Logs:A Simple Favor

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A Simple Favor


Characters: Louis Odile
Date: 2019-11-15
Summary: Louis and Odile reacquaint themselves with one another, and talk a few pieces of business. Favors are exchanged.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

While his visitor has proclaimed with her usual saucy confidence that she doesn't intend to spend the night, that certainly doesn't mean that she has no intention of making herself at home.

By the time Louis has returned from his business-related excursions, he'd find Odile Devereux by his array of many windows overlooking the lights of New Orleans, shoulder braced against the frame and a few panes unlatched to let in the cool Autumn breeze; the season is almost ending, to pave the way for dreary winter - understandable that she would want to get as much of it as she can. Her hat has been removed, to hang in a jaunty angle nearby, but considering she's only left a single lamp burning inside his loft, she's still encased in shadow; a sliver of pale skin is visible from the shoulder, the black dress under her stylish jacket a timeless, classic Chanel number, but ultimately modest. Her skirts never rise above the knee. Blacker-than-night hair has been pulled in an impeccable arrangement of coils and pinned securely behind her head.

They might be in 'safe' quarters, but the Darkling doesn't chance dropping the mask. A thin plume of clove-smoke drifts from the cigarette holder in her hand, dangling from alabaster fingers.

"I think a penthouse with a riverfront view, Louis," she tells him, her shadow-eclipsed face tilting over her shoulder and a single pale-blue eye focusing on him whenever he returns. "Do you think that could be arranged?"

--

Louis does have work to do, so by the time he returns, it's late. The first thing he does is take off his jacket, and hang it neatly on a hook, then he undoes his bowtie, which is very much NOT a clip on, and puts that away as well. All before he wanders easily over to where Odile is standing. The view isn't great - this is a depressed neighborhood only just making motions towards gentrification, and she probably watched at least one drug deal take place while she waited. He takes out a handkerchief, and rubs at his face, removing traces of concealer that were hiding faint bruises along his jaw and cheekbone. Only once he's clean does he say, "Of course. Fair warning: it floods. But I can find you a newer building, give you a couple of decades before the foundation cracks. Any other requests regarding location or amenities?"

--

The lateness of the hour barely registers to her; Odile has always liked keeping them late, only retreating by the time dawn breaks. These behaviors that are comparable to the cold, walking dead that inhabit the city's more infamous coteries, but it can't be helped. Beauty sleep is required.

"We'll have to make absolutely certain that the building is rather tall, then," she replies, unfussed, finally pivoting and angling a smile over to him. Her mask carries traces of her former life - the high, pronounced cheekbones and the sleek hairdo, but the levity present there fades slightly at the bruises on his complexion. "Tsk. In trouble, already? Though I suppose I'd be disappointed if there hadn't been any." She tips her head at him. "Is that..." She gestures with her impeccable manicure towards his face. "...directly related to the thing that may require my 'touch'?"

She exhales the last of her cigarette through the window, before dispensing with the ash and letting the wind carry it away, setting the holder aside. When she faces him fully, slender arms cross over her chest, adopting a lean against the wall. "Concierge, laundry and dry cleaning services, valet...maybe within an acceptable distance from the Orpheum. Discreet housekeeping staff." She rattles off her laundry list of requirements. "And perhaps a manned gondola if floodings really are as bad as they say." Though by the ever-present smile, she could just be joking at the last.

--

"Then you get the brunt of the hurricane winds," Louis points out, not without a certain amount of teasing in his tone. The mention of trouble draws a laugh. "A favor I was acquiring went a little sideways, and one of my Contracts backfired at exactly the wrong moment. Ended up getting worked over by a couple of goons. But it was exciting." His eyes twinkle behind his glasses. "And yes, it is. The favor ended up suggesting a deeper mystery that I believe I and my accidental compatriot might poke at a little more. Possibly just some odd corporate espionage or blackmail scheme." His tone is offhand and light.

The requirements are simply noted with a nod. From previous association, she knows that he views all sorts of requests as an interesting challenge, at worst. As long as the client can pay to have them fulfilled. He does say, "I'll probably have to put the gondola on retainer, but you can afford it, unless fate has been unusually fickle."

