Bearer Of Bad Tidings


graeme_icon.gif remi_icon.gif ygraine2_icon.gif

Scene Title Bearer of Bad Tidings
Synopsis Ygraine makes it back to her party of invalids and injured, only to have to pass on some very unwelcome news
Date November 12 2011

A small motel on the outskirts of Boston

During her time in the States, Ygraine has done rather a lot of travel by bike - both pedal-powered and motor-driven, over short and really quite substantial distances. For the latter, she acquired (and fell in love with) a Triumph Tiger: a 1050cc monster of a touring bike; comfortable, powerful, and fast enough to satisfy her speed-freak urges whenever she found a stretch of road on which to cut loose.

Right now, she’s dismounting from a battered old third-hand rice rocket, taking a few moments in the cold and darkness of the parking space outside ‘her’ room in the motel: arching her back with hands on hips, before tilting slowly to one side and then the other. The Tiger’s suspension, she misses even more than its engine.

The custom-tailored black and midnight-blue leathers she bought as a treat after the Dome, and wore for the very first time on the trip to the Ark, are now filth-spattered and battered - and sport a neat bullet-hole in the back, though the colouring of the outfit thankfully means that few people will notice that. The helmet, at least, is in good condition beneath the dirt, and it gets carefully removed and tucked under one arm before she squares her shoulders and clomps - stiff-legged and heavy-footed in her biking boots - towards the room in which she expects to find however many of her little party’s companions are actually conscious.

Inwardly, she tiredly chides herself for not spending more time scouting the perimeter for signs of trouble… but frankly, she’s having enough difficulty steeling herself for the emotional task ahead.

C’est moi, she tries to project in that direction. If you need me to run away, please let me know before I reach the door.

The poor telepath has been in a world of pain the past few days — an awful migraine kicked in as they were leaving Cambridge, and it hasn’t let up since then. She’s done this before, and knows that it will eventually ease up, but while it is still in effect, the telepath has not been in the best state of mind. It’s a rather awful conundrum she’s in — voices are like little shards of glass scraping through her overworked mind, so she has to concentrate to shut them out. But the concentration is difficult in itself. It’s like a volume knob that keeps turning itself back up on its own, so you have to hold the control to keep it off. There’s no magic off button for Remi’s ability.

As Ygraine approaches, Remi can be found in the same place she’s been since they arrived at the hotel, curled in the bed furthest from the door, the blankets drawn up over her head. Despite her discomfort and exhaustion, the motorcycle rouses the woman’s interest, and she briefly opens her mind in the general direction of the sound. Sure enough, Ygraine’s voice scrapes through the telepath’s mind, and she shuts her mind back off as quickly as she can manage. Yg will have to be satisfied that Remi’s silence means that she is all good to enter the room.

Outwardly, Remi groans. “Ygraine is home,” she mumbles for the sake of the other occupants in the room, without so much as uncovering her head.

At least she won’t find out the bad news on her own.

Graeme is, at the moment, sitting in the armchair nearest the door to the motel room, moved into the main one from the other room next door for additional seating. He's finally feeling most of the way back to himself, keeping busy with a book while he gets anything that the others need, helps out as he can. And Odin is at his feet, getting up even as Remi notes that the Brit is returning, but a quick word at the dog gets him to sit back down. And Graeme gets up, undoing the chain from the door, and the deadbolt. It being an old-school motel with actual physical locks has advantages, at least a little.

And then he lurks at the door, still standing, weight shifting from one foot to the other.

Ygraine seems to have sufficient faith in Remi that she takes silence as proof that things are quiet - or perhaps that she’s so late it probably doesn’t matter any more. A polite knock on the door to be sure that non-telepaths are aware of an impending visitor, then she lets herself in.

A weary half-smile is offered to the bipeds, before she tugs off a glove to offer a hand to the dog. She’s quite fond of canines, has heard a good deal about Odin, and shared the safehouse with him for a couple of weeks - but that is a lot of dog to find waiting for you upon stepping through a door.

“Hi there,” she says, before hauling her gaze up from the hound. “If… if there’s anything urgent I need to know about our situation here, then that takes priority. But I could really do with talking to both of you. Outside.” Remi receives an openly apologetic look. “If it’ll help, I’ll carry you. No skin-contact needed at all.” Having carried Tamara for a couple of miles without even using her hands, the Briton seems confident that she can manage a short walk while supporting the tall ballerina.

Ugh. Outside? That means taking her head out from under the blankets and seeing light — even if it’s just the fluorescent outdoor lighting of the motel parking lot. For a long moment, Remi considers just looking for herself, but elects not to — using her ability hurts way more than light does right now.

