take a good look at my face
you see my smile looks outta place
if you look closer it's easy to see
the track of my tears.
of my tears, Smokey Robinson.
It was strange the feelings she was fighting. Maybe it was sadness, but there was more... a kind of aching in her heart, while thinking of Joe with that princess. Of how he had behaved. In the things he had said...
She remembered his words, telling them to shut up. She remember watching him, surprised, being unable to believe that he was really 009, that he was treating them like that.
Some days after, as Albert had said, it appeared that he had been freed of a spell. He also couldn't believe the way he had acted. He said he was sorry…
He had been forgiven, of course. 004 and 005 had said that probably it had been part of Ishuki's spell, something in her song or in her sad eyes that had bewitched him. GB had been angry for a while, but after he had started to joke with 009, telling him that he couldn't completely blame him, because after all it had been a spell with a very nice body.
- Here it is, my fair lady! A goblet of warm potion, to scare away the cold of thee body and soul. - said GB, offering her a coffee, taking her out of her thoughts.
She accepted the warm cup with a smile, raising from the bench.
- Thank you, GB. Shall we go?
- The night still is young, but I fear for your safety and even more of mine if we delay our coming back any longer. - he said with a wink, offering his arm.
And she didn't know how to forgive Joe. She had tried, but that aching deep inside didn't allow her to do so. All she could do was watch him, hurt. She didn't have real reasons to behave like that. The one that should still be mad was GB, because his friend had been murdered. And still...
The former actor had come to her, asking her if she wanted to come with him to see The Swan Lake, because he had acquired some tickets.
- Frannie? What are you thinking? - asked the British, waving a hand in front of her face.
She smiled then, the coffee warm in her hand.
- That I didn't know that you liked ballet!
GB's face was of horror and injured pride. He raised his hand to his chest, as if in pain.
- Francoise Arnoul, shame on you! I'm interested in all kind of arts! After all, the ballet is another kind of acting. It's just that instead of dialogue they have pas de chats and splits and everything else. - He said with a wave of his hand. Then he winked and added as an afterthought. - Besides, those costumes that the ballerinas use...
- I'm joking, just joking! - He said, covering himself a little bit with his arm, slightly laughing. Francoise had troubles keeping angry with him, even if she tried.
Sometimes she didn't understand GB, with his strange ways of going to the extremes. Watching him cry, heartbroken for his dead friend, still gave her shivers.
Her relationship with him and Albert was also strange. The three European. Ironically she was the oldest of the three of them, but in truth 004 and 007 had been able to live a lot of things that she hadn't, but still it was nice to have someone of the same continent. But even with them the situation changed, how she behaved with Albert and how she behaved with the actor. Maybe because the German reminded her a little bit of her brother and they acted like brother and sister most of the time. That, she could understand, but with GB... she couldn't call her relationship with him as a father-daughter one, because with his jokes he didn't quite fit on that role, but still it was something warm and familiar...
Most of the times, of course. When he joked her about Joe she almost wanted to be a violent person.
Joe. And for the nth time since coming back from Peru, she sighed.
- Heeeey, what's wrong?
- Nothing. - She said, trying to smile, but GB frowned.
- Really GB, I'm fine.
- Alright, I'll have to use my extra secret power. Ommmm! - He said, standing in front of her, closing his eyes. He raised a hand to his forehead, the other over her face, causing the few people that still were out to turn their heads towards them.
- GB, we really should...
- Ommm! - said the cyborg, interrupting her. - You're still... angry with 009... ommm! for what happened with that.... cyborg princess... - he said, opening his eyes and smiling at her surprised face. - It's either that or you're distracted by my amazing charms.
- How did I know it? I can read minds, but I've not told that to anyone. - he said with a straight face. Then he shrugged, adding as an afterthought. - Or maybe I just know you.
She knew that she could have changed the theme. She should have, but she did want someone to talk with. And there was something in GB's eyes that told her that if she didn't want, he wasn't going to ask.
- How could you forgive him? - Francoise asked finally, resuming their walk.
- 009? It's easy: He really seems sorry. But I imagine it's different with you. - he added, causing her to raise her eyes to him.
- Different? How?
- I'm not in love with him. - said GB, shrugging again, then he added. - Maybe 002 is, but...
- GB... I'm not... he's... - she said, blushing slightly. She would have wanted to blame the weather, but the night was irritatingly nice.
The cyborg winked again, a winning smile on his face.
- Frannie dearest, a secret between you and me: when you're going, I'm already coming back two times. - He said. He sighed next. - You shouldn't be very harsh on him. Take the word of a former idiot about another: he probably is so upset that he's willing to give you everything: flowers, candies, promises he does intend to keep…
- You think so?
- It's what I would do with Sophie, if I could. – He said with a smile, but then he muttered mostly for himself. – And with Rosa, if she would let me.
