A Reason


colette_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title A Reason
Synopsis To fight, to live, to rebuild, to hate. In that order.
Date December 3, 2010

The Garden

The crack of a gunshot echoes repeatedly through the dense pine forest.

Birds long since scattered away the first few times that Colette Nichols opened fire this morning, while the dew was still frozen on the fence posts she's now shooting down-field at. Nestled in the heart of the forested Greenbelt, the Ferrymen safe house known only as the Garden is a remarkably isolated location, despite its positionning so close to the island of Manhattan and both New York City and New Jersey. Were it not for the Greenbelt's abandonment and dense forestation, both Colette Nichols and her current company would be seeing crumbling temenent buildings and abandoned warehouses not far away in any direction.

Instead, they're safely tucked away behind walls of dense pine trees, standing in the brittle grass of a brown field, with a line of cans and bottles set up on a wood post fence partitioning off one part of the low and frosted-over field from another. The safehouse itself, with its moss-covered roof and cabinlike appearance rests quietly behind them, smoke twisting in cottony plumes from the chimney.

"See?" Colette turns slowly, slanting an askance look to Sable at her side. "It's not that big a gun, in fact Raith tells me it's like one of the simplest things in the world t'use. Kids can fire one of these," she says of the wood-grain stock AK-47 in her hands. "It's lightweight, got a big, easy to find safety," which is motioned to with a gloved thumb, "and doesn't have too much kick."

Having fired off a few rounds in demonstration, Colette takes a step back and away from Sable, offering out the rifle to her with a mild smile. It's been an odd morning, for her, for both of them. Arriving on Staten Island well after curfew after a too-long boat ride, delivering illegal firearms to a cabin in the woods and finding solace in separate beds in drafty rooms warmed by kerosene heaters.

This morning, foggy and freezing cold, brings promises of a new day as well as what amounts to live-fire practice before breakfast. That Colette looks cold is the least of her problems, that it doesn't look like she slept is probably the more pressing one.

Neither of which she's likely eager to address.

Sable's steadfastness in some quarters come at the price of certain mercurial tendencies in others. Her aversion to weaponry, to violence generally but guns in particular, is one she half-fosters - an attempt at something like pacifism, in the spirit of her beloved late 60's and early 70's. But she's had passions before, and old flames can still burn bright for Sable, for better or for worse.

And Sable used to love guns.

There's the manic, immature gleam of a crafty but foolish middle schooler in her eyes as she reaches out to take the weapon. The wood stock is gripped, felt. That's nice. Thicker than a guitar's neck, but with the same feel of reliability and simple resilience.

"Had a gal," Sable says, hiking the weapon into both her hands, and holding it 'at the hip', like someone on TV, "back in Boston. Desperate bad wanted on 'f these. She was a real fuckin' crazy. Part 'f what got me 'bout her…" This is an odd time to reminisce, but Sable's not always on top of 'circumstance appropriate behavior'.

The dark muzzle of the Kalashnikov is held in the general direction of the targets, the sad line of condemned cans and treasonous bottles. Looks like the containers lost the revolution. "We gonna get some coffee 'n' donuts after this, ain't we?" is said casually enough, but the fact that this addresses both Colette's missing breakfast (her feather weight in general) and missing sleep is no coincidence.

The vagrant tends to prefer con over confrontation, when the situation demands.

She pulls the trigger, and holds down, initially disappointed that the gun doesn't just… keep going, as a proper hip-shooter should. Plus she misses, the bullet whizzing off into obscurity. She starts to pump the trigger, getting her fire rate up as high as possible, muscle straining as combined and reckless shots aggregate into recoil. A single can is sent flying, the bullet tearing through the top, rending aluminum.

Dark brows crease over yellow eyes and a pale nose sniffs at the waft of cordite. "Aw… didn't hit shit…" she cuts her gaze over to Colette, "don't you say a fuckin' thing. Jus'… gettin' used t' it is all." Mumble grumble.

That Sable manages to elicit a smile from Colette is testament to their relationship — whatever it is. "It's relieving," she admits on closing the distance between herself and Sable, "that you're still a piss-poor shot. Y'know it… I'd be worried, if— if it ever seemed like you were becoming something else." Becoming her needn't be said. Colette sidles up to Sable, resting one leather-gloved hand on the one ahead of the trigger, then steps around and behind Sable, so as to wrap her arms around the brunette, placing her other hand below the trigger guard so she can tug the rifle back towards Sable's shoulder a little tighter.

All discussion of breakfast is lost, but what isn't is that Colette smells noticably like cigarettes up close.

"You'll get the hang of it, you just need t'focus." Her hand beneath the trigger guard moves, away from Sable's arm and up to the side of her head, tapping gently at her temple. "Use the sight, squeeze the trigger with your whole finger, don't try'n pull it with the tip, and breathe out slowly as you shoot. The cans ain't movin', so it's not really all that tricky."