--

"Then it would be like returning home," Odile banters back easily with a wry, curling smile, teeth flashing between slightly parted crimson lips. "Sometimes I remember what it's like to be able to fly. Ah, mes memoires." Her faint accent returns to its full smoke whenever she reverts to her mother tongue; it would be dreamy were it not marred by that half-smothered note of bittersweetness. Listening to his other travails, she smirks. "Were I not cut out of similar cloth, I'd tell you that 'exciting' would be the very last word I would choose to describe having two thugs pound at my face, but then I'd be lying. And you know I never do that." She exhales a breath. "Well, if I'm going to exchange this favor for my riverfront penthouse, you may as well tell me about this possibly deeper mystery that may involve corporate espionage. Over a drink, oui? Do you remember?"

Anything but white wine, which she declared in past excursions always tastes like feet, to her.

Her Cheshire grin reappears again when he talks about the gondola. "A woman should be so lucky to find a man who's both capable and willing to fulfill her most ridiculous whims. But I think we'll let the gondola issue lie on an 'as needed' basis. And yes, I can afford it. I'm a retiree, after all. What else is there to do but to spend my incredible nest egg and live indolently until the end of my days?"

--

"It might mean working with a vampire," Louis says, a hint of warning in his voice. "Apparently that's a thing here, with these Accords." He doesn't seem particularly concerned about this- Louis deals with anyone who is willing to deal, with very few exceptions. He wanders back to his bar, and starts making them both a drink. Two Jack Roses, coming up. He laughs at the riposte. "I live to serve," he shoots back, with just a hint of that same bittersweetness. "And something tells me you'll find plenty to keep yourself occupied."

--

That alabaster face mirrors a clear grimace at Louis' warning. "Eugh. Well, so long as I don't have to touch it," she tells him with a dainty sniff, finally moving away from the window with a few reluctant steps - shadowy dealings in the city's darker heart always makes for good cinema, from her perspective. "What is said vampire's connection to this mysterious affair?" Situating herself on a comfortable couch, legs cross by the knee, leaning back and letting a heel dangle off the ball of a foot, head rolled back and observing him with a hooded stare. "And I'd like to think so, that I would. New Orleans isn't exactly devoid of color, though it's a much different place now as it was the last time I was here. Back in the day, it tried to emulate Paris. It almost succeeded - an effort doomed to failure, coming from a particularly biased audience, but I'll give it its due credit for trying."

Whenever he returns to where she is, an elegant hand lifts to pluck her drink from his grip, her smile of gratitude treading the fine line between teasing and sweet. "That something seems to have found me within a few hours of arrival. I might've just broken my record." Her observance is made a touch dryly there. "So what is it, dear Louis?"

--

"A friendly shake of the hand wouldn't kill you, Odile." Louis makes a dramatic sort of pause. "Wait. It might." He grins, handing over the drink with a flourish. He takes a sip of his own. "As to his connection? We were working different angles of the same situation, stumbled into the same mess. A young man, one Jason Lorraine, apparently agreed to act as courier for a mysterious flash drive of some sort. He passed on the drive to the next link in the chain, but someone hired some goons to beat the location out of him and toss his house. We accidentally intervened, and, well, now I'm curious about the drive." He grins at her. "It really is just a side project, you know. If you'd rather not jump into 'something' quite so soon, you can just owe me a favor. If we're going to get a Freehold started, I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to cash it in." He winks.

--

"I can be friendly," Odile protests, a hand over her heart as if swearing to sea and sky that she is capable of it. Not that she made a particularly excellent showing of that with his guests from earlier. "Very friendly, if the circumstances suit, but don't tell me your skin doesn't crawl a little when you touch their corpseflesh." She is a liar and a thief; the profession is relatively far removed from murder or bloodletting, usually. At least, not in the way she does it. Ice clinks against her glass once her drink is retrieved, lifting it to him in a silent toast before chancing a quiet sip of it; the look of her suggests she savors every note that enlivens her particularly discerning palate.

"Ah, the poor Mister Lorraine." In spite of her words, there is little to no remorse. "How unfortunate. And you believe my touch would necessitate perhaps tracking down this mysterious drive and ultimately relieving it from the current possessor? It's a side-project, yes, but it's not without its allure. And as you said, if you really do intend to start a freehold, I best make sure my old skills are sharp if you've grand plans to lure me into participating."

