elaine_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Babelfish
Synopsis Linguistics, incomprehension, madness, and responsibility.
Date June 29 2010

Gun Hill

'Sweltering' might be a word that springs to mind for Ygraine, as she bounces up the steps to the top floor of the Gun Hill tenement. 'Baking' would certainly be another option, as she strides along the corridor to come to a halt before a particular door, and rap smartly upon it.

Fortunately, she's already divested herself of her heavy biker's jacket. The tight breeches are still there, but her halter top leaves bare her shoulders, arms, and midriff, allowing for some hope of avoiding overheating too quickly.

It's not long before the door to the apartment opens, Elaine standing in the doorway. Considering the heat, she's dressed appropriately—a pair of forest green shorts and a grey tank top, TV remote in one hand. She sets it aside, having turned it off on the way over to the door, and instead turns to observes the other occupant of the doorway, a bit of a smile forming on her lips.

"Ygraine. It's nice to see you," she pauses, noting the black attire with a little shake of her head. "You sure that's a good idea in this weather…? You look hot."

"I'd a choice between cycling here, or taking the motorcycle", Ygraine says with a somewhat rueful little laugh. "I gambled that the speed of powered transport would keep me cool… but I'm starting to regret not being able to wear shorts."

A slight pause, then a slow blink, and a cock of the head. "Or… was that… a compliment?", she asks somewhat uncertainly.

Elaine's cheeks flush pink, blinking as she realizes her own words. "Ah, er.. wasn't what I meant, but.. you do look good." She steps out of the doorway so it's unobstructed. "Did you want to come in? Magnes is probably asleep in the other room, so we'll have to be a bit quiet. He's likely to say something embarrassing if he wakes up and hears us, so.."

Ygraine laughs, then bites her lip, peeping past Elaine into the apartment. "Mmmm. I'd prefer to talk in private, I admit. Would you be happy to adjourn to the roof? Or do you want to stay in. And… thank you. You're very kind."

"Oh, no, I'm happy to get out. I'd really rather head up to the roof. I've been in this apartment far too long today." Elaine moves, carefully stepping outside the door and pulling it shut behind her.

Ygraine looks somewhat relieved, then playfully offers her arm to Elaine. "I would be honoured to escort you, madamoiselle." A grand gesture along the corridor towards the stairs. "Shall we?"

Elaine grins, accepting the offered arm as she looks towards the stairs. "Oh no, I must insist, the honor is all mine, dear Ygraine." She laughs a little as they walk through the corridor.

Ygraine can't help but snigger briefly, but manages to compose herself as she escorts the redhead up to the roof. There, she helps Elaine into one of the battered old chairs, before folding herself onto another.

"So… do I get to ask rude questions now that I've been bought? Or is that your prerogative, as the purchaser?", she asks with a grin.

Elaine smirks, settling into the chair with a slightly raised eyebrow. "Well, I think it goes both ways. Although the fact that you have rude questions to even ask intrigues me. So go ahead.. ask away."

Ygraine grins. "If you have any, feel free. For my part…." She cocks her head, smiling as she studies Elaine. "Where are you from, originally?"

"I'm sure I'll manage to think of a few once I get warmed up. It would only be fair." Elaine tilts her head, a grin appearing as she hears the question. "Born and raised in New York, actually. Got any more? I wouldn't say they're particularly rude so far."

Ygraine lifts her brows, either at the response or the direct and immediate nature of the response. "Why do you use a Glaswegian accent? I didn't want to ask this sort of thing in public, in case it was… well. Private."

There's a slight nod from Elaine. "My family's Scottish a few generations back. I visited Glasgow a few years ago, I've been using it since then. I guess it's a way to reclaim my family's history, in a way, but I've never gotten to live there."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "I wouldn't want to, personally. But you'd expect that bias, most likely - I grew up in Edinburgh. I know that Glasgow's improved almost beyond recognition in many ways… but I'd still far rather live in Embra than Weegieland."

The words cause even more of a laugh from Elaine. "I only got to visit Edinburgh once during the trip, the inn we were staying at was in Glasgow. I did like Edinburgh, though, though my time there was far too short. Scotland was beautiful. Might go back there, eventually."

"Bits of it are a total dump, of course", Ygraine says with a grin. "Even Edinburgh has a couple of really horrible slums… but I do live the country, I admit. Most of my adult life, I've lived elsewhere… but my family home's still up there…."

"You're gonna find some horrible slums no matter where you go." Elaine comments, grinning after a moment. "The history is what gets me, what lures me in. There's still just enough where if you get far enough away from the city it feels like it could be years and years ago.."

Ygraine giggles. "Many big-city Yanks would say that you feel that as soon as you see our roads or enter one of our shops", she observes with a wink. "And… I love the history, myself. Growing up in Edinburgh indubitably helped with that. It just being normal to walk around a corner and get a view of the castle silhouetted against the setting sun - while still being acutely aware of how beautiful it was…."

She shakes her head, then cocks it again. "Do you like people to think that you're Scottish?"

Elaine laughs. "You're lucky. I'd have killed for a view of something other than an apartment complex when I was growing up. New York's got history… but it never felt rich or fulfilling. Not the way Scotland does." There's a pause, as she gets to the topic of the next question. "It's… alright. Magnes seems to like it. People are used to it and they think I'm from there. It's easier for me to think about the time I spent there than it is to think of the time I've been here. It was a better time."

Ygraine winces sympathetically. "I'm sorry", she murmurs. "I didn't mean to raise poor memories. That was thoughtless of me, and I apologise for it…. I… partly, I just wanted to know if you wanted me to avoid mentioning it. Your being American, I mean. It's not my place to blow your cover."

Elaine shakes her head. "It's.. not really cover so much as a coping mechanism. I was in Glasgow when the bomb went off here in New York. I basically lost my whole life that day, and so I automatically go back to the last place I felt safe. So I keep the accent, because it keeps me from feeling like a New Yorker and becoming that kid who has nothing again."

