A Chance


devon3_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title A Chance
Synopsis Minnesota should be a chance to regroup, recover, and grow out of the chaos and turmoil that's plagued the world.
Date November 26, 2011


Kabetogama Resort

Barely past midnight and the sky over Kabetogama has an ethereal pink tinge to its darkness. Heavy clouds moved in, bringing a slight reprieve from the bitter cold of night in exchange for another winter-time challenge. Snow falls from the sky with a stunted purpose, adding a fresh layer of powder to the drifts that already cover the ground and bare branches sleeping cabins. There’s a subtle promise of more to come, however the storm seems willing to hold off for now.

It’s peaceful.

It was peaceful.

The serenity of the wintery night is interrupted as the door to the main house opens and spills a faint light across the porch. A lanky silhouette follows, and Devon illuminated for only the amount of time it takes for him to grasp the doorknob and pull it soundly shut behind him. Quick, purposeful footsteps carry him from the porch to the gravel drive, and there he stops abruptly.

Indecision works its way into the boy’s posture. He had to get out of the house, that much was certain. His hands go to his head, fingers curling through his hair, and he turns first one way and then the other. A small circle is made, frustration in his steps as he struggles to work out which direction to go. Now it’s nearly overwhelming to process moving, in spite of desiring to get outside.

Another circle is stamped out. Devon half turns for the house in defeat, but stops again with a suddenness. Instead of retreating back indoors, he takes a sharp turn to walk toward the smaller cabins.

For the first few days after her party managed to reach the safe haven, Ygraine had slept in the main house’s makeshift infirmary, keeping near-constant watch over Tamara, and at least half an eye on Doctor Luis. The seer’s awakening, however, had been seized upon as an excuse for the Briton to take herself and Tamara off to one of the smaller cabins - in hopes that a dose of something akin to a ‘home’ life might help with recovery.

Ygraine’s as well as Tamara’s.

Right now, Ygraine is revelling in the snow, the quiet, and even the chill: a little judicious use of her ability has let her get right up onto the roof, where she sits - bundled up in Winter layers, gloved hands tucked under armpits as she smiles at the seemingly endless wonder of the crystalline flakes tumbling down onto and around her.

Devon’s progress does draw the attention of the darkly-clad figure… and as he comes closer, she opts to take pity on him, rather than risk being spotted out of the corner of an eye.

“Boo,” she says - tone mild and warm, rather than in any way intended to deliver a real shock. “Up here.”

Caught up in the swamp of his own thoughts, Devon only partially notices the snow falling. He more than likely would have walked right past Ygraine on her perch without ever noticing her. There hasn’t been particular regard given to his surroundings; his arrival only a few hours ago would normally have had him knowing the ins and outs of the property. Instead, he’s uncharacteristically distracted.

When she calls out, his head swivels around then upward until he finds the Ygraine on the roof. Devon looks at her his face is a mix of emotion, lack of understanding bound with an unexplainably deep hurt. A keep eye would pick out the signs that he’d been crying with eyes still rimmed in red and irritated. He musters a crooked grin in an effort to show his relief that the Brit had made it to the safehouse. It’s a little lacking.

“Hey, Ygraine,” the boy calls back, voice strained and going hoarse.

For a moment, Ygraine tries to work out if there’s a way to get Devon up alongside her without needing to budge from her comfortable spot… then she gives in to the pressures of common sense, rising to her feet and making her way to the edge of the roof.

“Hi there,” she says, before swinging easily down, a slight tweak of orientation ensuring that her pivot-and-drop maneuver goes smoothly, boots crunching neatly into the fresh snow.

“Would you like some company? Silent, if you’d like it to be,” she offers. Her own crying, she largely got out of the way a fortnight ago. Since then, she feels as if she’s been delivering substantial doses of grief and smaller ones of comfort almost everywhere she goes - but finding a gentle, supportive smile for Devon is blessedly easy.

Muscles in the boy’s jaw flex, clenching and working as he swallows back a sudden tightness in his throat. He holds his breath for a beat, then slowly exhales, the act broken by the need to swallow again against the lump threatening to choke him. He looks away while Ygraine relinquishes her perch to join him on the ground, and uses the time to raise a hand and scrub at his eyes before looking at her again.

