A Grief That Can't Be Spoken


sable_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title A Grief That Can't Be Spoken
Synopsis Sable checks in on Tasha the morning after the memorial service, and Tasha makes her grief known through the one medium that Sable understands best.
Date August 29, 2010

Gun Hill

When morning breaks over New York, pale sky cracking to reveal the yolk-yellow of the sun, so too does Sable rise, the light streaming through her uncurtained windows and onto her face, a single bright bar set across her eyes. At first she tries to pretend that she's not awake. She mumbles in a manner suitable for the sleeping, tosses and turns in an approximation of somnolent motion, and even tries to get her breath to come in that slow, steady way. From the outside maybe its convincing, but none of the signs of sleep donned manage to make actual sleep a reality.

So she gets up. She puts on clothes. She brushes her teeth, pads downstairs, snags breakfast from the communal kitchen space (just toast and a hastily made over-easy egg to go atop it), and sits on the edge of the counter, munching, eyes narrowed at the hour. It takes some time for properly coherent thought to form, and for the shifts in memory sleep enables to full register, but as she does, she remembers the day before. The service. The somberness. The strife. Really, she remains unsure as to whether liquor would have been a bad or good idea.

Thoughts turn, as they do, and keep turning, and soon Sable is thinking to the one little bit of good she did while otherwise feeling vaguely visitorish and useless. Tasha. Who might well be upstairs in her room this very instant. Sable considers carefully the factors involved in a potential call. Colette's possible presence, the earliness, the possibility that maybe there was less ground gained between Tasha and she than Sable dared hope.

But hesitation has never had much hold over Sable. Hesitation is an obstacle that the underdog (as she still conceives of herself) can't afford. Toast still in hand, egg oozing, Sable ascends the stairs towards the apartment door she holds in her mind's eye. She sidles up and gives a brief knock, taking another quick bite and chewing quickly as she waits.

Tamara is inexplicably absent, but when is she ever explicably anything? Colette is dead to the world sleeping in the back room, and Tasha is organizing her art supplies all over the dining room table that never gets used for anything else besides a drop-spot for whatever needs dropping.

The knock surprises Tasha, and she pads over to the door, peering out the peephole. She opens it, dressed no more appropriately but a little less scantily than the last time. Cropped "Happy Bunny" pajama bottoms feature smiling bunnies and the quote, "Ok, I'm perfect, now stop staring" all over them. Paired with a blue tank top, Tasha's skin is mostly covered. What isn't is her throat, which no one has seen uncovered since her return home. The still-healing scar there is not obviously a gunshot wound, since the bullet grazed the tender flesh; there is a fine line where it was stitched together, and the area around the stitching looks more like a burn. Angry red, it will fade in time, but for now it is a very visible reminder of just how "lucky" Tasha was.

"Hey, Sable. Colette's asleep, Tam's AWOL as usual, you want some coffee?"

No bikini top? Oh well, this wasn't going to be a theatrical visit anyways. A quick examination of Sable's eyes show that they are only bloodshot enough to suggest recent waking, not concurrent baking, and her pupils are of normal size. Coffee will be her first drug intake of the day, and the offer is greeted with a lopsided smile and a nod. "Coffee sounds real fuckin' fine," she agrees, stepping out of the hall and into the apartment. Her eyes dart down to the quote and she gives a snort. "Yer pants asks too much, hon. You make a wanderin' eye want t' stick around…" Which maybe is just the requisite remark, something Sable just has to say. Though that doesn't mean she doesn't mean it.

Though the mark on Tasha's neck, the first Sable's seen of it, is what actually ends up seizing Sable's attention. She frowns, reaches out to touch her fingers just under the mark, slowly, giving Tasha the chance to deflect or avoid the contact if she wishes. "When'd that happen, hon? Who dared?"

The comment on her PJ bottoms makes Tasha roll her eyes but grin. "Yeah, I'm sure I'm a sight —" she begins, having recently woken, her hair a mess, no make-up on. But then Sable's reaching for her neck and she steps back a little too suddenly for it to be merely to turn and go to the kitchen to get coffee. It's what she tries to make it look like, of course, veering suddenly in the direction of the coffee maker and the cups above the sink.

Her eyes on the task at hand — pouring coffee, getting out the creamer and the sugar and the spoons — Tasha murmurs quietly, "It was the night of the Institute rescue thing. My group got hit from the military or something. I don't remember." The words are spoken low and terse, her eyes down as she finishes pouring the cup for Sable, handing it to the other girl, then working on stirring sugar and cream into her own.