Ygraine winces more sharply, nodding slowly. "All the more reason for me not to push you about it. I…." She shrugs slightly. "I was in the city, that day. I… tend to think of… over there as being wholly unconnected to it, too. Safe. A refuge."

"It /feels/ different, separated from here." Elaine comments, rubbing her neck a little. "I ended up back here because there was nowhere else to go, and I haven't had all that much control over where I got to go or what I got to do… so hanging onto Scotland is just my way of doing it. I'm alright now. Got lucky enough to find somewhere to actually belong. But I don't think I'm ready to let it go. Or if I'll ever even do it. It's indicative of who I am now. Someone different. Someone who speaks with an accent." She chuckles. "I've been faking for a pretty long time now, and people usually don't pick up on it. I tell them the truth, usually, that my family came over from Scotland but I'm American.. and most people don't ever question it or even ask."

"Dad's a linguist, I'm bilingual, and I've travelled a lot. And on top of that, your accent rather caught my attention, since it sounded at first as if it came from just an hour or two away from my home", Ygraine explains a little sheepishly. "And then I was intrigued by what else was mixed in there, and which was the primary accent…."

Elaine gives a nod. "So you've got the language thing down. Yeah, you speak it beautifully… part of what made me just a touch more curious about you." She smiles. "So.. am I less interesting now that you know we didn't grow up all that close?"

Ygraine laughs gently, shaking her head. "Oh, there are many people who would be actively offended by the idea that there were any similarities between Glasgow and Edinburgh….. And no, I wouldn't say it makes you less interesting. If anything, it makes me distinctly guilty for digging."

Elaine shakes her head. "No feeling guilty. It's nice to share. Besides, you asked, and most people don't even bother." She looks back over. "Really, I promise you it's not so bad. So don't feel guilty in the slightest."

Somewhat relieved, Ygraine nods slowly. "So… your turn for a chance to put your foot into your mouth, I think. Is there anything that you'd like to ask your expensive acquisition?"

"Oh, you were a bargain compared to what I went for." Elaine waggles her eyebrows. "You and Quinn were awful. I felt so guilty for how much money ended up being forked over." She laughs. "But I do have to ask… how'd you end up in the states if you grew up there? Your love of travel?"

Ygraine blinks, then chuckles. "A fair question. I… well. I visited here a few times while I was racing - I used to be a professional cyclist. I… was here working for the UN, in '06. As an intern. I'd just completed my second degree - in international relations - and I was working as a translator, dealing with treaties, formal reports, and the like. Tucked away in one of the out-of-sight departments that tries to keep an eye on how the world's running - and how it's not…."

Her gaze drifts away to the horizon, and she takes a deep breath, voice tight, dropping further into the alto register when she continues. "I was on Broadway. Heading North, fortunately. And in full biking gear - right down to visor-down helmet and gloves. The blast put me through a shop front. I don't remember… much until I came to in a field hospital 36 hours later. Another 36 and I'd been evacuated back to the UK."

A darted glance at Elaine, to read her reactions. "Once I'd recovered enough, I decided to face down my demons. Tackle them head-on. So I came back. Returned in 2008. Tried to do what I could to make a difference. Nothing grand - I just put my cycling to use, and became a courier, running the routes through the ruins, to try to help the broken halves of Manhattan become one again."

"Wow." Elaine pauses, just studying Ygraine for a long minute. "I'm.. kind of impressed. /Very// impressed. And somewhat intimidated. You were a professional cyclist, you got two degrees, worked for the UN, did translation work, were right next to the blast, survived, and went back.." Another pauses. "I feel like my life is rather underwhelming now."

Ygraine blushes, shaking her head. "And by your age… I'd done none of that", she points out. "But thank you. I… discovered I was good at riding fast. The degrees, I did in my spare time around cycling, partly as a way of avoiding having to deal with 'real' jobs. A way of 'doing something worthwhile', while desperately avoiding a 'proper' career. And the UN, I worked for without getting paid. I'd like to open up something real in that field, but I was chiefly used as skilled labour they didn't have to pay for. It's one of the perks of the organisation - a lot of people will gladly take on all the expenses of looking after themselves if only they're allowed to work there…"

Another shake of Elaine's head. "You're trying to make less of it, but it's really impressive. If I can accomplish something, even one thing as decent as that, I'd consider myself having lived a pretty good life. I don't think I'll even have half of those opportunities. My life's.." She laughs. "I just got very lucky by meeting Magnes."

Ygraine lifts one brow, silently studying Elaine for a moment. "To continue the rude questions - how old are you? I have the impression that you're still more than young enough to be quite justified in not having a clue what to do with your life. I fluked my way into happening to discover that I rode fast and was a sucker for training schedules. And that career was over by my mid twenties. Don't hail me as some great success or do yourself down."

"Eighteen." Elaine looks almost embarrassed to admit it. "Even still, though, two months ago I was homeless with about ten dollars to my name. I suppose being in a stable relationship and having somewhere to live and a job at all should be amazing accomplishments considering where I was, but.. I still feel like I'm just not good enough."

Ygraine's brow furrows in concern, and she scoots her chair around to let her directly face Elaine. "In comparison to whom? Good grief - in most countries, you could easily still be in secondary education at eighteen. You shouldn't feel obliged to compare yourself to adults who'ved led 'normal' lives when your recent past is anything but normal, and you're still so young. As it is, I'd have guessed you were a little older than that."

"Yes, but for one, America is ridiculous in its expectations of people. Somewhere else I'd probably be alright, but I'm eighteen. If I hadn't decided to run away from the foster system in the first place, right now I'd have been wished well and left on my own with nothing. Here, in New York, you're expected to go to college, get a job, become successful and then raise kids to do the same thing."