“I don’t know where I’m going,” Devon admits. His voice is thick with the raw emotion threatening to overwhelm him again, and he looks lost. He stares at Ygraine for a long moment. He appreciates the offer, and the support. For an instant, there’s a spark of hope, there and then gone again. He looks away with a small roll of his shoulders. “I don’t …know…”

“Well….” Ygraine moves closer, gently bumping her shoulder against his. How he respnds to that momentary coat-on-coat contact will - she hopes - help her to judge how receptive he might be to a hand on his back or even a hug. “There are some really nice quiet spots around here. Especially amidst the snow.”

The softly present silence of the fall is indeed settling around them, along with the gently tumbling flakes. Ygraine nods along the path.
“Shall we? Putting one foot in front of the other can be a start. And I’ve always loved making fresh footprints in snow. There’s something… special about the crunch, and the beauty of it. Venturing out into something totally new, and leaving your own neat marks on it just where you chose to go.”

A gesture of her woollen-hatted head invites him to accompany her. “I say we go that way,” she declares, pointing on down the line of the path. “To start with, anyway.”

He may not bump her back, but there’s no shying away from Ygraine’s gesture either. Devon’s aimless gaze angles back to the woman, then follows her gaze to the path. He’s slow to follow, feet shuffling without resolve. His hands lift to his face again, his fingers scrubbing at his eyes then dragging down his face. A breath is drawn in and held for a beat.

The boy exhales slowly as he finally steps after Ygraine. He sets a slow pace for himself, gaze upon the ground as though to follow an unseen map printed there. It’s unlikely he’s found answers or direction there, but he tries. He also tries speaking a couple of times. Devon’s mouth opens, but words remain unformed or abandoned.

For the time being, it’s just the crunch of shoes on freshly falling snow which fills the void, in place of conversation.

Ygraine is quite content to match pace with Devon, a substantial part of her mind still revelling in nature’s redecoration of the world around them, even as another part pays close attention to the young man by her side. Each time he tries to speak she strains her ears to catch anything he might say - or even just start to - but she does not press him for more than he is yet ready to give.

She remains quiet until they come close to the lake shore, the Briton opting to stop as soon as she feels a change in the texture of what lies beneath the snow: testing the ice can perhaps wait for when someone with local knowledge promises that it’s thick enough to be safe.

Peering upwards, she allows a few seconds-worth of flakes to land upon her half-numb cheeks, before turning her gaze back to Devon.

“It’s good to see you,” she says quietly, before following up the obvious (if sincere) comment with something intended to catch him a little more off-guard. “I was in New York, a couple of weeks back. I went into your room in the safehouse. I wanted to apologise for that.”

No boastfulness in her tone, and not even a mention of the military crackdown in the city. Just a mixture of gentle humour, and a good dose of sincerity.

He’s grateful for the silence, relieved that there’s no prompting to say what’s on his mind. Devon watches the ground as he walks along with Ygraine. Another time he would have been enjoying the snow; he’d always found enjoyment with snowy weather. Tonight, his mind is a muddle and he watches the ground instead of their surroundings.

When she stops, so does the boy. His feet shuffle and sweep at the snow that’s collected at the edge of the lake. When Ygraine speaks, he slants a look toward her then lifts his head to look at her properly when she admits to going into his room. A month ago he might have been mildly irritated, now he takes a few seconds to consider. “It’s cool,” he replies after weighing the statement. “I’m not using it right now anyway.”

“I sincerely hope that no one is.” Ygraine flashes a swift, warm smile at him. “With luck, the safehouse will remain undiscovered, throughout the military crackdown. And no one else will break in to try to make use of it for their own purposes. It’s not deserted, but once the perimeter’s breached the risk of it being fully compromised goes up dramatically.”

“Which… was why I was going around people’s bedrooms, doing a bit of rummaging.” She looks apologetic, meeting his gaze if he wants to catch her eye. “Not to look for anything people knew was there… but… well.”