That was the part she hated the most about her powers. For the hushed tone his friend had used, he probably forgot of her hearing abilities.
But he seemed so sad after saying those words…
- Rosa? Sophie's daughter?... do you like her?
The former actor raised his head, surprised by Francoise's question, but then he nodded no.
- No, not at all. My debts with her are of a different kind.
She suddenly remembered Jet's off handed comment, that the young actress could have been Great Britain's child, and by the words of her cyborg companion…
- GB… have you ever thought that maybe she is your…? – She began, not knowing the correct way of phrasing her thoughts.
Luckily – or unluckily – GB did know how to do so.
- My daughter? – He asked, just getting a soft nod of the French girl. – All the time. She has… my pride. Or I want to believe that. Luckily for her, because she doesn't have my marveolous little trick, the rest of her is all Sophie.
- Are you still in touch with her?
- A little bit. We don't write, but when we go to London I let her know I'm there, and I go to see her rehearsals. We go to visit her mother, and we drink tea.
- You loved Sophie very much, right?
Great Britain sighed. Then, he answered with a melancholic gesture:
- I loved her more than any other woman I met, but lesser than she deserved.
- Have you told Rosa?
- Tell her? That I think I may be her father? – The former actor shook his head lightly. – It would not help. I'm sure she knows the truth: it is me the one with doubts.
- You should ask her…
GB smiled sadly at Francoise.
- Should I? No. I have no right to do so. – He said softly in the same voice tone that one should use to state the sky is blue. – Father is not just the one that gives life; father is the one that keeps it and teaches the important things in life. I was never there for her when it mattered… I have the same right to call myself her father as Jet would have to call himself patient.
Francoise thought that it was unfair for his friend to punish himself so harshly. Yes, he hadn't been near Rosa, but it had been because Black Ghost had kidnapped him, keeping him in a series of experiments, trying to transform him into a espionage machine. He had missed her life, true, but it hadn't been because he had wanted to.
- But you would have done it if you had been able to…- She said softly, looking towards the floor.
The other cyborg, instead, kept on looking to the front.
- Oh, but my dearest Francoise, we're both aware that 'would have' is not the same as 'was', it's a different conjunction of the same verse. – He said, the melancholic tone still in his voice. – Besides, how could I ask her anything when there's still Black Ghost? Still I wouldn't be there for her, and there would be the risk of getting her hurt if it is discovered how important she is for me. And she already has a father. I met him a few months ago: he's a good man. He stopped his acting hobbie and concentrated on his studies: he's a lawyer, if you can believe that. – GB snorted, as if not being able to believe someone would do that. – It's obvious he adores Rosa and that he adored Sophie. It's enough for me to know that.
Francoise sighed, resting her head slightly on the British' shoulder.
He would have been a good father. She was sure that, if he had been given the chance, he would have been one of those jealous fathers (like professor Gilmore) that pretended not to be so; the kind of father that would have supported his daughter through everything.
It was sad that neither Rosa nor GB had had that chance.
- She would have been a very lucky girl; having you like a father. – She said gently.
GB said nothing, just squeezed a little bit the small hand that was on his arm, while they started walking down the beach, both of them inside their own thoughts.
- And the expectant knight waited for his beautiful lady under the dark velvet of the starry night. – recited 007 suddenly, smiling. – Frannie, I think they're waiting you.
It wasn't as if she had needed him to say so. She had seen Joe waiting on the steps for a while, but she had expected him to go inside the house as soon as he saw them coming closer.
But as it was, she just nodded to GB, watching while Joe stood.
- Francoise… GB, good evening. How was the ballet?
- Magnificent. – Exclaimed the actor, dropping her arm so he could push his belly, transforming into an exact copy of the lead dancer for a moment, then coming back to his usual appearance. – Although I don't understand how they can use those costumes.
- Ah… yes… - Murmured 009 still watching her, while Francoise kept her eyes firmly on the sand between his feet.
GB then turned to her.
- My fair lady, I deeply thank you for your wonderful company in this marvelous date. I trust in Lady Fortune that it will be possible to repeat this situation in another day, as lucky as it was this. – He said, bowing dramatically until he finished with a knee on the sand, kissing her hand in a gentlemanly fashion. – And I hope, mister, that you won't ruin things again, for there are eight knights in shining armor who very happily would avenge our darling Frannie. – He said with a small smile, putting for a moment his hand on the shoulder of the Japanese. – Now if you excuse me, I'm going to check if Jet hasn't finished the leftovers of dinner. – Said GB, going towards the house.
Joe waited until he heard GB's steps on the wooden floor, so he could address Francoise again.
- Can we talk?
Joe's hands, usually so relaxed, were moving slightly, almost like twitching.
She remembered GB's words, still her eyes on the floor. Finally she nodded, raising her head and giving a small smile to the other cyborg.
- Of course.
While he closed the door, GB smiled, watching how the couple began walking besides the sea shore.