hoopyfrood: (Francois Cevert [F1])
[personal profile] hoopyfrood
Title: Before the Tide (Prompt: A day at the beach)
Pairing: François Cevert/Jackie Stewart, Helen Stewart
Rating: G
Words: 1,457
Disclaimer Didn’t happen, don’t own
Summary: A 'missing scene’ from Snapshots.
A/N: Written for [livejournal.com profile] retro_f1's Summer Challenge 2012.



François meticulously packed sand into the bright yellow bucket; tight and secure so that when he tipped it over, a castle would hopefully stand in its place. He swiped away the excess sand with a spade and looked up at the young girl sat across from him. “Ready?” He asked.

She nodded, her tiny fists clenched against her knees in excitement.

He started to slowly count down, and on three, flipped over the bucket. No sand had escaped.

“Okay, now you need to pat it really hard,” he instructed and firmly thumped the top in demonstration. “Like this.”

She shuffled forward and wordlessly copied François by smacking her palms down against the base of the bucket with as much force as she could muster. François chuckled under his breath at the determined expression on her face.

"Right, I think that's enough." He carefully lifted the bucket away and let out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding.

The girl squealed in delight. All four turrets were perfectly formed and standing tall.

François tapped his forefinger against his lips in thought. “Something’s missing, it looks a bit bare.”

“Shells?” She tentatively suggested.

“Perfect! How about you collect some of the prettiest shells you can find and we’ll decorate it together?”

“Okay!”

François watched her run off and dragged himself back over to where Jackie was lounging a few feet away. He grabbed a bottle of coke out of their cool box and took a long, satisfying swig before collapsing down next to him.

“Having fun?” Jackie asked with a smirk. He’d been unable to keep his eyes off the unlikely pair. François was always brilliant with children; he had two huge fans in Paul and Mark at the very least.

François hummed and stretched out, making the sand that was still clinging to his legs tumble off all over his towel in a light dusting. “It’s nice to talk to someone of equal intelligence for a change.”

“Oi,” Jackie complained half-heartedly.

“I might take a dip in the sea,” François mused out loud. “Care to join me, Helen?”

Helen was sitting on Jackie’s over side, her sarong elegantly pooled out around her. She looked up from the book she was reading and smiled. “I’m fine, sweetheart, you go and enjoy yourself.”

He turned to Jackie, his eyebrows raised in question.

But the sun was beating down heavily against Jackie’s bare skin, warming him right down to his very core. He felt lethargic and just so perfectly comfortable. “Maybe later,” he eventually said, unwilling to move quite yet.

“Boring, the pair of you,” François sighed dramatically. He gulped down the rest of his drink and hobbled back off towards the water, somehow still managing to look graceful despite the slight limp, and didn’t stop until he was submerged up to his thighs.

Jackie unashamedly watched the muscles in his back ripple as he stretched his arms over his head and dived into the water. He knew he wasn’t the only one looking; François had been getting numerous appreciative once-overs throughout the entire day. It was odd, usually François would be all over anyone who was bold enough to make their intentions clear, but his attention had been solely on Jackie and Helen. It was nice to have him completely to themselves.

He turned to Helen, intent on voicing his thoughts out loud, only to find she was dozing, her heading nodding forward into her book. He smiled fondly and positioned their large parasol over her so she was bathed in cool shade. Once satisfied, he turned back to the water.

Yet as his eyes adjusted to the bright blue in front of him, he realised he couldn’t see François any more. He pushed his sunglasses onto his head and sat up fully. He was there just a second ago. Jackie scanned the horizon, looking for that familiar head of messy hair, but the sea was full of people; from children with their parents to young couples, all bobbling along on the waves.

The stress of the last few months had taken its toll, and despite the wonderful time the three of them were having, Jackie’s nerves were still strangely on edge. François rarely worried him, but since Canada, he’d been extra vigilant over the younger man’s welfare. Something François had gladly taken advantage of to varying degrees of success.

He jumped to his feet and quickly made his way to the water, dodging discarded rubber rings and other beach toys that belonged to the happy families around them. It was ridiculous, but he couldn’t stop himself. He’d managed to compose himself at Mosport, be the mentor François needed, but that was only because he could still pretend; they were at a race, they were doing their jobs, it was all normal.

Even though he wasn’t scared about his impending retirement, now that there was more time to think, there was also more to actually think about. Especially with being somewhere so far removed from what they were used to. Every little thought was amplified.

Jackie found himself standing at the shoreline, the water lapping around his ankles and his heart beating rapidly inside his chest when François finally, thankfully, broke through the surface.

Seeing Jackie, François beamed and fought against the waves to reach him. “Changed your mind?”

Before he could respond, a small voice caught their attention.

“Mr François?” It was the little girl from before; now with a t-shirt pulled over the top of her flowery swimsuit and a pair of jelly sandals slipped onto her feet. She was also carrying a sunhat full of shells. “I have to go,” she said with a rather pronounced pout. François glanced behind her to see a woman who was clearly her Mother patiently waiting with all their things packed up.

He crouched down to her height, barely supressing a grimace of pain.

“That’s a shame.”

She offered her treasures to François. “These were the best I could find,” she said. He gratefully took them and held them close to his chest as if they were precious diamonds.

“Merci, petit. I'll finish our castle for us,” he vowed.

She nodded solemnly and kissed him on the cheek, quickly taking the opportunity to whisper something in his ear before eventually trotting away.

A somewhat embarrassed look crossed François’ face and he cleared his throat.

“What?” Jackie asked with curiosity, attempting to mask his previous, and in hindsight, completely unnecessary overreaction.

“Wise beyond her years, that one,” is all François allowed in reply. He grabbed Jackie by the wrist and pulled him over to the still standing sand castle. His touch was icy cold from the sea but Jackie didn’t mind, he was just happy to have him close. “Anyway, now that my partner in crime is gone, I need some extra help,” François explained.

“Christ,” Jackie cursed with an amused shake of his head. “Remind me how old are you again?”

François childishly poked his tongue out. “Better to feel young at heart than old, Mr Grumpy Pants.”

Jackie had a good few ideas as to where he picked that particular nickname up from.

François scattered the shells next to them. There were ridged white ones and curled speckled ones, all different sizes, some cracked but most perfectly whole. Dotted amongst them, there were also pebbled pieces of green and blue glass; the sea having smoothed the shards into little gems. Jackie danced his fingers over them all, wondering which to use first.

Feeling the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, he looked up to see François watching him with a small smile playing across his lips.

“What are you grinning at?” Jackie asked.

“Nothing,” François said with a shrug and scooped up a handful of shells. “This is just nice, that’s all.”

Jackie failed to hold back a toothy smile of his own, the momentary distress from before forgotten for the moment.

“Now you’re grinning!” François said triumphantly. “I’m glad. You’ve not seemed yourself since we arrived.”

Jackie huffed. “Look at you, worrying about me,” he mumbled as he pushed a lone shell into the side of their castle.

“Who else is going to?” François said easily. “I can’t let poor Helen deal with you all by herself; it’s a full time job.”

“And here I thought it was meant to be the other way around.”

François laughed. “Jackie, I’m not going to drown without you,” he said knowingly, the choice of words deliberately teasing yet heavy with a thousand different meanings.

“That better be a promise.”

“It is,” François assured him firmly. “Now, let us finish this before the tide comes in. I’m sure Helen will want a photo once we’re done!”

Finishing before the tide came in. Jackie liked the sound of that.

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