She examines her glass, a light finger tracing the top, though her attention remains fixed on the fixer. "I take it these goons didn't tell you anything useful? If the vampire left them alive, anyway?"

--

Louis's smile takes on a smoky quality of its own. "I'm aware," he says, quietly, to Odile. "I often wish we'd managed to lure you away to Spring. You are wasted in the waning Seasons," he claims, resurrecting an old and familiar lament. He returns the toast, and takes a sip, breathing in the cold, brackish air as if it might add something to the taste.

"Mm. Maybe. I'm not sure I absolutely want to get too deeply involved with something that has no profit to it, especially if it's risky. But at the same time, New Orleans is a blank right now. For us, I mean. No Lost has been here. Which means, no idea of who the players are. I'm gathering favors here and there in mortal society, but still, having this little information is not ideal."

A shake of his head. "There wasn't much they could say. Hired anonymously, were to deliver the drive at a dead drop to be determined when they had it. Which they don't. There's an e-mail address, but even I can recognize one of those proxies for people who don't want to be found. Hired on the 'dark web'." He shoots the computer an exasperated look. "I have the, uh, what is...the address? I have that, but barely know how to type it into the Google." A shrug. "Computers. My one weakness."

--

The wicked edge to that curving, red smile returns, Odile's graceful head adopting that inquisitive tilt that never fails to make her look disconcertingly innocent. "Do you?" she banters lightly. The edge of her index's manicure hooks delicately into the crystalline lip of her glass. "Secrets are what they are, Louis. Every court has them, but it just so happens that my particular skillset works decidedly well for that one - the closest thing to the concept of job security I could ever have, by all accounting. And that comes with a certain degree of...pull." She gestures with a curling of her fingers in the air, movements effortlessly refined. A Fairest by nature, had it not been so deadly to be one in the Peacock's domain.

She laughs softly. "But I'll happily take your continued lamentations as a continued desire to be in my absolutely scintillating and occasionally disdainful company." Ice-blue eyes flash at him mischievously as lips bury against her glass. "I only half-joking about having a serious discussion about your choice of companions."

Freehold discussions precipitates a quiet gust. "I suppose it would depend on whoever happens to be folded into said freehold. I'd like to think the rest of our brethren would be careful, considering the risks, but once formed, it takes just one blithering idiot to get us all killed. Still..." And her expression takes on a more inquisitive turn. "It is curious that other Lost hadn't been here, before. Are you telling me that the ones we met a few hours ago have been the only other ones? Mon dieu."

A glance towards his computer, before another laugh escapes her. "It can't hurt to try and find a specialist in your growing rolodex of mortal contacts," she tells him. "Not that I would have much of a clue as to how to pierce the veil of the dark web, but I could go fishing provided you have one of Mister Lorraine's personal belongings."

--

"Would I say it if I didn't mean it?" Louis returns, lightly. He abandons the chill by the window to take a seat in one of the well appointed leather chairs in the main living space, the glass resting lightly on the arm as he watches her and that deceptively innocent smile. "You know that it's always a pleasure in your company, Odile. And my choice of companions remains eclectic. As always." He grins. "It's fun."

"The bargain is the thing. Hobbling the Huntsmen when they come. You hardly need to speak to other members, if you don't wish to. It's a big city; I don't see any reason for us to have to live on top of each other if people don't desire that."

He looks out the window at the darkness. "Rumor has it that the reason why there weren't any Lost in New Orleans was because of the Accords. Namely, that one of Them was a Signatory. When it...disappeared, or whatever it did, the hold it had on New Orleans was broken. Now," he takes a sip of his drink, "that's only a rumor. It hasn't been verified. But if it's true, it's one of the reasons I think that participating in the Accords is important. If It could shut us out by participating, then there may be a way for us to shut Them out."

"I don't have any--" Louis pauses. "Ah, that's not entirely true. Give me a moment." He puts the glass down, stands up, and goes towards his bedroom, disappearing therein for about five minutes. When he returns, it's with a wadded up handkerchief. This is offered towards her - in its folds, it conceals a tiny shard of mirror glass, stained with blood. "The thugs slammed him into his mirror, shattering it. When they hauled him out, this fell. I don't know if it counts as a personal possession exactly, but might as well try."