Her hand lowers, squeezing Sable's shoulder gently, letting her other hand move away from the rifle as well. "More patience, less Rambo."

"Always becomin' somethin' else," Sable says, turning the weapon in her hands and eying it, like maybe there's a switch on it, some way to set it on 'easy', "always bein' alt'gether too much m'self…" She starts sage, hill-less though she may be, but as Colette moves in to give more direct instruction, her words take on a certain irony. There's the tiniest quirk at one corner of her lips, first up, then down, then just back, mouth thinning a bit. Her eyes move, if unsteadily for a moment, down range. Through the iron sights.

Imagining a person at the other end creeps Sable out quite a lot. She tries her best to fight it, but when she speaks, her words come out in a near whisper, contrasting sharply with her words. "Y'll never take me alive, pigs…" It should be spoken like a joke. It isn't.

She pulls the trigger, and a glass bottle explodes in a shower of dusty emeralds. Sable blinks. She hit something. She's not sure, at first, how to feel about it. Normally this would call for a whoop, but such things are spontaneous, and it's just not coming. Instead, looks over her shoulder at Colette. Her smile is actually a little nervous. "Seems t' work, eh?"

"With cold fingers no less," Colette admits with a touch of her gloved hand down on Sable's arm, slowly beginning to ease herself back and away from the younger woman. "You're a quick study," is only slightly suspicious sounding, but Colette implies it in ways of suspicion not actually warranted, thinking maybe Sable might have feigned incompetence rather than having an acumen for learning. After all, incredible musical genius has nothing to do with guns.

"I was going t'make you stand out here and fire downrange until you hit something, or one of us got sick of being out in the cold." Hunching her shoulders forward, Colette tucks her hands into the pockets of her jeans. "Guess that's that," she admits with a nod of her head to the fence. "C'mon, let's go inside and warm up. We can come back out for some real range practice once the sun burns all this fog up and it warms up a little, s'fucking freezing out here."

Holding out a hand for the rifle, Colette's movements are stiff and rigid as they are wont to be in this chill air. She's not wholly stationary though, one herky-jerky footstep after another slowly meandering in the direction of the Garden in backpedaling progress.

Genius can have many facets! Maybe not all of Sable's transcendent brilliance has been tapped, is all. She's still a rough gem, don't deny her the possibility of gleam and polish!

Sable eyes Colette briefly, up down, up down, but it's nothing less savory than skepticism that rules her mien. The gun isn't handed back. Instead it's held up to her shoulder again, an ochre eye peering down iron notches. She shifts over to a can that once held tomato paste, fires, blasting it back off the fence. Shifts again, this time aiming at an Izzy's soda bottle. She's losing the consistency of her form, losing that patience, and instead Ramboing off three rounds before the fourth blasts the soda bottle into shards and dust.

The barrel lists downwards, and Sable lowers the weapon from her shoulder. Her arm extends, offering it back. "How likely we gonna have t' really use these things, eh?" is a question that she's refrained from asking up until now, able to intermittently forget its potential significance before, but now no longer. Neither Sable's happiness, nor contentment, is a warm gun. "Never killed no one b'fore, is all. Wasn't hopin' t' start, if I had many options, y' know?"

Colette's dark brows furrow as she stares long and quiet down towards the fence after those last few shots have gone off. "This ain't the same world we were living in a month ago," Colette admits in a hushed tone of voice, finally reaching out to take the rifle away from Sable now that it's offered. "They killed some'a ours… Sable. The government. They— lined people up here on Staten Island, up against a wall, and just— just fuckin' shot 'em. Took a mom away from her baby, they killed Jonas," and Colette doesn't much seem to care if Sable had actually met the young man either, she had, and she swore that she was going to save him from what was coming.

She didn't, and the guilt is painted in her expression, painted in watery eyes.

"It's kill or be killed," Colette stresses, "because if it comes down to you or somebody else, I know what I'd choose without a second's hesitation." It's a lie, admittedly a white one, there would be hesitation. Colette can count on one hand the number of people she has fired a gun at, half that number she successfully hit. Memories of a night spent up crying and sick to her stomach after unintentionally killing someone under the employ of Bella Sheridan needn't be voiced. It would make her seem weak.

"You don't have to like it to understand it," Colette belatedly admits as she turns towards the cabin, nodding her head in that direction to indicate for Sable to follow her. "It's what this shit-hole world has come to."

There's a momentarily delay before Sable actually moves to follow, but she moves quickly to make up for the lag. Quickly and with a purpose, a hand going out to catch on Colette's shoulder. She's not walking away from her, that Sable knows, but the coupling of grim words and a turned back create an unpleasant alchemy in Sable's perception, concocting an emotional reaction that fizzles, effervescent with worry.

