Fingerpainted Memories


colette_icon.gif felix_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Fingerpainted Memories
Synopsis Early in the morning, Colette and Tamara fingerpaint on the roof of Felix's apartment. But memories, like acrylic paint, are dissolved by the flow of water.
Date October 28, 2008

Cliffside Apartments, Roof

From the third story rooftop of Cliffside Apartments, the dirty and gray skyline of Long Island City comes into full view. Surrounded on all sides by industrial complexes, warehouses and factories, this converted mill building views little more than a sea of concrete and glass. To the northwest, the jagged skyline of Manhattan shows the bristling and broken husks of buildings ruined by the bomb, half visible in their gutted states.

The roof itself is spacious, and like man apartment complexes features a small community garden of vegetables in black plastic bins. Tomatos, carrots, cucumbers and an assortment of other easy to grow plants are shared by the tenants, originally planted by the building owner back before the bomb. Some old and worn patio furniture has been brought up onto the roof as well to allow modest relaxation, though much of it is usually occupied by the innumerable birds that seem to gravitate to the building. Ravens, mostly, perch upon the ledges and furniture during most hours of the day and night.

After visiting Judah, and picking up Chinese, Colette and Felix came home to find Tamara seated on the front steps of the apartment building. Waiting, as she often does, with infinite patience. She stayed the night, and didn't quite disappear come sunrise. But the girl did retreat to the rooftop after a little while, where she now leans on the railing, arms crossed and her loose blond hair falling forward about her face. She doesn't appear to have any qualms about the height, as she studies the street below — its people, cars, dogs, and birds — with distracted curiosity. Tamara wears a crimson-colored sweater and dark blue jeans today, the scarf she carried around for weeks no longer in evidence despite the slight chill in the morning air.

It's early enough that Fel isn't hurrying to go to work. He's in sweatpants and t-shirt and sneakers as he comes wandering up on to the roof, cup of tea in hand - a little time to watch the sunrise after breakfast, before he changes clothes and straps on the gun. He doesn't speak, however, merely offers a nod in greeting.

That whole night's worth of events was music to Colette's ears, and it only reinforced to the girl that her own cooking might now draw Tamara in, but takeout from down on Canal Street was a shoe-in. Having expected Tamara to be long gone come the next morning, it's with a leisurely pace that Colette goes about her usual morning ritual, but it's in the finding Tamara gone from the apartment that sets in her mind what activity should be first on the order of business today.

That order of business takes her out to the roof, the old and worn steel door creaking loudly as it swings open, catching the wind before buffeting back into Colette, eliciting a squeak from the young girl as she's struck by it. A clack and a clatter accompanies that, as two small plastic jars of paint roll away from the door and across the roof, ending exactly where Tamara is standing. Colette rubs her nose, head tilted down and eyes cast to the side, as if to glare at the door for what it did.

As she makes it out onto the roof, it's clear she intended to come up here for something other than gazing out at the far-too-early morning skies. Under one arm she carries an overly large ring-bound sketchpad, filled with mostly loose pieces of thick-stock paper, "Stupid door." She mumbles under her breath, not assuming that anyone else is even out on the rooftop as her eyes begin scanning for the missing jars of paint, only to spot not only Tamara but Felix as well.

She halts in her tracks, swallowing awkwardly. Always clumbsy at the worst times.

Tamara automatically leans down and scoops up the stray jars of paint in a fluid motion, not even hesitating to look down at them — or giving them the chance to come to a complete stop. She casts her gaze in Felix's direction instead, greeting the federal agent with an amiable smile. He may not speak, but she does. A little. "Good morning." The girl turns a little farther, holding one jar in each hand and looking over at Colette, head canted just a touch.

"Morning, ladies," Fel's never exactly a perky guy, but he seems cheerful enough, as he squints into the morning breeze. IT's chill, but it seems to please him. "Good time of day to do some drawing," he notes to Colette, as if it were a matter of course. Surely that's not small talk from him. "Did you both sleep well?"

"A-ah, oh, um…" There's an awkward smile that comes from Colette as she sheepishly makes her way towards Tamara, offering a faint smile to Felix, cheeks coloring from either the wind or the way she takes his question. "S-sleep was good!" She exclaims awkwardly, smiling as one hand reaches out to take the jar of paint, only her fingers coming out from the long sleeve of her black hooded sweatshirt. "I ah, actually… came out here to paint some, and, you know…" Her eyes divert to a paint-spattered boom box set between a pair of old plastic lawn chairs, one of which is laying on its side from how windy it was last night.

