Commissions and Cupcakes


lene_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Commissions and Cupcakes
Synopsis Ygraine and Lene catch up on more of one's future and one's past when Lene visits the Endgame safehouse.
Date April 26, 2011

Skinny Brickfront

With warm and sunshine has come an excuse for a change in at least one fugitive's attire. Stowed away are the heavy woollen sweaters and high-necked pullovers. Instead, Ygraine is displaying some of her pallid British skin to the world - or at least the other residents of Endgame's safehouse.

Presently working on sorting and tidying supplies in the kitchen, the former cyclist is singing to herself (Savage Garden's Affirmation), while the brilliant dragons put on her back by Xiulan dance and writhe in response to the shifting of muscles beneath them, exposed to view by the Briton's choice of a backless halter top and black denim cut-offs for her attire in the day's humid heat.

Lene lets herself in quietly enough, not announcing her arrival and yet not so quietly she'd be considered someone sneaking around; as usual, she carries two bags of groceries to keep the safehouse residents well fed; some fresh produce and bagels and the usual oddball item that seems to come with her moods — today's is coconut cupcakes.

She heads into the kitchen. "Hi, Ygraine," she says, a little shyly as she moves to put the bags down on the counter. She's not dressed as summery as the Brit — jeans and a faded green Care Bear shirt, along with sparkly silver TOMS make for her casual wear. Apparently it's not a "pounding the pavement" day for the unemployed college girl.

Visibly starting in surprise upon hearing movement, Ygraine abruptly cuts off her singing - blushing a bit as she looks around - then grinning, starting to move towards Lene, only to abort the gesture and hastily set aside the cans she was holding. Then she holds out her hands towards the younger woman. One effect of her sleeveless top is that her wounded arm is exposed - clearly thinner than the other, it also sports angry scars on each side of the bicep, where the rifle round cored a hole clean through reinforced leathers and arm alike.

"Hello, there. Long time no see, it feels like. But welcome to our humble hovel. And thank you for the supplies. Can you afford these? Have you found a job? Would you like a cup of tea?"

"I was here a couple nights ago. I brought Liz back some cold meds, if she needs 'em still," she says, with a nod toward the bags, then moves to give Ygraine a hug. Her green eyes squint a little at Ygraine's arm, and her teeth rake over her lower lip before she turns her head from the injury to plant a kiss on the Briton's cheek.

"It wasn't a lot, and I did some dog walking for some rich people in the East side this morning! I got paid $20 dollars to walk a fat chihuahua and a something fray-zee two blocks, can you believe it? I think I'm gonna give up on real employment and just walk rich people's pets because they're too lazy," she says brightly as she steps out of the hug. "And it'll give me more time to study, I guess."

Ygraine presed warmly into the hug, though for her part it's still markedly lop-sided, her good arm squeezing much more firmly than the other. "Pet-walking's a professional business, in many places", she assures her not-exactly-a-daughter, lips curling into a smile. "And New York still has its glitterati in need of pampering. So if you can manage it, it sounds like a good plan to me. But… what is it that you're studying?"

"I wouldn't call it a profession, but it pays well enough if I can maybe manage it between school and, you know." There's a vague wave of her hand to fill in the blank — save the world, change the future, all that jazz. "I'm studying mechanical engineering at Columbia."

She moves to the counter, hands reaching behind her to boost herself up onto the surface, legs crossing and swinging. "Anyway, my roommate has a good job, so it's not like we're not gonna make the rent or anything, buuuut I feel a little bit like a leech."

Ygraine's brows lift, then she offers Lene a distinctly impressed look. "Wow. Very practical. I read history, then international relations - as you probably know, come to think of it. I'm not bad with a spanner, but as a degree? Good for you. I've seen it claimed that engineers are the real force for change in the world, creating and maintaining the devices that alter the ways in which people can live their lives…"

Moving to roughly mirror Lene's position on the opposite side of hte room, Ygraine perches on the wall, lying on it - up right to the rest of the room, but with her knees drawn up and feet resting on the wall, hands tucked behind her head. "Room-mate? Another one of your fellow conspirators in changing the world for the better?"