"Darlin'," she says, coming up alongside Colette, elbow crooked as she keeps hold of the other girl, "I know I can't know what yer feelin', knowin' how y' feel 'bout that poor gal. But y'all want her t' recognize y' when y' carry her out all heroic, arright? Don't make this one of them stories with a foul endin'. It'll only be givin' th' shit-hole world what it wants, eh?"

As if it were the simple, to decide to live in another kind of tale. But that's Sable gambit. Okay, maybe you can't ask for happily ever after, but you can ask for more than Colette seems to. If you don't try, how can you ever get it?

Optimism is one of the most stubborn forms of foolishness.

"We'll set th' world t' rights bit by bit," Sable promises, "startin' with this bit, eh? The Man's always getting people down, doin' dirty things. 'N' there's always folks like us t' stick it to 'em." That the power of rock and roll is unlikely to unexecute those people on Staten island, nor remove the blood already staining and that may yet stain their hands… that's not something Sable's eager to confront. Best leave that to moments of truth, comfortably contained in their momentariness.

The roll of her shoulder away from Sable's hand is a reflexive one, her elbow angling up and expression like that of a cat that doesn't want to be pet. "Whatever, just— " Colette isn't even sure what she's dismissing for a moment, her mind taking the pause to catch up to her mouth. "Look, don't touch me, okay?" Shifting her shoulders around as if she'd had a chill down her spine, Colette slings her rifle over one shoulder by the strap, continuing up from the field onto the dirt road that leads to the cottage.

"Look, it's— I'm not just mad for the sake of being angry, alright?" Colette doesn't turn a round as she has this conversation, just trudges over the frozen solid dirt driveway towards the cabin at a slow pace. "Else, Andy, Jonas, Scott— we lost— I lost the people who're like my fucking family to me, okay?" Colette scrapes her heels over the dirt and turns around, despite her earlier intention of not doing that. "If you knew them half as well as I did you'd be pissed too!"

It's an insulting understatement, that Sable isn't affected by the loss, unintentionally so. "I have— gone through so much in the last few months, I— I'm entitled to being angry!"

Not so much an understatement as to strike Sable as an insult. The hurt on her features, and there's remarkably little, is more a result of Colette's caginess than her words. The intense focus of her affection still rests on the living, and thus her mourning is of a lighter, more ephemeral kind. The sort you disperse with tears and song, not the hardening of the heart or directed anger. Of course, she can imagine what it would feel like if her nearest and dearest were lost.

Angry wouldn't cover it.

"Never once said y' weren't," Sable says, keeping the distance Colette has established. She's entitled to that as well, "'n', fuckin'- be angry. Get even. I'm with y', darlin'. Jus'…" does she really want to say this, to risk pushing another button? "please le's both be clever 'bout this." She can never keep her mouth shut.

That anger necessitates bad planning is, in and of itself, a potentially insulting underestimation.

Colette breaks pace for a moment, staring vacantly at Sable, her eyes lose their adamant attention and wander to points of forested interest beyond, then away and down to the ground. Then, languidly, Colette turns her back to Sable and begins walking towards the cabin again wordlessly. It's perhaps admittance of defeat, maybe conceding that Sable has a point, or it's just avoidant bullshit. By the time Colette has crossed up onto the front porch of the cabin, she's slowed her pace down considerably, the click of the latch on the front door preceding her entrance into the toasty-warm hearth-heated interior of the rustic building, propping the door open with her shoulder just long enough for Sable to come inside.

Claws tikk-click across the floor as Misty hops down off of the sofa, skittering her way over the to two, rising up on her hind legfs to greet Colette with paws up the brunette's knees. There's a sadness in the smile Colette offers Misty, soon turning her mismatched stare over to the mottled brown and black dog laying in front of the fireplace tiredly. Jupiter's been through a lot for a dog of his age, and that he leaves running to the door for younger dogs like Misty, means he's first to be pet by ore patient owners.

Colette wanders away from the front door through the empty, lonely cabin. The rifle is unshouldered, leaned up against the side of the couch before she makes her way over to the fireplace, crouching down by Jupiter's side, tugging off her gloves to run bare fingers through his fur at his neck.

"What would you have done?" Colette's question is a hushed one, guilt still in her voice. She doesn't explain context, presumes Sable knows her well enough by now that she's at least somewhat predictable.

Sable meanders after, not finding in herself to breach the quiet the stretches between them as they walk to the cabin, through the doors, and inside. The only sounds are those of motion, animal sounds, the sounds of feet upon gently groaning floorboards, the click ziiip of Sable tugging her coat open and the swisssh of it sliding off her shoulders and she crouches by the fire, hands spreading out towards the flames, looking like she's warding them off as much as warming herself up. The tranquil glow of the coals contrast with the restless dancing of the flame, and heat flows out into the room like blood from a beating heart, lapping against Sable's hands and face.

Her yellow eyes catch the fire's reflection, granting them a strange luminescence, their color complimented by that of the burning in the hearth. Some spare words sound in her mind, a passage learned by wrote and held close to her heart. 'While the While the firelight's aglow, strange shadows from the flames will grow, till things we've never seen will seem familiar.' This is a road she could wander down, towards revery.