"Hon, there ain't nothin' I like better than th' look 'f a girl just woke," Sable says, trailing after Tasha, her hands slid into her back pockets, restrained from any further attempts to poke at Tasha after her abrupt retreat. Sable can take a hint. Sometimes.

Coffee is received, a nod of thanks offered, and Sable takes a sip before answering, a hip canted against the counter's edge. "I, like… I dig that mebbe I ain't th' person y' wanna give this t'. But, I dunno," she shrugs, her eyes skating over to the fridge, such an interesting appliance, "Mebbe it was just th' moment, 'n' I'll poke 'n' prod no more if y' need me t' fuck off." She reaches up behind herself scratches the nape of her neck before her eyes return to Tasha.

"You ain't okay, hon, it seems plain. And that troubles me. I wanna… I wanna help," she quirks her lips to one side, "make 'f it what y' will, but I find m'self carin'. 'bout you." This is said with just a touch of realization, something understood only after she has voiced it. Since just yesterday, actually seeing an emotional breakdown from Tasha that wasn't somehow connected to Sable herself. Hard to shake some sort of feeling, for which a single name cannot be found. At least not yet.

Bringing the cup to her lips as Sable speaks, Tasha blows, then sips, and nods, all without looking at the yellow eyes of her would-be confidante. She sets the cup down on the counter and finally brings her eyes back up, dark brown on yellow. A very slow, very small smile curls one corner of her lip up.

"I appreciate it," she says, voice soft. "I really don't remember what happened. I'm sure there's some psychological reason for that… I mean, I lost some blood and all but I don't have a head injury that would account for amnesia. Unless I was the first person down, I probably saw two dozen people die, not counting anyone on the other side." She frowns — it's not the first time she's wondered if she killed anyone on the other side. She had a gun — a rifle — she remembers that much.

"I almost died. A little more direct of a shot, and I would have. An inch in any direction, a tiny change of angle?" Her voice trembles a little as the truth of that makes itself clear, one hand going up and touching either side of her neck, where major arteries throb.

Finally, Tasha shrugs. "I'm not. I'm not okay. But I need to be. And so I will be."

Coffee can serve as fidget-receiver, the ministrations of blowing and sipping, the turning of the cup in one's hands, for some time. Tasha's relation is received with hooded brows and a variety of small gestures suggesting Sable's interest as well as her discomfort. An empathic discomfort, though, expressing itself in proper time with Tasha's words. But when she's done, Sable sets that coffee aside and steps up to Tasha, head tilted.

"Y' wanna hug?" she asks, not so much tentatively as delicately, ready to be refused - Tasha is a bit of an enigma (at least in Sable's mind) and she's not always sure what the proper course of action is. "'cause I've got a powerful urge t' hug y'. Lord knows, girl, y' got th' strength t' stay okay if needs be… but don't ask that 'f yerself. Not f'r my sake. If y' need t', like, not be okay… be not okay with me. If y' c'n stomach it."

"Thanks," Tasha says, eyes dropping, willing herself not to cry. She cried enough yesterday. "School starts tomorrow, so that's a distraction. Onward and upward, right? I just… yesterday was hard. It was really hard to see how many people died, symbolically or whatever. It really could have been me, and there's no real reason it shouldn't have been, any more than it shouldn't have been anyone." She lifts her chin a little, almost defiantly at that. No one should have died — not because they were doing the wrong thing, but because they were doing the right thing.

She doesn't answer the hug question yet. "Do you know Les Miserables at all? The musical?" she asks, tipping her head curiously.

School, already? That's brutal. Sable winces in sympathy and then, deciding that asking forgiveness is preferable to waiting for permission, she closes the remaining distance and hugs Tasha. It's a brief thing, just a single, firm, grounding squeeze, and when she steps back, she keeps her hands on Tasha's upper arms. A brow cants. "Uh… mebbe think I've heard 'f it? Like… French, ain't it?"

The hug is accepted — not only politely but happily, eagerly. Why Tasha couldn't say yes when asked, well, the two have a convoluted history. Her arms wrap around the other and tightly squeeze her, letting the other console her for grief she isn't willing to totally spill.

"It's amazing. You might think it's bourgie," Tasha says, with a grin, "and it is but like… literally. It's about the French Revolution and the overthrow of the aristocracy and shit? You'd totally dig it." She picks up her coffee cup and nods toward the living room. "Come."

