A Fundamental Need To Belong


elisabeth2_icon2.gif vf_ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title A Fundamental Need to Belong
Synopsis Postpartum blues coupled with the desperate desire to go HOME.
Date June 30, 2012

Elisabeth and Ygraine's Flat

A low-level rumbling passes through the apartment. A hum that causes a tremor. Small things walk or bounce on the night table next to Ygraine's bed. It's not startling so much as it slowly wakes her, as if perhaps the alarm is buzzing there. Only … it's not. It hasn't set off car alarms outside or broken anything. So… the question of why her roommate's power is humming when she it hasn't done it in a couple weeks might bear investigation.

The living room has a soft night light in it — Elisabeth cannot stand for the place to be in full darkness. Besides, low light makes moving around for one or the other of them to pick up the baby that much easier. As the Briton steps into the hallway between the rooms and moves toward the nearly dark front room, the subtle buzz in the air gets stronger, ruffling the hair on her arms. It's almost like a soft breeze.

It is not until she reaches the actual threshold of the hallway and living room that she spots the source. There was no real sound until she crossed some invisible boundary that Elisabeth obviously had in place so as not to wake her. The blonde new mother is wearing a pair of comfortable maternity yoga pants (it's early days still!) and a comfortable T-shirt. The baby is tucked up under Liz's chin, swaddled tightly, making fussing sounds though not shrieking, and Elisabeth is dancing slowly with the infant. And for the first time since they hit this world, Ygraine hears the audiokinetic singing for herself (as opposed to for the voice coach or the job, which she's heard plenty), softly accompanied by music from her phone sitting on the counter.

Dance with me…
Just close your eyes, dance with me…
Hold on tight, let's take it slow. Oh, don't let go.
Dance with me.

She's been at this a while. Her face is wet, her nose red as tears slide unchecked down her face. She sways, trying to comfort the baby … and perhaps herself. The words of the song are choked and she sounds as if her heart is breaking. It's entirely possible the infant is merely reacting to the overflow of emotions rather than any real problem of her own. It's brutally obvious that the dam behind which Elisabeth has kept all her emotions for the past five months is breaking.

Clad in a long t-shirt and with her somewhat grown-out hair loose around her shoulders - where it’s not simply sticking up - Ygraine has at least managed to suppress the recurring urge to respond to something wrong by using her power. Half-randomly attaching herself to nearby surfaces will not exactly help with anything she is likely to encounter inside the apartment, after all.

Still, she certainly hadn’t expected that as a view - nor the sudden access to sound, as she unwittingly breaches Elisabeth’s sound-barrier. Doing so has her eyes widen and her approach come to a halt, the sense of intruding upon something profoundly private made all the stronger by the unexpected discovery that Elisabeth is finally singing.

Thus, the Briton lurches to a sleep-rumpled and befuddled halt, blinking uncertainly at the pair before her.

Dance with me…
Don't say a word just dance with me…

The choked singing trails off as she feels the breach, and Elisabeth's eyes seek Ygraine's even as the music continues. Such unutterable sorrow, literally inexpressible in words, is exposed in her features. Gentle hands still cradle the little girl under her chin and as Liz sinks slowly to the floor, sitting in a curled up position with her feet to one side, she rocks the infant.

"I don't even know if her father is still alive," Elisabeth whispers to her roommate, the lump in her throat all but choking her. "He'll never see what we made, will he? We're never going home."

How much of this is the hormone crash that comes with giving birth and how much is in any way something she honestly believes is completely up in the air.

Ygraine runs her hands over her face - mostly to sweep hair out of it, though her eyes do receive a quick rub as well, in hope of providing a little clarity of either thought or vision. Then she moves to sink smoothly into a crouch next to the dimension-hopping Dorothy she accompanied into this strange world.

“Getting any of us out of that tomb, let alone to somewhere like this… you’ve already proved you can do the impossible,” the Briton quietly insists. “I know the drive to escape isn’t exactly the same here. But if you could do it with the resources and potentials available there, then… it’s surely got to be possible here. We just don’t have the same need to rush, any more. But for as long as you want me, I’ll give you all the help I can. However I can.”