--

"Careful, my dear. The night is still young." It's an old warning, but one that's teasingly made. Odile's deceptively innocent smile remains, however - a perfect accompaniment to the sentiment. She savors more of her drink after that. "But I'll hold you to that, sealings not required."

She tilts her head back against the couch, settling further into the comfortable cushions. "Perhaps I'm so inured to bargains being broken that I tend to forget that such things operate differently in our world. In the end, however..." After a moment's contemplation, she relents, grudgingly, "There is safety in numbers, if we're going to be ruthlessly pragmatic."

Odile's pale eyes follow the line of his vision through the darkness, pupils dilated; their past history has informed him well enough that she could see quite well in spite of it, her nature suited to peeling it back and using it to obscure whatever she needs hidden. But she listens anyway; she is an adept conversationalist - she has to be - but she tends to be quiet just as much, especially when someone else is talking. That, too, is part of her changed nature. "Either that, or force Them to play by its rules even if one of our former masters do try to turn this city into its playground." And there it is, the rare sign of discomfiture from an unforgivably confident and proud (and vain) woman. She shifts in her seat at the idea of having to live anywhere close to one of Them. Still, she attempts to play it off by saying, "It could be entertaining to watch one of Them dance like a puppet on a string, for a change. Maybe there's a way to verify."

With Louis leaving to retrieve the object, she sets her own drink aside, smoothing her skirt carefully and upon his return, slim fingers pluck the shard from the fabric. A piece of mirror. Her smile is almost amused, her mask shifting, but only briefly - ice-blue eyes turning silver and reflective. "Were you part of my court, you might consider this a portent of my arrival," she says with a laugh. "How is your French, Louis?"

--

"The night is easily middle-aged, but refusing to speak of her birth date and dimming the lights so no one looks too close," Louis returns easily. "There is, indeed, safety in numbers. I wish there were a Winter around to cool that Summer sun's head, but if they're in town, they're probably running quiet until they can see if we get eaten or not." There's no rancor in the observation. If anything, he sounds amused.

He passes over the item and wanders back to take up his glass again. "A happy omen is as much Spring's delight as it is Autumn's," he reminds her as he takes a sip, licking his lower lip absently. "And my French is no better than the last time you asked. Which is to say that it is dreadful."

--

"That better not be commentary as to how you can observe wrinkles on me, Louis," Odile returns mock-seriously, before there is a brief pause, and she attempts to check her reflection through the shard of mirror she has in her hand. Just in case. She seems mollifed by what she sees, thankfully; heaven help this block if she actually finds one.

"Knowing those cold little escargots, most likely the latter," she mutters dryly. "Oh well. We'll do what we always have, Louis." She presses a kiss against the cold, sharp surface of the mirror-shard she holds, before she parts with one of her secrets during her time in the Otherwhere; softly - with her Parisian French, the effect is unfairly seductive.

And it is by design - for the likes of her, even objects have souls, and in her line of work, one catches more flies with honey. She withdraws after that, delicately thumbing the lipstick smudge she has left behind away, eyes growing blank, distant. Black smoke curls from her lids, those long lashes with their impeccably applied mascara, eyes losing sclera and iris and replaced by mirrors instead, waiting for secrets that may be given in turn.

--

Louis makes a noise, and looks her up and down with a lazy sort of appreciation. "None that I can see, Odile, but if you want me to look closer, I certainly don't mind." He flashes a grin, the flirtation playful rather than serious. But work is being done, so he quiets, and watches.

The mirror shard warms under her hand as her breath caresses it, as it soaks in the secret. It reveals a brief vision of its own: A youngish caucasian man standing before a full length mirror, frowning at his reflection. "Too preppy?" he mutters, critically, looking over the polo shirt and slacks. "Not preppy enough? Should add a scarf, maybe." He turns to open his closet. He doesn't see what Odile sees - two large men creeping out of the shadows towards him. He has no warning when one reaches out and slams his head sideways into the mirror, shattering it. The young man drops to the floor, dazed and bleeding, and the second snatches the blanket off the bed and wraps it around him with quick, practiced efficiency. They hoist the man up over their shoulder and walk away with him. "Don't forget the fucking keys," one tells the other. "Once he tells us where it is, we'll get it before tying up loose ends." The vision fades as the shard falls, jarred loose by the rough movements.

