A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Ten: La Liberté. Part Three.

Part Three.

Leonardo couldn’t stop looking back at the illuminated tower. It was one of the most beautiful things he’d ever seen, and he desperately wanted to go towards it, but Robespierre was taking them west, away from it.

The club had been a wash, with not even a plaque to explain what had happened to it. Robespierre had taken this hard, his head bowed and arms held stiffly at his sides as he marched ahead of them.

Leonardo stifled a yawn. His internal clock insisted it was extremely late, around midnight. His old age must have been catching up with him, Leonardo mused wryly. Aging a thousand years could really take it out of a person.

However it didn’t seem the three of them were going to find any safe haven for the night, and now having not better ideas were wandering west, peering down shadowed alley ways and seeking a place where a temporally displaced man might lay his head for the night.

He yawned again.

“How far outside of the city do you think we would have to go to find some woods?” Richard asked. “We could likely make camp there for the night and continue on in the morning.”

Robespierre shrugged. “Paris is extensive. It would take us most of the night to even walk to the boundaries of the city, considering how much it’s expanded in the years. We could always go back to the carriage, um, thing.”

Leonardo shook his head at this. “I think this is a bad idea. Rain will probably tell them that we took the vehicle. They will find it.”

“They?” Richard asked.

“The aliens, the Komali. And since that was an ambassador, whoever is in charge of the earth now, will be informed too,” Leonardo stroked his fingers through his beard, still far too short after years of having it down to the middle of his chest. He looked over to the ex-king.

Richard sighed. “So we are in the middle of a hunt, and we’re the prey. Excellent.”

Robespierre had gone quiet, and Leonardo looked up, to ask him if he could possibly think of anywhere else in Paris they could go, only to discover he was gone.

Leonardo stopped and caught Richard’s shoulder, staring around.

“What?”

“Robespierre has left us.”

“Excellent, that’s one problem solved.”

Leonardo smothered his sigh. He caught sight of the petite Frenchman across the road, seemingly speaking to group of young people who were sprawled on the ground. He let go of Richard to follow, curiously.

He heard the Englishman curse and after a moment, clump after him. Leonardo smiled slightly.

He reached where Robespierre was standing, the yellow light casting odd shadows.

“Leonardo, these students know where we can stay for the night,” Robespierre informed him. The one closest to them, a long legged and thin man in a truly eye searing jerkin, nodded and pointed.

“Go two blocks that way, and it’s catty corner from the dispensary. The couple who runs it, real nice, will take anything you have, if you don’t have enough credits. They also don’t make you show your ID, either.”

Leonardo nodded, the important bits of information floating to the top of the deluge. Location, payment, no ID.

Excellent.

“Thank you, we probably would have been walking all night without your aid,” Robespierre gravely informed the youth, who waved it away with a flip of his golden-tinged hand.

“De nada. I’ve been there, man. Good luck.”

They walked away and Robespierre looked over at Richard, green eyes blinking rapidly in the dim light.

“And now, we have a place to stay.”

XXX

The ‘place’ ended up being a stone building, with bars over the windows and one lamp torn off it’s front and sagging sadly.

“It’s practically Fothinghay.” Richard deadpanned as they stood outside, surveying it. Robespierre tsked dismissively.

“You’d rather the ground? Or to back under Rain’s tyranny?”

Leonardo rolled his eyes. “Let’s go in.”

Inside was cramped and somehow seemed more dimly lit than the street. There was an over stuffed divan and a scratched and battered table. Behind a portal in the wall and man sat, reading from a tablet. Leonardo cautiously approached.

“Ah, hello sir?”

The man looked up and Leonardo had to stop his jaw from falling open. Instead of two brown eyes, the man had one, clear and attentive. The other was clearly made of metal and as Leonardo looked, he watched the machinery in side of it narrow, and knew he was being carefully examined. Behind him Richard drew a sharp breath and Robespierre coughed, quickly smothering it.

“Something I can do for you?” The man’s voice, deep and resounding, boomed out.

Leonardo mentally slapped himself.

“Si. Do you have any rooms for the night?”

The man laughed. “Rooms? Bunks, my friend. I have two left.”

Leonardo stuck his hand out. “Deal.”

He took it, shaking. “Payment? Or are you staying more than the one night?”

“Just tonight. Would food do?”

The man paused to consider this, and Leo watched his eye expand and contract as he looked up at the ceiling. “Sure, I don’t see why not.”

Leonardo turned to face a very unhappy looking Richard and a dismayed Robespierre.

“You heard him, pay the man.”

“I blame you,” Richard hissed, re adjusting the now much lighter bag on his shoulder. They were following a series of illuminated arrows on the wall, each one of them appearing just after the pasted the previous.

