An Unfinished Gift


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title An Unfinished Gift
Synopsis Maybe someday, this will be as whole as it should be…
Date December 10, 2019

Kaleidoscope Studios, Bay Ridge, NYSZ

It has been a hectic day for Robyn Quinn, between packing, getting the electricity fixed on the bottom floor of her place, dropping Matty off with Rue, and just- life. Anxiety. Everything, really. It has her padding back and forth across the top floor of her home as she repeatedly. The dinner table is littered with stuff, the kind of stuff she never pulls out while Matty is in the house.

With a small, bronze coloured brush in one hand, she pulls a chair up to the table and stares out at the spread in front of her. Two guns - an older model CZ 75 and a large Calico M950 - sit on a cleaning mat spread across the table, both relics from the war that have become cherished personal effects of hers. This may be something that Director Zimmerman helped arrange, but to the best of her knowledge it isn't an official SESA outing. Besides, she feels more comfortable with her personal firearms.

So she might as well clean them since they haven't seen use since she left Wolfhound. Besides, gun maintenance was a skill she'd learned from Jensen Raith and honed during her time as a smuggler. It was a strange, zen like experience for her. Popping on a pair of headphones connected to an old iPod only helps.

And she needed that right now.

As she picks up the CZ 75 and pulls back the slide to make sure there isn't a round hiding in the chamber, her eyes drift to the other end of the table, where a small box sits, wrapping paper and a bow next to it. Lips purse and she swallows, setting the gun back down as she stares at the box.

It's a present, one that hasn't been delivered yet. Something she'd been doing, just in case Antarctica takes longer than any of them are anticipating. Picking a glass up (of water) and takes a long sip, she lifts herself back up from the chair and circles around the table. The gaze lingers on the box for a long moment, before moving to a small piece of cardstock that sits on it.

Picking it up, she flips it over.

To: Elaine
From: Robyn

A Coffee Shop In Harlem
New York
May 28th, 2010

Under normal circumstances, some would consider the streets of Manhattan to be some sort of winter wonderland, a wonderful white playland that, really, everyone should be able to enjoy. Robyn Quinn couldn’t be more sick of all of it, it just could not melt fast enough. But at least now, it was warm enough that she didn’t feel like she was going to freeze, even warm enough that she could ditch her scarf and jacket.

Still, as she yawned, she couldn’t shake the feeling that being cooped up inside all day had thrown her off somehow, she’d been really tired all day. Tonight, though, was going to require that she set aside her tiredness and prepared for what was probably going to be a long night of music and fun. Which brought her to her current task – Manhattan was still largely closed down, save for some isolated areas around the borough, and that simply wouldn’t do when Quinn needed to get some new lights and music before tonight. So, feeling stiff and lethargic, she slinks down the streets of Harlem, looking for something, anything that might be open for her to shop at, at least kill some time.

So far, things were looking too good. A sigh produces a small cloud as Quinn stops her tracks looking up at the clouded sky.

Elaine Darrow has had an interesting month. Almost a month ago, she had abruptly found herself in an entirely new situation, and one that involved her no longer having to live on the streets. Naturally, this was a good thing, but one thing that really ended up happening was her abruptly entirely-indoor living. For a month, she had been stuck inside, rarely able to venture out into the cold. Now that it was a much more safe environment to venture out, she was itching for a walk, for /something/ to do outdoors.

Wandering slowly down the street, Elaine peered carefully into the windows of some shops, trying to determine if anyone or anything was moving inside that could have meant the store might be open. There had to be /something/ going on. Hibernation was not in the nature of the people in New York. As she pulls back from a window, sighing in frustration, she notes there's at least another occupant on the street. Life!

There's vehicular life too, Ambulance pulling up outside a coffee shop. Beans freeze good, and people will always want coffee. "I'll grab what I can, go find a space to park, I'll be back soon as possible" Heavy jacket with "PARAMEDIC" across the back, a toque that pink hair in a braid spills out from under and navy colored gear, Abigail's back on the job. Medical leave done thanks to Peter and negated, the former blonde closes the door while the red and white vehicle eases away in search of a safe place to park.