--

"You place me in an absolutely impossible position, darling," Odile declares with a sudden laugh. "On one hand, I'm absolutely flattered. On the other hand, how can I trust you when you're so clearly teeming with bias?" She flutters her lashes at him playfully. "You terrible man."

That aside, she hums softly as the images pass through her piece of mirror and when the sequence ends, she carefully wraps it back in Louis' handkerchief and offers it to him. "Well, either Mister Lorraine is extremely particular about his appearance, or he happened to have a date at the time the two thugs decided to make his evening, and yours, a thousand times more interesting," she remarks. "And while they didn't seem to know where this flash drive happens to be, they seem convinced that wherever it ended up, one would require keys to get to it. Safety deposit boxes are out, I think. Those would require more than that to get to the object if that was the case. Storage lockers in public transit terminals, if I were to hazard a guess - they're the best for dead drops. It would be helpful if I actually had the man's keys, though, to be able to tell you for certain as that description doesn't exactly narrow things down."

--

Louis grins. "Just be flattered. Although I'm shattered that you don't trust me. Unless," his eyes widen behind his glasses, "are you saying that there are hidden wrinkles that you just don't want me to find?" He pretends to duck away in the next moment. But he's listening to the more serious remarks as well. There's a hum, thoughtful. "I don't think so. The thugs, we believe, took him to their safe house, tried to beat the location out of him, and when he said he didn't have it, came back and tossed the house. The house keys were used to lock and unlock the doors so they didn't draw suspicion. That's probably why they wanted them." He grimaces. "They broke that guy pretty well, Odile. He said he didn't have the drive, and didn't know the person he handed it off to, and I believe that if he'd had any leads on it, he'd have shared them, just so they finished and killed him."

--

"As I said, terrible," Odile laughs, snatching up one of the throw pillows and tossing him at him as he ducks. "Though if you are determined to find them, or even happen to like them, I could oblige you." A waggle of her eyebrows punctuates the innocent, sing-song tone. "When it comes to that, there's very little that's beyond me." Her pale fingers lift again to reach for her drink.

The additional information has her brows drawing upwards. "All I saw was the sequence of events leading to the attack, I'm afraid. He was dressing himself up for something before he was jumped. I don't suppose your vampire friend attempted to search the house, himself, for any additional leads? Or did any of them reveal where the exchange took place?"

--

Louis laughs as the pillow baps him in the side of the face. Should have ducked harder! He grabs it before it can fall to the floor and throws it lightly back at her. "But then that would ruin the mystery. How can I properly yearn for a glimpse of your shadowed beauty if you just share it with me, Odile? I am supposed to pine! To obsess! To throw myself at your feet and recite sonnets!" He clucks his tongue. "It's required, you know."

He can switch easily from over the top flirting and serious discussion, and does so now. "That would make sense, actually. His lover was the one who asked me to check on him - I presume he didn't make an appointment that they'd had planned." He finishes off his drink. "There's a couple of bread crumbs. The place where the exchange took place. It was a coffee shop." He rattles off the address. "Lorraine didn't know the contact, but did say 'him' and that they wore hats to identify each other. And he got the drive from 'a female professsor of anthropology at Tulane University. I figure we might have luck with either of those avenues, although the originator of the drive is the best one, I think."

He grins. "So. Am I to take it that this interest means that you're in? I find you a place that meets your requirements, and you help resolve this little mystery along with I and Reese?"

--

She is not without reflexes; dexterous fingers catch the pillow with one hand, and when he declares these overtly exaggerated ideas about yearning and obsession, the ex-prima ballerina rewards him with a playful roll of her eyes. "Desire courtiers," Odile groans, her long-suffering sound that's entirely convincing, if he wasn't so familiar with the way she jests. "With all of your flowers and letters. Sonnets, mon dieu! There's no living with any of you." It even rhymes! Brows waggle, clearly preening at that turn of cleverness because she has never been a humble creature. Still, there's an appreciative grin; she does so love to laugh.

She takes another sip of her cocktail, the tip of her tongue barely visible between her lips when she savors a flavorful drop, of apples and spice and whatever additional surprises he had included in her drink. "I'm inclined to think the same, the nature of the contents may very well lead us to where the blasted thing ended up. That, and it's a University. Easy enough to breach the perimeter and play a rousing game of pretend." She finishes her glass at last, and sets it on a coaster.

