2010-06-20: The Golden Key



Date: June 20, 2010


While performing manual labor for a new friend, Gabriel makes a little discovery.

"The Golden Key"

Lizzie's Apartment

Dear Gabriel,
I'm making dinner, come over when you get this!


The note was stuck to his door earlier in the day with a piece of poster gum. Only one of the many things purchased by the young blonde earlier in the day. From the moment the sun rose, she's been on the go. First it was dusting, then it was washing the cover sheets, then it was washing the floors. She took a break from the apartment around noon, that's when she bought all of her supplies.

It took 4 trips.

The sun is lower in the sky, providing a beautiful cityscape out the window of orange and blue. It matches the Venetian plaster in the living room. Instead of enjoying the setting sun by the window with a cool drink, Lizzie has the windows flung open and she is balanced on top of a chair which is sitting on top of the heavy kitchen table. She's dusting the ceiling, it's 14 feet from the floor. Even standing on the table, she isn't tall enough.

A fast moving, barely able to see blur makes it way through the backroads and alleys of Paris, and for the stray pair of eyes or two that see it refuse to believe it. It's the end of the day, their minds are strained, and they're just plain seeing things.

This works out quite well for Gabriel, who coems to a stop just outside the backside of his apartment building. He leans over, one hand against the wall, and takes in a few deep breaths. Seems like he's been running quite a bit. After remaining this way for a few moments, he straightens himself out and stretches, his back cracking in a few places. Opening the door to the back of the apartment building, he steps inside and begins heading up the stairs.

Once he reaches the top, he spies the note taped to his door, already dreading what it says… only to find that it's nothing more than a note from Liz, and the relief on his face is visible. One tiny girl from New York knowing that he's here is okay, but if anyone else were to find out… the less people know, the better. Figuring he may as well make his way over to her apartment now, he takes the eight or nine steps required to get there and raps on the door with his knuckles.

"It's o-ooopennn~" Is the muffled call from inside, Lizzie is trying to be upbeat and nonchalant, but she's higher than she's comfortable being sober. That and the chair on top of the table really isn't a great substitute for a ladder. When the door is opened she's weebling a little as she tries to reach for one cobweb that's eluding her.

She's dressed in a pair of cut off jean shorts, a fitted white button down, and little else. Her bare feet slip a little on the seat cushion as she turns her head to look over her shoulder at Gabriel. "You came!"

The exclamation might have been a mistake because the little weeble turns into a full teeter. She crouches on the chair immediately and slips her legs down to the table. Then she's leaping off of it, the relief on her face is more than obvious. Once her feet are planted solidly on the floor, she turns to him and gives him an even bigger smile. "You came! I can't believe it! Most people run far far away when I cook."

Once he's inside the apartment, Gabriel shuts the door behind him, but his eyes are on Lizzie the entire time. It's not everyday you walk into someone's apartment and see them on top of a chair, which is on top of a table, stretching as far as they can to get that elusive cobweb. "Do you need…"

He begins to inquire if she needs help, but the moment she takes that teeter he's stepping forward, ready to catch her when she falls. Fortunately she catches herself, and he slows a bit when he's nearer. Shaking his head slightly, he brings a hand up to the side of his face to scratch his temple. "You know, you could have gotten someone to do that for you. No sense in risking life or limb."

"I don't know anyone except for you," She starts with a smile, then she looks up at the cobweb (that's still there) and shrugs. "Aaaannnnnd I don't want to be more of a pain than I already am." The young blonde twirls around with her arms out, obviously showing off her surroundings. It looks light years better than when they first stepped in a few night ago. The floors are clean, the furniture is exposed and, for the most part, dusted.

When she comes to a stop, she's clapping her hands together twice and clasping them excitedly. "So, are you allergic to anything? Don't say burned, I already fell for that once. I wasn't sure if you were so I made sure there weren't any peanuts or shellfish because those are the top two, right? I don't know…" Liz' voice drifts off for a moment before she blushes a faint pink and looks up at him. "You don't talk much, we're going to have to work on that or else I'll be talking your ear off."

"Well, you could've waited! I could have helped." But then Gabriel wasn't exactly around to be asked, so he guesses it's a moot point. As for the fact he doesn't talk very much… well, that isn't something he can really help. Get him on the right subject and he may very well talk for hours, but it's hard to find that with him.