Elaine shakes her head a little. "And I look at me and I don't think any of that is possible, and I'm not even sure I want half of it. And then I look at everyone I've become close to and I notice.. everyone's got an edge up. They've got these incredible abilities or strengths of character, or just experiences in life and they can just.. take off in life running." She pauses. "I'm sorry, now I'm just rambling."

Ygraine laughs softly, shaking her head. "Oh, I feel the same, believe me", she says with a rueful smile. "I'm… in awe of some of the people here. But… you'll find that most have feet of clay. I certainly do, I can assure you. I didn't… exactly spring up and take off running after the Bomb. I fell apart. Rather badly. And I'm still… well. I often feel like a failure, given how other people have responded to things…"

"I wouldn't call you a failure. I might not have had much of a chance to know you yet, but when I met you.. I had a good feeling about you. I'm usually right about these things, I'm a pretty good judge of character." Elaine offers a warm smile.

Ygraine ducks her head, blushing to accompany a rather guilty-sounding laugh. "Thank you. I'm… grateful. And flattered. And I try to persuade myself I'm not a failure. Though I'm aware that it's always possible to have done more, or guessed right, or…."

She shrugs gently, toned muscles shifting across her bare shoulders. "The same applies to you. You've got time to work out what you want to do, and how to go about it. You don't need to rush into anything. And the key thing is never what… powers you have, it's always between your ears. How you choose to act. The decisions you make. Those determine the real impact you have. All this focus on super-powers is just… a distraction."

Pursing her lips, Ygraine sighs. "It's a way of avoiding responsibility - if you have them, you're a super-hero! Or you need to hide and avoid discovery. Either way, normal morality doesn't apply. And if you don't have them… well, how can you possibly do anything? It's surely up to the super-powered to step in and take responsibility, isn't it?"

A snort, and a shake of the head. "The truth is that people are just as responsible for themselves - and for each other - as they ever were."

"I suppose that's true, it's just… I suppose I'm not terribly creative at making myself useful. And.. it doesn't help that no one ever wants to tell me anything." Elaine's eyes glance over to the horizon. "It's funny how secrets work."

Ygraine frowns at that, head tilting the other way this time. "Is Magnes keeping secrets from you?", she asks. "Or am I reading things entirely wrong…?"

Elaine rubs her neck again. "Well, it's more like he doesn't tell me anything. He… well, when it comes to being a superhero, Magnes tries to do the whole superhero-like-in-the-comics thing. And since I'm not quite what you'd consider a superhero, that makes me the 'ordinary girlfriend' in this case. Which, of course, means you don't tell her anything because then no one can use her against you."

There's a bit of a pause, as it indeed sounds like this is something Elaine's honestly trying to figure out. "I know he's one of those people who wants to save the day, and I'm fine with that, but when people I don't know start showing up at the apartment unexpected and often in.. odd ways, that's when it gets bad." A deep breath. "I just always get the feeling that when I walk into a room where he's talking with someone these days, they have to stop talking because it's something I'm not supposed to know about. People have secrets, great, fine, I just.. I don't know. I feel useless sometimes with all of this."

Ygraine exhales slowly, closing her eyes for a moment, before nodding slowly. "I… know something of what you mean", she says gently. "Shortly after I returned, I spent some time on the periphery of some rather strange events - being talked around, hearing half-conversations, seeing weird things happening but never finding an explanation for them."

A slight pause, then the Briton leans forward, resting her forearms on her knees as she reduces the distance between her and Elaine. "As for your boyfriend, I readily confess to being a less than neutral source. And… in light of what you've just been saying, I can offer to tell you part of the reason why. If you want to know. It's about me, more than him, in a way."

Elaine smiles a little. "I.. appreciate it. That's more than anyone else has offered me. And to be honest… if it really is better I didn't know, then I'd rather not. If Magnes doesn't want me to know, I imagine it's because it's better for me not to know. I'll give him that trust. I just… I don't always like the feeling that I need to be protected from everything in the world."

Ygraine shakes her head. "Some secrets are for people's own protection", she says gently. "Like the one of mine that Magnes shouted out in the street the other day, when I was helping Quinn to move in. He knows that I'm Evolved. I've not registered - it's debatable whether I legally have to, as a non-citizen, given the wording of elements of the law - but it's far from something I want widely known. Magnes, through random chance, knows it. And chose to point at me and shout out the most unique description of me he could think of, upon spotting me helping Quinn."

"I noticed your reaction. He's fairly good at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. And sometimes the wrong thing at the right time." Elaine sighs a little. "His heart's in the right place.. and he's even trying to be /stealthy/ about his powers, at least hiding behind a mask at times, but.. he's.. there are times when I feel like he acts the way he does because of something that happened to him in life, you know? I talk with an accent, he fixates on superheroes. I like him like this, but I will admit that sometimes I wish he was.. a little more mature, if not grown up."

"He's… excessively self-righteous for my tastes - but as I said, I'm biased, having been on the receiving end. He doesn't care if other people disagree with him: the world will be a four-colour place in which superheroes exist and right and wrong are straightforward to spot… and throwing superpowers at things makes them better."

Ygraine sighs. "It's all too real a possibility that I'm just be an arrogant, washed-up former academic - but I do wish that he'd think before he acts. Has… has he shown you the Shibuya Incident footage? You should certainly be aware of that, in case anyone ever recognises him from it while you're with him."

"I think there's plenty good about academia. I think there's nothing 'washed-up' about it at all, and honestly, you come off as someone intelligent, someone who has more of a bearing of the world than most, and that's admirable." Elaine says, then proceeding to shake her head a little bit. "I've heard some about the Shibuya Incident. Which again feels like something from a comic book. Heh." She chuckles a little at something that popped into her head before she continues. "Anyway, I know he thinks he can save the world and that's just who he has to be, but… I see a lot of potential in him that he throws by the wayside by acting impulsive and invulnerable. He could be a really good man if he gave himself the chance."