Colette stuffs the jars of paint into the front pouch of her hoodie, clunking with a couple more already in there. Then, as a thought crosses her mind, she looks back to Tamara with her head tilted to the side, "Can…" She's almost afraid to ask, given how poorly her other ideas have gone. "Do you like to paint?" A faint smile starts creeping up on her lips.

Tamara's gaze returns to Felix, and she regards him contemplatively for a while. Musing over the question, perhaps; finding the place in her understanding where it fits. In the end, she merely shrugs. "The mirror sleeps; the mirror wakes." Not exactly a definite answer. "All was well," the older girl adds, a slightly belated attempt to provide a more acceptable (but less meaningful) answer. She looks to the buildings rising on one side, a faint frown gathering — and, after a moment more, back to Felix, that frown still present. "Do you?"

Colette's question draws Tamara's focus to her, the frown fading but a faintly dubious expression arising in its place. It's not a 'no'; more of an 'I'm not sure what to do with that question' look. Tamara thinks about it for a while, until finally she shrugs again. Even if she still looks rather puzzled. "It's colors." Not that that's any real answer, either.

And that has Fel's gaze darting away, as if to avoid Tamara's - he ambles up to the edge of the roof, to contemplate the light slowly spreading over the city. "Well enough," he says, still determinedly cheerful. "I didn't know you painted, Colette," he says, gently.

Colette purses her lips and exhales a heavy breath, blowing an errant lock of her hair away from her eyes, "Well, that's…" She nods, slowly, "That not a no." She admits with a grin, using her free hand to lightly tug on the shoulder of Tamara's sweater, just getting loose fabric between her fingers as she does, "C'mon, get your hands dirty!" She lets go of the pinched fabric, then backpedals over to the lawnchair, throwing her meager weight down on it with a creak as she begins removing the jars of paint from her pouch. Eyes uplift and her head turns to regard Felix, "Well, kinda? Not very good at it. It's something my sister got me into the habit of."

For a moment, there's a reminiscent expression on her face, eyes averting to the rooftop as she scuffs her feet, opening up the sketch-pad to reveal mostly abstract pages full of colors and bizarre shapes. One of which looks like a finger-paointed depiction of the day the Bomb hit. She frowns, "I uh, had some issues growing up, bad stuff. Sis was really helpful, she said that painting can be a good relief of stress n'stuff, some psocyhology thing…" Leafing through the paintings, she finds a blank page and tears the paper out, crouching down off of the lawnchair to lay it flat on the rooftop, using some loose bricks nearby that seem to have been collected just for this purpose to hold the paper down. "It… it helps when'm upset about something."

Tamara is willing to be led, and so she follows, though she isn't anywhere near as exuberant about settling down to paint as Colette is. And she bypasses the lawnchair to sit down on the rooftop proper. Leaning back on her hands, palms to the brickwork, the older teen looks up at Felix. "Are you going to?" she invites the fed. The question probably being related to the subject of painting.

Felix points a thumb at himself. "Paint, me?" he asks, face crumpling into one of those too-broad, crooked grins. "Not a chance. I'm terrible at it," he says, before taking another sip of his tea. "You two knock yourself out, I'll just admire the results."

"You don't have to be good, I'm sure as heck not!" Colette wrinkles up her nose and smiles to Felix, "It's like, when I got something in my head I can't quite, you know, deal with? This relieves the stress." She tears out another blank sheet of paper, sliding it over to Tamara, using the other two bricks to settle down opposite corners. Judging from the layout, she probably uses four on her own sheet when by herself. The jars of paint, all primary colors along with black and white are laid out in a line between the two blank sheets, one by one slowly unscrewed to reveal thick acrylic paint. "No brushes, just fingers." She raises both brows with a warm smile, "Something about it being more intimate n'personal. Sis was big on like, doing things with her hands, s'all very tactile!" Her emphasis on the word clearly indicates it's not one she normally uses, but is repeating from memory. "I can't wait to see what you make." She nots to Tamara, a broad and playful smile sprea across her lips.

"Sometimes," Tamara remarks quietly, although it isn't clear exactly which comment it's meant to address — or whom. She studies the paper set before her, straightening up and tucking her hands into her lap, not yet so much as reaching for any of the jars. Her expression is a pensive one; maybe she's deciding what to paint?

"I can see it," Fel says. And then checks his watch, which has his contemplative air disappearing entirely. "Crap," he mutters, "Gotta go change for work. I'll be home around six," he notes as an aside to Colette, before hurrying for the stairs back down.

