Title: no straightforward fairy tale

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: T/PG-13

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.

Summary: Tarconi eyed Frank and his passenger with a long-suffering expression. Though not half so long-suffering as Frank knew he deserved. 700 words.

Spoilers: Transporter 3 (2008)

Notes: So, I just rewatched all three movies. This sort of ... wrote itself afterward, as a lost scene before the epilogue. Submitted for a comment_fic prompt.

Frank looked up from his seat in the back of the ambulance as the man in the brown coat approached. "Inspector," he greeted him.

Tarconi gave him a wry smile, handing him a steaming paper cup. "You are happy to see me now?"

"No, just the coffee you're holding," Frank replied dryly, taking the cup with a grateful nod. After nearly drowning, hours of precision driving, and several vicious hand to hand encounters, he'd been on edge for most of a day with only Valentina's descriptions of her various favorite meals to tide him over.

Tarconi ignored that, eyeing Frank and his passenger with a long-suffering expression. Though not half so long-suffering as Frank knew he deserved. "So. How long will you be requiring my hospitality this time?"

He gave his friend a half-shrug. "Don't have any estimates yet." It would depend on how long it would take for his house to be repaired- but it would also depend, in part, on how the rest of the introductions went. He looked down at the bright head pillowed on his other shoulder. "Valentina? Our ride's here."

"What ride?" His former package blinked her eyes open, a vivid and arresting blue against her metallic red hair. "Oh, your Inspector," she answered herself with a yawn.

"Valentina Vasileva, Inspector Tarconi. Tarconi, Valentina," Frank elaborated, gesturing between them.

Tarconi raised his eyebrows in response. "I see," he said. And he probably did; he had met Lai, and this one had thrown herself at Frank even more enthusiastically.

"Just Tarconi? No Christian name?" Valentina asked with a sleepy frown.

"It's Fran├žois, actually," Frank replied for his friend. "But it would be a bit awkward if we were both called Frank. So, Tarconi."

She giggled. "I see," she echoed the inspector, glancing between them. Then she froze, lifting her head from Frank's shoulder with an air of surprised realization; she might be a spoiled debutante who'd been wasting her potential, but she was sharp enough to cut through social chaff. One of the things he liked about her. "Wait. You said you were not the gay!" she exclaimed.

Tarconi's eyebrows raised higher at that. Frank sighed, then reached to snag Valentina's hand and draw her back close. "I'm not," he replied patiently. "...Exactly."

"But this friend you introduce me to! You give him look, like I have to drag you out of car and make you strip before you give to me!" she continued indignantly.

"A striptease, Frank?" Tarconi's mouth twitched as he eyed Frank's unusually well knotted tie. Far from taking offense, he seemed to be enjoying the conversation; definitely better than Frank deserved. "How did that fit into your rules?"

"Why does everyone keep harping on my rules?" he sighed. It wasn't his fault his attempts to retire hadn't been all that successful. "It's... complicated," he answered them both.

Normally, that was a conversation ender; but neither of his present audience were inclined to indulge him. "It is always complicated with you," Tarconi tutted. And Valentina narrowed her eyes at both of them, before ignoring him to address the inspector.

"Do you cook?" she asked.

Tarconi seemed even more amused at that; and well he might, after Lai and the way he'd introduced himself to the cops in Miami. "I do make an excellent madeleine, if I say so myself," he replied.

Valentina looked him over again, then nodded and settled herself back against Frank's shoulder. "Then is not so complicated," she declared with an air of finality, stifling another yawn. "I'm tired; wake me when is time to go."

"You see what I've had to deal with?" Frank shook his head as he smoothed a hand over her hair. Really, who could blame him?

"Yes, I think I do," Tarconi replied, dryly. "I shall leave you to deal with her father when he gets here, shall I?"

"I suppose I have that coming."

"I do not know why you should think so," Tarconi sniffed, looking pleased with himself as he took his phone out of his pocket.

"Complicated," Frank repeated, shaking his head. Then he tightened his arm around Valentina and watched Tarconi direct the rest of the cleanup with a weary smile.