even if for a moment.

    A fountain at night was nothing like a city. In a city every little distortion causes a shadow, something that hides. But a fountain draws light into itself, and the more it moves the more light that seemed to scatter within its depths. Elisa walked slowly over to the edge of the fountain and sat down beside it, letting her fingers drop lazily into the water. Ripples sprung out immediately, and the moonlight surfed on their crests until the ripples collided with the wall and dispersed.

    She kept expecting someone to notice the fountain, and the way the moonlight played on its surface. It certainly wasn’t as though the street was deserted. But though people might occasionally look at her and wonder, no one ever stopped. They did not even seem to truly see what they were looking at. It shouldn’t have surprised her. There was a reason she didn’t choose to associate with people all that often. They were driven by different needs than her, needs that she could hardly even comprehend anymore. So many people devoted their whole lives to the acquisition of things. She had tried to understand it, but the things themselves held no meaning to her. Why would they, when she would very likely outlast the things themselves?

    But there was something fleeting and beautiful in the play of the fountain. The moon was crossing the sky, occasionally briefly hiding behind a wisp of cloud, and soon it would drop behind the roofs of the buildings. Then that night would be gone, and that same moon would never again touch the same drops of water dancing in the same fashion. It reminded Elisa a little bit of herself, for though the flow of the water would be there the next night with the light of the moon, it like her, could never return to the night before, the moment before. There was only ever forward progression, even in something so seemingly unchanging.

    She sat there the whole night, even when the temperature dropped low and a cool, brisk wind washed over her, leaving her chilled. She shivered deliciously, before unwrapping the jacket tied around her waist and throwing it over her shoulders. The moon dropped from the sky before the colors of the sun began to stain the horizon, but Elisa didn’t mind the darkness either. She closed her eyes, listening to the fountain bubble, the city slowly whisper by, and the world turn.

    The sun that morning washed the sky nearly the same color of red as her hair, and Elisa’s eyes went wide in satisfaction and pleasure. But even when the sky went fully blue and the city came alive in the daylight Elisa sat on the edge of the fountain. She didn’t know for what she was waiting, nor was she entirely sure that she was waiting for anything. But she followed the whim willingly, for there was nowhere she needed to be today. She would enjoy this spot, for as long as it provided her pleasure.

    Not long after sunrise, someone finally seemed to look at her. Not just through her, but at her. She made eye contact with a man whose skin was as black as the coffee he drank, and for a moment they looked at each other silently. A small, almost unexpected smile flitted across her face, and then their eyes parted.
  3. There was something about her eyes, he mused as he diverted his gaze politely. Yet, as soon as they were cast down to the steaming coffee before him, he found himself peering at her once more. She seemed dignified, and yet in a strange way, wayward also came to mind. Wayward like him, he heard in his own mind. Impossible. Tousseau closed his fingers around the small, white mug and sipped from it again, peering up at the sky. Transient, as usual. His nose filled with the scent of caffeine, of cream and of a fresh morning.

    He watched her for a few minutes longer, between the filter of people shuffling back and forth along the sidewalk. The air grew only mildly warmer, still much too cool for him to abandon his coat, and he replaced the cup of coffee with a second and soon a third as he observed her. What was she waiting for? Surely someone, or something. After all, she didn't seem to be moving from there anytime soon. By the time the traffic on the street had calmed itself to a slow drip of people did he feel convinced she was simply sitting. Fishing some bills from his pocket, he left them on the table and rose, crossing out of the small courtyard. His hands tucked into his coat pockets again, eyes slitting at the cool blow of wind that brushed across his cheeks. Definitely glad he didn't shave.

    He felt surprisingly casual as he walked. Clearly, she had nowhere to go and no one to meet with if she'd survived the morning "rush hour" without moving. The street was easy to traverse (barely anyone drove here) and he led himself to the fountain. The water there bubbled still, surprisingly late in the year to not have been shut off until warmer weather exorcised the risk of the lines freezing. Tousseau held his tongue until he was nearer to her, maybe a couple of steps. "Bonjour, madame. Elle est magnifique, non? Elle est appelée 'la fontaine de l'éternité.' Il est plutôt cliché, non?" [Hello, madame. She is magnifique, no? She is called 'The Fountain of Eternity.' It is rather cliché, no?]