The younger woman smiles a little at the impressed look. "I know I come off as an airhead, but I'm smarter than I look," Lene offers, punctuating the words with a wink and a smirk. She hops off the counter and moves to the wall instead, mirroring more exactly Ygraine's position and turning her head to the side to speak to her rather than across the room.

"This never feels right to me, no matter how many times you explain your orientation thing, Ender," she tells Ygraine, a joke she'd made in the past future as a teenager. "Yeah, me and another girl, and sometimes L- er, Joshua."

Ygraine responded to the wink by sticking her tongue out - then laughing and shaking her head as Lene shows off. "It is really weird seeing someone else do that", she admits with a grin. "Though I've never thought to try to explain it in terms of the Battle Room, for people. Not that most would have a clue what that was…."

Another shake of her head, as the Briton tries to get her thoughts back from a tangent, then she quirks a smile. "So - do I get to know names for this girl and the catchily-titled L'er-Joshua? Or is this more sooper-sekrit stuff your old sort-of-Mum isn't allowed to be told?"

"Josh is just Josh." When he isn't going by other names. "Um. I shouldn't say yet, but eventually, probably, you can know. I just… you know. Everything in time." Except that goes contrary to everything they're trying to do. Lene wrinkles her nose and shrugs.

"Just so you know, I'm not usually this evasive. I didn't lie to you or hide things back home, you or Quinn or before that my Mom… we just have to be careful, and some of my friends, they're being a little slower about telling their parents, sooo I'm trying to be respectful, if that makes sense." She tips her head to look at Ygraine more directly. "If you could go back in time to change anything, what would it be? And you can't say the stuff you already went back in time to change. That's cheating."

Ygraine sits up somewhat, leaning forward to rest her arms on her knees as she studies Lene. "Heh. I might change some elements of my trips to the past, you know. Have you heard about the time that I found myself matching a tin of boot polish against a lethal Evolved ability? Probably. Guns going off, superpowers ripping the street apart - and what I've got is the ability to provide a distraction and throw a tin at someone. It worked, thank goodness. And I'd certainly want to change what happened while protecting Kaylee. I got fried and passed out. Robyn got her ribs fractured when one of the would-be assassins slammed into her. Some arrangement that avoided electrical burns for me and…."

She shakes her head. "But maybe those were the only ways in which things could work out all right. I hope not, but… it's hard to say what you can get away with changing, isn't it? Some things are clear - stop Kazimir Volken from killing everyone on the world, or not. Easy choice to make. But what smaller-scale 'improvements' really count as worth the risks involved of changing other things you didn't mean to? I can't say I have any clear rules for how to judge that."

A rueful shrug, and the Briton purses her lips. "Selfishly? The big thing would probably be finding some way to make it to Beijing, if I could. Get my Olympics in before my career goes down the pan. Or, better still, have made it four years before that - before I manifested anything odd, when I could have been certain I'd done it wholly on merit. But that would probably have required more talent than I had, to make it while only twenty one. On a larger scale? To combine selfishness and setting the world to rights - find someone who spots the potential of Evolved for sporting competition and has the money and talent to get it going, and who therefore gets us accepted early on. Even if it's as freaks and performers, the route might thus be open to avoiding the ghettoes and the large-scale violence. It'd take time, but what people enjoy watching on TV they so very often want to read about, to see more of, to emulate. And I might now be a competitor rather than a fugitive."

Ygraine's words get a nod from Lene, who then drops her feet and slips down the wall with a sudden "release" of the ability — though clearly deliberately as she lands gracefully enough and turns to face the Brit. "I'd probably go back another year earlier than we did," she says, expression suddenly darkening a bit, though she offers no reason as to why she would nor why she couldn't.

She smiles, though it seems a little forced, an effort being made to pull herself out of whatever dark place her mind just went. "I'm sorry you didn't get to the Olympics, though. I'm sure you'd've kicked ass and taken names."

Head cocking once more, Ygraine fires a rather worried look at Lene, then slips down off her own wall, stepping closer and reaching out for the younger woman - though she resists the temptation to simply grab her for a hug regardless of Lene's own preferences.

