author's note: I have read several fics describing possible first meetings between main characters, including this pair meeting in this particular place. Signy1's amazing Traduttore, Traditore comes to mind, in particular.


One born to be charmed by the city of Paris;

One born within ear shot of London's Bow Bells.

One loud and defiant,

One silent and watchful;

Both cooling their heels in adjacent locked cells...


He is hoping to sleep, despite dull, nagging hunger,

And torn, flimsy clothing and hard, narrow bench,

And part comprehensible noise from his neighbour;

Incessant, inventive expletives in French.


Stained tiles on stained walls; this grey world is familiar;

He has spent many days in this cooler before.

He is not in the mood for such strident distraction;

He opens his mouth to shout back...but there's more...


The angry response he has planned stays unspoken;

Alongside the rage he hears something else...there.

He listens...beneath all the heat and the anger,

Finds, faint and well hidden, cold fear and despair.


Initial annoyance, at rest interrupted,

Gives way to a spark and a gleam in his eye.

An impossible task to dispel such emotions;

But that doesn't mean that a bloke shouldn't try...


He yells through the bars to his hostile companion;

A cheerful, sarcastic and flippant retort.

A stream, in return, of uncensored invective

Suggests that this project requires further thought.


He buries his skills as an excellent mimic;

His cell mate is French, he'll reply in the same.

He mangles each sentence beyond recognition.

A few halting phrases, his rank and his name.


He waits for a moment and crosses his fingers;

A indignant sharp intake of breath...

Then...words from the heart; full of pride, full of passion;

Defending the "language of love" to the death.


He grins and responds; keeps his tone quite bewildered;

He tried to be friendly...why take the high ground?

He receives a stern lecture on accent and cadence,

And where the best food in the world can be found.


And thus it continues, a barbed conversation,

In which neither party sees fit to concede.

Sharp insults, dark humour, bonds form as they battle;

A quiet understanding of where this might lead...


author's note 2: One definition of a Cockney, is someone born within hearing of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church...I believe the bells were destroyed in a WW2 bombing raid. The bells also feature in the nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons, as do the bells of Stepney. And the French language is indeed known as the language of love.