    As he spoke, he motioned toward the fountain, eyes on the old stone fixture.
  4. Yes, there was definitely something in his eyes. Poets for ages past had called the eyes the windows to the soul, and though the simple of figure could have easily been worthy of rejection she appreciated it none the less. But the soul could not be so easily read, and eyes could be shuttered as easily as any window.

    Their eyes met sporadically over the next half hour, never long enough to ascertain anything about each other, but long enough to provide small, tantalizing glimpses of that which was underneath. And so, somehow, she was not surprised when he got up and began to walk over her. he could have just been walking away, but Elisa knew that he was walking to her. What did surprise her a little bit was that she was not walking away. She did not deal with people very often anymore. There were simply too many differences between them for her to be able to bridge the gap. Yet apparently the curiosity was mutual. Perhaps there would be something about this young man, this young man with old eyes, that would be able to understand what hid inside her, subconsciously if not consciously. And so she sat still as she watched him approach, studying him with the same mild curiosity with which she had watched the fountain all night.

    "Elle est. Et je peux voir d'où vient le nom. Il est l'éternité dans ses eaux." [She is. And I can see from where the name came. There is eternity in her waters.] Her French was nearly flawless, despite her obvious foreign nature. Even though she was speaking of the fountain, all of her attention seemed to be on the man before her. And most of that attention was on his eyes. He, at least, was the closest she had seen to anyone who could look at the fountain correctly. But, considering that he was the first person who had given the fountain anything more than a sparing glance all night, perhaps she was simply seeing what she wanted to see.
  5. Excellent French, and yet he could sense a foreign lilt to the words. 'Perhaps there's one in my own,' he pondered idly. "L'eau est juste de l'eau." [Water is just water.] Bending over the tall edge, he flicked his fingers across the surface. "Eh bien, l'eau froide." [Well, cold water.] Brushing his fingertips across the side of his jacket, he extended a hand to her. "Je'mappelle Mattieu. Ou Tousseau, si vous aimez." [My name is Mattieu. Or Tousseau, if you like.]

    The breeze rose again, and idle standing would do nothing but to chill the bones. Though Saint Germain-des-Pres was modern enough, cold winds still swept through on winter currents,, and he was no particular fan. However, the tombs would be warm. It was about time to head there, anyway. "Le froid est assez pénible, voulez-vous marcher avec moi?" [The cold is rather irksome, would you care to walk with me?] In a way, this was so out of character for him, approaching a woman he'd never met before, asking her to promenade 'round town with him. And yet, there was no jutter of nervousness. It felt, in a way, like this was a natural sort of thing. Monsieur Pep would've called it "belle, sort fataliste" [beautiful, fatalistic fate] but he wasn't so sure.

    Still, it'd be nice to have company while he was doing his rounds.
  6. There was a small flicker of disappointment on her face when he responded, but she quickly buried it behind the wall of nothingness that kept her separated from the world and kept her sane. What more could she have expected from him? Yet the fact that she had expected something, anything at all, made the disappointment that much more bitter. And so she could not help the mild quip. "Peut-être si vous la dévisagea pendant assez longtemps, vous trouverez l'éternité." [Perhaps if you stared at her for long enough, you would find the eternity.] But she left it at that, and politely offered her hand after he gave her his name.

    "Je suis.. Elisa."[I am... Elisa.] Her handshake was quick and light, but she eyed the young man... Mattieu, with some curiosity. It was uncommon for a native-born Frenchman to offer his first name to a stranger, but she followed his lead willingly enough. Perhaps it was not all that improbable that two foreigners, both fluent in French, would come together, but it was somewhat unexpected.