A swallow, then a gentle little smile. “I… knew that what I was heading off to do was likely to be more than a little dangerous,” she says quietly. “So I prepared gifts for people. To try to let them know that I cared, if I didn’t make it back. Those were stuffed in my sketchbook, for someone to find… should the need arise.”

“I… I wasn’t alone in that idea. But it’s no surprise that Liz made a rather better fist of it than I did. I have a gift from her, for you. I’ll hold it for however long you need me to. But I’ll put it in your hands, whenever you feel ready to receive it.”

“I didn’t leave anything for anyone to find,” Devon says softly. He could be saying it to himself, for how near inaudible the statement is. He had little in the way of personal possessions, and what little he had, came to Minnesota with him. That strikes him as odd, but he doesn’t comment further. Mention of drawings pulls his attention back to Ygraine.

“I don’t think I ever saw…“ the boy begins, trailing off from the errant and interrupting thought as the Briton continues. He stares, trying to work out an understanding. A breath catches on an errant sliver of hope. “She’s in New York,” he asks in that same, far-too-quiet voice. Hope quickly crumbles away, replaced by soul-deep ache. Liz wouldn’t have gone to New York if she were alive.

A breath passes without carrying an answer. Devon’s expression falls, his brow pinches into a deep crease and his eyes implore for any revelation that it’s all been just a bad dream, fears that it isn’t. “I’ll …I’ll take it…” he begins, voice beginning to strain again. He swallows and turns his face toward the lake. “I think…”

“We were intending what we put into your care to be as safe as possible.” Ygraine eyes remain sympathetically sad, and there was a very slight shake of her head when he dared to venture the hope that Liz might be in New York. But she manages to find a slight smile to further soften the words that follow.

“We’d have been a bit perturbed if we’d given you the impression that distributing last kindnesses was essential. Just… take it as a sign of… well. It’s a way of trying to control some of our own fears, about what we were choosing to go and butt heads with.”

Her coat rustles and moves slightly, as the shoulders within lift in a light shrug. “For me, at least, it was a way of trying to… prevent some of the regret. To try to be as sure as possible that, on top of the conversations I corned people for, I was leaving something of myself for them to remember me by. So that they knew I cared, however bad I might have been at showing it, or at living up to what that should mean.”

Lifting a hand to rest gently upon the back of Devon’s shoulder, she ventures an encouraging smile. “Liz, I suspect, had a fair idea of how we all felt about her. This is about her having a chance to share how she felt. She made you a recording. It… will be something to listen to in private, I think,” she says softly. “I didn’t put it in my pocket for going out to sit on the roof, but I can fetch it for you whenever you like.” She glances back towards the cabins, then returns her gaze to Devon and lifts a brow. “Have… you got a bed sorted out for yourself yet? Somewhere to stow your belongings?” She’s not quite sure how quickly he might have come out to be alone in the cold, after struggling through the shock of revelations.

Devon raises a hand to rub at his face as he tries to make sense of Ygraine’s explanation. Without intending to, his mind travels down the Path of Why. Why would one leave something behind when one was planning to return? His hand drags over his face and falls away, and his breath catches in his sharply tightening throat and it’s a long moment before he manages to exhale. As he breathes out slowly, his head shakes in continued denial, yet unable to accept that Liz won’t be joining them.

As Ygraine continues, perhaps prompted by the hand on his shoulder, the boy squeezes his eyes closed. He stiffens, as one does when struggling with emotions that are still raw, but he doesn’t step away. A quick nod follows the question, of the sort implying a better answer would be forthcoming if he wasn’t clenching his jaw. It takes him another breath, a sharp inhale and a strained exhale, before he nods more evenly.

“Jaiden’s put me up in the main house,” Devon explains. His voice wavers. “Gave me one of the rooms. I…” His next breath shudders as he inhales and he looks out across the vast openness of the frozen lake. “I can follow you to your cabin,” he offers in a smallish, quiet voice, tears welling unwanted in his eyes. “And… or you can bring it to the main house.”

