Chromatic Variations


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Scene Title Chromatic Variations
Synopsis The more the future changes, the more it stays the same. Not paying enough attention to context and timing, Quinn finds herself exactly where she foresaw she'd be — with the aid her vision promised, but from there the specifics diverge, shifted just so much this way and that from the original premonition.
(In music, a chromatic note is one a half-step removed from its normal scale value.)
Date November 8, 2010

An Apartment Building in Queens

"Shit shit shit shit!" Fumbling with a doorknob is normally only something Robyn Quinn does when exceptionally drunk — and fortunately (or perhaps not so?) this was not one of those particular moments. Instead, Robyn Quinn is stone cold sober, and that only serves to make her that much more frightened as she's realised exactly where she is, and when.

Maybe if she hadn't decided to sleep until so damn late in the day, maybe she could have gotten out of here before now. But being passed out in a stupor makes that hard sometimes.

It's perhaps more fortunate that she hasn't brought more with her today. Her phone was MIA, but there was no time to dig around the messy apartment to find it — not when she could hear the splintering of wood and see flames out the window. It was just a note she'd found in her pocket and her violin.

Finally fumbling the knob opens, the door flies open and Quinn takes out into the smoke filled hall — the one thing she'd always learned in school when in a some filled, burning building was to keep her ehad down and out of the smoke as best as possible. Taking down the hall, she does her best to hold her breath.

How had she been stupid enough to let herself get caught up in this, despite everything she knew?

April, on the other hand, chose to get caught up in this.

It's not the brightest decision the woman has ever made, but then — her history isn't exactly full of brilliance. She's not the only one, either: James is ranging down the far side of the street, separated from her by four lanes crammed with abandoned cars; two others who got themselves swept up in the delusion that a few Good Samaritans can make any dent in the horrors of today tag along some distance behind; and at the very rear is a wide-eyed teenaged girl more astray than the cat she clings tightly to.

They're all tired, more than tired; riots, fire, chaos, death, destruction. What had been a fairly respectable pinstriped black suit has lost its jacket somewhere, leaving only the pants to recollect its look by; soft green blouse stained darkly colorless by soot and dirt, much like April's exposed skin. Her short hair has long since gone entirely unruly around her fatigued face. The interminable walking, helping people out of one jam or another, and in April's case power use have all taken a toll — but she's not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet.

There is always one more person out there.

Snapping her fingers, a small ball of light forms in front of her, floating ahead a bit as it lights the floor through the thickening smoke. Holding the note and her violin close, Quinn takes a deep breath and closes her eyes, just for a moment as she tries to remember… how did this go in her vision? Funny how it was all she could think about at first, and until today she had all but forgotten all about it, despite warning and talks of the eighth with Ygraine the night before.


That sound — and the strong need to cough and duck her head back down — draw Quinn back out of her thoughts, and she takes off running down the hall. Being on the first floor does have its perks, and she can even see the door ahead. Which brings another part of the memory back to her mind.

"April!" she shouts, hoping the woman is still not too far out, and that she hasn't decided to skip town to avoid the impending disasters.

The sound isn't clear, over the background of crackling fire, distant cacophony of sirens, helicopter rotors somewhere overhead; but if no word is understood, the fact of a voice signifies enough.

April's feet slow, her head turning so green eyes can sweep the buildings along her side; being eaten from within by ravenous fire, everything she can see is quiet and still — discounting the deceptive flicker of fireglow behind still-intact windows. Slow steps ease her closer to the nearest door: an apartment building, once upon a time, now one more disaster waiting to happen. They all are — but she approaches it anyway.

"Hello?" the dark-haired woman calls back, hands cupped to help focus and project the word. "Someone there?"

Quinn's eyes light up — somewhat literally — as she hears a voice called back, muffled over the sounds of flames enough to keep her from exactly being able to tell who it is — but the fact that someone responded is better than nothing. "April, is that you?" she shouts back. "Jesus, I hope s—"

Perhaps Quinn should have been focusing on remembering her vision a bit better, paying a bit more attention to the floor in front of her, where a floorboard cracked up by someone running out surely not long before her juts out just enough to catch the edge of her shoe, sending her stumbling forward. Just like in her vision. Cursing aloud, Quinn tries her best to keep on her feet as she lurches forward. Misstep still sends her falling to the ground, just as she remembered.

Thankfully, Quinn is turned a bit as she falls forward, managing to avoid falling on her arms and snapping the bone. But, as she fall flat on her stomach, the cracking and splintering of wood and the sharp pain she feels of something jabbing at several spots into her arm only brings about another sort of fear. What else could go wrong?

The door swings open; and the silhouette holding it open is as indisputably, instinctively recognizable as the rest of this fire-wracked corridor is to Quinn. To April, squinting into the dim, fire-lit interior, seeing first the glowing orb and only then the photokinetic behind it, it's unfamiliar in its particulars — but the scene has played out all too many times today. This is just one more variation.

Another variation, divergence from and concordance with memory both, as unsettling creaks overhead backdrop a single ominous snap before the woman can voice a single word to sprawled-out Quinn. She spares a single-syllable curse for the ever-worsening situation, hands lifting to before her chest; if her fingers were not splayed perfectly straight, it might seem she were about to catch a ball. But there is no ball here; what ensues is rather a sheet of pearlescent light-that-isn't-light, spreading overhead like a second ceiling.

"Can you make it out?" April asks, stiffly taut voice reflecting her too-rigid posture.