Watching Felix with a furrowed brow, the young girl offers him an unusual smile, mixed with something bordering on appreciative. "Have a good day!" She calls out with as much cheer and honesty as can be had from her, it seems the time spent here has given her reason to latch onto the agent much in the same way she had Judah, like a surrogate father or uncle. Her gaze turns towards Tamara, head tilted to the side, "Don't think, just do," She says in a rather thoughtful way, dipping two fingers fingers into the white paint, and two finger on the opposite hand into the black paint, "It's not about thinking, it's about emotions. What you're feeling, or maybe what you're wanting?" She starts tracing straight lines with her two fingers, a pair of paralell lines in white and black, then begins wavering her hands from side to side to cross the lines, smudging them into shades of gray at the middle. "It's… about personal things." She uses both hands equally, creating identical patterns in white and black on either side of the page, doing her best to make sure the're the same as she uses the sides of her hands to smooth out the monochromatic colors into gradients.

"No," Tamara disagrees simply. It's a very mild disagreement, as such things go, and the older teen fails to elaborate. But she picks a color — blue — dips her fingers in it, and lets them draw. It'll make Colette happy. As art, however, she seems to be trending in a direction that makes abstract look organized. The addition of yellow to the page brings several shades of green along with it, and no more clarity.

Eyeing the choices of colors, and trying to squeeze meaning out of the simple disagreement, Colette exhales a soft sigh. The girl continues to paint with both hands, now having created two equal gradients of black and white, faded on the outer edges, darkening towards the center where they turn gray. The white is, admitedly, very difficult to see on the paper, save for a slight change in texture and tone. "See, it helps me put my thoughts together. I just… let my fingers work, and the paint just flows." She nods once, smiling warmly, then glances over to Tamara's paper canvas again. "Usually… I paint when I'm trying to figure you out." It's not often she's honest about her own relative incompetence in that regard. "When I'm… you know, being stupid n'just thinking about something you said I couldn't figure out…"

Tamara continues to make marks on the paper as Colette speaks, listening to her words. When the younger girl has finished talking, the elder looks across to Colette, blinking slowly, her head tilted at a curious angle. "What did it tell you?" she inquires quietly, her fingers lifting from the paper and lacing together. Regardless of the blue-green-yellow paint the action smears all over her hands. Hands can be washed later.

"Well," Colette looks down to the paper, smiling softly as she reaches down to dip her fingers into the red paint, then rubs both of her hands together to smear it across both palms. The black and white already on opposite hands turns one a dark shade of muddy brick red, and the other a lighter shade of rosy pink. She leans down, pressing both hands to the still tacky white and black sides, creating a mirrored picture of handprints, one slightly lighter than the other. "I guess you could say this is telling me…" She lets the last word linger for a moment, before turning her mis-matched gaze up to Tamara. "Every mirror's got a reflection!" She nods, then furrows her brow, "Whatever that means." Her eyesbrows give a bit of a teasing waggle.

"It's not so much about the answer, as how you feel when you're doing it." The young girl nods her head once, then, rather abruptly, looking up to Tamara. "Do you think I should start pinning my bangs to one side?" She gestures towards her blind side, "It'd keep 'em out of… um, out've my face. But, I…" She smiles, awkwardly, "I thought maybe I'd get yoour opinion." Idly, she scratches at her cheek, leaving a pink streak there from the paint. Faces, too, can be cleaned later.

Tamara lets her hands rest over her lap, not quite letting them touch the jeans, her elbows on her thighs. She smiles slightly at Colette's teasing remark — but because the other girl ascribes it no meaning, neither does she.

The question of hairstyle brings that puzzled frown back to Tamara's face, the lines a little deeper this time. There's that word again — or the implication of it. Opinion. Like. "They were your hair," the older girl says, a trifle slowly. Working her way through the response as though the query might be a potential trap. "It wasn't from the mirror."

Pursing her lips slightly, Colette tilts her head to the side, "M'not asking what I do," She notes plainly, wrinkling her nose for a moment, "Though, I guess, if you told me to do it I probably would," Her eyes shift to the side, then back to Tamara. "I'm asking what you like! You know, prefer more than one or the other?"

She leans in, head tilted to the side slightly, one brow raised. "You pulled my hair away from this eye once, said it gets in the way. But, it can't see anymore…" Her smile is small, but honest, "I… I thought maybe you did that because, um, you thought it looked better." Her eyes drift ever so subtly from side to side, as if searching each of Tamara's individually for some lost meaning. "There's got to be things you like more than others… Colors, smells, people?" Perhaps that's a bit heavy-handed on Colette's part, but the girl can't help herself.