“There’s no rush, if you’d rather wait a little.” Ygraine’s reminder is gentle, intended as assurance rather than delay. “But I can slip in and fetch it for you whenever you like. Right this moment or… in a few days’ time, if you want. Whenever you’re ready.”

She sighs softly, then slightly increases the pressure of her hand on his shoulder. “We are here for each other. This… I think Jaiden chose well. There’s quiet here. A chance to reflect, and start to recover. From all our various kinds of hurt.”

He isn’t sure what he should do, let alone what he wants to do, and that uncertainty is passed to Ygraine with a teary glance. Devon scrubs at his eyes with the sleeve of his jacket. The nod that comes after his arm lowers is slow and unsure. He takes a breath, one that’s supposed to be steadying, and for the moment it appears to work.

His hands push into the pockets of his jacket, which forces his shoulders into a shrug. He steps closer to Ygraine, standing almost shoulder to shoulder, a younger sibling seeking solace in an older one. The boy’s face turns to the lake again.
Silence is allowed to return for several minutes. A hushed sound comes from those snowflakes still steadily falling from the sky to land upon their crystalline cousins already upon the ground. “Think I’m ready to go back,” Devon says quietly. “I think… I …I think I’m ready to hear what Liz left for me.”

Ygraine is quite willing to hold her tongue as well, her quiet assisted by the continued silent fall of white onto and around them. She stays close, but after an initial gentle shoulder-bump to acknowledge his proximity and affirm her own, she does not further impose contact upon him.

When he speaks, she looks around, thinking for a moment before nodding. “Of course. Would you like to stay here, while I bring it to you? Or… if you want to listen now, I can lend you my laptop, though that should probably be inside.”

It takes only a few seconds before Devon shakes his head decisively. “I… want to do this alone,” he explains. To be able to stand on his own would allow him to approach Liz’s gift on his own, at his own pace. The look he angles toward Ygraine implies as much, even if he’s looking for a affirmation that he’d made a good choice. “I’ll wait here. And… I’ve got a laptop with my things. But… Thank you. I’ll wait here for you.”
Ygraine returns her hand to Devon’s shoulder, squeezing firmly for a second, then nodding. “Of course,” she says softly, following her words with a slight smile. Then she turns, crunching away through the snow at a steady pace, her ability for once of precious little use in more smoothly navigating the obstacles before her.

Devon is left alone with the silent white for two or three minutes, before the distinctive noises of footfalls in snow announce the return of the Briton. Upon joining him, she offers a small, padded postal envelope - on which, in her own handwriting, is written his name. “For you,” she says, holding it out to him in one hand while the other clasps his shoulder once more. “It’ll hurt to hear her… but I think it will help. But it’s yours, in any case.”.

The boy doesn’t turn to watch her leave, choosing instead to look at the frozen over snow covered lake and watch the snow fall. The flakes catch in stark relief against the dark stands of trees, speckles that show intermittently like stars against a night sky before disappearing just as suddenly as they appeared. He tilts his head back as the footfalls fade and closes his eyes, taking in the feel of flakes coming to rest on his face. Small pinpricks of cold against his already chilled skin.

When he hears Ygraine returning, Devon turns to face her. He looks down when she offers the envelope and wavers in accepting it. His hands withdraw from his pockets and hover centimeters from the parcel before accepting it. He nods as she speaks and, with some small effort, pulls his gaze from the envelope to look at Ygraine. “Thank you.” The words trail off, emotion thickening his voice.

He sends another look at the envelope in his hands, then steps toward Ygraine to give her a quick one-armed hug. He steps away just as suddenly, leaving no time for her to react, and tucks the parcel into his jacket for the trip back to the main house. Devon turns away after making an attempt to say something more, and begins the hike home.

Ygraine watches him depart, one hand raised in farewell, a fondly sad smile on her lips. Once she’s quite certain that the shadows in the tumbling white cannot possibly be Devon, she turns her gaze back to the frozen lake and its slowly-accumulating blanket. The cold and the silence seem appropriate company after dispensing another of her invaluable little parcels of misery and happiness.

But in time, she too turns away and trudges up the slope, to seek the warm sanctuary of her bed and the refuge of sleep.

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