Tentatively, hindered by both her mistrust of her own emotions and by the instincts of a world terrified by disease, she reaches out to try to rest her hands on Elisabeth’s shoulders.

The breath Elisabeth fights to pull in is more a hiccup-slash-broken sob than a true breath. She leans into the hands on her shoulders, her arms reflexively still protecting the fussing infant cradled in them, her lips on the top of the child's head. "I can't do this. I can't… stay here. I can't go home. We don't belong anywhere or to anyone. This is not my life!" The whisper is choked with the tears that are still trapped behind the wall of heartache she's kept buried. "I want to go home, Ygraine… I want my mother so much." She wants her father too… and that's even harder to bear. She once told Ygraine that her mother was lost in the original 2006 Midtown blast and that these days she was closer to her father… but she can't have her father in this world. He belongs to the Elisabeth Harrison they both know is of this world.

Ygraine slightly tightens her grip, seeking to deliver an I’m right here with you message through both hands at once. “Oh, honey,” she murmurs, a hitch in her voice as her own throat tightens. “I’d say you belong to me, but that’s completely trumped by the pair of you belonging to each other. Wherever the pair of you are, together, that’s got to be somewhere that can count as home. It might not be the best one. One you dream of. But you have each other.”

Leaning down a little, she tries to catch Elisabeth’s gaze - or at least peer at her eyes, to have some chance of assessing quite how wild they might be. Quite apart from anything else, she lacks another world’s Ygraine’s experience of that unsettling thrum of power in the background. “And me - well. I’ll try to make sure that you always stay together.”

Elisabeth looks up and meets Ygraine's eyes, her tears a relentless deluge that she can't seem to stop. She is definitely not anywhere near a good headspace. And the hitching breath sets off a full-on torrent of shudders that can only be suppressed sobbing. At the same time, the bass hum that rolls off her and through the other woman brings Liz's attention to the squirming infant in her arms. "You better take her…" She carefully hands her daughter into Ygraine's arms, fighting to get her power under control. This was why she'd had to be negated during the day and a half of labor.

Letting go of the child is an agony, and Liz wraps both her arms around herself. The music from her phone resets itself and the same song starts over again, bringing another flood of tears. Which brings another torrent of not-quite-sound rolling through. The neighbors are going to think there's a thunderstorm again with all this bass rumbling. Her face whips toward the phone that is playing and suddenly the sound cannot be heard, the song muted. She reaches up to cover her face, crying softly into her hands. It's messy. It's not easy crying — it's jagged and heart-wrenching and gives away just how lost the blonde has been, something she doesn't share. She always tries to give the impression that she's doing fine.

Ygraine accepts the responsibility with her customary mixture of deference and pleasure. “Hello, Aurora,” she murmurs, trying to simultaneously catch the infant’s attention and keep an eye on the worryingly distressed audiokinetic. “Shall I sing to you in French, maybe? Or just try to teach you proper pronunciation to confuse all these Americans?”

As she talks, she scoots around, settling into a better position for cradling the baby in her arms… and to let her slide a foot over, to gently make contact with Elisabeth’s. It’s not much, but she can hope that the contact will provide some degree of support and assistance.

**Some time later,

By the time it stops, the blonde is a frazzled mess, exhausted from not only lack of sleep and a newborn baby but the overwhelming sense of despair. She pulls in low breaths, occasionally hitching out a sob though she must have cried out all of her tears by this point. She seems damp and sweaty from the crying jag, but at least now that low-level hum is finally gone. Elisabeth simply has no energy left for anything else. Not even to mute her phone — when the silence field fell, it was once again playing the same song. It triggered another crying jag until Ygraine turned it off.

Judging that the time might be as good as any - and figuring that if she stays where she is too much longer her bum will go entirely numb and she’ll have to crawl out - Ygraine extends her leg a little more, so that she can give Elisabeth a gentle nudge with her foot.

“How about I fix you a drink of something warm?”, she asks quietly, venturing a hint of a smile. It would be broader, but Elisabeth’s extended distress has taken a lot out of her, too. “Aurora’s dozed off, so I think that we can take the risk of moving. Maybe cuddle up on the sofa while I ply you with some fluids.”