"Against the Brits who actually made it to Beijing? Probably not. Britain fielded by far the best cycling squad in the world at that time", she says with a wry smile. "But simply being an Olympian would have been fantastic. Literally the fulfilment of dreams….."

A soft sigh, then a worried look. "Lene… if there's anything I can do to help, please tell me. Now, or in future. Lending a sympathetic ear, or more directly. Or just… oh! That's a point. I've got some bad amateur artwork for you, if you want it. Spent rather a lot of time drawing, while I'm here, and some of it's not too terrible. I… wondered if you might like a piece. My own desperate attempt to help you by making you smile."

"So I've heard," Lene says of the British cycling prowess, a slight smirk that hints she's heard it many times from Ygraine. "And thanks. Don't worry about me, though." Another forced smile. "Also, you'll get used to it… eventually. You did back… in the future." Time travel is awkward in conversation.

"I'd love to see it, or even have some of it," she says more brightly, allowing the conversation change to pull her mood with it. "Are they all of me? Did you get my good side? I like my eyes to be more on the jade side of green than chartreuse, and my hair to be cooler than warm…" Her eyes sparkle and her lips curve into a smirk to let Ygraine know she's not totally serious.

Giggling, Ygraine attempts to slide an arm around Lene's waist. "Colours, I've never been that good with, I confess. Hopefully I improve in time. But I mostly just work in pencil or charcoal. Care to come up to my luxurious studio, so that you can view the selection? Or do you want to tuck into your cupcakes down here while I go to fetch a few of the pieces I'm least embarassed by?"

Lene grins. "The cupcakes are for you guys… You're victim to my whims. I'm sure someone won't like coconut, but I'll come back tomorrow and eat any you all haven't." She slips an arm around Ygraine's waist.

"Lead the way, Ender," she quips, mood successfully back on the upswing, it would seem.

"Normally", Ygraine replies, expression and tone both turning teasing as she starts guiding Lene towards the stairs. "When a charming young woman got this close and started making jokes about my abilities, I would probably scoop her up in my arms and carry her up a wall, or something of the sort. But you're spared that, if only because I'm weeks away from putting my arm under that kind of stress - and slinging you over a shoulder in a fireman's hoist probably wouldn't have quite the same effect. So instead I just have to embarass you with words…"

A broader smile does the job of completely eradicating the gloom of just a few moments later. "Sounds about right. Though you never did stick me on a wall for time out, I'm happy to say. I just thought you did when I manifested and thought you did it to me," Lene says, repeating the story she'd told Quinn a few days ago.

"Your arm wasn't like that in the future," she offers quietly, and the smile fades. "I'm sorry if we changed that, Ig."

That hinted-at tale is clearly news to Ygraine, given the distinctly startled look it prompts from her. "I…." A shake of her head, then she tightens her grip. "Getting shot sucks. Avoid it. And if that means calling me up, do it. I want to help", she insists quietly, before finding another smile.

"I did consider sticking Sable to a wall, back when we were butting heads. She thought I was taking advantage of Robyn, and… was handling it with all the tact and diplomacy and careful choice of wording you might imagine. Or not. She seems to have grown up dramatically in the time I've known her. I now respect her rather a lot. But did I threaten to stick you to things? Did it work to make you behave? And you really manifested for the first time with my ability? I feel oddly honoured."

The description — or antithesis of a description — of Sable makes Lene smirk, and she shakes her head. "Sable's badass," she says with firm respect for the woman, "but a pain in the ass, sometimes, too. I love her though."

She turns her arm over to show a faded but jagged scar on one side. "I fell the next day thinking I could replicate the experience from the outside of the building," she says. "Compound fracture. Leave it to me to confuse everyone with my ability. But… I wasn't so little that you guys needed to threaten me much. Like I told Robyn, you both sort of treated me like I was just a short grown up."

She waits for Ygraine to open the door to her room. "No longer short. Not much more grown up, I guess."

Ygraine looked curious but unconcerned upon seeing the scar, but winces sharply when Lene proceeds to explain its origin. "You… you seem to be doing a rather good job, you know. And in all honesty, I never really knew what a 'normal' kid of that age should be like anyway."