But Colette's question stops her short. Sable's head swings to face her fellow human and, incidentally, the dog she's petting. Misconstrual has marked their interaction since the reunion at Grand Central, but Sable thinks she knows what Colette's getting at.

"Nothin' half so quick witted, nor brave, nor wise as would have kept her livin'," is her answer - sombre, humble - "some fool pointless type gesture, mebbe, doin' no one no good. Nothin' like what you did. Savin' her."

"I didn't save her," is bitterly admitted as Colette closes her eyes, half lit by the fiery glow of the hearth, fingers curling firm in Jupiter's fur. Colette looks strained by the admittance, and she can't look Sable in the eye for it. "I abandoned/ her, I could've— I could've gone //too and— and I could've gotten her out of there." Not that she'd admit to helplessness in that situation, much as she was helpless in Bella's care. Fear of that very confinement again possibly having stirred her own flight to action.

Resignation has Colette growing quiet again, slouching downward to the bare wooden floor, legs folding beneath herself and one shaky hand resting at Jupiter's neck. She hasn't called Tasha all morning, didn't call her last night either from what Sable saw of Colette's activity since meeting her at Grand Central.

The two had practically been sewn together at the hip since the storm. Now, Colette looks to be distancing herself.

Sable's cunning is often blunted by the thin band of her attention. Out of sight is generally out of mind for her, save for her few obsessions that, sitting high in her pantheon, demand the occasional prayer. Tasha's absence is not felt, not really noticed, at least not at first. When Sable does notice, she doesn't first make much of it; this isn't a 'call to chat' kind of expedition. But the sheer strain Colette is under, the weight on her shoulders - that's the sort of thing lovers are there to share.

There is not nearly enough perversity in Sable for her to make this a matter of celebration, however hidden or disavowed. It's just another sign of Colette's general retreat. Flight from those who would dare help her. Well, save for the fact that she, Sable, is here right now, asked along. She doesn't make much of this either, though that is more a matter of actual force of will. Talk of distance; it's the many days since the storm for Sable to get this far from her own feelings.

Back turned to the fire, Sable scoots along the floor, dragging her coat along with her, tossing it next to Colette and turning around to plant her bottom beside the other girl. With Jupiter's help, she's got Colette completely flanked. Legs cross, Indian style, and the yellow eyed girl leans forward and around, getting a look at her friend, jut of her chin making her look all the more nosy and investigative. No touch. Colette forbid that explicitly. But what she can't touch she can look at. Those are usually the rules.

"I asked her, if harm'd come. Th' night everythin' went down," Sable says, voice a little gruff with the sting of recollecton, "if what we did, if it would lead t' harm. She said no. Trust her, darlin'. She'd know. She'd not've let y' let 'er go if she didn't know y' were gonna be back t' spring her. This is how it's gonna happen, darlin', and it's gonna be fine. I pledge to make it so, 's far as my power permit."

This is a liberal interpretation of Tamara's words. 'We' is most certainly not the pronoun that was used. But if Colette gets her share of white lies, Sable's due a few of her own.

And it's enough to make her choke on whatever she was going to say next.

Colette's throat tightens, works up and down in awkward swallow as teeth clench under the threat of a trembling jaw. Paraphrasing of what Tamara said is enough to wedge a knife under the emotional armor Colette has been donning these last few weeks, pry back the hardened exterior and expose the vulnerabilities beneath. Fat tears fall quickly, dribbling down her cheeks until they drip off the bottom of her chin, catch brief glints of firelight before dropping down somewhere on her jeans or the floor.

Embarrasedly, still, Colette lifts up a hand, wiping at her face, even as she starts to struggle out of her leather jacket, the heat overwhelming now as she feels it through the thick and heated back of the coat. The jacket is a good distraction from her emotions, and when Colette drops her coat atop Sable's, she's still laden in that gray hooded sweatshirt, patched over one shoulder with a piece of flannel to cover a tear.

He jaw unsteadies, a weak noise sounds at the back of her throat, and this time it isn't unhappiness that is tempering her expression, but something more bittersweet. Colette reaches up to her neck, tugging the ring out from beneath her sweater on its chain, curling her fingers around it and letting out a small, hiccupped sob.

It never fails to get Sable, seeing a girl cry. There's something about these moments that, like the instances of free fall, stir her. She's a sucker for catching a fair lady when they stumble, literally or otherwise. This may be wrongheaded, may even be a little unkind, but it's not meant to be. She wants to be needed.

Though it's not really her Colette needs right now. The clutched ring makes clear whose absence is felt, whose presence is missed. Almost without conscious awareness, Sable's own hand presses down against her pocket, where her odd pair of goggles have been stowed. They have much lighter weight of significance, a piss poor analogy to the split ring, but it's what she has that Tamara gave her. It's her own weird little talisman.