Ygraine looks relieved, smiling gently. "You're very kind. And… yes, I agree entirely. Without thought, you are always far more likely to do harm than good, in my opinion. And… Magnes is terrifyingly powerful. I think that he barely has any notion at all of what he can do, or how any of it functions… but he has demonstrated to the whole world that he's exceptionally dangerous. And until he learns restraint, he'll surely be a marked man. I… hope that you can help him to do so. You certainly seem to be the best chance he has."

"He's very powerful.. I know that. Kind of shocks me all the ways he figures to use his abilities. He's very inventive, and he knows how to pack a punch if he wants. And that's just all from what I've seen and what he's said and told me.. there's probably way more to it than that." Elaine muses, but she still offers a smile. "You're not the first person who has given me the impression that I'm his hope for improvement. I don't even know what I'm doing in my life, much less in his, but.. I do hope, if I can do something, that I can help him. He's a really good guy, he just.. he's risky. In a lot of ways."

Ygraine nods slowly. "Definitely see the Shibuya Incident footage. That's from… some time ago. The odds are that he's only found new things to do since then. The more you know, the better. For both of you. Especially since he's never given me any reason to believe that he has a clue how he actually does anything."

"I think he sorta knows how his ability works. I mean, it's kinda complicated when you get down to the science in some abilities.. mine's fairly simple when you think about it, but when you start getting into something like gravity.. well, I was never any good at science." Elaine does nod. "I'll watch the footage. I think.. it's important, at least, to know where he's coming from."

Ygraine blinks, mouth opening and closing without speech before she finds her voice. "Did you deliberately just slip that in there? Normally, I'd be far more interested in arguing that Magnes is a telekinetic who thinks he engages in gravitokinesis because he's no idea what he's really doing - but congratulations on distracting me. What's your ability, if it's not too rude to pry?"

"I've seen him do things that I definitely think no real telekinetic would be able to do.. unless they're damn good. But then again, I'm not terribly inventive, so perhaps a telekinetic could figure out a way." Elaine looks to Ygraine, grinning a bit. "The accents are all me just having listened and practiced… but the languages themselves? That's my ability. I can learn them quickly. I've been a bit lazy, though, and I really should be studying more. I currently speak…" She pauses, here actually taking a moment to count on her fingers. "Eleven if you count every language I can speak some of, nine if you only count every language I fully know, and six if you're discounting fictitious languages."

Ygraine looks openly envious. "Good grief. The French, I've often felt a bit guilty about, since I picked up a great deal of that while I was a child, before I had any idea that learning a language might be difficult. I've formally studied it since then, but…. Heh. Latin's the only one I've tried to learn from scratch, and I've really struggled with it. Eleven? Without formal study? I am hugely jealous."

Now Elaine's blushing. "Well, two of them are made up languages, so I suppose they don't really count, though Magnes would argue against you there. You'd likely have to find a Tolkien scholar to be able to translate my diary…" She pauses. "And then I only know how to read a bit of Dutch, Chinese, and Russian, since I haven't really practiced them at all, I got distracted because I got a job translating and needed to learn Japanese for it." Then there's a grin. "So I can speak English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Gaelic."

Ygraine's brows lift. "Which versions of Spanish and Gaelic, out of curiosity? And I feel that I should offer a protest, on behalf of those who had to study to act as translators." Laughing, she shakes her head. "I am so envious. And my Dad would love to meet you and try to figure out quite how your ability works, I'm sure."

"Spanish from Spain, and Scots-Gaelic. I'm meaning to study all of the Gaelic languages, I just haven't gotten around to it, but it's really neat if you want to study more history related to certain areas if you know all of the language's roots…" Elaine pauses. "Latin would probably also be a logical step. You'll have to teach me some." There's another laugh. "It's pretty fun, I guess, but it's not terribly impressive. And you'd be surprised how little I get to use. You can imagine why I was so excited when I saw you spoke French."

"I'm used to being able to swear freely in French, without anyone over here even recognising it", Ygraine admits with a guilty laugh. "And for the Latin - I can try. It's very rusty. I'm still slightly beyond the "amo, amas, I love a lass" stage, but not by a huge amount, I'm afraid. But… I'd be happy to try to help. And with an understanding of multiple Romance languages as well as English, you should find a lot of it quite easy."

Elaine winks. "Well, I won't tell anyone if you swear. And besides, it's nice.. it's like I'm a kid and I have the secret code that no one knows." She peers towards Ygraine. "I've even thought about making up my own language. Magnes said something about how I could crack codes or do some insane cryptography and I thought it sounded pretty epic, but I figure if my ability is more of an intuitive understanding on how languages are made… then theoretically as long as I had created a set of rules to follow, I could make my own language. Which, then, could be incredibly interesting to find a use for… but I'm afraid other than being cool in theory probably wouldn't see the light of day."

Ygraine frowns pensively. "It would depend on quite how it worked. If you operate on a form of telepathy, and pick up on the intent to communicate, then cryptography might utterly foil you. If you analyse the underlying structures, then… either you'd be foiled by advanced codes, or you're missing out on your calling as the best mathematician ever born. After all, if you really do 'crack' any structured set of data and divine its underlying meaning, then the 'language of the universe' should be susceptible to your talents…. In any case, I'm certain that linguists would love to study a wholly-artificial language created through the use of an Evolved ability."

Elaine grins a little bit. "It sounds fairly interesting either way. Although, if it's more like telepathy, then I suppose it's more like I have a.. well, a babelfish in a way. But then the question is, if it's done in the telepathic attempt to communicate, what about the languages that were already made up, such as Tolkien's Elvish? Does it have the same 'feel' to a language as an attempt to communicate?" She pauses. "Now we're getting all academic. It would be neat to study it further.. if I ever had the chance to go to college, I'd probably study linguistics. Obviously."