Ushering Lene into a room that does indeed look to have been very much taken over for Ygraine's artwork, the Briton glances around before moving to crouch by her sketch pad, clearly rather self-conscious. "When I was twelve, I was just getting really hooked on cycling. From then on, I was far more interested in learning how to go faster for longer than in just about anything else. Bands, boys, booze - no competition for a better bike, for me."

There's a raise of brows at 'boys,' and Lene smirks, folding her arms across herself while she waits for the sketchbook, her green eyes darting around to take in the rest of the work. "We didn't ride a lot, though we had some mountain bikes. I only manifested three years ago. Late bloomer, I guess, compared to some. But once I did, I kinda got obsessed with it… I guess sort of the same thing. And kinda the same thing. And I was competitive. Probably a bit of a brat."

"I only manifested when I was twenty three. And it took getting nuked to bring it out", Ygraine says dryly. "Regular Marvel superheroine, I am. Albeit without any funky green glows."

Rising to her feet, with her sketchpad cradled in her arms, the Briton offers Lene a swift grin. "And yes, I was interested in boys. Jen's the first girl I ever asked out. Robyn the second and last. But the lifestyle of training seriously - let alone touring Europe for competitions - didn't really make for lasting relationships. That's… partly why I treasure ties so much."

A somewhat guilty little shrug, then she carefully flips open the pad, riffling through the stiff pages to reach her desired target, turning the book to let Lene see a three-quarters portrait of the young woman herself, sporting a pensive expression with her gaze somewhere past the viewer.

Lene smirks a little and doesn't offer any judgements or comments on the liking of boys or girls, and then glances down at the sketchpad. Her brows dip, and she tips her head, studying the portrait.

"I look so serious," she says with a small laugh, as if such a notion is outrageous. "It's good… though I think my nose is a lot longer than you made it," she says, reaching up to rub her nose. "But it looks better in your picture, I mean. You flatter me." She tips her head back to Ygraine with a smile. "Will you draw one of maybe Robyn for me? And yourself?"

"I… gave Robyn most of the better ones I have of her, before I went on the run", Ygraine admits bashfully, cheeks colouring a little. Then she clears her throat and chuckles. "And some of the others, I'm not exactly sure are the sort of thing I should give to her adoptive daughter. But let me see…. I could let you have a look, and see if there's anything I have already that you would like. Or I can take it as a commission, if you want. A picture of Robyn, and… self-portraits, I've never really done. A rear view of me on a bike, I could probably manage. Not much more than a giant arse, that. But a proper self-portrait? I could give it a go."

Cheeks grow rosy at the mention of things she shouldn't see, and then Lene laughs aloud at the 'giant arse' remark. "No, I don't want a picture of your ass, Ig. I demand a proper self portrait. It's good to challenge yourself. I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote from you at some point when you made me do something I'd rather not, so turnabout is fair play."

Her eyes sparkle, and she glances at the sketch pad. "Is that for me, or just to show me? I'll… try to get some photos, maybe, taken, and you can have some of me. Right now all I have are my IDs, I'm afraid."

Ygraine sticks her tongue out, then giggles. "I… draw a lot as therapy. And drawing me isn't… well. I'm fighting my opinion of myself a lot of the time. Putting that on the page wouldn't help. But as a commission, I think that I can give it a go, certainly. And… hrmmmm."

Some more flipping, and another image of Lene is reached - this one clearly incompete, though the subject is obvious enough: Lene, this time down as far as her shoulders, with her head thrown back in laughter and a hint of a hand raised to one side. On the opposite page are various efforts to work out how to draw the young woman's hair.

"I could possibly offer you this one. Or have you sit, for a while, and let me draw you from life rather than memory. It'll let me trap you here with a requirement to talk while I work, which sounds good to me."

The laughing image brings a smile from Lene, who looks up at Ygraine. "You shouldn't have to fight your opinion of yourself. You're a beautiful person. Embrace yourself," she says quietly, then moves to sit in the corner of the room, opting to align her spine with the wall, and drawing her knees up toward her chest.

"I'll sit. And talk," she says, one hand reaching up to push a strand of red hair out of her face.

"We'll just have to raid the cupcakes in a bit."

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