Eyes follow the ambulance, watching it as it pulls into view and to the coffee shop. Quinn hasn’t made it quite that far down the street, but as she sees someone climb out of the vehicle and amble into the building, her face lights up – that was as good an indication as ever that the place was probably open. Turning fully in its direction, she begins a rather lazy, leaned back stride towards the building. A smile on her face, she initially begins to pull her headphones up over her hears – more for the cold, but music is always a plus – but as she meanders on, another person catches her attention, prompting a head nod of recognition.

Elaine is taking a moment to note the sudden movements. There's an ambulance (which, admittedly, first makes her wonder who was hurt), someone headed into a coffee shop, and someone with headphones. Given that it was likely the headphone-wielding woman would also head into the coffee shop, she moves that direction, peering around carefully. "Hello?" She calls, really, to whoever will answer.

Hand on the door, Abigail pauses to look at who spoke. Who knows in this day, they're already stumbled upon two incidents that hadn't been called in. It was still cold outside. Not opening the door yet, she cranes her neck, eye's landing on Quinn and then on Elaine who spoke. "Hi" She offers. "Are you… in need of medical help? Or just calling out for someone?"

Backpedalling a bit, Quinn pauses and turns to look for the voice, placing it with the woman she’d just given the nod to. Smiling, she lowers the headphones back down and offers a casual wave to the woman. “Heya. Firs’ time out since the storm broke?” The question is asked with a similarly casual manner, Quinn’s hands burying in her pockets as she waits for the woman to get a bit closer – it looked as if they were going to the same place anyway.

Hearing the question, Elaine takes a second to quickly look herself over, as if reassuring herself of no injuries. "I don't think so. Plus I think I'd have to be sorta dying to really ask for medical attention, no health care and all." She scratches the back of her neck, looking a touch embarrassed. "Didn't mean to startle you." She glances quickly over to Quinn, grinning. "Well, not /quite/. I've been out once to a friend's house, but I didn't really get to /walk/ anywhere or anything… kinda nice to get out and stretch my legs."

There's a wave of Abigail's hand, brushing away the apology as if it was actually something that was in the air. "Not a big deal, but you should get in here if you plan to. I don't know how long they'll have power" But Elaine has a friend and Abigail flashes Elaine a smile before heading into the coffee shop herself.

The smell of solvent fills the air as Robyn inspects the helical magazine of the Calico, setting it down with a satisfied look on her face. Both guns rest clean and reassembled in front of her, though the next step of this process involves the various tedious process of loading clips to pack.

And yet, as she reaches to pick up one of the few clips she has for her CZ, her eyes drift back over to the package sitting on the corner of the table. The To/From card sits atop it, crumpled up and callously tossed back down. And it keeps happening. As much as she tries to focus on her work, her eyes keep drifting over to the package.

It becomes clear to her that she's not going to be able to focus, hoisting herself back up from her seat and to her feet. Gaze angles towards the kitchen, considering a drink - after all, Matty is at Rue's. She can do that tonight. But still, her eyes drift back to the unwrapped box.

Making her way back over to it, she lifts the crumpled up tag and smoothes it back out, sighing as she shakes her head, drifting into a daydream as she takes hold of the wrapping paper.

The Vault
New York
December 30th, 2017

"Robyn Quinn."

"Oui?" It's an offhanded reply as she continues to examine the crystal decanter, picking it up and setting it on the higher shelf so she doesn't have to bend over. She has plans for this delightful crystal container, and in that distraction, it takes her a moment to register that the unusual French speaking stranger has said her name.

But once it does, her gaze darts up from the crystal decanter, one hand pushing it aside while another reaches into her purse for, of all things, her gun - an unfortunate instinct that's been drilled into her over the last several years. Thankfully, she doesn't get anywhere near drawing it when her eye lands on the person across the shelves.

Now it's her turn to stop and stare. She's been back in New York for enough time that she assumed anyone she hadn't bumped into at this point was either dead or had wisely left the city and was never coming back. This includes the person across from her. Eye wide she simply stares, speechless.

Elaine Darrow sits on the tip of her tongue, but when she opens her mouth, nothing makes it out.

She clears her throat, looking back to the decanter. "J-Je m'appelle-,' she manages to get out, and immediately regrets it. So she stops, looking away from the other woman. No other words, just a half lidded glance off into the distance.