Can you make it out sounds wonderfully familiar, as is the visage of the woman speaking it. It brings a small bit of relief to Quinn, if only for a lingering moment as she groans, trying to push herself up. "Lord, I am happy t' hear you," she mutter, pushing herself into her knees — and as she does, there's the sound of wood clattering to the floor. Not from above, like one might think, but rather at Quinn's feet as broken and cracked splinters of what was her violin clatter to the ground. For just a bare moment, Quinn forgets everything around her, looking heartbroken at the pile of wood and strings.

It's the sharp pain in her now bleeding hand where several long, jagged splinters of wood stick out like needles in a pincushion that draws her back to reality, her one hand still clutching the piece of paper as she scrambles up to her feet. Raising the note-holding hand, she flicks her fingers and the ball of light splits into three, providing a bit more of a light — though making her possibly-hangover-induced headache that much worse.

"Yeah, I'm good, just…" she pause, pulling out one of the splinters of wood with clenched teeth and a sharp cry. "Fuck, okay, I'm coming!" Running towards the door, a worry in the back of her mind — she never did see if she still got out of the building before the roof came down.

She doesn't have to tell Quinn to hurry this time — not that April quite knows she did before. But it spares her a worry, lets her focus entirely on the thin plane of force — the very thing that saps her energy much as an open drain pulls down water, something that in all her years of ability use has happened… essentially never. It has been a longer day than she knew.

Even as Quinn closes the distance, it becomes less a case of April holding the door open than the door holding her up. Both of them can hear fire-weakened beams giving way, one cracking surrender after another; the building itself shakes, or seems to, when a portion comes crashing down as it ultimately must. As if it had struck her instead of the forcefield, April drops gracelessly to her knees — but the field holds.

The roof isn't, technically, down even after Quinn is well out the door.

Quinn is just out when part of the ceiling comes down over where she had fallen, suspended in air by the forcefield April was managing to hold — something which only heightens the sense of relief she feels to be out of the building before it does, and the relief that April was here to help regardless. Looking back just in time to see April drop down to her knees, Quinn skids to a stop, moving back towards the other woman as quickly as she can considering her throbbing hand and head.

She doesn't know exactly how it is the roof stayed intact, or at least didn't until April collapsed. Even in her vision, she'd never had the time to notice the shimmering light of the forcefield the other woman had produced. But thanks to her own experiences training her abilities with Colette and the exhaustion that comes with it, and the way the partial crumbling of the ceiling is caught midair, it's not too hard for things to click into place for Quinn as she reaches April, a hand on the other woman's shoulder. "Thank you so much for still being here."

Green eyes flick sideways towards the hand on her shoulder, the only immediate acknowledgment made. She's breathing as hard as Quinn is, for less obvious exertion — standing still should be relaxed compared to running for your life over any distance. But exertion, for such as they, is measured in other manners as well. Curling her fingers in and closing her eyes, April dissolves the forcefield, and the section of ceiling crumples the rest of the way down in a noisy heap, blowing dust and fragments of debris out the still-open door straight into their faces.

April isn't exactly motivated enough to care.

"April?" asks a worried voice behind them; the speaker, closer to Quinn's age than the object of his query, is recognizably blue-eyed and otherwise presumably Caucasian under the day's accumulation of grime. His own suit could be the twin of April's, in that any propriety it once conveyed has long since been tattered and buried. "Dammit — c'mon, let's get you up. Can't stay here." He spares Quinn a glance, but she looks better off, bleeding hand or no; James' first concern — and reaching hand — is inevitably not for her.

Quinn backs away a bit at James' approach; he seems to be someone at least somewhat more familiar with April. Or at least someone she might have helped before Quinn. Reaching back down to her hand, Quinn pulls out the largest piece of wood jammed into her hand — which, while lessening the immediate pain she feels, only results in more bleeding.

"S-Sorry," she says, though if it's offered to the man or April is unclear at first. Her uninjured hand reaches up and scratches the back of her head as she looks back into the building, and then back at April, a step forward and a hand offered in case she or James needs help getting her up. "God, an' t' think I could've avoided this…"

Taking the offered hand, April stalls a moment under the inertia of object at rest before using it to leverage herself up. She then drapes left arm over James' shoulders and lets him wrap his right around her waist, before they both look to Quinn. It's April who speaks, twitch of fingers beckoning the younger woman back forward. "No apologies," she says, with something that might be a tired smile. "We're all alive, right?"

Green eyes drop to the musician's injured hand. "David had the kit," she continues, in the way words will tumble out under fatigue. "Get that cleaned up. Stay with us tonight," April adds as she looks back up, words which could be instruction as readily as offer. "Get places sorted out later."

Hugging April a little closer, James presses his lips against her hair with what might be a hint of a sigh; he is indeed more familiar with April. "You can help me get her home," he remarks with what might be wry humor. "We don't have much of a couch, but you can have it. I'm James…" Fill in the question: who are you?

With April up and hanging on James, Quinn exhales sharply, a look cast back into the burning building for just a moment. "Y-yeah, I guess so." Which only provides mild comfort for Quinn as she looks down at her hand, wincing again. "David?" she inquires, looking up and around, grimacing as she lets her hand fall back to her side. "James? Um, Robyn Quinn. Pleasure t' meet you, I guess." Normally Quinn would over out her hand for a handshake, but this really isn't the time for it.

She gulps a bit at the offer to stay at their place, knowing full well she has at least one person she needs to get into contact with. "Y-yeah, right. I guess that'll be okay," she mutters out, taking a step a bit away from the building. She'll ask about phones or anything else later. For now, it's better to get to safety, and to make sure everyone's as okay as they're going to get amidst all the chaos.

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