With that, she moves to the stereo cabinet and sits on the floor so that she can flip through the CDs until she finds the appropriate one. Tossing the tiny CD-case-sized libretto to Sable, she puts the disk into the stereo and queues up the proper song. "This is Marius. All of his friends died. He's the only one who survived."

There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.

Sable takes her own coffee in hand and gives chase, smiling just a little, the strength of the hug seeming to have done something for Sable as well. Reassured her, made her feel like, yes, she can be here in this capacity. There may even be a slight glow to her cheeks.

The libretto is caught one-handed, and flipped open. Sable squints at the small print, thumbing pages 'til she finds the correct lyrical transcription. A quick glance up at Tasha at the mention of 'bourgie'. "Literally? Huh… wonder if C.C. knew 'bout this…" Her eyes return to the libretto as the singing begins, mournful, soulful, sorrowed. Sable purses her lips, listening with intent.

Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about ‘tomorrow’
And tomorrow never came.

When there are no words but just instruments, Tasha glances at Sable. Her eyes are already glimmering with tears, the words of the lyrics what she wants to say but can't quite say. "The bourgeoisie, which is what I expect bourgie is short for, were the merchants and the artists and scholars, people who weren't born to money necessarily but earned it. They thought the feudal system was wrong, that people shouldn't get to be in charge of something just because they happened to be born a duke or whatever. They were a big part the French Revolution and overthrew the monarchy… more or less." It's a Cliff's Notes version. "I'm not a historian. Don't quiz me," she adds, stopping when the lyrics begin again.

"Oh, this'd've driven C.C. up th' fuckin' wall," Sable says, cracking a wide grin, a strange sort of fondness for an absent object, "I only know th' word 'cause 'f this gal I had somethin' with back in Boston, y' know? College girl, real fuckin' cute, 'n' angry. Loved t' listen t' her go at it. She'd get red in the face, she got so worked up…" She folds the libretto, deciding it's better just to listen, also lapsing into silence for the actual words. Hearing them. When she spots the beginning of tears, however, she sets down her coffee and crosses over to Tasha, plopping right behind her and scooting up, wrapping arms about her waist in another steadfast hug. "Pretty fuckin' song. What y' needed t' hear, hon?"

From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade at dawn.

Shaking her head, a few more of those tears slide down her face. "It's not what I needed to hear… I hear it. I feel it. I guess it's… it's what I wanted to say." She offers a wobbly smile. "I'm not that good with words. I'm better with images. This is pretty much how I feel, except I don't remember them like Marius can in the song. They weren't people I knew that well — which makes it worse, in some ways. I can't remember them how they deserve to be remembered."

She sighs, reaching up to wipe her eyes. "C.C. wouldn't have liked me, huh?" she asks, bringing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them, much the same sad pose she sat in after the memorial the day before.

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.

"Songs 'r' good f'r that," Sable says, nodding, her own arms sliding up a bit, looping around Tasha's, seeking space between her legs and her torso, "say things we can't figure out how t' ourselves. Takes what we feels, puts it outside 'f ourselves, y' know? Gives it some beauty, even when it's awful ugly. 'n' more beauty is always better."

Sable chuckles a bit at Tasha's suggestion, giving the other girl a small squeeze. "Actually, I think y'd've gotten along real fuckin' well. Y'd have talked 'bout things. Smart college gals. I'd like t' see it. Be somethin' pretty t' witness."

Phantom faces at the window.
Phantom shadows on the floor.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.

"So why would that have driven her up the wall or whatever? She wouldn't have liked it, or she would have gotten all into the French Revolution bit? I mean, I get that upper class and middle class … cookie cutter materialism stuff is annoying, but it's better than having the first sons get everything simply because they're first born boys, right? Not that that doesn't happen sometimes here still, but not like it used to in the old days back in Europe. It's called primogeniture, and it is fucked up."

Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more.

When the song ends, Tasha turns down the volume a little, lest the more rambunctious songs rouse the sleeping beauty from her bed. "Thanks for listening, though," she adds with a small smile.

"Oh, hell, don't ask me," Sable says with a laugh, releasing Tasha and slipping back, scooting around so she can face the other girl properly. "I understood 'bout one out 'f every five things she ever said when she was goin' off on somethin'. I just liked how she talked, ain't gonna pretend what she talked about made any goddamn sense. Close as I could figure, she wanted everythin' t' belong t' everybody. She talked 'bout things now, I guess. Dunno what she'd've said 'bout France all th' way back in whenever it was… knights 'n' lords type times."