"Robyn Quinn," comes the echo again.

Elaine moves around the set of shelves that keep them apart so that there's no escape for either of them. Not now, not once they've seen each other. Idly, Elaine wishes she was wearing something more… lush. Something that reflected her lifestyle, something that would show Robyn that she was doing just fine all these years later. She pulls her coat tighter around her, then buttons it up. It would have to do.

"So you're in New York. Wasn't expecting you here."

Robyn watches as Elaine starts her way around the shelves, and she knows it's too late to leave. In all her years after she last saw Elaine, she's rarely felt as trapped as she does in this moment. She she does what she always does at times like this.

"«Hello, Elaine»." Her voice is much more even than it seemed moments again, grey eye focused ahead on Elaine as she continues on in French - she has no idea what's about to happen, so she'd rather it happen in a language few around them likely understand. She releases the pistol back into her purse, feeling the weight settle as she withdraws her hand. "«I live here. In the Safe Zone,»" she states simply. "«I would've thought you'd left»." She quirks an eyebrow inquisitively, but sometimes Robyn still forgets that doesn't really work when a quarter of your face is hidden.

"«Hello Robyn…»" Elaine replies, a shiver going through her at speaking the very words. This felt surreal. It felt unrealistic. Breathing deeply, she slowly started to speak her replies to her former fiancee. "«I live here, in the Safe Zone. I only left during the war, it was too dangerous for me here. I came back when the Safe Zone was established. Were you here, all this time?»" She distracted herself by gazing at a gaudy yellow serving plate, doing her best to use it as the focus of her attention and not Robyn. Still, she kept looking back.

A look of uncertainty crosses Robyn's face, regarding Elaine with careful curiosity. It wasn't entirely a secret what she had been up to the last few years - she had vehemently testified at the Albany Tribunal and been - much to her discomfort - interviewed a few times since.

It doesn't occur to her that maybe Elaine just wants to hear it from her.

"«No»," is a simple, succinct statement. "«I was fighting a war.»"

With a shove, Robyn finally wins her war against the leftover wrapping paper. With a hmph, she lets the lid of the trash can fall shut, arms crossing as she shakes her head. "Merde," she whispers to no one in particular as she looks back to the table.

The gun parts have been cleaned up and put away in favour of wrapping the present, tape and scissors still strewn across it. A large backpack sits in the center, a red and green package peeking out from it's still unzipped maw. Broken glass rests by the leg of her chair, from where she'd knocked over her glass in her rush to wrap the present.

With a heavy sigh, Robyn moves over to the table and begins cleaning up, remembering how Inger used to make a mess of the table when left unchecked - particularly if Robyn had ever been silly enough to leave stuff like tape and packages out.

Which she did.

A lot.

Pushing back the memory, she stares down at the backpack for a long moment. Holding open the flap, she peeks in. Swallowing, she zips it tight once more, before picking it up and setting the bag to hang on the doorknob.

But first, she needs to clean up all this broken glass.

The Verb, Apartment 309
New York
January 13, 2011

Quinn's look is met. Sable looks a little grave. "We say, then we say, with both 'f us sayin'. Can't be jus' you say 'r I say. If it's t' be said it's t' be said properly, 'n' it's only proper that it's said together. Dig?"

Elaine looks up, mid-bite of pizza. "Wait, what?" She clears her throat. "I—I'm not sure I quite understand what's going on." Her gaze flickers between the two, pizza set down on the plate. "I… what page are we all on, cause I'm not sure what book I should even be looking in."

"I- am not sure m'self," Quinn replies with narrowed eyes at Sable. This isn't even a matter of getting stories straight of anything, Quinn is entirely unsure of what, exactly, Sable wants them to say together. Even the obvious answer escapes her at the moment, in her continuing determination not to say it out loud. "Mostyle trying to quiet the baby," Quinn offers, which is actually not a lie. That is what they were doing when Elaine got there. "I dropped a glass earlier and she got fussy."