With that last prompting, lips curve back up in a smile. "A favor for a favor," she reiterates, slender form moving to stand from the couch. "That was the bargain, yes? Though I suppose if you would like to seal the deal properly, you could recite a sonnet, and put that clever mouth where the money is."

...well, she knows the saying doesn't really go that way, and she can always blame her lack of adeptness at American idioms, but by the mischief evident on mask and mien, the twist is most decidedly deliberate.

--

"Are you quite sure you're French? Flowers and sonnets and aching longing are nothing to laugh at. They are the keys to the soul of romance," Louis claims, lounging in his seat and placing the back of his hand briefly to his forehead. The lights under his skin dance almost like laughter. He relaxes afterwards. "Mm, good. We're on the same page, then. I imagine the vampire will swing by in a day or two; I'll pitch a collaboration to him." A pause, and it's a sign of his relaxation that he falls into some of the slang of his youth as he continues. "He's not a gentleman I want to surprise. He's a real bruno even without the fangs, and quick with his convincer. So go easy, you dig?"

At the enticing butchery of the idiom, he just laughs, but rises to his feet with her. "Tempting. But for the moment, I think I can trust you without it." He winks. "You're as curious as I am. Oh, and there's another Lost I've met that wasn't downstairs. Elias. He lives in the City Park. Scruffy, protective, Spring. Good guy, I think."

--

There's an exaggerated gasp, hand flying to her heart, ice-blue eyes widening in mock offense. "How dare you, monsieur! Of course I am French." Her chin tilts in a haughty, imperious angle. "And as a card-carrying Parisienne, it behooves me to remind you that we are discerning creatures that expect diamonds with our champagne on top of said aching longing, which I'll give you is absolutely required. Emphasis on aching, which I can certainly oblige you in the best of ways if you continue being so absolutely nice to me." Lips tip towards another pearly grin.

Which dims slightly when Louis reminds her of the vampire. "You're the one who's familiar with him," Odile stresses simply. "If you think that's best, I've no reason to doubt. Don't be too quick to trust the man, however." Eyes like blue diamonds strafe a scrutinizing path over the bruises darkening his mask, a hand lifting to brush cool fingertips over the nearest visible welt. "Bruises are the least of our worries these days, mon ami. You ought to take better care of your delightful face."

She turns at that, to reach for her hat and jacket, slipping the latter over her shoulders without donning the sleeves, and fitting the former on her head until her eyes are obscured from view again, leaving just her mouth to reveal her expression. "At least the city doesn't lack for your fellow courtiers," she observes. "In the interim, I'm staying at La Maison de la Luz, if you need to find me."

--

"I don't trust him," Louis says, simply. "But he could have tried to let them kill me before he made his move. If I'm honest, I expected it. But he didn't, and that buys him respect. Along with the fear, of course." A wry little smile, there. "And, as I told the three downstairs - if this 'Accords' thing is going to fail, it's not because I didn't give it a genuine attempt at success. I'm all in favor of less death and more negotiation."

When she brushes her fingertips across his lips, he raises a hand and lightly touches the back of hers. His skin is odd under her touch, cooler than it should be (although not as cool as a corpse) and slick, like polished stone or plastic, even though there's no hint of that in the way it moves. "So, you're saying...I'll bring the diamonds, and you'll bring the aching? I can live with that." His fingers fall away as he gives her another playful smile. He watches her turn away, then moves to collect the drinks and return them to the kitchen, letting her gather her things in peace. "I admit I'm surprised that Spring seems to be the vanguard. I'd have figured any other Court first." Which perhaps begs the issue of why /he/ came so soon. But he moves on, "I'll reach out to you in the next couple of days. And you know you're always welcome here, Odile."

--

"Death is no party," Odile affirms, her low, husky tone drawling out the words; dryness punctuated equally with subsumed amusement. "But we can always have your would-be vampire colleague confirm that if we're really curious."

His quip about the diamonds ignites that crimson smile again from under her hat. "Good. But in the event that you can't live with that, I suppose I can bring the diamonds and you can bring the aching. This is the twenty-first century, non? Roles can be reversed. Regardless, I'll see you soon, and keep me apprised of properties, yes?" Lips press into her index and middle fingertips, blowing the kiss his way, before pivoting and striding for the door.

"A bientot, Louis."