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Scene Title Aphasia
Synopsis The wrong words are spoken and the right words omitted. The cycle of hurt, forgiveness and hope springs eternal.
Date January 10, 2010

Pollepel Island

Tears blur Tasha's 20-20 vision as she barrels down the hallway, but she can clearly hear Colette calling after her. She knows Colette's words came in a moment of rage and fear and frustration all mixed into one, but such moments hold truths that the rational, logical and thinking mind won't admit to in reasons less fraught with emotion.

She knows Colette loves Tamara. She's accepted it. But loving and being in love are two different things; she thought — or perhaps merely hoped — that Colette had figured this out.

She doesn't stop at the pleas to stop, but eventually the path is too blurred, and Tasha cuts a corner just a little too sharply, her shoulder bouncing painfully off the fake stone work.

It breaks her single-minded focus of escape, and instead she just backs up to the wall, sliding down to sit, the heels of her hands coming up to her eyes as her knees draw up toward her chest defensively, awaiting Colette's inevitable approach.

Running turns into walking, walking turns into awkward silence and a few shuffled steps.

Colette isn't visible by the time she reaches Tasha, instead heard only as labored breathing from her sprint and the scuff of boots on hardwood flooring. Silence permeates the castle's halls, beyond where rows of doors to bunks shared by multiple residents offer an awkward number of ears to an ultimately private conversation.

Creeping forward, Colette begins to fade into view, like smoke gradually taking on a human form, or a reverse video feed of paint being dissolved by thinner. As she comes into focus and frame, Colette bends down into a crouch by Tasha's side, hesitant to reach out for her.

"I'm— I'm sorry," comes with a quaver of emotion at the back of her throat, though she isn't sure what exactly she's sorry about just yet. Sorry that she apparently hurt Tasha, certainly, but the gravity of her own words haven't been brought to the forefront yet, the poor choice of words hasn't been highlighted and underlined for clarity.

"I didn't— " Colette stops herself, halfway to reaching out, fingers curling back in one her palm like the wilting petals of a dying flower. Silence comes again, awkward and tense. She never knows what to say at times like this.

Tasha's hands drop, though her eyes are still closed; she can't see the outstretched hand, the wilting flower. Tears glimmer on wet lashes, and she heaves a sigh. Finally her eyes open but stare upward, studying the moulding of the ceiling as if it were fascinating.

"Don't worry about it," she says, a dismissing shrug.

Her eyes drop, but to the side and away. "I know," she adds. Colette didn't mean to hurt her.

Her own emotions shoved away, Tasha takes a shuddering breath. "So what do we do now? You want to go find Liz, see if this is true?"
Silence is Colette's response, an oft-used means by which she avoids confrontations. Silence is her way of coping, of internalizing, of avoiding. Moving forward onto her knees, Colette slides her arms around Tasha, drawing her into an embrace and pressing her mouth to the top of the brunette's head in a soft kiss. Fingers curl at the fabric of Tasha's sweatshirt at the shoulders, nose upturning an errant lock of dark hair.

"We go find Liz, yeah. I— if Cat wasn't lying she has a fucking hell of a way of doing it." There's a tension in Colette's voice, a rawness and hurt that mirrors Tasha's but only superficially. Only now does Colette recall that Colonel Heller's name had come up, but in what context she can't recall. Breathing deeply the scent of Tasha's scalp, Colette holds the younger girl tightly in her arms, kneeling at her side.

"I'm sorry I yelled at you," is what she thinks all this is about, and is what in the end Colette apologizes for. "I'm— I'm sorry. You didn't deserve t'be yelled at. Wasn't your fault that Cat's— I dunno, not like other people." Making a noise in the back of her throat, Colette squeezes that embrace tighter.

"We're not going anywhere right now," isn't because it's impractical. Colette isn't going anywhere because while her priorities may be screwed up, she does genuinely love Tasha, and seeing her like this — even if she can't understand why she's upset — hurts.

That Colette has no idea why Tasha was hurt hurts all the more; Tasha tries to bite back the sob even as she holds on to the one inflicting pain. She shakes her head — pushing aside the apology that isn't for the right thing.

She sighs and wipes her face, forehead then bumping against Colette's. "We'll figure something out," she repeats. The refrain is less convincing every time she says it.

"Maybe my dad could help," she says softly. "I don't… I don't know how, but he knows more what we'd be up against… to help Judah." And possibly Tamara, if she's not free.

Vincent Lazzaro may be cold comfort to some, even to his own family, but that he has consistently stuck up for the Ferrymen when he has had little reason to do so has earned him a place in Colette's trustworthy. That he's also Tasha's father may give him further preferential bias, but Vincent risked his job and his life in order to protect the very interests of all Evolved with his leak of classified government documents on the Moab Federal Penitentiary.

"I'm sure he'll help us," is Colette's belatedly whispered agrement to Tasha, arms wound around the younger girl's shoulders in a tight embrace, letting her head rest against Tasha's. She's silent for a long while, just running one bare hand across Tasha's cheek, thumb stroking across her jawline, breathing warm breaths into dark hair.

Eventually, Colette shifts her weight and settles down to sit along the wall beside Tasha, one arm around her and the other angling her face up, wiping her thumb and palm across the brown-eyed girl's cheeks. Colette smiles, if only because Tasha needs to see it. "I need you," Colette tries to say with strength behind the words, but has more quavering weakness and emotion than she wanted to show. "I can't— do this alone."

That the comment is an honest one terrifies Colette to admit. She's always needed help, even if she doesn't want it.

Tasha's hand wraps around Colette's waist as well, and tearful eyes meet mismatched ones with less hurt and more adoration in her eyes. It is like a dance, this courtship of theirs. To hurt, then forgive. To cry, then smile. The steps repeat over and over again, but it seems they always end with the same confessions of need and love and forgiveness and apology.

"That's good," breathes Tasha softly. "Because I have no intention of letting you." There's a slight smirk at that, before she tips her head to press a kiss against Colette's full lips. "No intention of letting you be alone. No intention of being alone." The semantics of the word girlfriend, and where that puts Tamara, set aside from now.

They will make it work — they have in the past, and they will again.

A kiss can be a language all its own, none more manifold or elusive as the language of love and its nuanced texture. Colette may not have a complicated way of speaking, but she has a complicated way of loving, and in that texture of romance and emotional discord there's an equilibrium that can be found. Not an ideal one, but a semblance of normalcy that she often times believes she is too damaged to permanently find. It's the self-fulfilling prophecy of both the Nichols' women; to believe that they are too damaged to be happy, and thereby prevent themselves from finding it.

"Thank you," is the way Colette voices that disbelief, that what she has is anything but ephemeral. The riots took away enough that she fails to see the forest for the trees, or the bird in her hand for the one in the cage. "Thank you for— being patient with me."

Romance is a language, love too. Colette may not be fluent in it, but she knows enough key words and phrases to keep things going when they by all rights should have fallen apart.

They will make it work, she and Tasha.

Against all odds.

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