Sable wrinkles her nose. She is trying to play it straight and narrow, but Quinn is making it too easy for her to slither out. And she's done double dealing, she has to be, in order to even live with herself. This may be a critical difference. Quinn seems to be aiming for kindness. Sable can be cruel if she feels justified. Not a necessarily admirable trait. "Quinn, y'all don' leave me hangin', arright?" she says, then looks to Elaine, "I tol' her. 'bout us. 'bout, like, most everythin'. 'N' th' strange spot we're in now."

"I…" Elaine trails off, the plate of pizza set down on the coffee table. It's too much of a distraction. "Kinda wished I was here for that. Serves me right, I guess." She peers back towards Quinn. "A-Are you okay?"

This was the question Quinn had been trying to avoid. because really she doesn't know the answer to that. Not yet. But at the same time, Quinn doesn't have an answer, and she doesn't want to lie to Elaine. Never wants to lie to Elaine. She looks over to Sable, and then to Elaine, giving a weak smile, bringing up the most non committal answer she can. "I'll be just fine. I just- had a bit a' ventin' t' do." She wants to say she didn't make Sable cry, but she doesn't know that, and she can't in good conscience say she wasn’t trying to at some point. "I was telling the truth about the bottle an' Junko bein' fussy though."

Sable fixes Quinn with a deadly stare. "Quinn…" she says, half warning, "what did I tell y' 'bout leavin' me hangin'?"

"I don't blame you, if I were in your position, I'd probably need to vent too. I still, at some point, wanna talk to you more about this whole thing. I wanna make sure things are solid, Quinn," Elaine says, before her eyes flicker to Sable. She then glances to Quinn. There's more?

Like before, Quinn shies away a bit, drawing her legs up on to couch as best as she can with two other people and a baby also occupying it. She looks over to Sable, eyes narrowed. "What do you want me t' say, Sable?" She doesn't sound angry, but she seems rather frustrated. "That I yelled you? That I was mad?" She draws her legs up closer, mirroring the position she was in when she had spoken to Ygraine about these matters. "That I talked down t' you? That I lov-" And she stops, again, lips pressed tight. But she knows it's probably too late, now. "That I love you, Elaine," she says quietly, burying her face in her knees.

Yup! That'd be it. No need for Sable to say more. She closes her eyes and tries to imagine some music. All she gets is the faintest trill of a distant, mournful banjo.

Elaine blinks in surprise. She turns to face Quinn a little more fully, folding her hands in her lap. "You mean it in the love sense, not the roommate sense." She pauses. "So… the secret girlfriend thing?" She pauses again, then reaches a hand to rest on Quinn's shoulder. "I didn't even know, Quinn. I'm sorry." Her eyes flicker back to Sable. "I don't want you to leave, lord knows I don't. But you said you had some—" her voice hitches for a moment "-thing to take care of. And I should talk with Quinn. So if you really need to go… you can go. But you have to come see me. Soon. Very soon. Or call me. Or something, okay? Because otherwise I won't be okay."

If there's anything Robyn owns too many of it's coats. Coats, scarves, and eyepatches. They all serve their purposes. It's cold in New York, and she's felt particularly susceptible to the weather ever since her wounding on Pollepel Island. Like a long healed bone, her scar aches in the bitter cold that can flush through the city.

It's at its worst at exactly this time of year, almost exactly 8 years later.

Scarves wrapped around her neck and riding up her jaw help cover part of it at least, and the coats, well, that's obvious. Both help her fight back the sting against her skin. The eyepatches, however, as a bit more of a choice. She's wearing them less and less frequently, originally using them as a means to protect one eye from bright light while wearing contacts in the other - they were outrageously expensive in the post war world.

But with time, everything gets better. She can more readily afford and acquire what she needs, making such protection a bit obsolete. And yet, she still dons them occasionally out of habit more than anything else.

Habit is powerful. Habit is what gives way to the other thing she owns too much of.

As Robyn slides her coat up on to her shoulders, she steps into her kitchen. She had left her favourite scarf hanging on the back of a chair in here earlier after Rhett had finished checking out the power situation downstairs. As she spots it, she spots something else sitting on the table the chair rests at - an expensive bottle of cognac.

Fingers curl in at her side as she makes her way to the table. The bottle is picked up and inspected. She didn't remember leaving this out, but she loses more time than she's willing to admit when Matty isn't here, or when he's already gone to bed.