"Tolkien was a linguist, and was very consciously designing languages according to structured principles. Everything he wrote in them was meant to be comprehensible to someone who could understand the rules and vocabulary he had laid down. A… more random creation might not be so accessible to your ability. I would certainly be interested in finding out if it were."

Ygraine cracks another grin. "And I think that linguistics might well suit you. If you were to register, I'm confident that you could win yourself all sorts of scholarships and research grants…"

"I am registered, actually. I've just sorta.. not had a mailing address for a while." Elaine comments, rubbing her neck. "Registered.. they sent me to the Lighthouse for a bit, but I ended up leaving and then.. well, I've just not really had any sort of mailing address since. The foster system's a messy place, so I just left it."

Ygraine nods quickly. "If… well. If you do want to go that route, I could quite easily find out a few names for you to contact. Dad could easily put me in touch with professors over here, and I'd be astonished if you couldn't have them competing to win you as a student, in short order."

Elaine actually looks kind of ecstatic. "That's… that'd be amazing. Would you really? I mean.. I did well enough in school in the first place, but when I lost my parents it meant that I sorta lost all chance of really doing anything further. And without a scholarship I'd have to put myself through or ask Magnes.."

Ygraine laughs, gently shaking her head. "Of course I would. I'd be happy to. One stumbling block might be graduation - did you ever graduate high school, or pick up a GED? I might be wrong, but I think that they're required to demand a GED or equivalent before taking on students. But you should have no trouble at all in walking that if you need it."

"I got my GED. It wasn't terribly hard to get it, so that's not a problem." Elaine nods a little. "So at the very least I think I'm set that way. I.. I'm just really honored you'd even do something like that for me. I've just kind of been used to trying to figure out how to do everything on my own."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "One of the greatest talents in life is knowing when and how to ask for help. A lesser, but useful, one is knowing when to accept offers of assistance. I can't guarantee anything will come of this. But I can… ohhh. Put you in front of a web cam and have you chat to Dad. Or have him email you. Or…."

The Briton shrugs. "I'd recommend a 'face to face' meeting of some sort, if you're game, so that he can verify your abilities. Personally, he could only directly stand a hope of arranging a scholarship in Edinburgh - but if you get the holder of a Chair of Linguistics saying that he thinks you're very interesting, you should get some real interest from people over here. Especially given the US emphasis on research funding above all else."

Elaine looks kind of like one of those people who's just seen a celebrity. She grins. "That.. would be amazing. I wouldn't have a problem chatting with him. Really, any help is better than nothing and if one door can possibly open up another door.."
Ygraine giggles happily, clearly pleased by the response she's receiving. "I'd be delighted to. You'll have to give me your email address. And… do you have a web cam? If not, I could suggest that as part of our date, you come to my place and I put you online with Dad…."

"I don't know if Magnes has one and I just use his computer, so.." Elaine glances over. "But that could work too." There's a sudden mischievous look. "Wait, so we'd be going on a date and I'd be meeting your father the same night?" There's a a wink attached to that sentence as it's directed towards Ygraine.

Ygraine laughs, shaking her head. "If you like. He gets on quite well with my wife, so I suspect the major scandal would be that I was dating another woman", she says with a wink of her own.

Elaine laughs even harder at that. "Your wife? I feel like I should call her up and ask permission to take you out, then." She can't help but laugh. "Good for you, I'm glad you've got someone special. I just hope she's not the jealous type."
Ygraine lifts her brows as she laughs. "Should she be? You're a beatufiul young woman, but I hadn't thought that you were… at all that way inclined. Or am I being oblivious?"

Now Elaine's red again. "I actually wouldn't know. I've never tried. But.. I get hit on a lot. And I have to say that girls are very good at flirting." She laughs a little. "So I can't say either way. I can't make an informed decision without experience. But you know. I'm sure if I was hanging out with some gay guy and Magnes didn't know he was gay and simply heard I was going out on a date with him there'd be some jealousy."

Ygraine giggles, and nods. "I suspect you're right about that. I told Jen in advance that I was selling myself. She was suitably scandalised. But having assured her that I got bought by a gorgeous redhead, she's now demanding a photo so that she can be envious of me."

There's a warm laugh, and Elaine looks over. "Well, you and I will have to take a photo together, then, so you can show me off. Though if you keep complimenting me like that my hair won't be the only thing that's red. Not that I don't mind the compliments."

Ygraine laughs happily. "Oh, I can gladly bombard pretty women with flattery, if they're happy to receive it", she assures her companion. "Though I'm afraid that I'm no poet. My repertoire of compliments is sadly limited."

"And? Doesn't take much to make me blush these days." Elaine laughs. "If Magnes can make me blush, anyone can." She does take a moment to look thoughtful. "So then, Ygraine, what exactly are we doing on our date?"

The Briton lifts her brows. "Isn't that your call, having bought me?", she asks with a wry smile. "I was hoping that you'd tell me what you wanted to do."

"Yes, I suppose that would be my call. Only problem is, I'm not creative or demanding." Elaine pauses. "Well, I suppose we'll talk to your dad, for one, probably get something to eat, maybe hang out? I'm not picky."

Ygraine laughs, waving a hand in protest. "Hey - I'm not making talking to my Dad part of the date. That's… free of charge. And… well. Is there anything you'd like to do? Field trip up to the mountains, where the air's cool and the views are great? A track day, to find out what it's like on the back of a motorcycle doing a hundred miles an hour? Touristy sight-seeing around New York? A night out in the best Gothic clubs in the city?"

Elaine blinks, then laughs. "Ygraine, you are way more creative than me. Those all sound amazing. I've.. never really ridden on a motorcycle. Quinn took me on her scooter to get lunch once, though. The mountains, though… that kinda sounds amazing. I'm not the most creative on dates, most likely because I haven't been on a lot."