With a wordless groan, Remi slowly extracts herself from under the blankets, starting with her feet swinging out over the edge of the bed and to the floor. Slowly, her head still under the covers, she moves to a sitting position. Then, taking one of the blankets with her and draping it over her head, she stands, wrapping herself in said blanket.

“I can walk,” she replies, slowly moving around the bed toward the door. Odin gets a quick butt scritch, before the ballerina turns blue eyes toward Ygraine.
Odin is more than happy for the attention, tail wagging, but Graeme's brow furrows sharply at the word 'outside'. He's a teacher, and he knows that talking outside is never good.

"It's been quiet here," Graeme says, in the softest tone of voice he can manage. "Tamara's still out. And Doctor Luis is asleep, finally." A pause, and he unfolds a leash from his pocket and clips it to Odin's collar. Although by now, he doesn't really need it, it's appearances that matter. Which is why Graeme puts on a slight amount of what he can muster of a smile as they step outside, thoughts carefully managed and quiet. But when the door closes behind them, and they're outside, the breath he draws in is ragged and not just because of the cold nighttime air.

Having managed to conjure up a grateful smile for each of her friends, Ygraine leads them out and away - intending to stow her helmet and snare a Winter coat from her bike’s pannier, should Remi emerge without sufficient warm wrapping for the dank chill of the night.

Coming to a halt on a previously-chosen spot, about twenty yards from anywhere that might reasonably be expected to hold a sapient mind, she tugs her glove back into place on her Odin-sniffed hand, then hunches her shoulders against the cold - missing the warmth of her padded helmet.

“I made it to the safehouse. And Grand Central. And the Island. They’re all safe,” she says quietly. “I’m back in touch with Alia. And I can set her up with contact details for you guys, if you want me to - now or in future.” Remi, she does not presently expect to want to acquire anything that beeps, buzzes, or flashes at her.

“We already know, from the TV news, that the evacuation from the Ark got ambushed. I can tell you that the survivors of that got away. Made it to the Island. I spoke to some there. A few others got out by other routes” - she nods to Graeme, as the most immediate example. “Alia was one of those. Apparently she rode a cat-bot out, with Brian.

“It’s… it’s from Brian that we have some news from Alaska. They’ve not managed to get back to anywhere that Alia can contact them, yet. But Brian’s in contact with himself. He’s a replicator, able to make self-aware ‘copies’, who can each do different things in different places… but who are in constant mental contact with each other. There were copies of Brian at the Ark, and some in Alaska.

“He, ahh, he used to be an amiable goof… but nowadays he’s really competent. And he’s always been brave, and wanted to do the right thing. I don’t trust him as much as you guys… but more than almost anyone else. And… the news from Alaska’s mixed.”

Ygraine is clearly doing her best to stay calm, calling upon her old competitive training to avoid crumpling under pressure. Information will be shared. What hope she can provide will be given. But there’s a tightness in her chest that can clearly be heard in her voice.

Most people made it out. Some did so in one piece. But Liz… Liz sacrificed herself to save everyone else. She’s… she’s gone, Graeme. Not even a body left to bury.”
She blinks, bright-eyed. But most of today’s tears were shed hours ago. Now, she’s trying to be strong enough to help the others.

Ygraine’s winter coat draped over her shoulders over the blanket she’s wrapped in, Remi follows quietly, hugging herself under the blanket. She shies away from the lights, using a hand to block them from reaching her eyes. Really, she’d be much happier if all of the lights were out — her head is still pounding. Certainly not quite to the extent it was when they first arrived here, but it’s not nice either.

The news of how things have gone since they left Cambridge is listened to intently, despite the fact that the telepath has her eyes closed, finger pinching the bridge of her nose in a feeble attempt to stave off the throbbing pain behind her eyes. For a moment, she listens with growing irritation — up until she goes into the details about Alaska, the telepath silently wonders why she had to go this far out of her way to hear any of this.

Then, Ygraine drops the bombshell. It takes Remi a moment, her fingers still pinching the bridge of her nose as her eyes open despite the fact that it make the throbbing pain worse. The color leaves her face, then, as she stares quietly at Ygraine.

Remi wasn’t as close to Liz as some in Endgame are. However, she still viewed Liz as one of her closer friends. She still cared about Liz. Liz was like family to her, more than anything. And now, she’s gone.

A choked squeak escapes the redheaded telepath’s throat, before she turns away with glistening eyes, turning her back on the other two. The headaches make it difficult to lash out with her emotions, and Remi isn’t quite one do do that so much any more (though she still does occasionally), so instead…she simply bottles it up, staring at the ground in front of her in silence as her breath comes in ragged, shocked gasps.

When they get out there, Graeme stands to listen, lets Odin wander to the end of his leash to smell the ground around them. Nodding follows each piece of news, right up until the last one, and this time for a moment Graeme just doesn't manage to breathe in, at all.

No no no no no, no, no… All semblance of control over his thoughts goes away, and Graeme finally manages to breathe, to look from Ygraine, to Remi, to the ground, and then back again. "Gone," he repeats, and takes another breath. "Fuck." The distress amongst the humans is enough to get Odin to return, twining between the three of them and butting against their legs more gently than one would think from a Great Dane of that size, but it only helps so much.

Most of the time, most things buffer themselves behind the mask of his ability, felt but endured with little difficulty. But some things are enough of a shock, that that breaks, that Graeme lashes out or breaks down, or both. This is one of those times, and the next breath comes in a wracking and silent sob, and when that stops he's biting down on his lower lip. Trying to figure out what to say, how to say it, how to process this. "Mixed news," he finally says, "we saved the world but… at what cost?"

Finally, though, Graeme lays a careful hand on Remi's shoulder, atop the jacket. Tugs the loop of Odin's leash over his wrist and reaches for Ygraine's hand with his other one, and draws in another ragged breath. "I don't… I'm not… I hope…" it trails off, nothing quite coming together. Because in the end there are no words for this, other than once more repeated, "Fuck."

Ygraine gently ruffles Odin’s ears when he comes within reach, but she forces herself to stay silent for a little while, not wanting to bombard the others with words they would - at best - have to struggle to understand through their shock.

Though Graeme’s misery was expected, the intensity of Remi’s reaction comes as a mild surprise: she had not been certain how attached the Frenchwoman was. In its own way, this fosters a little bit of gratitude amidst her own grief. That someone who met Liz comparatively recently came to think so highly of her, and to care for her - that is good.

Precious little else about the situation is, and there’s another little surge of gratitude when Graeme chooses to save the Briton from her internal floundering over when it might be appropriate to initiate contact, joining the three of them together by touch as well as misery.

“It was… her choice to act,” she says hoarsely. “To save everyone else. From the sound of it, the disaster she stopped could have become immense. There were some really bad injuries. But everyone else we care about survived, so far as I know.”

Liz was one of the first people who was subjected to Remi’s newfound ability to see memories through touch. She shared a tragically intimate moment with the audiokinetic, seeing the moment the woman died the first time. It’s one thing to be reading the minds of the dying. It’s another entirely to experience a very clear memory of dying as though she were experiencing it herself.

So to know that she is dead again…to know that this time, she won’t be coming back…it hurts. It hurts that she won’t ever see that woman’s face again, or hear her voice. She was almost motherly to Remi, a welcome change after she lost her mother to the explosion. And she’s gone.

The redhead flinches at Graeme’s touch, though she doesn’t pull away — the blanket and the coat offer enough of a buffer to keep her ability from activating. “I…she was…” She stops for a moment, rubbing at her forehead.

“She was the best of us.”

Graeme nods when Remi speaks and then silently lets go, crouches down and wraps his arms around the Great Dane; now he's at least trying not to cry. Or at least, he's trying to do so quietly, trying to get a grip on himself, trying to comprehend. It takes a few minutes right now; it will take years before Graeme truly comes to grip with it.

There were two people that Graeme trusted wholly and implicitly with his life if need be, since he came back to New York, and now one of them is gone — not just gone but dead. And the other one is the bearer of bad tidings.

There were also two people that Graeme had fallen in love with, and he convinced Aric to go into hiding, somewhere safe, somewhere that it might be a very long time before they're reunited, if ever. His hand reflexively wraps around his necklace, tugging it out from under his shirt. And now one of them is gone. Graeme pulls in a ragged breath and finally looks up.

“Well… she was a bit on the tense side, at times,” Ygraine essays by way of affectionately gentle teasing. After all, each of them had experienced the tangible hum that accompanied an anxious or worried Elisabeth Harrison.

Her choice of tense is also deliberate, if painful. Forcing herself to indicate - and them to hear again - that Liz is no longer in the here-and-now, however rawly, tangibly, present their own emotions might be.

Crouching down, she has no hesitation in resting one reinforced and already-filthy knee of her leathers on the slickly dirty tarmac of the parking lot, so that she can spend a few moments stroking Odin - hoping to provide him with some reassurance that however strangely his owner is behaving, there’s nothing for him to worry about.

Still, Graeme and Odin have each other for comfort, and after affirming her presence to the hound, she creaks to her feet once more. Taking care not to startle Remi, nor to initiate further contact without permission, she moves to position herself in front of the Frenchwoman.