Her gaze drifts over to the cabinet, the door sitting half open and a stack of tumblers inside grabbing some of the light from the living room and reflecting it back out at her. She stands there for a moment, looking back down to the bottle, before making her way back over to the cabinet.

She's half way through reaching to grab a glass when she pauses. What is she doing? There's no time for this. And she certainly shouldn't be going out like this after drinking. Slowly her hand retreats back, the bottle set down on the counter.

A heavy sigh is heaved out, and she closes her eyes. Quickly she steps back to the chair and snatches up the scarf. Her other hand dips into her pocket, pulling out her phone.

She has calls to make. She'll just stop by Cat's Cradle when she's done.

Cat's Cradle
New York
April 3, 2018

"Elaine, there was never really friends for me." Once upon a time, they'd both discussed how Robyn had more or less been infatuated with Elaine from first real meeting. "It's not back. It's finding that for the first time."

“What do you mean there was never really friends?” Elaine sips her drink as her already befuddled mind seeks to make sense of what was being said. “You’re saying that we never were friends? Or that you can’t be friends now?” She’s a little confused as to where she was going with that. So she settles on the first part.

“We were friends before, though, when we met, when we were together, it wasn’t just a relationship it was a friendship. Friends do all the stuff we did minus… well, the obvious relationshipy stuff. We were friends! You were my best friend! I knew that even if something were to happen to us in a relationship sense, you’d still have my back regardless. That’s why you’re my emergency contact, Robyn. Cause we were friends.”

Taking a deep breath, Robyn gives a small shake of her head, still pressed against her hand. "Different perspective," she remarks very matter-of-factly. "Different expectations, motivations. Not that I ever thought we'd end up together at first, but…" That doesn't mean she didn't want it, or that it didn't motivate a lot of her actions back then, in their early days. The held breath turns into a sound frustration as she pick up her drink and downs the entire rest of it in a series of large gulps, the glass deftly flipped upside down in her palm and almost slammed back down to the counter, eliciting a glower from the bartender.

"Talkin' in circles. Again," she opines, her accent starting to slip a bit more as she gets drunker. "We were great t'gether, an' maybe for me it's hard t' come back from." Lips thin. "I'll try, 'cause as frustrating as it is, it makes me happy t' have you around. Freaks me out too," she admits.

“Waitwaitwait,” Elaine says, taking a very long sip of her drink before she turns to look at Robyn again. “Were you hoping we’d get back together? I mean, was that a possibility in your head?” This is a burning question of Elaine’s and she leans in closer to watch Robyn’s reaction. She needs to know what she thinks.

“You’re right, we were great together and we can find that again, we don’t have to be distant, we can make it work.” Make what work, is the question. She’s still talking about the friendship, isn’t she?

For a moment, Robyn Quinn stares at Elaine in utter disbelief. On the one hand, why else would she admit that she still loves Elaine? Not that she's trying to manipulate the other woman, but if there wasn't a glimmer of hope in her heart there would be no point in sharing it. On the other, it's insane to expect that with their history, and she certainly hadn't. Robyn groans.

As usual, she keeps that to herself.

"Hey, dad."

Holding a cheap burner phone to her ear, Robyn slides out the door to the upper level of Kaleidoscope Studios, locking it behind her. She still hasn't replaced her nice phone from when she threw it away in Yamagato Park. She'd been putting it off as long as possible, given the memory it dredges up.

"It's Robyn. Sorry about the weird number I, um-" A small chuckle escapes her lips, shaking her head even though the person on the other end can't hear it. "I lost my phone and I haven't had the time to pick up a new one besides this one yet. Yes, I know it's weird, but I'm busy lately."

Turning to the steps, she begins to step down them quickly, though gingerly so that her footsteps don't echo into the phone. "I know we don't talk anymore, but I've had…" She pauses, swallowing. "I've had mom on my mind a lot lately. You too. And I thought it'd be nice to catch up. Truth be told, I wasn't even sure this was the right number anymore, but hey, it worked out right?"

A small smile crosses her lips as she reaches the bottom of the stairs. "Lots of craziness here. I'm still working at SESA. But I opened a recording studio - Kaleidoscope Studios - recently. Business is slow, but that's too be expected. And…" She pauses as she pushes open the door to the lobby, lingering silently as she closes that door and locks it as well.

