The Talk

It had been four days.

Four days since Francis, Zoey and Louis had been picked up by the chopper on a last run. Four days since he'd jumped up and down like a little girl with relief, and four days since Zoey had asked him if she had simply hallucinated said jumping. Four days since he'd quickly informed her that yes, she had.

Four days since they had arrived, safe (the word seemed so foreign, so forgotten) on the military tanker at last. Four days since they had checked the register upon entering- and four days since they had found their friends from the South, alive and well.

She'd been happy to see him. Really happy. It wasn't often Francis made people smile like that. But he liked it when she did.

A lot had happened in four days, he reasoned. He imagined a lot more could happen in the next four. But never in any four days of Francis's life had he pictured a scene like this. Nick? Him? Colonel frickin' Sanders? Asking to talk to him, alone?

This would be good.

Nick folded his arms firmly, brow slightly furrowed as he looked up at Francis. He opened his mouth a few times, about to speak, only to promptly snap it shut again. He looked frustrated, trying to find the right words that might make him seem less pathetic than he felt and more intimidating than he was.

The vague clanks of the empty hallway of the quarantine ship echoed around them. It was unnerving... almost peaceful, something neither was accustomed to. Finally Nick ran a hand through his hair, a determinedly diplomatic look forced across his face like an unfamiliar mask.

'Ro's strong, you know,' he began, not looking the larger man in the eye. 'I've seen her kill those shitheads with a hell of a lot more backbone than I'd expect of most freakin' news producers...' he trailed off, shooting Francis a look that told him Nick was hoping he'd caught on already, to saving him having to go further into detail. After all, that nice statement alone already had him feeling more vunerable than he'd like.

'She's a news producer?' Francis seemed mildy surprised.

Nick rolled his eyes a little. 'Yeah, she is. Good to see you two have talked so much. But my point is- she's strong, but she's... she's good. She hasn't lost... uh... lost heart, I guess.' He twisted his mouth, seeming even more irked.

'Look, Suit- you wanna tell me what the hell you want with me out here? 'Cos that vein in your forehead is givin' me bad vibrations.'

'My point is, you oversized grease monkey, that I can't see why in God's name a decent woman like that has the slightest interest in you.' Nick's eyes had narrowed, filling with distaste- and, as he continued, threat. 'But, possibly because she inhaled too much Spitter acid or something, Rochelle does. And that could be a problem.'

Francis wasn't sure whether to laugh or slug the conman there and then. He was seconds away from making his mind up when Nick continued.

'So my point is that if you... I don't know, if you hurt her, you're gonna rather you were runnin' through Fairfield coated in Boomer bile than facing me.' He seemed to cringe, a little too aware of how... affectionate the words came out.

'And you're, what, her big brother?' Francis snorted.

'No.' Nick squared himself up, still seeming almost scrawny next to the hulkish biker. 'But I AM the guy that's gonna put a foot in your ass unless you nod and say 'yeah, I getcha.''

Francis surveyed the sharply dressed man for a moment. He didn't like him, not one bit really. He was all talk, all snappish comments by day and dark sentiments by night, in his opinion. But for all the things Nick was- arrogant, irritating, cynical- there was one thing (one LITTLE thing) Francis could respect.

He cared about his friend.

The larger man passed him a look, some odd hybrid between patronizing and understanding.

'Yeah. I getcha.'

A/N: Still not sure what I think of this piece. The idea hit me and I was eager to get it all out, so if it seems rushed apologies. It's more of a scrap than anything, a teensy vignette of a scene. But still, I love ReluctantButProtective!Nick. Someone HAS to be gutsy to say that stuff to Francis when there's not a bridge seperating them, right? xD

More Frochelle oneshots on their way soon, so keep an eye out if you're interested. (: