elisabeth_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Fostered
Synopsis Thanks are shared, for what has been fostered in the creation of the Endgame 'family'
Date November 3 2011

Skinny Brickfront

The appointed day for departure has not - quite - arrived, but the various elements of Endgame are putting the finishing touches to their preparations for their varied missions: whether that’s protecting civilians off the grid or setting out for one of the two assaults upon the Institute’s remaining strongholds.

Still, Ygraine has sought out and requested a bit of time from each of three of her companions within the safehouse, the Briton evidently trying to restrain her tendency to babble nervously - at least for long enough to deliver an invitation.

The venue is her ‘art room’: the little space she staked out as somewhere she could sketch and draw whenever needed, both as personal therapy and in pursuit of one or another of the commissions she has received or gifts she has created. It’s somewhat on the small side for four people, but it does offer more privacy than many other parts of the Skinny Brickfront, and it’s definitively not a place where a meeting will get in the other residents’ way.

It has also been tidied up, the scatter of paper and implements neatly sorted and tucked into a corner - beside which Ygraine stands, expression hopefully optimistic as people assemble.

Jaiden arrives first.

He’s been out for the past couple of days, dealing with some things that needed to be dealt with. Sure, he’s a private individual, but it doesn’t take a lot of figuring out to realize that the return of Cardinal has put a bit of a strain on his relationship with Elisabeth. Still, when he knocks on the door and peers inside, he gives Ygraine a smile and a wave before stepping in, taking one of the offered chairs and sitting, hanging his jacket over the back before leaning close to give the hostess a big hug and a squeeze of her hands.

Ygraine warmly, if rather bashfully, returns the hug and hand-squeeze. “This shouldn’t take long. And it’s not meant to be very weighty, or anything,” she assures the Aussie - and herself - before darting a glance to the door in hope that the others turn up, and she can stop going over and over (and over and over) possible words in her head. Knowing that she’s prone to over-thinking interactions with those she cares about doesn’t exactly seem to help her stop doing so.

Elisabeth isn’t far behind Jaiden, returning to the Brickfront from her own errands. She moves with a light step, curiosity lightening her expression from its usual somewhat preoccupied half-frowning one. “Hey lady,” she greets Ygraine. The smile she shoots indicates she’s not expecting there to be a problem of any kind. And she hugs the other woman lightly before moving over to sit next to Jai. A quick kiss is pressed to his temple as she takes her seat. “So what’s up?”

It's after the others arrive that Graeme does, despite that he's been in the building the whole time. Down in the basement, with the punching bag, having lost track of the time when he'd agreed to come by, and he looks around at the others assembled. At least it looks like he took a moment to wash up first, though, but it's nearly straight from whatever training he's been doing that he arrives. And there's a slight smile. "What's this, some sort of house meeting?" he asks, a bit of a grin and a tone that indicates that he's not sure whether that's a joke or not, even though he's the one that said it. There's a wave, and then Graeme sits down on the floor not far from Liz and Jaiden, and looks from them to Ygraine.

Ygraine leant into Liz’s embrace, and both she and Graeme received warmly grateful smiles… but she laughs bashfully, offering an awkward little shrug in response to the questions. “I, ahh, no. Not a house meeting. Just a crazy British lady meeting.”

She spends a moment self-consciously trying to work out quite what to do with her hands, before forcing herself to fold them in her lap.

“I… want to say thank you. I owe a lot to pretty much everyone here in our hideout. We wound up as the closest thing to a family that I’ve had in… well. Years, certainly. But you three… I wanted to try to make sure you understood how grateful I was, before we set off on our assorted crazy missions to save the world.

“I was a complete mess. I was, frankly, a pretty serious burden for a good chunk of the past few months. You three did more than anyone else to consciously, caringly, do your best to help me find my marbles again. And that was true even when I wigged out at utterly the wrong time. Which I did, on poor Liz especially. Each of you was more tolerant and more supportive than I had any right to expect. So much so that I mostly didn’t even really notice it happening at the time.

“So… yeah.” She spreads her hands, grinning sheepishly, her colouring rather higher than usual. “I wanted to try to make it clear that I think you’re all amazing. Even above and beyond the others out there in our weird family. I… wish I’d done more to deserve it. But it means the world to me.”

Jaiden sits quietly as Ygraine says her piece, smiling a little to himself, looking to Graeme and Elisabeth every once in a while, sharing wordless communication. It’s not often that he’s thanked for such a thing, so when it’s actually said, it’s kind of nice. A justification for what he’s doing, and indication that what he’s doing is going well. “You did plenty, Ygraine. It’s not about owing anyone anything, what we did for you. We did it because, like you said, in this crazy world, when everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching - they are your family.”

Elisabeth is a little surprised to be thanked for what she views as … something anyone would have done. But perhaps she overestimates the regular population. Sometimes she’s not sure. But she echoes Jaiden, her smile on the Briton gentle. “I think perhaps we were one another’s crutch, Ygraine. I wasn’t exactly in the best shape myself when I got here… and especially here in the end of the summer, waking up to a roommate screaming the place down about your ears couldn’t have been pleasant. You’ve all been the things that held me together through the past few months. I…” She pauses and meets Graeme’s eyes, Ygraine’s, and then lingers on Jaiden for a long moment before admitting quietly, “I’m not sure I would have made it through the summer without all of you. There were a few moments when I seriously considered eating my weapon.”