"I'm a mother now," she admits quietly. "I adopted a young boy we rescued while I was working with Wolfhound. He's a good kid. Name's Matt." As she crosses the reception area, she sees the cap she called for waiting outside, and her pace quickens. "I think you'd like him a lot. And I'm sure he'd love to hear stories about back home."

She pauses as she reaches the front door, the cab driver still oblivious to her presence. "I was kind of hoping you could come visit. I know that's out of the blue. I'll pay for it, don't worry. I can afford it. But my ride's here now, call me back and we can work something out. Talk to you soon, and-"

The receiver beeps loudly in her ear.

"We're sorry, this customer's voice mailbox is full."

Robyn stares at her phone as it disconnects, fingers curling around it as she hangs her head.

"Merry Christmas, dad."

With those whispered works, she pushes open the door, locking it before making her way open to her cab, thoughts of family fresh in her mind.

La Maison Roux
March 6, 2011

"Oh, come on." Quinn rolls her eyes as she inserts key into door knob, looking over at Elaine with a flat expression. "We come all th' way out here, an' that's that y'want t'do? Visit a museum?" Letting out an exaggerated sigh, she shakes her head. "We can do that in New York!". Before the other woman speak up again, Quinn holds up a finger. " And no, I'm not doing Boston Harbor. If I want to smell dirty water I'll go to Pollepel."

The key turns and she pushes open the door. A nervous look is offered over to Elaine, before stopping and setting her bag to the side. "Shit, how do I say…" It takes her a moment before her eyes light up.

"Maman! Je suis à la maison!" She nods, satisfied with herself as she looks back to Elaine. "See, this why I wanted t'practice on the way up. I never get t'speak French. Mum's gonna know how rusty I am."

Elaine smiles brightly, hanging back behind at Quinn’s heels. “Not all museums are the same,” she points out, but her attention remains mostly on the door as she stuffs down her nervousness. “Think she’ll like me more because I speak French?” She pauses, then looks somewhat amused. “Maybe we’ll have a whole conversation in French and you’ll have to struggle to keep up.” It’s said in a teasing tone, as if it were a joke—but not entirely.

"Oh no," Quinn remarks in a sarcastic tone, the back of her hand pressed against her forehead. "Not conversations in one of the languages I'm considered fluent in." She smirks, reaching to take Elaine's hand. "I understand fine, I just need to practice speaking." Reaching up, she taps a finger on Elaine's nose, before turning to look at the room before them.

"Mom?" she calls out again, raising an eyebrow. "You didn't forget we were coming did you~?"

It’s only now that Robyn and Elaine can hear the sounds of piano and jazz saxophone coming from somewhere off the foyer of the split-level condo. It’s dark up the stairs to the second floor, shoes are arranged on the steps to about halfway up the stairs. As Robyn and Elaine move through the foyer, they follow the sound of upbeat piano and sax into what — the last time Robyn was here — was a living room. But there’s no furniture anymore. The floor, what was once a meticulously polished wood is now scuffed matte and covered with long-dried and scraped blotches of paint. Blank canvases stretched over wood frames are stacked by one side of the door and the smell of acetone mixes with cigarette smoke in the air.

The jazz music is coming from a cabinet set record player, one of those classic brushed steel and wood paneling Panasonic models from the 80s. There’s a soft splash of drums added to the music, interspersed by tinkling piano notes with a staccato rhythm. It isn’t clear if Charlotte Roux heard her daughter, it isn’t even clear if she hears her and Elaine coming through the wide doorway into what is now an art studio. Barefoot and hair unkempt, Charlotte is clad in charcoal gray leggings and an oversized white sweater, both of which are smudged with paint. She’s working at a tall canvas, probably six feet tall and three feet wide, portrait orientation. The back of it faces the doorway, and Robyn only somewhat catches glimpses of her mother, cigarette pinched between two fingers, paintbrush in the same hand, palette in the other.

Where the fuck are you?” Charlotte sharply mutters as she paints, “Morceau de merde,” she mutters after, slapping the paintbrush against the canvas and catching sight of Robyn and Elaine reflected in the tall windows to the studio, their curtains long since pulled away. Stepping out from behind the canvas, Charlotte stares wide-eyed at Robyn.