No touch. The sharpness of Colette's previous imperative is all that keeps Sable from trying some further form of comfort. It's the razor wire crowning the fence that Sable would, otherwise, have few compunctions about clambering over. Dare much, she doesn't not this. Instead just tilting her head.

"Wanna do somethin'," Sable admits, speaking since action is impermissible, "wanna… hold you 'r' somethin'. Wanna help. If I can."

"You can't," is hurtfully dismissive of Colette as she too-quickly forces herself up to her feet, boots scuffing across the floor and mismatched eyes averted from Sable's direction. Her fingers curl tightly into fists, jaw sets and it's that Colette has nowhere else to go that keeps her standing there, between Sable and Jupiter, her brows knit together and shoulders hunched forward. She looks rueful, expression little more than a glower aimed at her shoes. They've done nothing wrong.

"You can't help, you— you can't make this better." Defensiveness kicks in, and Colette's voice wavers softly. "N— Nobody can fix this but me, an' nobody's gonna' make me happy, n— not after what happened." That she's sniffling and trying not to cry in the interim isn't helping matters. "I'm— "

Colette's voice cuts off, sharly, as she turns towards the doorway into the dimly lit kitchen. "Gonna… I'm gonna find something to eat," is a lie, but it's an excuse to try and get moving again, even if running away from the people she cares about is the best she can do.

Colette should know by now that Sable is not someone who can ever leave well enough alone. Being trapped in the Lighthouse, subjected to incessant advances, constant pushes and presses, she must realize that if there is one thing Sable refuses to do, it's lay off. Jupiter is the wiser of the pair, remaining within the radius of the fire's warmth, letting the torn young woman retreat. Sable, on the other hand, gives chase.

"Fine idea," Sable says, dark head bobbing agreement as she scrambles to her feet and sidles after Colette. Hover hover, pester pester. "Could use a bite m'self. Whatall we got here?" Her presence alone serves as intrusion, for the moment. The shift of conversation is temporarily permitted. Plus she isn't lying. Her belly is starting to tie itself in uncomfortable knots.

The aged oak of the kitchen cabinets give the space a homey feeling, working in tandem with the smell of woodsmoke. While Sable saw fit to ask what victuals were on hand, that in no way precludes her immediately poking around in the storage space, doing some exploration first hand. What she finds is all quite familiar, actually. Canned foods, dry cereals, powders, all non-perishables: shelter fare. Almost at once, Sable is snagging things from their places. Instant coffee, a can of condensed milk, a family size container of oats, a can of peaches in syrup, a box of brown sugar. The items accrue on the big wooden table that splits the room. "Y'all put some water on the boil, wouldja, darlin'?" is the only request made of Colette, "a kettle 'n' a pot?"

Whirlwind of good intentions, Sable is. It's jarring, confusing, frustratingly uplifting when she wants to have an excuse to be angry. Out of the kitchen, the assault rifle they were shooting together rests up against the couch securely, and the two young woman can be viewed by its angle, in clear focus with the lattice-covered kitchen windows shedding pale, gray light from the outside, frost rimming the edges where wood meets glass.

Colette's throat tightens, a difficult swallow down of emotion and pride. Once more, her jaw threatens to tremble, and lifting up one arm she uses her sweater's grubby sleeve to wipe across her eyes. Appreciation threatens to show on her face before her lips quiver, turning from frown into smile. For all that she wants to be alone, wants to sink down and away from the light she can't help but make by genetic imperative Sable refuses to let her.

"Okay" is a whisper, threats of tears glistening in her eyes as she tries to lower her chin, tuck her face away and hide that she's not as strong as she lets on. As if that would be a surprise to Sable by now. Colette's resistance to her emotions is only so long, though. When she finally does cave, it comes with movement rather than stillness this time. Her booted feet clomping across the hardwood floor, over to Sable and then embracing the musician, throwing her arms around her shoulders tightly and resting her head at the side of her neck.

She isn't gong to cry, that's not what this embrace is about. It's appreciation, for having someone so stubbornly insistent on being a friend.

It's with hand plunged amongst iron mongery, in search of a can opener (without which this is all for naught!), that Sable finds herself being hugged. Surprise is there and gone in and instant, making way for simple relief. Fingers disentangle from the wire cage of a whisk as she turns into the embrace, returning it with a bracing strength that is almost a little surprising, coming from her tiny frame. To say there's no restraint almost goes without saying in Sable's case, but the dedication to the hug is still worth noting. Tight and fierce, a refusal to let Colette get away once more. There's something admittedly rather personal about this possessive impulse. Colette is always the one who gets away.

Sable's head tilts, nose nudging into Colette's black hair. She gives a soft huff, exhaling warm breath against the other girl, before setting a small kiss that catches just the top of her ear. "Thass right," she agrees. She's referring to the 'okay'. It will be. She will see it so. Dammit. Her palm presses against Colette's back, fingers curling at the tips before relaxing against. Nothing more is said or done, not until the necessity of the embrace begins to fade. It's a matter of careful judgment - timing is everything. When Sable judges it possible to speak again, she does it softly.