    It was a strange meeting, for the both of them apparently. He looked almost as startled by his next request as Elisa had been by the fact that she had not chosen to walk away from him when he first approached. For a moment she seriously contemplated demurring, the flavor of disappointment was still bitter in the back of her mouth, but she cast aside any reservations she may have had with a wave of her hand. Any attraction this place held for her had faded as suddenly as it had arrived, and there was nothing holding her here. She had not been in France for very long, and traveling with someone who seemed familiar with the streets might be a welcome experience.

    She slid fluidly to her feet, her face carefully held in a neutral expression. "Très bien," [Very well,] she agreed, pulling her jacket a little tighter over her shoulders.
  7. "Elisa, un beau nom. Tu t'appelle anglais?" [Elisa, a beautiful name. You speak English?] The amusing thing about French life, was that when work came around, the streets mostly emptied. The store fronts opened, but no feet roamed the streets other than those of old women gathering ingredients for home-cooked lunches and dinners later on that evening. Which reminded Tousseau, he needed to think of what he'd cook for dinner tonight. There was still enough for salmon dans papier. Or perhaps breakfast for dinner. The thoughts roamed rampant in his mind as he walked, and he was increasingly aware that he hadn't eaten yet.

    Turning to his new companion, he offered a smile with his suggestion. "Elisa, would you..Care for brunch before we tour?" His voice without the encouragement of French was more clearly American, the gentle tilt of Southern accentuation that rounded his vowels and softly slurred his words from defined sentences into streams linked to one another.
  8. They set off waking together, the pace slightly faster than leisurely. Elisa didn't mind. It was a cool morning, and she had spent most of the night sitting by the fountain. Compared to some of the winters in her home country of Ireland the cool was not exceptional. But the movement warmed her blood, and she rubbed her hands lightly up and down her arms.

    "Ahmerican?" she asked, mildly surprised but making the transition from French to English easily. "Oi weud not have guessed." While her French may have been mostly without an accent, her English was heavily stained with Irish. "But, Ehnglish oit is, den."

    The two were silent again, and Elisa turned her attention back to the city around her. France truly was a beautiful city, built to appeal to every sense, no mater where you were. Of course, not every part was pleasant, but such corners had their own attraction, if you knew how to look. But it was the smell that practically tormented her right now. When she had been sitting by the fountain even the sight and smells from the coffee shop had not been enough to remind her that she had not eaten since last night. Now that she was moving her stomach decided that it was time to remember that it needed attending.

    "Brunch weud be welcohme," she replied with a small smile. Her eyes flitted over his face, never resting in any one spot for too long, but rather taking him in as a whole. He wasn't bad looking, all things considered. If he would just lose that distant look, he would probably be able to find a lady friend, and then he would not need to go wandering around the city with a random woman.

    A few moments later, and Elisa hesitantly spoke again. "How long have yeu behn in Frahnce, Matteiu?" she asked hesitantly. It was not generally courteous to ask someone, especially someone you had just met, about their personal lives, but they had already broken tradition by offering each other their first names. Besides, she was honestly curious. It had been over a decade since she had last visited America, and things tended to change so fast in that country it was possible to miss a great deal even after a year. Foreign papers liked to keep tabs on America, but there were certain things that only a local could know. It seemed worth the potential risk.
  9. He rubbed his chin at her question, the hairs of his chin and cheeks scratching along his palm lightly. "How long..Two years now, I think." His hand tucked back into his pockets, and his gaze turned to her fully now. "I'll go on a limb and guess that you've not been here too long?" Indeed, she had seemed ill-prepared for the cold. Visitors always had that problem, it seemed; how many people in the world had underestimated the way that the cold would come down from the mountains, how bitter the chill could be when it seemed to want to.

    They were still a couple of blocks from where he was leading them: "la queue de l'ouest café." Or, translate, The West Tail Cafe. One of the best in the town that he knew of, the restaurant offered exceptional food. For what it was worth, the prices were quite fair as well. He could imagine it now: the omlettes, the pancakes, the fresh-squeezed juice. Their footfalls carried theme ever closer, and they were still a block away from the restaurant when the scents hit him. Heady, to say the least.