Yes, she had forgotten.

Green eyes meet Charlotte's, as Quinn stares at her mother with a level of confusion equal to that which is being leveled at her. "S-Salut…?" Her head tilts slightly, and she lets out a laugh. "Oh, no. You did forget!" Her eyes drift around the room; every time it comes home it seems like something in the house changes dramatically. This, though, this is a big one.

Such is the life of an artist.

"Mom, it's Friday," comes in a teasing tone. "I didn't imagine calling ya', did I?" It wouldn't be the first time, and with everything going on lately - Studio K, the concert, the dome, and everything else - she couldn't be blamed for actually forgetting to arrange this trip, right. And now uncertainty and doubt are creeping on to her face.

And then she remembers there's a third person in the room. "Well, uh- surprise! We're here" Quinn throws her arms out in a motion of celebration, a trio of small, firework like bursts of colour going off above her head in blue, red, and green. She's never been shy with her mother about her ability, not since she registered. "This, uh. This is Elaine. Elaine Darrow."

Her eyes flit over to the woman next to her, and she smiles wide at her. "My girlfriend," she adds after a moment. And immediately regrets it, if only because she suddenly hopes her mother asks oh? What happened to Ygraine? or anything similar. At least she's stopped asking about Rue.

With a sheepish smile, Elaine steps forward the tiniest half-step. “Bonjour, je suis ravi de vous rencontrer. Désolé pour la soudaine apparition.” She holds her hand up, giving a little finger wiggle of a wave before looking back at Quinn with a simple ‘are we supposed to be here is this okay’ look. Without looking, she blindly reaches for Quinn’s hand and hopes to find it.

Charlotte is delayed in both reaction to Robyn and Elaine. There's a look of momentary surprise at French spoken from someone other than she and Robyn, but at the same time her reaction smooths into puckered lips and a feigned smile of oh, sweetie. Setting down her palette, Charlotte picks up a wine glass from the fireplace mantle and shoots back the last of the dregs.

“She reminds me of Rue,” is Charlotte’s first impression of Elaine. “It's the hair,” she says, flinging a look at Elaine that is accompanied by a purse-lipped smile. “But don't let that discourage you I'm sure you'll do fine.” Even as she’s offering that vaguely insulting compliment, Charlotte is closing the distance on Robyn to hug without actually embracing. It isn't just because she's spattered with paint, that's just a thing. She does peck a kiss close to each of Robyn’s cheeks though. On her way back to her canvas and past Elaine she rakes her fingers through the length of Elaine’s hair at her shoulder, one brow raised while making meaningful and yet opaque eye contact with the redhead.

“Robyn, mon lapin,” Charlotte says in a smoky voice, cigarette still pinched tightly in one hand, “and you too, Elaine? Come. Come. Viens ici maintenant.” She stands behind the easel and beckons the two over. “Maybe you can find him for me.” It's clearer now than before she's had more than just that one glass of wine.

At the mention of Rue, Quinn's whole face turns white as a sheet, and any colour that quickly returns to it may, in fact, be false.She can hear a chastising voice in the back of her mind, and her posture straightens. It could be anyone - Eileen, Avi, Cardinal, Melissa, Cat, Lynette, Colette - but whoever it is, they all say the same thing.

Stop tempting fate, Quinn.

As her mom greets her, though, that thought drifts from her mind and is replaced with a more child like smile. "Bisous!" she proclaims, returning the gesture. She solution to the mention of Rue is to breeze by it like it never even happened, instead smiling wide at her mother. "What're you painting, mom?"

The Irishwoman looks over at Elaine and offers her an apologetic smile, setting what left she has aside and motioning for Elaine to do the same. But as the conversation turns to finding something, her head once again cocks slightly askew, taking hold of Elaine's offered hand. "Erm, of course." Her eyes drift to the glass of wine, and then back to her mother. "What're you looking for?"