"Water ain't gonna boil itself, gorgeous," is spoken through lips smiling slightly, "but, y'know… no rush. Y'all stay 's long as y' like. No complaint here." A small squeeze follows, demonstrating her contentment with the current arrangement.

Colette's laugh is a trembling thing, all breathy and wavering. She's happy, but emotions are confusing, difficult things. Her fingers curl against Sable, arms tremble in a way that implies something other than weakness, for all that her hug is vice-like. She smiles, the expression felt against the side of Sable's neck along with Colette's warm breath exhaling a weary sort of relief.

"I hate you," is said with affection as Colette presses her nose to the side of Sable's neck, then leans back and swallows down an awkward lump in her throat. Eyes are reddened and puffy again, makeup running down her cheeks once more. She's smiling, though, despite herself. "I'm sorry," seems less honest, more shy and insecure than Colette usually presents herself as.

Hesitantly disengaging from the embrace, she turns towards the cast iron stove with a look of familiarity, not abject confusion. Learnning how to operate a wood-burning stove is one of the first things most people figure out here at the Garden.

"Betcha do," Sable replies, smiling crookedly, as Colette steps back. No protest is made, though her hands maybe linger a bit, arms preferring to extend and prolong the contact, rather than just let her go. "I'll take it, though. Thin line, as they say." There's a flash of neat white teeth, pointy canines, as she grins.

"'N' don't be sorry. Don't never. Not f'r this," she adds, reaching back into the drawer she was rummaging through as Colette turns to the stove, "toldja I would, whatever way y' let me. So y'all don't worry 'bout lettin' me, whatever way y' choose." The unspoken component of this statement, a reference to a conversation long, long past, is left blank. Some words you don't throw around lightly.

A quick peer into the mess of metal, and she manages to find the can opener, crossing back over to the counter and starting work at freeing the peaches from their confinement. A series of good cranks, and Sable is able to tug the top of the can free, careful not to cut her finger on the sheared aluminum. Fingers go for a slice before jumping back as if she just nicked herself, despite her caution. No visible harm done, yet still she looks momentarily pained. "Gotta wash m' hands…" she mutters, moving towards the sink and turning the tap. Cold water sputters, then rushes out, and Sable douses her hands beneath the icy stream. Dripping but, to her mind, sufficiently cleansed, she returns to the peach can and catches a slice with her fingertip, sliding it up the interior of the can before snagging it between finger and thumb and popping it into her mouth. Gulp.

"Cinnamon," Sable decides, almost instantly, before toddling over to the drawers again, beginning yet another search, this time for the aforementioned spice.

It's so decidedly domestic what's happening here, cooking, preparing food. It almost reminds Colette of simpler days here at the Garden, laying out on the back porch in the hammock and watching fireflies flit and dance through the tall grass. An uneasy noise catches in the back of her throat when she makes her way to the stove, dropping into a crouch and opening up the creaking front hatch.

Dark brows furrow as Colette reaches inside, pawing her fingers around in the cold soot and ash. When she withdraws ashen fingertips, her eyes start to flick from side to side. Last night it was too dark to notice some details, like the wilting, brown flowers dead on that wood slab table. The dust on all of the shelves. No one was here last night, no one has been here today.

it only dawns on her now, crouched in front of the stove, that eveyone who used to be here is either dead or missing. It is a sudden, sobering realization.

"I think— " Colette's voice cracks as she reaches forward for the wood stored in a nook beside the stove, throwing a few brittle sticks of kindling inside, then a few logs with clunking drops. "I think I might stay out here…" She turns, looking over to Sable with brows furrowed worriedly. "I mean— I think this place is abandoned."

"I ain't heard that as no reason t' stay no place since I was still ramblin'," Sable answers, tugging the top off of an unlabeled spice container and sniffing its contents. Nope, that's chili pepper, not cinnamon. She paws around, knocking oregano and onion salt aside as she seeks her quarry. "And whatall d' y' mean, darlin', 'stay'? Like… f'r how long? Y'all gonna file some, like," she flashes Colette an idiot grin over her shoulder, "change 'f address type forms?" What a comedian. Comedienne. Whatever.

There it is! Sable latches her no-longer-grubby fingers around a tall plastic container of cinnamon, popping off the cap and taking a big ol' sniff, just to make sure. This ends up working a little too well, and Sable has to twist her face into the crook of her arm to hastily catch a big ol' sneeze. She rubs her nose against her BU hoodie's sleeve in an ever so ladylike manner before puttering back to the cache she's assembled.