Weary, swollen eyelids are pried apart with effort, and gritty, red-rimmed blue eyes look toward the Briton. With a slow nod, Elisabeth shifts a little at a time to a more upright position. Almost a crawl up onto the sofa. The blonde seems to be having trouble focusing — not exactly surprising given the sheer amount of emotion that poured from her. She curls up into a corner of the couch, watching Ygraine stand with the baby. The small basket-like bassinet that they've got at the moment for the tiny being sits beside the couch, so she's in plain sight all the time.

Reaching up one hand to feel the tousled curls of her short hair, Liz finally rests her cheek on her hand, her elbow propped on the arm of the couch. She's still making as small a target of herself as possible, an instinctive defense mechanism against the despair and vulnerability she's allowed to escape.

Ygraine, at least, can deftly cheat to ensure that Aurora is in no danger of being dropped as she overcomes the effects of spending too long in one position, fighting her own way upright. She arches her back a little, grimacing as a tangle of muscles protests. Then she finds another smile for Liz.

Once her precious burden has been carefully laid down, she does indeed move to sort drinks - a large helping of fruit juice being the first thing delivered to her friend, while the kettle boils and preparations are made for something warming. Cookies are also grabbed and dumped into a bowl, should sugary indulgence be wanted. Soon enough, she returns with them and steaming-hot mugs, with the intent of trying to join Liz on the sofa. She suspects that someone larger than Aurora to hug might possibly be welcome.

It seems that both the emotional and physical companionship is welcome, as Elisabeth shifts just a little when Ygraine sits down. Far enough to drop her head to the other woman's shoulder, though she still doesn't unravel from her tight little ball. The blonde drank the fruit juice that was proffered first, but the mug of tea she simply cradles in both hands atop her knees while they sit there together. Her voice is raspy when she speaks.

"First time I met Aurora's father… I was arresting him," she murmurs quietly. "He was a thief. Pretty much like the Richard Cardinal you knew, only…. Perhaps not as rough around the edges." He didn't, after all, deal with a Virus world. "He was hot but snarky as hell. We seemed to constantly butt heads. And then suddenly we were… knocking boots." She huffs out a sound that might be a sort of laugh. "I have a tendency toward guys on the wrong side of the law. Not the best tendency to have when you're a cop."

She's quiet for a long few moments. "Nothing in my life has ever been as complicated as my relationship with that man. But nothing in my life has ever been as simple as loving him," she whispers. "Aurora… she's the one thing I ever asked him for. I wanted … to create something lasting that was the best parts of both of us. I just… didn't realize that it was a Monkey's Paw bargain."

Ygraine gently leans closer, to bring herself into firmer contact with Elisabeth - while still providing full support for the blonde head. “That taste in men probably wasn’t the best for a music teacher, either,” she teases dryly. “But yes, he is handsome, is Mister Richard Cardinal. I don’t think that I’d ever have dared approach someone like him, but I’d probably have admired from afar.”

Risking a fond, close-range smile for Elisabeth, she then sighs quietly. “She’s a heck of a gift, is Aurora. However complicated the relationship that she came from, and whether or not she’s the last gift you get from him - and I’m really not inclined to say she will be - he didn’t do too badly by you, with her.”

Elisabeth laughs softly, the sound still a little watery. "She is so beautiful. This is so hard," she admits. "I can't… keep feeling like this, though. The therapist said it would happen, but …. Good God, I feel like I'm just drowning in all this sadness."

“I’m glad you’re talking to one,” Ygraine affirms. “One of the best things to happen to me was my stay in an Asylum, after the Bomb, so I’m wholly behind you getting help with figuring things out. And I’ll help you as best I can with it, of course, but I know that having someone… detached from the details can really help.”

Elisabeth shrugs a little, clearly having little energy now that the tempest of emotions has spent itself, and sips from the warm mug in her hands. Her mind wandered across the fragmented trains of thought that flit through her head.

"Morgan came from Morrigan… who is often linked to ravens. And since I couldn't call her Cardinal," because such a name would draw far too much attention, "it was as close as I felt like I could get." Same reason Tamara had chosen Cranston — it was an alias Richard Cardinal used.