    Leaning a bit closer, he spoke again. "This restaurant, it's one of my favorites. A good selection, and very good food. The owner's a Russian ex-pat, but his cooking is out of this world."
  10. Two years. It made sense, considering his rather American attitudes. She flied that away, and silently adjusted her attitudes. "Oi've only been here ah week," she replied, a brief smile flitting over her face. "It isn't ah long stay, but oi have noh real plans."

    Elisa almost never made plans before embarking on an adventure of any sort. She had come to France entirely on a whim, quitting a job that wouldn't miss her, telling her landlord that she was vacating her apartment, and then packing a suitcase and flying to France. She had enough money stored away in various bank accounts that she could easily afford to do such a thing, but even if she hadn't Elisa was not one to let that stop her from doing something. She had never been sick in her very long life, so spending a few days under a bridge, or hitchhiking her way across country, would hardly have been an issue for her. Eventually she would have found somewhere attractive to her, and she would settle there, building funds if she needed to, experiencing the place if she did not.

    But apparently she was not the only one who was hungry. It was a surprise to her that the cafe did not get more attention, what with the smells it was producing, but she was not about to complain. Fewer people meant they would get their food all the sooner. She shifted away fro Mattieu almost unconsciously as he drew closer, but nodded in enthusiastic agreement to his comment about the food.

    Inside the cafe it was warm and stuffy, filled to the brim with so many different scents that taking a step was enough to give a new smell. Elisa paused just a little ways inside the door, inhaling happily, an almost innocent smile spreading across her face. Each smell was separate, but somehow they still all blended together into something that was completely unique, and very worthy of salivation. She paused just before stepping into the queue, gesturing that Mattieu should go first.
  11. He was quite familiar with the cafe, and shrugged off his jacket at the door. Cast aside to the brass coat hook, the grey pea coat hung loose, and Mattieu slid the sleeves of his sweater up his arms a bit. A man greeted them from the kitchen, waving briskly and approaching. He was shorter than Mattieu, blue eyes flecked with grey and brown hair streaked similarly. Despite his best efforts, the man presented a slight curvature, the downside of owning any sort of eatery. His mouth babbled in friendly tones and a quick stream of French. Mattieu kept up easily, hugging the man and carrying on about his hunger. Somewhere in the middle of this, he stepped aside and extended a hand towards his new companion. "Oh, how rude of me. This is Elisa, she is brand new to the country and has not yet tasted true French cuisine."

    The man laughed as he extended his hand, bending to peck her lithe fingers. "Ah, 'tis a true pleasure, my scarlet-haired lady. My name is Charles, and it is a true pleasure to make your acquaintance." Mattieu rolled his eyes at the display, but allowed himself a chuckle at the older (looking) man's theatrics. They were led to a table by the window, and Charles drew out her chair for her before easing her to the table. And then the train was off again.

    "I'm sure my dear friend Tousseau would have a myriad of suggestions, but for one who has not tasted the beauty of cuisine de francais, I must insist that you begin with our handspun oatmeal. After that, the main course cannot be anything but traditional French crepes topped with fresh berry compote, sausage from pigs at the local Franks farm and milk drawn and pasteurized from the same."

    Tousseau observed all of this with a bemused smile, and by the time Charles turned any attention to him, he shrugged and simply offered to have the same. "You're going to all the trouble to be impressive, I might as well play the part as well." Charlie mocked an insulted gasp, scribbled an obscenity on his hand and flashed it at me before offering a sugary-sweet smile to Elisa and turning back to the kitchen. The French returned to his voice as he directed the two other cooks present, and Tousseau turned his gaze to his companion.

    "Rather lively, is he not? If I didn't know him, he'd be a good fit for a comedian."
  12. "Heh was certanly very... entusiastic,"Elisa replied, an expression somewhere between a smile and a gape on her face. It had taken her a moment to adjust to Charles' overbearing behavior, but after she knew what to expect she found herself almost enjoying his attention. She most certainly did not mind Mattieu's false assertion that she had never been to the country before, for the French always did their best work when they were trying to show off. She already knew that the food would be near perfection, and she would be certain to suitably compliment her chef. But she played her part as silently as Mattieu played his vocally, and she enjoyed it quite a bit. The smile she had offered Charles had been warm and honest, the murmured and almost completely ignored "Dat seunds amahsing," after he finished reeling off his menu completely heartfelt.