"No, I'm not allergic to anything," he says with a handwave and a shake of the head. "Although I'm not very fond of shellfish, so that works out, doesn't it?" He takes a look around as she presents the apartment to him, and he nods his head in approval. "It does look much better than the other night—" He pauses to take a quick look at Lizzie. "Not that it looked bad or anything…"

"I could have waited, but then I wouldn't have been much father along than I am now!" The dainty woman replies excitedly. "But since you're offering, I haven't done the mantle yet, would you mind?" She passes her makeshift duster to him, which is little more than a rag tied to a stick and gives him a little smile. "I'll get the table set and finish supper, okay?"

Without waiting for a reply, she turns back toward the table and hefts the heavy wooden chair from on top of it and lowers it to the floor. That cobweb will have to wait for later. "I hope you like soup! The lady at the market gave me this recipe for a provincial thingy that her family always makes."

The stick thrust into his hand, Gabriel looks at it for a few moments as Lizzie makes her way to the kitchen, and with a tiny shrug he turns towards the mantle. Using the rag on the end of the stick, he manages to get most, if not all, of the dust covering the mantle, revealing the actual surface underneath.

Not sure where to actually put the makeshift duster now that he's done with it, he looks around for a place that would make sense to deposit it. "Yeah, soup is great!" Gabriel responds, still looking around. For now, he guesses he'll just hold onto the thing until Lizzie can direct him to a spot to rid himself of it. But hey, if he still has it, he might as well go for that cobweb in the corner.

While dusting the mantle, Gabriel might notice a coin sized carving on the side. Something that looks like the face of a clock. As the duster is passed over it a second time, the wood loosens enough that it shifts slightly to the side.

In the kitchen, Liz is busily slicing a baguette and arranging the slices on a platter. In the center of the platter is a large porcelain bowl and very carefully she begins to ladle the soup into it. It doesn't take long until she's completely satisfied with the presentation and begins on the table.

A large vase of freshly cut flowers is brought from the kitchen and centered on the table. Then two placemats are laid out kitty corner from each other and set with a spoon, knife, and serving bowl each. "Supper's ready! It's going to be awesome~" she sing songs. "I can't believe I actually cooked something that didn't burn!!"

After snagging the cobweb in the corner, Gabriel meanders about while Liz prepares the food in the kitchen. He dusts a few other places, going over the places that she's already done, really, but not because she did a bad job. More because… well, he doesn't have anything to do to pass the time while she's preparing the food. During the process, he pauses for a moment, becoming fully aware of the fact that he is in some random girl's apartment he just met a few days ago… dusting her furniture. It's an odd moment, but he shrugs and moves past it. Beats New York City.

Coming back to the mantle in his line of re-dusting everything, it's the second time over that the wood loosens enough to shift slightly to the side. Gabriel takes a small step back, whipping the makeshift duster away from the mantle so he can look more closely at it. Take a couple steps forward, he inches his way closer and closer to the small coin sized carving, trying to figure out just what it is…

It's a tremendous balancing act, carrying the heavy tray to the table, but Liz manages. Careful steps, inching her way closer and closer until she's able to place it on the table. "Okay, next time you get to carry the — Hey what're you looking at?" Gabriel's inching his way closer to something, in Liz's mind it's either the carcass of a giant rat or a spider or something really interesting. So she comes up behind him and uses him as a personal shield before she does her own investigation.

"Oh man…" she whines softly before reaching out to touch the etching in the wood. She touches it and the piece shifts a little more, twisting until a hollowed out section is revealed. "Whoah… You reach in first. I'm scared of spiders."

Gabriel jumps just a tiny bit when Lizzie comes up behind him, but he quickly moves past it. He's still looking into the little nook in the wood, trying to figure out if it's just some sort of decoration or something more. When she reaches out and pushes the thing in, he tilts his head slightly, even more perplexed. So it's more than just a decoration.

Looking back at Liz for a moment, Gabriel shrugs again, as if to say 'well, someone's gotta do it', and sets the makeshift duster down against the wall. Pausing for a moment, he finally moves forward, sticking a few fingers in to dig around the hole in the mantle and see what's inside.

Inside the dark hole is something that feels like paper, not thick but there is a lump inside of it. Upon withdrawal, it is revealed to be a letter. It is unsent, though there is an address for delivery written across the front in loopy letters and a small return written on the back.

The blonde looks up at Gabriel, a hint of mischief glittering in her eyes. "Do you think we should open it? I bet it's been there forever! Do you think they meant to leave it?" Lizzie's excited, very excited. She can't seem to wipe the smile off her face as she looks up at Gabriel. "Is there anything else in there?"