The yellow eyed girl's brow angle, "Aw, well, thanks f'r lettin' me listen. Hearin' th' music that matters t' y'… that's somethin' personal t' me. I take it very seriously. 'n' y've been through hell, hon. I want t' be sure y' came all th' way out."

"I haven't, not really," Tasha argues, though not fervently. The words are murmured softly, and she gives a shake of her head. "I don't remember it. I didn't know the people that well. I barely even got hurt, though apparently they had to drag me around unconscious to get me out. But it's… it's like a dream where you don't really know what's going on and the details are foggy so it's not really that scary. It should be scary, but it's too … dark, or something. I don't know."

Tasha nods her head toward the hallway. "Both of them have been through worse. You've been through worse. All those people who died — they went through worse." She sounds tired and matter-of-fact. "I'm lucky, and I know it. I just feel like crap. And now I have to think of some crazy ass story about my scar, to boot. Any ideas?"

"Bullshit," Sable growls, edging forward and leaning in to catch Tasha's eyes, brows furrowed now, "don't you go tearin' yerself down. Yer lucky? Fine. Good. But that don't mean yer not brave, that y' didn't risk yerself like all th' others. Feel shitty, it's what y' gotta do f'r a bit. But don't you think any less 'f yerself."

For all that's she endorses confronting one's feelings, Sable can see the benefit in the little out Tasha leaves herself. The story of the scar. Not a bad way to handle a gap in memory… if only because Tasha will having something to say when people ask. Or poke. Like some people we won't mention but are in the same room as Tasha right now.

Sable taps her chin, considering the question seriously. "Could've happened any damn way, eh?" she says, "make it real fuckin' heroic," she grins, "got it, like, smashin' through a window, guns blazin', just in time t' prevent some sorta ambush."

A grin grows of the smirk at Sable's words, and she shakes her head. "I'm looking for something more mundane, something my parents will believe and not want to kill me themselves for, you know? They don't want to see me as risking my life for things that I care about, and for once I'm happy to oblige and give them what they want. Or at least, not give them what they don't want."

She shrugs and sips her coffee again. "Thanks, though. I mean, for thinking I'm brave," she says in a smaller voice. It wasn't that long ago that Sable called her a coward.

"Simple fact, hon," Sable says, giving a small shrug, "y' did what few folks would dare do. Y' risked yer life 'n' faced danger. Y' were afraid, I'll bet - had t' have been - but y' did it anyways. That's what bein' brave is."

Sable has to extend her arm all the way out to snag her coffee, turning it with her fingertips until the handle swings into reach. She grabs it and rights herself, bringing the mug between both hands. "Tell 'em y' had an accident workin' on th' garden up on th' roof," she suggests, "some idiot kid was swingin' his shovel 'round, actin' th' fool."

The words of bravery only get a small shrug, and her eyes drop. She was brave by being there, one can argue, but she passed out from pain and probably fear — not the bravest of soldiers. She chuckles a little at the suggestion for yet another cover story.

"Hit with a shovel." Tasha visualizes it for a moment. "That could work. Oh!"

Up she suddenly stands, and moves toward the dining room table full of art supplies, finding her sketch book. "I didn't mean to take so long on this — but you know, I was on Staten for a few days… Anyway, here are the mock-ups of your signs?"

She brings the book over to Sable. Color-pencil sketches of the 'Sage' signs that the rocker asked for in various shapes and sizes take up a few pages.

Sable sets her drink aside before she reaches out and grasps the book, pulling it into her lap and eagerly examining the mock-ups. She grins, clearly thrilled, flipping between pages, checking and re-checking in that way that means she just likes looking at them. She looks up at Tasha, gratitude written all over her features. "Jesus… these are fan-fuckin'-tastic, hon. Y' made time f'r 'em?" she beams, "nice t' know I'm on yer mind."

"Sure," Tasha says, reaching to the coffee table to grab a pen. "Put a check mark next to the ones you like, plus maybe sizing guidelines, and I'll make them for you as soon as I buy the right color paints and all that. I'm happy to do it." She picks up both coffee cups and heads into the kitchen to refill them, adding sugar and creamer as necessary for either cup, having paid attention to the way Sable fixed hers on the first serving.

She returns and sets the cup down next to Sable again. "Thank you for coming by. I … " she smiles and gives a small shrug. "It's good to have friends."

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