It's that word again. With friends. Like. Prefer. Tamara looks askance at Colette as the younger girl elaborates upon her question, filling in the background. The reference to her own previous actions is met with an expression both befuddled and apologetic. I believe it because you say it… but I don't know what you're talking about.

The word reappears, and Tamara tries. Maybe it'll work out. "I… It's…" Looking up at Colette, her lips press into a thin line. Her hands have fallen away from one another, palms held idly and turned upwards over her lap, fingers curling in as though to hold something. Something that slips between said fingers and washes away.

The older girl draws back into herself, hair falling forward around her face. Tamara's attention is visibly no longer on Colette, eyes gone unfocused, pupils dilated too far. "Silver glitter, ribbons falling. Don't look — " Her voice is a rasping whisper, turned inwards rather than out. " — don't look; so loud. Whispers rising in the dark." She lifts her hands to her ears, fingers still curled in against her palms, not that the gesture does her any good.

Maybe it won't work out so well after all.

Disappointment quickly turns to concern, and then shifts downwards into outright fear as Colette watches Tamara's descent from uncertainty into something bordering on panic. The young girl's eyes grow wide and fearful, listening motionlessly as the wild-haired blonde begins to struggle through her words, spilling sentences from her mouth in a rambling of what is — to Colette — madness. The girl manages to exhale a shuddering, frightful breath, fingers curled tight towards her palms with droplets of red hued paint dripping down onto the paper canvas. She whimpers, weakly, and scrambles towards Tamara, stepping across her own painting as she wraps her arms around the girl, "H-Hey, s-stop… I-It's okay, Tamara?"

Colette's jaw trembles as she talks, her hands shakily smudging paint across the shoulder of the young girl's sweater, and the only thought running through her mind is that she broke the poor girl. "Tamara, it's okay, I — I'm s-sorry, I, p-please…" A hand moves, reaching up to try and rest against her cheek, smudging pinkish paint just beneath the girl's eye in streaked fingerprints, tilting her head up just a bit to try and look into those too-dark eyes, as if to say it's me, I'm here.

Those words don't come, only choking anxiety and a shaky touch that leaves tiny spots of paint in the blonde's bangs. Her heart beats rapidly deep in her chest, breathing hastened, terrified and confused as the one person she cares about most seems to have been brought to this state by her own incessant curiosity.

Colette's few, halting words might as well be the wind whistling past, for all the attention Tamara pays them. The embrace elicits a greater response, the older teen first surprised but quickly leaning into the contact, her own green-daubed fingers clinging to Colette's shirt. She's almost as shaky as Colette, and the attempt to look into her eyes meets a gaze that won't quite stay still, following flickers of images that her companion can't see.

But the only sound she voices is a soft reassurance, or at least an attempt at it. "Ssh." Even if the specifics of here and now have gone elusive, a general sense still comes through, echoed in the shifts of possible and probable — and she tries to set it right. Don't worry. This despite the way Tamara still clings to the younger girl, as though she were a lifeline; the water that wells in her eyes without quite ever flowing over and falling; the tension in her frame reflecting the inner struggle to put the pieces back in order.

That her embrace is returned seemed to surprise Colette almost as much as the breakdown did. That affirmation of need for stability, of grounding reinforces her decision, and that paint-dappled hand moves away from Tamara's cheek. Colette embraces the older teen, then draws her close, giving a firm squeeze as she settles her head down on Tamara's shoulder. She tries to be the strong one, amidst fear that the other girl may have broken something so far beyond Colette's understanding. It's a difficult bravery to hold on to, as ephemeral as Tamara's grasp on the past, and equally fragile. Her arms shift, hands curling up to rest at the center of Tamara's back, nose pressed into the side of her neck as Colette struggles to keep her compsure despite every single emotion in her wanting there to be panic and tears.

"I didn't mean to…" Finally able to whisper out an apology for something she couldn't have ever forseen, the words end up being felt more so than heard, a warm breath that is exhaled across bare skin and wavy hair. It's the shaking of Colette's thin frame that restrains the panic, keeps the fear down, in that ragged hope that the girl in her arms will be okay. But all she can see when her eyes are closed as they are, is that expression of fear and what could be pain on Tamara's face, the sight of hands going to her ears, that struggling motion to cope with the torrent unleashed; All Colette's fault, at least in her eyes.

Fingers curl into the fabric of Tamara's sweater, the mess of paint smudges and staining not even a thought as she clings to Tamara in a way that implies she's afraid the girl will turn to smoke and slipbetween her fingers if she does not. Her mouth opens, perhaps to speak, perhaps to try and let out that ragged and angry sob she wants to, but nothing but breath escapes. Words mean so much less than actions, and right now that fear is palpable enough to keep her held fast to Tamara, grounding them both in the now.