Ygraine blinks in return. "Magnes doesn't take you out very often? Good grief. And… sure. I'll happily do any or all of those if we can arrange times. The bike ride, I should warn you, would be a bit different to the scooter. Alfred's a ten-fifty cc Tiger. Slightly outclasses Quinn's little scooter. But I could loan you a jacket and a helmet, for the road trip, if that's something you definitely want to do…"

"Actually.. Magnes has never taken me out." Elaine grins a little. "He owes me one. We just haven't gotten around to actually going out since he's kinda been too weak to do anything but lie in bed and watch movies and have me cook him steak. He's spoiled, I tell you." The whole part about what a ten-fifty is, that flies over her head. "Well, riding on a motorcycle somewhere and going to the mountains are really kind of amazing things, so.. I'd love to."

"He owes you one?", Ygraine asks incredulously. "I'd say that he was rather more in debt than that! Ahh-hrrrm. Ahem. Sorry. Definitely not my place to be indignant on your behalf. But seriously - never? I have got to make sure to offer you a range of things, then. The mountains, I can take you to see tomorrow, if you like."

"Yeah, I'd really like that." Elaine gives a nod. "Well, I mean, Magnes and I kinda have a weird relationship. We're doing it a bit backwards, so we haven't really gotten to the date part. He's also admitted he doesn't know how to be a good boyfriend, so.. I mean, he already knows he owes me. I'm just kinda hoping he takes some initiative and plans something out." She winces. "Really hoping."

Ygraine also winces, her expression suggesting her opinion of that hope even as she forces a nod. "I hope so too. And I hope that he has some idea of how lucky he is to have such an understanding girlfriend…."

"I hope he knows. I mean, he.." Elaine laughs. "I came home.. and he was in the kitchen, trying to cut up onions to make me dinner when he could barely stay on his feet. He's a sweetheart and I know he wants to. He's just.. a little slow on the execution, I think. And maybe if I make him feel guilty enough he'll do something nice for me."

"Something that doesn't involve idiotic risk to himself?", Ygraine enquires. "Quinn mentioned something about having been hospitalised before the gig…? He's got to learn that suffering does not equate to quality of romantic gesture…."

Elaine shakes he head. "Magnes is crazy. He went to stop a blood bank robbery, something happened to him, his blood or something like that and so they sent him to the hospital. Guess who's his emergency contact. I got there, he was fine but he could barely lift an arm. He was so guilty about the whole thing because he had the gig. He was talking about how he should quit the band and was letting down Sable… eventually I got him to stop talking like that and I knew he was going to try and get out but I told him not to push it and only to go if it was safe. So there I am at the club and he shows up. He took a shot of adrenaline. Not to mention he had some healer heal him and said something about it 'costing him a few days of his life'. I haven't outright yelled at him, though I'm pretty sure that Sable and Quinn may have gotten around to it. I guess I'm going to try and keep my expectations low.. just because I'd rather him not go to crazy risks to achieve it just because he doesn't want to let me down."

Elaine is stared at in silence for a few moments, Ygraine apparently too stunned to formulate words. "I… good grief", she eventually manages. "With most people, I'd… doubt that story. But coming straight from you? That's… where on Earth did he even get a shot of adrenaline? That alone can kill people if it's not administered properly!…"

The Briton shakes her head, still looking distinctly flabbergasted. "I… that is insane. Quite possibly literally. Combining a dramatic disregard for the norms of society with an apparent inability to consider his own safety, and a burning desire to be seen as heroic…? I can only wish you the best of luck in getting through to him. It sounds like he desperately needs to get some sort of handle on reality before it's too late."

"Oh, he assured us all it was a safe dosage, naturally. And he went home and went right to bed afterwards." Elaine shakes her head as well. "I.. don't know if I can be his grip on reality. I sure try. I really thought he might just sit out the gig and stay in the hospital. I know how badly he wanted to go, but.." There's a bit of a sigh. "He's likely to be the death of me, figuratively and literally."

Now frowning distinctly worriedly, Ygraine moves forward, reaching out to touch Elaine's wrist with the fingertips of one hand. "Don't let him be. If you can't help him, find someone who can. Letting him destroy you would be… folly. Worse than him destroying himself. And from what you say, he's even less in touch with reality than I'd thought. If he can't get a handle on himself, and if he won't listen to even you, then he needs a more significant form of help."

Elaine frowns. "He should be listening to me. I think he is, at least. He's been.. stressed, lately. Bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders sort of thing. All kinds of things about taking sides and after talking with him, he said he was going to stay out of it. He was going to play less of a role, just staying neutral and doing what he can to help when the people really need him. I think that's a good sign. He seems serious about it, and if he'd take at least that much serious, then perhaps I'm doing him some good. I can't make him someone he's not, but at least maybe I can make him see when too much is too much.."

Ygraine snorts softly, still looking deeply worried. "He's not going to be able to 'stay neutral' without changing his fundamental view of the world, is he? He's going to feel compelled to act whenever he thinks he sees a crisis hitting… and when he feels compelled to act, he's going to go at it full-bore. His world's a four-colour place, isn't it? The hero exists to be tortured a bit, then save the day heedless of any cost to himself - and without pausing to consider whether or not it's right to do what he does."

Shaking her head, she sighs. "I hope that you're right. But I fear that unless he changes that way of thinking, a promise to stay out of things will only last until he first hits a serious temptation not to. And given his view of himself as a hero, he's always going to feel the weight of the world on his shoulders, and be stressed, isn't he? Now, while he has to accept that he's weak and comparatively incapable - however reluctantly he does so - now might be the best chance you have of getting through to him. Striving to help people's a good thing. Seeing yourself as Superman-in-training isn't."