“I did not want to sleep on the ground. This is better than nothing,” Leonardo insisted tiredly. Behind him he heard Robespierre yawn and took it as a general agreement. The arrows stopped and were now illuminating a door with bright red light.

Leonardo pushed it open quietly, the sound of deep breathing and snores wafting through it. The three men walked to the very other side of the room, next to a window that looked out over the street and toward the tower.

The beds were stacked on top of each other, like in a barracks and Leonardo heard Richard mutter before bracing his foot on the bottom bunk, hefting himself up and sliding into the bed in a smooth motion. A moment later, there was a thunk as he threw his shoes to the floor. Someone muttered sleepily.

“The two of you had better be there in the morning,” the Englishman’s voice came down.

Leonardo and Robespierre looked at each other. Leonardo cleared his throat once before moving to the window side of the bunk and sitting down. It was thin and he could feel the places where the support beams held it up. He leaned down and pulled his shoes off, setting them neatly aside. He grimaced and sighed softly before flipping back the covers and laying down.

It seemed clean, if nothing else.

After a moment he heard Robespierre walk to the other side and feel the mattress dip as he slipped in next to him. It wasn’t a large bunk but, Robespierre was a rather small man and Leonardo could only feel a brush of his clothing and a vague warmth.

Leonardo took a deep breath and shut his eyes.

XXX

For Max, sleep was mercifully dreamless. When he was blinking his eyes open the next time, a dim light was starting to illuminate the room. He listened carefully for a moment, and surmised that Leonardo was likely still asleep, another small mercy. Max turned carefully to see.

Leonardo was asleep, laying flat on his back, with one arm draped over his eyes. His chest was rising and falling with his breath.

Maximilien hadn’t known if it was going to be awkward to sleep next to the other man or not. The last time he’d slept in a bed with another person, he’d been six, and his sisters had been in his care at his grandparent’s house. Leonardo had seemed annoyed to have to share the bed, immediately turning his back to Max when they got in.

In an odd way, it reminded Max of Louis le Grand; the sounds of other’s sleeping, the uncomfortable bed, going to sleep with pangs of hunger.

He could nearly hear Camille trying to whisper to him from across the aisle.

Max sighed and rubbed his eyes.

Being back in Paris was clearly making him sentimental.

Bitterly, he reflected, that they probably shouldn’t have come. Obviously the Republic was seen as a failure, and the fault likely lying with him. Rain had alluded to it enough, and the cold steel plauque on the ground seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.

Here lies Maximilien Robespierre: Tyrant and Failure.

Light slowly slid over the floor as Max was lost in his reflections. He distantly heard Richard turn over on the bunk overhead. Leonardo shifted, so he was lying on his side, facing Max.

“Robespierre, are you awake yet?”

“Oui.”

Leonardo yawned, and scrubbed his hand over his eyes. “Not the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on, but it will do. Do you have any suggestions over where we should head today?”

Throat dry, Max shook his head. Leonardo sighed and sat up, tapping the bunk overhead.

“Richard. Get up.”

Max could hear the Englishman roll over and a moment later his head, hair rumpled and flyaway from sleep and face stern and hard appeared.

“What?”

“Good morning to you too. We need to figure out where to go. I think we are out of options in Paris,” Leonardo leaned over and retrieved his shoes, pulled them on. Max fumbled for his glasses.

“London, probably. Or York. I was always more popular in the north.”

Richard looked over at Max, as if expecting a retort. Crossing his arms over his chest, Max merely shrugged.

Leonardo looked thoughtful.

“Possibly…” The Italian muttered. He reached under the cot and pulled out his sketchbook. Flipping to the beginning he turned it around to show them a sketch. A woman’s face with soulful eyes and a pinched, concerned expression in the lines of her forehead and lips.

“Who is that?” Richard asked. The English king had removed himself from the top bunk, snatching up his boots.

“Kamala Manson. She was Rain’s assistant. She was there when I, ah, woke up.”

“Do you think she would help us?” Robespierre cast a dubious look at the book. Leonardo added an odd line to the sketch, even though it looked finished to Max.

“It seemed to me that she did not approve of what Rain was doing. She might be persuaded to help us, or at least explain the situation to the Komali,” Leonardo said softly.

Richard sighed and met Max’s eyes. He shrugged and threw a hand up in surrender.

“Did she say where she lived?” Maximilien asked.

“Cairo, Egypt. I’ve never been there.” Leonardo added, nearly plaintive.

Richard grabbed the bag off the top bunk, and threw an apple to Leonardo.

“It’s the best plan we have for now.”

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