    But as soon as Charles had bustled away, she found herself with a strange, almost hollow feeling inside of her. She had been drifting for so long now that the kind of enthusiasm that man had just expressed was only ever seen few and far between, and almost certainly never experienced herself. His warmth and eagerness to impress had been infectious, and it had briefly filled her with a sense of anticipation long forgotten. But now it was gone again, and he carried the emotions away with him. She did not mind the quiet feeling, it had long been a familiar companion. But it was like walking back into the night after passing by a campfire. The night held its own beauty, but the fire possessed an allure that could not be mimicked by anything else.

    But she did not try and reject the emotion, or bury it under pretend enthusiasm of her own. She had played such games for long enough to know that they only ever left a dark pit inside of her. Acting was well and good, but it should never be done for the benefit of oneself. Instead she let the sensation of loss wash over her and fade. When it passed all that remained was the customary half smile of one who knew far more than she was telling.

    "Do yeu come here ohften?" She asked, eyes drifting to the streets outside. The sun was starting to make itself felt, and the streets were washed in sunlight. It truly was a beautiful place. Maybe she would even stay here for a while.
  13. Tousseau sat back in his chair, his eyes falling upon his new companion. He watched her smile slowly slip away into something softer and more reserved. It was an interesting expression, usually reserved for wistful reminiscing about lost loved ones. How strange, he mused. How strange to see it from the other side, to see someone else who felt something less than the joy that was so very expected of everyone these days.

    "I come now and then, mostly just to visit. But the food is good." He studied her expression as he spoke, watched her eyes curiously. She didn't seem to be new to France itself, given her French, and the way she'd edged out a bit when he leaned in to speak as they woke suggested caution, an abundance. It made him nervous in a way, equal measures curious and cautious himself not to step on any toes. "In any case, what brings you here to France? I don't see many Irishwomen come through these parts, to be honest."
  14. In the brief silence that followed between the two new companions, Elisa's attention was once more pulled away from her silent contemplation of the world, and back to the man who met her eyes. At first she subconsciously resisted it, turning her eyes back to the outside world whenever she noticed that they had strayed from the window. However, after this had happened twice she recognized what she was doing and consciously decided to study the man who was looking at her.

    There was definitely something different about him, something trapped between the normal rushed attitudes of the people who surrounded her and the emotions that she herself often exhibited. It would not have been unexpected in an old man, but he was not old. Or, at least, he did not look old. Who was she to say what was old and what was not? Perhaps that was what kept drawing their eyes together, the echoes of something familiar from their own souls.

    She held his eyes as he spoke to her, tracking their subtle movements that often told so much about the state of the mind. But what she could glean from their depths was limited, like peering through a keyhole into the room beyond, and only being able to catch a glimpse.

    "Curiosity, Oi suppose," she responded after a moments contemplation. "Oi wanted toh see if whatever Oi was missing ceud be feund here."

    She watched his eyes curiously to see if her statement would glean any reaction from him, any answer to the mystery held in his eyes. She was not expecting anything, but still she had hope. Hope that, perhaps, there was an answer. But she was yet to know what question exactly she was asking, and how could she understand the answer if she did not recognize the question?
  15. Tousseau turned over her words in his head, pursing his lips thoughtfully. He knew the feeling, of searching for things in distant lands. Unfortunately, he also knew the other side of that equation that he'd realized about 30 years before: there wasn't some magic stone scribbled with the words he wanted to see. Slowly, his gaze slid to the window, to his own reflection in the glass. How tired his eyes looked to him suddenly, how drawn his cheeks felt on his face.

    "Well, I suppose we're all searching for things. But I hope you're able to find your answer here."