"Maybe you're right. He needs me because he can't do anything, and if this doesn't help him realize that he's not invincible then I don't know what will." Elaine frowns. "I just feel like… I always have this sinking feeling that something's just going to happen to him, you know? Like.. a child with their hand too close to the burner, cooking for the first time. You want to tell them it's hot, you warn them, but they tell you they know and go ahead and burn themselves anyways because all they want to do is be cooking." She sucks on her lower lip, frowning.

Ygraine sighs and nods. "He's… unwilling to accept any… notion of others being able to limit him. Yet he can break himself. The first time that I met him, I accidentally deprived him of his powers. I told him how mine worked, he realised that it didn't match his own theories about his own abilities, and he lost faith in what he was doing….."

Still crouched before Elaine, Ygraine peers intently up at her. "He can't bear doubt or uncertainty. So he throws himself into things with faith rather than reason. He may construct a… an argument to 'prove' that it's rational, but he's a believer. Everything about him seems to run off that. I suspect it's why he's so thoughtless. If it's not part of the existing set-up in his mind, it doesn't occur to him as a possibility."

A slight shrug. "So… he believes he's a gravitokinetic because he can defy gravity. He believes he's a hero because he's got superpowers. He believes a hero's someone who sacrifices himself for the greater good. Rational consideration of threats or risks… that's not merely irrelevant, it's threatening to the… core of the identity he's found for himself. He exists to save the world, and if there are obstacles in the way then it's his very function as a hero to overcome them without regard for the cost."

Elaine swallows hard. "I.. I'm not really the kind of person who fixes people. But Magnes is one of those people, those protectors that feel the need to make use of things, to have something to protect. And if someone asks him for help, he'll give it, because that's what he does. I wouldn't even know how to talk to him about some of these things. I mean, he and I have discussions all the time.. he really wants my opinions on things, wants my views. But I'm not sure how to protect him… especially from himself. I love him, but it's frustrating because saving the day is what makes him happy."

Ygraine sighs again, though more heavily this time. "A person who doesn't value themselves, is almost always going to be destructive to those around them. And it's blatantly obvious that Magnes places no value at all on himself. He's merely a vessel for his faith in the heroic nature of his abilities, and for the duties he think those impose on him."

"I agree that those with the capacity to help have a moral obligation to do so. But I know all too well that if you see yourself as irrelevant, especially as failing to make the most of your abilities, then you're likely to make some pretty dreadful judgement calls. Lose sight of yourself and you lose the basis for understanding reality - after all, if you've no idea who you really are, how can you judge what you do, or how you interact with anything else? It all becomes an exercise in imagination - except for the harm you wreak upon yourself and others who get caught up in your delusions."

"What he needs, in my far-from-professional opinion, is to find a reason and a way to want to be Magnes. Not a super-hero, not a self-sacrificing paragon of virtue - just Magnes. Something that anchors him, lets him relate to the world he lives in through some means other than displays of power and plans for displays of power. Even the band seems to be an exercise in being someone else - assuming a persona that people want to see." A slight pause, and an apologetic look and shrugs from the Briton. "But you… you might be able to ground him. If you can't, then he desperately needs help. In most people, checking out of hospital, injecting yourself with drugs you shouldn't have, and going off to cook yourself under stage lights would be taken as a plea for help in the form of a suicidally dangerous act. For Magnes, it seems to be the very definition of how he ought to act."

"Well, I want him to be Magnes." Elaine murmurs, rubbing her arms a bit. "I'm just afraid of what might happen if I can't help him. You're right, though. For Magnes that kind of thing is almost expected, and people get mad but it's brushed off as him just being him, because everyone's so used to Magnes saying the wrong thing or Magnes jumping into danger. He does that and he ends up in the hospital but acts like it's not a big deal and if that happens all the time, people are going to think that it's not. But it is a big deal, at least for me. When the doctors called me, I was so scared they were gonna say he didn't make it or something. I can't lose someone else I love again. Not to death."

Ygraine winces worriedly, gently attempting to take light hold of Elaine's hand. "Then either you need to find a way to get through to him that he's threatening to kill someone you love - himself - and that that matters, or else you need to get him professional help. He's self-destructive and a danger to others, whether or not he intends to be. That's grounds for compulsory incarceration and treatment under government control. Unless he pulls himself together, he's going to lose his freedom."

The hand is taken and Elaine winces at the thought of 'government control' and 'Magnes' in the same sentence. "I can't let something happen to him, not his life and especially not his freedom. That would be just as bad as killing him." She lets out a slow breath. "I'll talk to him. I'll find a way to make him see."

Ygraine nods slowly, intently studying Elaine's face. "I hope that you can. Right now, they'd have no trouble at all in justifying taking him in for indefinite treatment. Unfortunately, because he's got away with madness in the past, he seems to take it as proof that it's fine to repeat in future."

Elaine frowns, brow furrowed still as she worries. "I know, I know. It makes sense that they would. God, I… I can't let something happen to him. Not like this. I'll talk to him. I will. I'll make him understand and if I can't I'll find someone who can."

"Good luck", murmurs Ygraine worriedly, before mustering a guilty little smile. "And… I apologise for having things turn so dreadfully serious."

Elaine shakes her head a little. "No.. you've just helped me clarify some of my fears a little bit. I needed it. I'm pretty good at pushing stuff down and away when I need to and I think it's just been hiding from the situation and hoping that nothing bad would happen." She does smile after a moment. "But I'm sure it'll get fixed and we'll have nothing to worry about."
Ygraine does her best to look convinced by that statement. "I hope so", she says earnestly. "Quite apart from anything else, I'd prefer to think of you as care-free and happy. And able to focus upon linguistics."