~I can offer you a hug, if you like,~ she says softly, in the ballerina’s native tongue, while her hands twitch somewhat helplessly in an abortive gesture towards her friend. ~That’s my own coat, so I’m willing to get it dirty. And I think there’s enough padding we should be safe from skin contact.~ On herself, only her face and hair are uncovered, and almost everything else is shielded from the cold - and touch-enhanced telepathy - by multiple layers..

“None of us need to be alone, during this.” She switches back to English, in case Graeme is capable of registering her words. “We’ve got each other. And we’ve got things to do, and people to help. And we can do it. She thought we can - Liz did.”

On a normal day, Remi would probably decline the offer for a hug. Touch makes her uncomfortable any more, unless she knows that the person she might be touching has enough control over their mind to not show her their worst memories. Even then, touch has become a scary prospect to the telepath. It’s not fun, but it’s also become a fact of life.

This isn’t a normal day, though. Her head is still pounding, and now she’s also reeling from the loss of a woman who she had come to adore on many different levels. As a result, Soleil Davignon steps up to Ygraine and wordlessly rests her head on the woman’s shoulder — making sure that the hood is between her uncovered head and Ygraine’s uncovered cheek.

“I’ll miss her,” the telepath whispers, closing her eyes and leaning against Ygraine.

Graeme still leans against Odin, doesn't get to his feet just yet, but nods. "And," he says, finally, "she'd want us to." Bites his lower lip for a moment, continues. "To go on living." His thoughts are still jumbled, shock more than anything else, but it's faded from the initial into a constant background.

When he does stand up, he sets his hand on Ygraine's free shoulder, steady. His breathing has steadied. "So, plans stand," he says, still quiet. "We'll go to Minnesota, regroup, mourn, and keep going."

“One thing to at least offer before then,” Ygraine says softly - though she needs to draw in a rather lengthy, if shaky, breath before continuing. Hanging onto Remi, she seems quite willing to continue doing, for her own sake as well as her friend’s.

“Liz…. Hah. Before we set out, I had the idea of preparing gifts for people. In… in case I didn’t come back. Something to show I cared. So I have a stash of pictures in my sketchbook, that I now don’t know whether to give out or not….”

Her lips twist wryly. “Liz had the same idea. And, of course, handled it rather better. Waiting for us in the safehouse were recordings. Since it’s inaccessible to pretty much everyone out here, I collected all the ones I could find - and that bag of yours you wanted, Graeme. It’s safely here, too.

“But… each of you has a gift. A message. Recordings that are yours to do with as you want. Including have me hang onto them for later, if it’s… too raw, right now. But whatever happened to her, Liz wanted you to truly know that she cared.”

The telepath, just for a moment, enjoys the hug from Ygraine. Just for a moment, she forgets about the nervousness that comes with her recently discovered ability, and she just…enjoys being close to someone she cares about. There she stays for a long moment, fat tears rolling down her cheeks to soak into Ygraine’s shoulder.

When she finally pulls away, Remi is red-eyed, but mostly under control over her emotions — for now. She rubs at her eyes with the blanket that she has wrapped around herself, getting her breathing under control. “I — I’ll take mine.” She’s not going to listen to it yet…not until she’s in private…but she may never let go of that recording once she gets it.

There's a nod, and Graeme looks at the sky and at the parking lot street lamps for a long moment before speaking. "I'd… written some notes, myself," Graeme says. Although his won't have to be delivered. "I'll take mine," he says. "If you can keep an eye on the main room, I… would appreciate a bit of time." Alone goes unsaid. But a moment later, Graeme murmurs, "Thank you."

Ygraine delays, one hand settling upon each of Remi’s shoulders so that she can deliver a squeeze. Then she nods to both of them, lips curling into a wearily sad smile.

“Okay.” She nods acceptance, before stepping back and moving her hands to the elaborately secure fastenings of her jacket. From within an inner pocket, she draws out a small padded envelope - checking a label (the writing hers rather than Liz’s) before holding it out to Graeme. Another dip into the shadows of her leathers, then she offers a similar one to Remi.

“C’mon. Let’s get you back into the warm,” she gently directs to the Frenchwoman. Graeme receives another nod. “I’ll grab the stuff from the bike” - including your vast quantity of cash - “and then I’ll be glad to settle down for a while,” she says, lest he think that her planned (slight) delay in disappearing from view is an attempt to keep an eye on him.

Then, for once, she manages to stop talking - not even admonishing him to remember that Odin will need to come back into the warm some time that night. Instead, she makes herself give him the gift of silent trust, while smiling gently and offering a supportive arm to Remi as the two women set off for tonight’s makeshift sanctuary from the cares of the world.

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