Sable watches Colette from a perch at the table's edge, fishing out another peach and dusting it with cinnamon before popping it into her mouth and licking her fingers clean. Apparently her drool isn't considered contaminant enough to make her wash her hands again before going after a third slice. Her legs kick in midair as her yellow eyes peer at the crouched form of the other woman. There's a fairly uncomplicated fondness in her expression, something she can only so often manage in Colette's presence, summoned now by the very simplicity of their tasks.

"The Ferry lost everything a few weeks ago…" Colette admits in a hushed tone of voice, much less gruff now as thoughtful. It's a stack of brittle, dry newspaper she retreives from a shelf next, separating a page before beginning to tear it into long strips, throwing them into the stove, stuffing them under the logs and in between the branches of kindling. "If this place… I mean, it didn't have the door kicked in, which means— which means nobody knows about it, 'cept us."

Her work done two pages through the newspaper, Colette reaches both hands inside of the stove and turns her attention to them. "We can't just let this place rot, I mean… without anyone to take care of it." She means stay as in the closest thing to set down roots that a young woman of her age possibly could.

There's a snap and a flash inside of the stove, a brief and hot flicker of focused light strong enough to ignite paper. When Colette withdraws her hands, she's shutting that creaking metal door and opening the air vent at the bottom of the wood burning stove. "This place could be used."

More importantly, this place could give her something to focus on other than what hurts.

"Uh…" Sable begins, sliding off of the table and heading over to rifle around for the pot and kettle she tasked Colette with originally. The starting up of the stove looks like labor enough, and the peaches sit funny in her empty stomach. She needs more ballast for her belly. "Don' wanna sound stupid but… used f'r what?"

Colette's answer had best not come immediately, because there is quite the clamor as Sable clatters cabinets and jangles saucepans, finally emerging with the objects she sought. The faucet's cough and rush make further chat difficult as well, until finally both pot and kettle are as full as they are black, and Sable joins Colette at the wood stove, setting both on to boil. Proximity, good. Still, after that wait, Sable figures she might as well restate the question.

"Whatall y' got planned, darlin'?" she doesn't sound disapproving or doubtful. Hell, she knows how valuable a project can be. Something to occupy the mind, even if it can't lighten the heart.

Colette rests her hands on her knees, pushing herself up to slowly stand, rubbing ash and soot off of her fingertips onto her pants as she does. "What it used t'be used for," has a slight duh ring to it, and as she brings her hands to hover over the still cool stovetop, her eyes drift from its black metal surface over to Sable now that she's closer. It'll take a while for it to get hot enough to boil, more than enough time for them to talk.

"A safe house, like what Gun Hill was. A place for people to stay, free." Colette's brows furrow, worriedly, looking to the kitchen table with memory of Jonas clinging to the back of her mind. She swallows audibly, then squares her attention on Sable again. "Staten Island doesn't have a single safe haven on it anymore. I can't imagine bald ol' McRae's place is still safe… People need this out here, and…" Colette wraps her arms around herself, looking down to the stove again. "I need something to do. Or— "

Or she'll keep headed down the path she's been on, self-destructive and full of gunpowder.

Sable stands at an incline, leaning against the countertop nearest the stove, arms crossed. One leg is bent at the knee, toe tips pressed against the floor. For once, it's hard to read Sable's expression. Colette's speech, talk of freedom, it's all rather grand for Sable's tastes. Not to say that she doesn't have a flair for the grandiose herself - quite the opposite. But it sounds… strange, here and now.

But maybe not so. She's wiped the memory of her decision - a standard act of repression requiring no Evolved talent - but years ago she opted for ambition cum delusion in the face of anonymity and despair. When you lose everything, or even just enough, it helps to have more than a project. You need a cause.

"Figure yer gonna need some hands, eh?" Sable says, rolling her shoulder and cricking her neck, "not that y' ain't a hell of a thing by yer lonesome, but, hell," she cracks a smile, "I'm gettin' sorta fuckin' tired 'f m' job anyhow. It's music sorta-mebbe, but it's all sortin' 'n' orderin' 'n' sellin'. 'N' my boss is a dick.

"Y'all think y' could find some decent use f'r me?"

"A couple," is coyly stated enough not to even be fair, but when Colette looks up to Sable, teeth toying at her lower lip and brows raised, it's clear she's playing with the younger woman verbally. Something isn't entirely right about it though, from the sudden thrusting of herself into this idea of fixing up the Garden to the teasing comments, she's trying so hard to act like nothing is wrong, despite repeatedly breaking down and crying not that long ago.

"Seriously, though, you have a job?" That's met with an equally teasing tone of voice, and Colette edges closer to Sable, enough so that she enters into that territory of too close, her chin tipped down and eyes up as if giving Sable the stink eye on the notion that she has gainful employment.

"Pro'ly lost my job, ain't shown up to work in weeks. Rey likely dropped me from the courier list." That's neither here nor there, though, and when Colette abruptly lifts her arms up and hooks them around Sable's shoulders she leans her weight against the dark-haired girl, keeping that too-close proximity.