Too impatient to wait for an answer, she squeezes between the man and the mantle and reaches into the hole for herself. A wave of disappointment washes over her features as she looks up at him. "Nothing…"

Withdrawing the item from inside the hole, Gabriel looks at it for a few moments as he tries to discern what is inside without actually opening the letter. He has no idea who it's to, or where the address in particular is, either. "It does look like it's been here for a while," he says, eyes never leaving the letter. He slips a finger into the back of the envelope, debating whether he should open it…

As Lizzie squeezes in between him and the mantle, she bumps him slightly, and he accidentally rips the envelope slightly. Grimacing a bit, it's with a small shrug that he decides he may as well open it the rest of the way. Whatever it is, the owner is long gone at this point. Once it's open, he turns it over, and a small key falls into his hand, which he holds up under the light to get a better look at. Even before he does this he already knows what it is, as it's, well, his specialty.

"It's a clock key."

A wrinkle of Lizzie's nose is the answer Gabriel gets from his revelation. "A clock key? Really? How do you know?" The tiny gold key could be to anything for all she knows. She reaches up and touches the key in his palm with one finger, then she presses one fingernail into it. It leaves a small mark. "It's gold, real gold." That is her specialty. "It must come from a really fancy clock to have a gold key, what do you think?"

Her eyes drift toward the letter and she smiles up at Gabriel again, "Let's read the letter over soup! Or… we could just read the letter and let the soup get cold!" She bounces slightly on the pads of her feet as she awaits his answer with great anticipation.

"I'm a watchmaker," Gabriel responds, looking up at Lizzie for a moment. He turns his eyes back down to the key as she touches it, trying to smooth out the small indentation her finger makes, but he doesn't really have any luck. Tossing it up in his palm and then catching it again once it's flipped over in the air, he turns his gaze back on Lizzie. "You could read it over soup if you want. I don't really know French. I know a few bits and pieces from behind here, but other than that…"

He hands her the letter but hangs onto the key, still looking at it. "Some sort of… clock. Mantel clock, perhaps…" He isn't really talking directly to Lizzie as he speaks, but more to himself as he muses over the key. "No telling, really, where the clock itself would be… maybe that's why he was sending it to this address? The clock is there?"

"Well come on then! I know French, I can read it." She takes the letter with a shaking hand and prances over to the dining table where there's a little more light. "Come on Gabriel, I'm not going to read it without you~" Liz watches him with a never waning smile as he muses, using the time to ladle a serving of soup into each of their bowls.

Turning the envelope over in her hands, the blonde lifts her head to look up at him. "It was written by a 'she' her name is Evangeline Moreaux. She was writing to a Jean Pierre Va — Hey! She was writing to a Valois!"

Still musing over the key as it were one of the most fascinating objects in the world (and to him, a watchmaker, it is rather fascinating to find such a key), he keeps his eyes on the key in his hand as he makes his way to the table. Without paying attention to where he's going, he does a pretty good job of nearly running into Lizzie herself, before finally making his way over to his side of the table and sitting down. Finally tearing his eyes from the key, he sets it down on the table and turns his attention up to Lizzie.

Watching as she looks over the letter and begins to explain who was writing to who, he can't help the look of confusion that comes over his face as she mentions the name Valois. "What's a Valois?"

"Silly Billy, Valois is a family name, my grandmother was a Valois. I wonder if I'm related to Jean Pierre…" Her blue eyes lift up to look at him and widen just a touch at the thought. "That would be so neat!" Amazingly enough, she quiets her excited wriggling to open the letter and let her eyes drift over it for a moment. Then she begins to read…

My dearest Jean Pierre,

The distance between us is agonizing. I think of you daily, my thoughts are consumed by the fervency of our love. I long for the day when we can be together, but I know this day will only come when I've breathed my last breath.

The resistance soldiers were mostly killed. I can only assume you were among them as you hadn't written again. My mother and father have urged me to release you and so, for them, I do my utmost.

Pausing there, Liz blinks a few times to ward off the growing tears in her eyes. "Oh my God… that's so sad…"

Gabriel lifts his hands out to his side, his mouth open a bit in confusion. Don't look at me, the look says. It's not like he knew Valois was a family name! It could have been some sort of awesome cheese from France, for all he knows! As Lizzie begins to read the letter, he listens, his own face slowly falling with each word that she reads about a love lost. After she's finished, he remains quiet, not saying anything. His eyes turn back to the key, and for a few moments, they glaze over, as if he were looking past the key, and to some event in the past.