    This woman, she was certainly a mystery indeed. But he didn't regret walking to her. To the contrary, she piqued his interest in an way he had not felt in a long time. She was not so easily open, not so willing to spill her secrets. Not that he was in search of them, but the old adage was true: play distant to be desired. Outside, the sun had begun to rise through the sky in earnest, throwing a serene golden shade across the sides of the buildings along the street. And then he spoke again, aiming a little bit deeper this time than before.

    "You've been to France before, I take it. What are you searching for, if I may ask."
  16. The answer hadn't been in his eyes. A small, wry smile flicked across her face, directed at herself. Had she really expecting him to give her anything. She knew her own truths. She didn't need someone else to reaffirm them. And what could he really offer her. There was no way he could understand her, no way he could comprehend her life, no matter how old his soul was. There were some things it was impossible to comprehend without having experienced it yourself.

    What was she looking for? Why had she come to France? She knew that she could no longer stay in Ireland. Her primordial home had brought back memories better left forgotten. She had stayed just long enough to remind herself exactly what home felt like. And then she had left. But why France? Why Paris? Why not America, or Japan, or Sweden? It only took her a moment's thought to answer that question. Paris was the city of lovers, the city of passion. That was why.

    "Oi'm looking..." she paused briefly, wondering how much she could try and explain to this man. "Oi'm looking fer answers. Ohr perhaps Oi'm looking fer the questions to the answers Oi already have." She laughed slightly at herself, not expecting anything from the man before her, yet not rejecting him for that lack of expectations.

    "Oi guess the short answer weud be Oi'm searching fer passion."
  17. Passion. That was the flavor of the day, it seemed to him. So many sought passion that he wasn't sure that anyone would recognize it if it walked right up and bit them on the face. His gaze drifted to hers again, and he studied her expression thoughtfully. "Those kinds of answers, I wonder if they're ever found sometimes." He sat up a bit in his chair. "I know where we can go after this. It might help you with your questions. It helped me with mine,"

    He offered a light smile, and as if on cue, Charles returned with two bowls of oatmeal. The cinnamon-colored oats steamed, topped with a small arrangement of blueberries in the center. He placed both with an elegance, standing back up straight and smiling expectantly. As per usual, there were no seasonings available on the table, only silverware. "Now then, you two enjoy. And by the time you're done, I'll return with the crepes. Bon appetit!" And then he was off. His presence was filled momentarily by a young employee, who provided coffee and water in small, taupe mugs. Cream and sugar was provided for these.

    Tousseau sat back in his chair, simply inhaling the scent before he lifted his spoon and took a bite. It was very warm, but not scalding, firm without being tough and textured. The cinnamon belied the blueberry flavoring, which was not content to remain in the center but was laced throughout the dish. Divine, he decided.
  18. "Do yeu have de time toh wander areund town wid ah strahnger?" Elisa asked, a smile flickering across her face. Did he really believe all his questions answered? Something about the quiet emptiness behind his eyes led her to believe that his questions were not answered, whether he recognized that or not. Was that same look in her own eyes, or were they now so empty that it was impossible to tell where the sorrow began and the infinity ended? It had been so long since she had studied herself in the mirror. A brief glance here or there, affirming to herself that she was not a ragtag mess, but truly looking at herself? She would have to make sure to do that again soon. It might do her some good.

    But their conversation was interrupted by the enthusiastic arrival of the oatmeal, which was placed before her with great aplomb. She smiled up at Charles, who returned it with a grin of his own that crinkled up the corners of his eyes, before hurrying away. She picked up a spoon and stirred it lightly and absentmindedly through the oatmeal, swirling it together. It was the coffee that most fully drew her attention, though, and she pulled the mug over to her, pouring in a small stream of cream, but being very careful not to spill any. She smiled at it with a touch of reminiscence, remembering the "Irish Coffee" she enjoyed so much. But this brew would be delightful, even without the whiskey.

    She leaned back as she took a sip, allowing her eyes to flutter briefly closed. She was not unused to staying up all night, but the touch of caffeine would be welcome until she could rest back at her hotel. And then it was time to devote herself to the food set before her. For now, conversation could wait. There was no reason to distract herself with chatter. Not when there was food to be enjoyed as fully as possible.
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