There is no fault but Tamara's choice — though this may not be something Colette ever truly understands. The older girl makes no move to extricate herself from Colette's grasp; she just closes her eyes, leaning her head against her friend's shoulder. Time passes, and it doesn't pass; how do you count moments that are experienced but do not exist, may never come to be? Slowly, piece by piece, Tamara's tension eases, but she still neither moves nor speaks.

It's the easing of the tension that begins to put Colette's mind to ease, perhaps also in the peace of mind derived from knowing that Tamara can just as easily find solace in Colette as the younger girl can in her. That, despite the situation, bring some semblance of happiness to Colette, but it's bittersweet. In that passage of time, Colette's eyes close, the brush of lashes against Tamara's neck the only indication. She stays there with the girl held fast in her arms, and in the same way held in like respect. There is some symmetry in their connection, much as there is in the fingerpainted image left to flap in the chill morning breeze nearby. reflections in a mirror, unable to meet because of the divide of glass between them.

"I'm sorry…" She says in a gentle voice, after a long time of silence, "I'm so sorry…" Her arms squeeze tighter, just for a moment, as if to remind the other girl she's there, that she cares. "I didn't mean — I just wanted to — " This time the tightening of the embrace is reflexive, for her not Tamara. There's a dampness felt against Tamara's neck, warmth of tears that Colette finally lets out, followed by a momentary shake of her shoulders. She's silent, though, in that trembling, she wants to be strong, but she's so scared. "Please be okay."

In time, Tamara shifts slightly, bringing one of her hands up to rest against Colette's hair. The change from seeking assurance to comforting her friend is accompanied by another soft, soothing sound. She still doesn't move to end the embrace, letting Colette take from it what solace she needs in the moment, and herself using the time to silently strengthen her awareness of the present. It's on the strained side — but it's there.

Paint streaks through Colette's dark hair at the touch, a hint ceurelean of blue amidst stark black. She lets out a somewhat strangled laugh, sniffling as a smile crosses her lips. That gentle sound is exactly what Colette needed to hear, reassurance that the person she cares so much for is still there, and didn't get lost beneath the current when she dipped down into the water to find what Colette asked of her.

Another, somewhat softer sniffle comes a moment before Colette slowly leans back, enough to look at Tamara, one hand moving to brush a lock of blonde hair from her face, leaving an errant streak of pale red across her forehead. Her eyes wander, half-blindly peering at one blue eye and then the next, the way someone would look into a window to see if someone was inside of a house. She smiles, faintly, resting her hand down on Tamara's cheek, leaving a tacky impression in pink on the girl's skin. Both now smudged and spotted in paint, on skin, clothing and hair, look like a finely mis-matched pair, just like Colette's eyes. "You had me worried…" She whispers, using her teeth to restrain her lip after saying that, the guilt in her expression still heavy.

Tamara's gaze could be described as slightly dazed, not quite focused; yet she is clearly aware of Colette, and that alone is bound to be reassuring. She offers the younger girl a slightly belated, lopsided smile at her murmur, even if her expression is a bit puzzled. The precog doesn't say it, but the words seem to hang in the air nonetheless: I did? Rather than dwell on the unanswerable question, she brushes at a bit of the paint on Colette's skin and clothes with her un-painted hand, to little effect.

Eyes that struggle to retain tears still manage to extend the smile that forms on Colette's lips as Tamara speaks. The girl nods, slowly, leaning in again to pull Tamara close, "You did." She whispers softly, turning her head to the side to let her nose rest against Tamara's temple, fingers curling into her sweater again as her eyes close, "But — But it's, i-it's okay now. You're still you." She laughs shakily, "That's what matters. Because, I love you…" The admission is the final straw to break Colette's composure, those long-restrained tears finally giving way as the girl laugh out just one awkward sob, all that fear finally draining out of her now that she knows Tamara is going to be as alright as is possible. "…even if you won't remember those words." And perhaps, in that, is the saddest truth of all.

Tamara tips her head to one side, smiling softly at Colette. She wipes one of the tears from Colette's cheek with a clean finger, shaking her head slightly. "Only… when they left the shadows," she says, the words softly and carefully spoken, strung together with some deliberation. And after that one statement, she retreats into silence; eventually returning to the apartment to rest for a while, recover. Later to leave, as Tamara is wont to do, on errands unexplained and unexplainable, the memories left behind.

What's gone is gone, yes. But that's the thing about words.

They can be said more than once.

October 27th: I'm Here to Protect You

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 28th: We Are PARIAH
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