It’s almost a relief to say those words out loud to someone. She struggled so hard not to let anyone see how deeply damaged she was, but she suspects they all had at least a clue. “You’ve all been my anchors, too. My reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to find some … way to make even a small difference.” Elisabeth reaches up to wipe her cheek, pulling in a quick breath to quell the unexpected tears. “So don’t think for a minute that you’ve been a burden on any of us. This?” She looks at all of them again. “This is family.”

There's a nod from Graeme, and then another as Jaiden speaks, another as Liz does, and then he takes a breath in. It catches in his throat for a mom where he might be going to say something, and instead the former teacher swallows and is silent, and then looks up at the rest of them. "We've… this is." He pauses. He's usually more eloquent than this, but for a moment there's a little more silence. "Ygraine, you've never been a burden to me. You never will."

A slight smile reaches his face, though it's been in his eyes all along. "This is family," he agrees. "You've seen me at my worst, seen me when I was trying to push myself beyond my limits because I didn't know what to do with myself, didn't know… how to cope with everything that had happened and still be a person. I was fucked up in a lot of ways when I moved to New York… I'm probably fucked up still now, but it's… better. And you've given me more than I ever asked, and more than I often think I'm worth." He lets that sit there for a moment, and then continues. "But thanks to you all. I'm working on that."

Ygraine quite literally squirms, looking acutely bashful… and more than a little pleased. “I… ahh, yeah. Thank you. Again.” A swift, bright grin appears on her lips for a moment. “I… I have tried to help. To live up to my ideals. And yours. I know I occasionally even got it right. Making you cry, Liz, when I gave you those pictures… that’s actually one of the proudest moments of my life.”

Shooting the blonde an impish look, she then sucks in a steadying breath. “But there were points where I… got things wrong. Especially with Liz. So to still be trusted, by any of you, let alone…” She leans forward, reaching out to try to take her tearful room-mate’s hand. “The three of you are in great part responsible for me not winding up in the sort of condition that… that saw me detained by the state, after the Bomb. I spent eight months in an asylum, after being certified as a clear danger to myself and others.

You three… you spared me from needing a repeat of that, in your various ways. Eating a gun might have looked all too tempting to me as well, without you. I know you didn’t do it to put me in your debt. And I am delighted that I managed to provide anything in return. Both of those are true, because I think that you are all really rather wonderful.

So, yes. Family. One of our choice, but… maybe all the more strongly connected for that. And I wouldn’t want to lose my unexpected, self-invited house-guest” - she grins at Graeme - “or being woken in the night and showing you my art” - a gently encouraging smile for Liz - “or the bruises and bad landings” - a fond look for Jaiden - “since taking away any of them might take away one of you. ”

Hearing that two of the ladies he loves have considered suicide over the summer is not something anyone wants to ever hear, but in the circumstances, he can understand why. It’s been hard for all involved. The stress has been incredible, the fear constant, with few reprieves. Even Jaiden’s well-thought-out stocks have been slowly dwindling, supporting far more than they were ever designed to do, but they did their job and did it well. And Jaiden? He can only reach out to clasp Ygraine’s hand, pulling it to the middle of the ring of chairs, reaching for Elisabeth’s, pulling it over too, then Graeme’s.

“We’ve all had our issues. Our hang ups. Moments when we cracked and let the world push us down. Thing is? We were here to help the others. We supported the others when they fell. Picked them up, dusted them off, and sent them on their way. We’re each other’s support. Hell…” Jaiden snickers. “Two years ago I wasn’t a part of any of this. Retired in my garage. And if Hiro (that little shit) showed up, offering me the chance to go back and try it over again…honest to god I’d say nah, i’m fine. I’m pleased with my choices. With who I’ve thrown my hat in with. I love you all more than pretty much anything I can say and as long as I’m here and you’re all around? I’m happy.”

Elisabeth smiles slightly, holding the hand offered her. “All right now…. Are we done being mushy? Because all you people are gonna make me cry!” And the blonde hates nothing more than being a crying twit.

Graeme grins a bit as his hand is pulled in, and scoots himself to where he can lean, half against Jaiden, half against Liz, and the grin fades to a small and careful smile. And then a moment later he pushes to his feet to speak one more time. "Yeah," he says, softly. "Yeah." That's drawled out, a soft agreement complete with still not being able to find words in the usual abundance because there are these pesky feelings getting in the way. "I'm… I'm glad I know all of you." Then he looks at Liz, and says, "Now I'm done being mushy," he informs her, and sticks out his tongue for a brief moment.

Ygraine wiggles in her seat for a moment… then - with all the awkward, bashful reserve one might expect of a properly brought-up Briton - tries to escalate the stakes from Jaiden’s group hand-clasp, and go for a group hug.

“Let’s… just make sure that we continue to have each other’s backs. And fronts. I don’t like the idea of splitting up for what’s to come, but I’m glad we’re going in pairs, at least. And that Devon’s set to head for safety. You… I want you all to come back in one piece. For your own sakes, not just mine. But I’m glad that people I can trust have a role in all of this. It gives me more reason to hope it’ll actually work, and that we’ll manage what we need to. So, ahh, thank you for that too.”

Pulling back a little, if the others haven’t already done so, she ventures a rather red-faced smile. “And, umm, yeah. I think I’ve run out of mushy stuff, without decsending completely into babbling nonsense. I just… love you all.”

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