Looking over at Gabriel, Lizzie furrows her eyebrows together and reaches over to pat his hand. The expression on his face isn't lost on her. "Do you want me to stop reading? There's more…" The letter is set to the side and with one hand she grabs up her spoon while the other stays on his hand, gripping a few of his fingers to squeeze them. It's meant as a gesture of reassurance and delivered along with a small smile. Something that indicates that she would wait until he was out of earshot to translate the rest.

It seems to take a few moments before Lizzie's voice cuts through the haze of the past and finally falls on Gabriel's ear, who suddenly shakes his head and looks around as if he didn't even realize where he was. "What?" he says, but then he shakes his head again. "No, no, I'm fine," he says, dismissing it all with a wave of his hand. "It just reminded me of… someone. It's not important." He returns the squeeze of the hand, and looks back down at the letter. "You can go on, if you want."

Liz gives Gabriel a leery expression and leans forward just a little, "You're sure? I mean… I can…" She glances back down at the letter and picks up up, turning to him with a big smile. "Who am I kidding, I can't stop. I live for this kind of stuff, it's exciting!" Slowly, she pulls her hand away from his and holds the letter with both hands. The quiver of the paper is the only real indication that she's still trembling with excitement and sadness for the writer.

Do you know, when you told me to think of you, I have been feeling ashamed of thinking of you so much, of thinking of only you. I feel faithless to the man I am betrothed and for him and our future, I must stop. I cannot live my life for a memory that once was. I will love you always Jean Pierre, but with your passing, my heart must heal and grow to love another. No longer do I desire to keep feeding this black gaping hole in my soul, for that is what you have left me.

And so this, dear Pierre, is my last goodbye. I won't write again. I won't anymore. I know that when I'm heaven bound we'll meet again and I hope that when we do you'll forgive me.

I release you. For now. Until our souls can be together again in the next reality.


With the end of the letter, the young woman places it carefully on the table between them and looks up at Gabriel. "That… is the most romantic and devastating thing I have ever read in my entire life. And I … Okay I don't read a lot of things, but still."

"Trust me, it's fine," Gabriel responds with another dismissive wave of the hand. Whatever it was that was bothering him about the letter doesn't seem to be anymore, and he looks at the key as Lizzie continues to read the rest of the letter.

However, once she gets further into it, he stands from the table and moves to one of the windows, looking out of it. He shakes slightly, but if one could see his face, they would see anger. Anyone who knows Gabriel and what he had been through would know just who that anger is directed at. Once she finishes the letter, he closes his eyes, and when he turns around, all traces of the anger are gone. "You said it," he agrees, moving back to the table and sitting down. "But…" His eyes move to the key, and he picks it up, light glinting off of it. "What's this for, then?"

Turning in her chair to gaze at Gabriel, Liz shrugs and chews on her lower lip for a moment. "You said it's for a clock…" She turns the letter over in one hand before picking up the envelope and doing the same. She examines it for a long time, many agonizingly silent minutes. "You know, Jean Pierre's address is in the Alsace region. I bet you the house and his family is still there…"

Her eyes dart between the envelope and Gabriel himself before her lips turn up a little at each side. Raising her eyebrows a little, she poses a question. "Do you want to maybe go see if they know what the key is for?"

"Yeah, but I wonder… something this old. The clock itself could be worth thousands. The key alone will probably get a pretty penny, considering it's made out of gold, but…" He shrugs again, setting the key back down on the table in between them, near the envelope and letter. "We could go looking for it. I'd have to shut my business down, but… it's not like I was making very much, anyway. An English watchmaker who doesn't speak French doesn't exactly scream 'Let me fix your watch!' I've had two customers so far."

Looping her arms over the back of the chair, Liz just eyes Gabriel the entire time he talks, not really hearing what he's saying. Until he says 'we could' and that's really all the encouragement she needs. Bolting from her chair, she grips the man in a miniature version of a bearhug and squeezes with all of her puny strength. "YES!! Oh my God! You're so not going to regret this! I'll make it the best road trip you've ever been on!!"

She releases him quite quickly and bustles around the furniture toward her bedroom. Her voice calls out from the open door and should Gabriel peek in, she's busy packing an overnight bag. "It'll only take a few hours to get there by car, I can rent one… They have such tiny cars here… Do you like ABBA? What am I saying, everyone likes ABBA… We can sing!"

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