Elaine laughs. "I like this idea too. Apart from my job I really don't get to do much with my ability and it'd be amazing to be able to really do something… and study, that would be so.." She laughs again. "I'm geeking out a little bit, sorry."
Ygraine cracks a very broad grin at that. "Not only am I the only person to do that, normally, I'm also the only person I've previously

Elaine laughs, the blush returning to her face. "Well it's nice to know that it's not scaring you away. I'm rather glad you're a bit more of an academic. It means you can appreciate that sort of thing better than most. It's a little hard for me to drone about language or some event in history I find interesting without putting most people to sleep."

Ygraine giggles. "I'm bilingual, worked as as a translator, and my first degree was in history. You're in far more danger of getting lectured, than you are likely to make me at all somnolent."

"See? This is a dangerous combination, the two of us. Who knows what we might do." Elaine smiles broadly. "Next we'll be discussing literature and the historical background behind some of it." She shakes her head a little, smile still as genuine as before. "Maybe I really should go to college."

Ygraine nods warmly. "Especially if you don't need to. If you have the freedom to revel in the joy of learning, and to treat it as a chance to expand the horizons of your mind, then it's immensely worthwhile. If you see it as a pathway to making a bit more money, then it's a horrible tendency to turn into a chore. If you're able to revel in what you do, and the freedom you have… it makes so much difference."

"Well, I already got a job as a translator simply for being in the right section of the library at the right time and being willing to learn another language." Elaine chuckles. "The money… sure, that's nice. But right now I really don't want for a lot. Magnes takes care of me and I'm not much of a spender. If anything, I save money… used to needing to use it sparingly. So the money thing isn't what I'm after. I just like feeling really useful, like I'm doing something that no one else can do quite like I can."

Another enthusiastic nod from the Briton. "And I think that's thoroughly laudable", she assures Elaine. "And I also think that you should enjoy it a great deal. While I would be very surprised if the academics weren't delighted to have access to you."

Elaine smiles again. "So… now that we've gotten the air cleared… what about details on that date? When do I have the distinguished honor of seeing you again, Miss Ygraine?" She laughs.

Ygraine laughs happily, giving Elaine's hand a light squeeze. "When would you like to? With a little warning, I can generally arrange to have any particular day off. One of the joys of my job, and being an old hand at it, is that I get to juggle shifts a fair amount. Would some time this week suit?"

"Any time this week would be fantastic. My job's pretty flexible too, since I don't have particularly set hours." Elaine chuckles. "Which means I could easily be up at 3am translating something. Not that I always do, but… the point stands." She looks over. "Is there a day that works best for you?" A pause. "Maybe Thursday? Friday?"

Ygraine nods happily. "Thursday sounds good to me. Shall we go for the mountain trip? I'll have to pick out a good route. Is there anything you'd like to do while up there?"

Elaine smiles. "A picnic? That's always fun and with mountain views it might be quite nice." She nods a bit. "Other than that.. I'm not sure. It works for me." She laughs. "I'm looking forward to this."

Ygraine nods pensively. "Mmmmm. Do you swim?", she asks curiously. A splash around in the sun might be nice after a couple of hours on the bike…."

"Ooh. See, you're way better at this than I am." Elaine comments, giving a nod. "I'd love that. I'll make sure to have my bathing suit. I really hope the weather stays nice. I doubt it'll change, but.. crossing my fingers anyways."

"With the bike, there's a pretty good chance that I can drive to where the weather will be good", Ygraine promises, smiling again. "And… I'll make sure to pack a picnic. Won't be a huge one, but I should be able to fit in a fair range of things."

Elaine nods. "That's okay. I'm a simple girl.. just a bit of something would be nice." She states, glancing over at the horizon again. "It'll be a great day, I'm sure. Anything else we need? I can pick something up if you'd like?"

"Mmmm. Make sure to grab sun screen and the like. A hat might be sensible - though one that we can stuff into the panniers, since you'll be wearing the helmet while on the road…." Ygraine frowns slightly, then shrugs sheepishly. "I've never tried a mountain picnic, myself. Anything you'd particularly like to have along, feel free. So long as I can fit it in, we can take it."

"That's simple enough." Elaine pauses, mentally ticking off a list of potential things or crossing them off with a slight quirk of her mouth. "Alright. I think that'll work." She does, however, peer skeptically to Ygraine. "Never been on a picnic in the mountains?" A pause. "Well, that makes two of us."

Ygraine laughs. "Well, sort of. But not as a day trip from New York. I grew up near hills as a child, but the Pentlands aren't quite so big as the Apallachians."

Elaine nods a little bit. "My family didn't do too many family trips. Maybe once a summer we'd go somewhere around the fourth of July, but that was usually it. We went hiking in the mountains once, but I was little and my dad carried me for half the trip."

Another wince, and a rueful chuckle. "The fourth of July is not one of my favourite days to be in the States", she says with a wry smile. "But I might be returning to this very spot, this time around. I helped to give Quinn the idea of holding a rooftop party, and she seems to be running with it with a great deal of enthusiasm."

"Oh, yeah, she told me about that. Quinn asked me what I thought of it and I was excited. I'm glad she's going through with it." Elaine looks over at the wince. "The fourth of July isn't bad as long as you aren't in the midst of a bunch of crazy people or trying to shop. That's why we'd go find somewhere to camp out or things like that when we would do things. My family had a cabin that they would always use for vacations and things. Can't for the life of me remember where. It's not as packed if you already have somewhere to go. But being up here with Quinn's party sounds as good of a reason as ever not to go anywhere."

Ygraine nods quickly. "And I claim full credit for the idea of making finishing the garden the first part of the day. Get it out of the way, with a promise of party to follow…."

"That's one way to convince people to do manual labor.. bribe them." Elaine folds her arms. "It's ingenious. You deserve full credit, you sneaky person you."

Ygraine rises to her feet, briefly tucking one arm behind her head to aid in a stretch. "Mmmm. Us decadent Old-Worlders are notorious for our conniving ways, aren't we?"

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