“Oh!” Ygraine’s eyes widen, then she laughs softly. “I had never really thought of ‘cardinal’ as a bird, I admit. Not part of my heritage, growing up. But Morgan from Morrigan? Fascinating choice. Particularly so for a woman whose own name comes from Arthurian legend.”

Elisabeth smiles just a little. "Not the Arthurian Morgan… older than that. The Irish goddess as guardian of territory and people." The admission is soft. There's a lot of baggage packed in that one line, but the blonde doesn't feel the desire to unpack it. She simply conveys her intention of the meaning.

Ygraine chuckles momentarily, before nodding. “I was just pleased with the general connection to ancient tales of the Isles. And I don’t think that I’ll be encouraging her to base herself on Morgan Le Fay. The Morrigan and her ravens certainly make for an interesting basis for the name. Congratulations. I hadn’t considered that at all. I think I’ll be doing some research into her now. I seem to recall that, as with most long-lasting deities, she winds up with a pretty seriously tangled and complex mythology.”

Evidently enjoying her minor nerdgasm and the prospect of tracing the threads of old tales and beliefs, Ygraine tilts her head over to make gentle contact with Elisabeth’s. For the time being her mug remains cradled in her hands, adding its own dose of gently aromatic steam to the sensations of comfort.

Elisabeth remains curled up, her head on Ygraine's shoulder. Exhaustion is to be expected, and they warned her at the hospital that depression was common. But considering everything else in her life that led her here, the blonde figures that… they're probably doing okay. Pinehearst hasn't come to black-hole them in Evo-Gitmo. So… that's a win. Right?

“I… was glad to hear you sing,” Ygraine ventures some little while later, her voice soft and diffident. “It sounded like a release. Which I know can really hurt, but… for me, at least, it tended to be worthwhile. And I’ll be here for you, either way. But you’ve got a half-decent voice, you know.” Her shoulder shifts slightly, providing a gentle little nudge of teasing affirmation.

Elisabeth is quiet there for a long time. And then she reaches up to wipe the tear that escapes — she's gotta be about out of them, her eyes are so swollen. "It was." Her thoughts drift over that night when Richard sang to her while they danced and she has to smile. The man had his moments, that's for sure. God, missing him has become such a part of her. And then she laughs softly at the tease about her voice. "Well… I guess I better have a half-decent one, since it's gonna pay our rent. At least, as soon as I have a little more time to heal up." Giving birth is messy and painful!

“Feh. I just need to get another half-dozen part-time jobs, and we can all start living in real style. ‘Course, I’d need to have a slightly different ability to manage that… but I can keep us fed and watered for as long as we need. I promise that you’ll have as long as is required.” Ygraine squirms a little, freeing up a hand to reach around and squeeze Elisabeth’s arm. “I want to help.”

"I know you do," Elisabeth tells her. And she leans away to sit more upright so she can better look at her friend. "Ygraine… I don't know what you're thinking about the future. But you know that Magnes and I are still working on going home. I… " She bites her lip and admits, "I know it's far too late to keep you at arm's length so I don't hurt your feelings when I go. But… promise me that when I do? You'll be the best you that you can be. Okay?"

“I still find myself thinking about security protocols, quarantine, and routes I could take that would avoid exposing myself to sniper nests and watch points,” Ygraine says softly. “There’s often an embarrassing feeling of risk-taking in making definite plans to show up somewhere - somewhere that requires going outside to get to and from it. Especially if the plan won’t be fulfilled for weeks. Weeks! I can think that far ahead, and pretty much expect to get there!”

Scooting around a little on the sofa as well, she brings herself closer to directly facing Liz in turn. “My major goal for the future is to try to… well, to extend what I can see as the future. Who knows? Maybe I’ll work up to actually believing in my heart that the world’ll still be here and I’ll still be in it in a month’s time. Then a season hence. I’m still terrified that all this is going to… fall apart. Throwing myself into whatever jobs I can get, and pampering the pair of you as best I can… partly it’s selfish. It’s a way of tying myself to as much as I can. Making myself deal with lots of stuff out there in the world, rather than finding somewhere that feels as much like the Hub as possible and hiding in that ‘normality’. Locking myself away somewhere with terrible food and no windows kind of appeals, a lot of the time.”