"What sorta' decent uses d'you have in mind?" She's trying to play seductive, with swolen eyes still reddened from crying, mascara staining her cheeks.

As if Sable's hair wasn't spiky enough already, the sudden and rather pointed proximity of pretty girl has her feeling like every last strand is standing on end. Her expression is similarly almost frightened, and if not frightened then certainly startled. Wide eyes, full discs of golden yellow.

"R- record store," she answers, taking the easy question first, "sorta- sorta conned m' way int' it…" Sable's arms have dropped to her sides, shoulders hunching defensively. She tries (and fails) to smile convincingly. The result is an uneven, befuddled thing that's actually sort of cute if not in any way impressive.

Colette's question is Sable's chance to turn this around. To answer in some equally suggestive way, to seize the moment and assert the swagger that she usually insists upon. Moment of truth, baby.

But it doesn't come, at least not like that. Rather, she answers with a stink eye of her own, sticking out her lower lip and glowering. "Decent as in decent," the shorter girl affirms, chin jutting in defiance. A hand lifts and a finger jabs at Colette, prodding her lightly in the collarbone. "Don' you play 'round with me, gal. Y'all gonna bluff me, y' better be ready t' get called." Her finger turns and hooks into the neckline of Colette's hoodie, gripping and twisting and pulling the other girl almost nose to nose with her. "'cause I think yer all talk, darlin'. 'n' if you ain't, y'all prove me wrong."

Kissing her probably does that.

She tastes like cigarettes, nothing like that Sable remembers. It's practically an attack the way Colette throws herself at the brunette, noses mashed together, lips parted and breath shuddering into Sable's mouth. There's nothing chaste about it, nor in the way Colette leans up against Sable, pushes her back towards the counter and rests a hand on her hip.

Her cheeks are still damp against Sables, or maybe they're damp anew, maybe she's crying into the kiss and maybe she's not. It's hard to say what emotions are racing through Colette's mind, but rational thought most assuredly isn't. Then again, maybe there is some premeditation to all of this, but the thought of that reflects poorly on the young woman.

"I call," Colette whispers with a croaking quality against Sable's mouth, one arm wrapping around the brunette's waist, "raise y'too. You fold?" Poker analogies are cute when the person making them isn't in tears.

The metaphor holds. Because if Sable doesn't fold, she's all in.

Lips to lips, hand on hip, and a tendency to hold out impossible hopes in the name of long-time hangups, this wouldn't normally even be a choice. High stakes how Sable usually does things - risk everything, win big. Or lose it all.

But the taste of cigarettes changes the game. She smelled it before, on Colette's clothes, but didn't think too much on it. That's a smell that comes second hand, often times, and Sable has reeked of stale smoke a fair few times herself, thanks to the occasional disreputable bar that will deign to accept her fake ID. But you don't get tobacco breath from hanging around in a smokey bar, however long your stay. It's wrong. This is all just… wrong.

Sable's not so far gone as to miss that fact.

That may not appear the case at first, as Sable wraps her arms around the other girl. Nor does it at second, when she lowers her chin and nuzzles her nose against Colette's. The close of her eyes, and the shaky inhale that follows doesn't make her decision much clearer, either. But she's not pouncing. Not seizing the other girl and acting on a hunger that they both know dwells deep in her chest. And as each second passes without the long buried coal of her desire bursting into flame, her choice becomes clearer.

"Goddamn you…" comes in a murmur, following by the brush of lips against Colette's cheek, "I love you, but I ain't gonna be yer last resort. I won't be no bad decision. You choose me, darlin', it's gonna be f'r me. Can't bear no other way. I ain't gonna be that gal. Neither are you."

Off, like a light switch. Colette shoves away enough so that she has to backpedal from the choice, booted feet clomping and scuffing across the wooden floor. She sucks in a breath, a snort, wipes one sleeve of her sweater below her nose and then lower down on the sleeve tries to salvage her smudged eyeliner and only winds up smudging it more.

"Whatever," seems remarkably dismissive, as is the brush of the back of her hand over her mouth as she turns away from the growing heat of the stove. "Boil your water," is bitter, and when Colette finishes turning she's headed out of the kitchen and back into the main room.

She's definitely not right, and it's likely she won't be right for a good long while. That kiss, though, it gave her something to be angry about again. Self-destructive affection, that.

That this was the best choice is something Sable insists upon. That the alternative would be - in the long run - dreadful, deleterious and ultimately dire is an almost total certainty. That what harm she's done in this moment cannot even measure to the harm she might have done otherwise is basically without question. All this must be true

This, at least, is what Sable tells herself over and over as she boils her water. As she adds the oats to the pot, prepares dark, dark instant coffee with sweet condensed milk, she repeats these verities like a mantra. As she watches over her becoming-breakfast, burbling, she knows she did the right thing.

It helps about as much as you'd expect.

Very little at all.

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