Elaine doesn’t entirely look so sure she knows what’s supposed to be happening. However, there was mention of looking for something and a beckoning so she makes her way in a little closer. A glance is passed over to Quinn before she looks at the painting. “I’m sure we can help you look for whatever it is you need.” If there’s any resentment towards the comment about Rue, she doesn’t show it. Instead she’s cheerfully smiling at both Charlotte and Quinn.

Charlotte looks past Robyn to Elaine, assessing her the way someone might a new pet. Clothes, hair, makeup; all considered. But then with an uncharacteristic — for this moment — gesture, Charlotte reaches out and lays a hand on Elaine’s shoulder. “You're very tall, aren't you?” Elaine can smell the wine from here. It's doubtless Robyn could as well.

But around the canvas Charlotte’s painting isn't quite what Robyn is accustomed to seeing. It is a portrait of someone, but it's unfinished. A whole figure is depicted in the center of the painting, dressed in a brown and tan cabled sweater and dark jeans, black boots. His hair is a rich shade of brown and wavy, cut down to his stubbled chin. But his face is just a swath of palette knife strokes with gray and beige, like a stylized blur. “I just can't get the face right,” Charlotte says as she scrubs the heel of her palm against her forehead. Robyn and Elaine can both make out other details in the background painted in dark shades of blue and gray. It's raining, there's concrete underfoot and some sort of scaffolding behind the unknown man. Lightning arcs from the sky which is painted with auroral shades of blue and green.

“Anyway,” Charlotte says dismissively, taking a drag off of her cigarette, “I suck at faces.” She doesn't. “I just can't— find it? Blue eyes? Brown? What's the nose like? It's just— ” she hisses through her teeth. “It's not like I can sleep,” is a weird thing to say in conclusion to her thought. But the dark bags under her eyes do make it seem like she hasn't been sleeping well.

The smell of wine doesn't seem to bother or even register with Quinn - for one reason or another she's used to this, it seems. Instead she turns her attention to the painting, blinking as she approaches it. "Mom, you always paint the weirdest shit. No wonder it always sells so fast." Her eyes scan over the man, the lightning, the colours.

A hand moves to her chin, and she looks over to Elaine. "Come on, we'll figure it out t'gether!" It almost sounds like a game to her, laughing as she pulls Elaine closer. The sleep comment causes a skip in her step, but…

Her mother is weird. No use on questioning it now, after all these years.

Tracing her fingers through the air, the auroral lights seem to pop off the canvas, as though that might help Charlotte track down her face. " I've never had t'track down a face before! What do y'think, Elaine?"

Elaine is tugged along, and she finds a spot close by at Quinn’s side as she peeks at the art. “It’s very good,” she comments quietly. She doesn’t quite know what to suggest, but she offers a warm smile anyway. “I guess what I would do is just go with what your gut feels like, the first thing that comes into your head and sticks, even a little. But I’m no artist. Only someone who’s seen a lot of faces.”

Charlotte exhales a sigh through her nose. “It's trash,” she complains, bringing her cigarette up to take another drag. “Just a recurring dream, nonsense like that. I painted a few, mostly garbage, but Sinclair over at Gallery 236 wants to do a show about dreams so, fuck it he can have them.” She blows smoke at the painting, then snubs out her cigarette in an ashtray on the mantle.

“Ok well you two are pretty,” Charlotte says, “but utterly useless. Go figure out somewhere you want to eat while I get changed and we’ll do lunch— ” she angles a look at the windows, “it's still lunchtime right? Whatever, it's lunch somewhere and that's what we’re doing. Google it or whatever. I'm going to clean up and I want an answer when I get back downstairs.”

"Wait, what?" No mind paid to the utterly useless comment, and more to the painting, the augmented lighting snaps away as Quinn walks towards it. "Mom, no, it's great! Make th' faceless man a part of it!" Because that's not horrifying at all. "It fits right into that dream idea!" She pauses, her expression dipping a bit. "But yeah, okay. Dreams are weird. I get it." She's been having plenty weird ones herself, after all.

A hand reaches up to scratch the back of her head as her mom walks off, and she turns to Elaine with a smile. "How's Eventide sound? Best lobster roll in town. Or we can go by Union Square. But if we do, we have to get donuts." Arms wrap around Elaine's shoulders, pulling her in for a quick kiss.

"Your choice, hon."

More Pending.

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