She snorts, then flashes a wry smile. “Which… maybe makes me very well-suited for working in nightclubs, admittedly. But I promise I’m trying. Trying to build some version of me back up. So even when I shower the pair of you with attention… it’s not just about me living vicariously through you. I promise. Looking after you is something tangible I can do, here and now. And that’s helping me to feel that more of what’s out there could be tangible, too.”

Elisabeth has very real sympathy for Ygraine's plight. "When I got kidnapped by Humanis First in my world… they tortured me," she tells the other woman quietly, pulling one knee up on the couch to turn and face the Briton, her elbow on the back of the couch. Absently, she rubs a spot above her temple. "When I was recovered by the Ferry and healed and sent home… every time I stepped outside, I was hyperaware of everything around me. I had this sense that I wasn't going to live to see next week because as soon as those fuckers figured out I was actually alive, they'd come for me again. I spent… months, really. Scared to believe that I could go about my life. I would occasionally wind up literally locking myself in my closet with a blanket and pillow, all the lights on. I was on meds for over a year to keep panic attacks like the ones I had when we first got here in check." She grimaces slightly. "I'm grateful that Tam knew to include a therapist's name in the packet she handed me. I think that woman is the only reason I'm even remotely functional," she admits quietly.

"I understand the need to connect. There were only a few people — Richard, Abby, Felix — who I could actually connect with for a long time. Richard for months was the only person who could touch me without sending me into a fit of the humming." Ygraine by now is well aware of the humming. It's not constant anymore, but when they first got to the apartment it was like living under the elevated train tracks with the trains always running. "I just want to make sure that even if it takes a while, I'm not the only person you're connected to." She smiles a little. "It would kill me to be the cause of hurt to you. And I admit that very very selfishly, I am so far beyond grateful that you're here and that you're willing to help so much that I can't see straight. You're the only reason I sleep at all."

Having listened intently - only marginally distracted by a couple of sips from her drink - Ygraine now arches a brow. “Such good company I put you to sleep,” she teases fondly. “I shall have to remember that.”

Her free hand reaches out for Elisabeth’s again, with the intent of delivering a warm squeeze. “The two of you are my strongest connections in this world. I’m as alien to it as you are yourself, remember. That’s part of the reason, after all, that I am quite willing to help you work on finding a way to your own home. And I think I should be part of that effort. The more data there is on any portal experimentation - let alone active use - the better. We’ve already established that my sensory ability can breach the boundary of an active portal. So keep me actively involved, okay? I know you’re the only one who thinks I can provide anything useful - but at absolute minimum I can monitor whether there’s a physical reality on the other side, without needing to be amped myself or to send anything through.

“And….” The Briton sighs, lips twisting. “If you need to leave me behind. Or I choose to stay. Then getting you on your way to the right place would be worth it. If I ever do lose you, it’ll hurt. Believe me. But I know kind of intimately and thoroughly what it’s like to feel caged somewhere without the ones you love. I wouldn’t wish that on you, when there’s a way to try for something better. Just… accept that I’ll want to be careful, okay?”

Elisabeth leans her head sideways on the back of the couch, watching Ygraine with a faint smile. "Well, I told you my world was better than Virus… this world sure seems, for most people, way better than mine is. If you're an average person living a life, this is paradise for Evos." She shrugs slightly. "You're the only person who will get to decide whether you're continuing on with us and taking the chance on whatever we find out there or staying put. I won't hold it against you either way. And I definitely rely on you to kick me in the butt if I'm being too terribly reckless, so there's that." She grins a bit.

Finally exhausted from gamut of emotions she's run in the past hour or so, she yawns hugely suddenly. "Good grief. I'm sorry. That was rude." She laughs. "I'm going to go back to bed… she'll wake up hungry again way sooner than I'd like."

Reaching over, she hugs Ygraine tightly, burying her face in the curve of the other woman's neck. "Thank you," she whispers. "For being here, for being my friend, for all of it." She lingers for a long moment in that hug, and then she pulls away and takes her tea mug to the kitchen before eyeing the sleeping infant. "I'm going to let her sleep there for now — I'll hear her just fine," she says with a small smile. Understatement anyone?

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