Give And Take


colette_icon.gif grace_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Give and Take
Synopsis Colette returns to the Cathedral of St.John to offer volunteer help and runs into Ygraine and Grace.
Date September 21st, 2008

Cathedral of St.John the Divine

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 - true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events - most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone - non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.

The world has been turned on its ear in the last few years, revelations about the nature of humanity itself, and a painful example of the violent nature of humanity. Freedoms have been erased, lives have been torn apart, and lives have simply been snuffed out in a single flash of light. But if there is one thing that the world has not lost since the day the world was turned upside-down, it is hope.

Some find hope in themselves, in their ability to persevere where so many others have failed. Some find hope in others, leaning on the strength of those who can support both themselves and those they care about, while some find hope in the ideal of faith, that just maybe there is a higher power out there somewhere, a force that knows the great end destination for the world. These people hold out hope that things can be better, that for all the suffering and struggling, the world will one day be a happier place. That perhaps, just perhaps, there will be a brighter tomorrow.

The Cathedral of St.John the Divine is one place these people congregate. A monolithic structure of aging stone that has survived two world wars and the devastation of New York City. Perhaps it is by no coincidence that people see this buildings constant state of repair, change and transformation a sign of the hope to come, a sign of the future and the way things are. They find hope in its stability, and they find hope in the help it offers.

"…actually, um, I've got a place to stay now." Among those who have been given hope, are the crushed and the homeless, those who's lives were brought to ruin by the bomb, those who have nothing left to lose. "I wanted to, um… Is there someone I could talk to about maybe volunteering?" She doesn't exactly know where to go to ask, and it's by the south entrance of the majestic cathedral that a rather humble looking girl speaks to a member of the clergy. "There was, uh, I-I forget her name, a woman who worked here?" Her teeth toy with her lower lip, hands wringing in front of herself nervously. "She helped me out when, um, when I didn't… I mean, I — I just thought…"

"You want to volunteer?" There's a look of surprise on the face of the aged man she speaks to, arms folded behind his back, looking like a black silhouette in his priest's frock, standing on the steps of that smaller entrance. The girl he questions, — Colette Nichols — looks up at him with a lopsided and warm smile. "Well, we've never been much for turning away help. Services are on right now though, mornin' prayer. Did you want to sit in, or just talk right to someone?"

The girl tilts her head down, upturning a half-blind stare to the priest, her smile awkward and anxious, "A-ah, well…"

Clad markedly less conservatively than anyone else visible within the church, a young woman in little other than black lycra moves up behind Colette, her footsteps soft upon the stone. Tucking her wrap-around shades into place upon a strap attached to the pack she holds in her arms, quirks a smile at the priest over the younger woman's shoulder.
"If you'd rather just speak to one of our social service people, I'd be more than willing t'show you where they are." The priest inclines his head, to which Colette seems to relax a bit, but as he looks up and over her shoulder, she catches his changed focus and nervously turns to see what he's looking at. Spotting a familiar face, Colette's smile grows and she begins to relax some, turning back to the priest with a lopsided smile.

"I can wait till after services are over, I…" She offers the gray-haired man an honest smile, "I might come in and listen. I've, you know, never been big on this stuff, but…" She seems nervous in her honesty, fingers working at the sleeves of her hoodie. "You know, I… I owe this place for something really special."

"You don't owe us anything, my dear." The priest shakes his head, a soft laugh mixing with his words. "What we do in His name is offer help to those who need it. Knowing that a difference has been made is reward." His head cants to the side slightly, eyeing Ygraine. "Good mornin'," His greeting is warm and friendly, the priest's demeanor very grandfatherly. "Is there something I can help you with, or is this young charge yours?" One hand moves out from behind his back to motion to Colette, noticing her fond reaction.

Ygraine chuckles, shooting an amused glance at Colette before refocusing upon the priest. "I thought that I'd come in and have a look at the place - I've not been back in the past couple of years - and drop off a few items for the Clothing Exchange", she says in her educated English tones. "But Colette and myself have met before", she adds with a smile to the girl in question.

Nodding, the priest affords Ygraine a gentle smile, though he seems momentarially surprised by her accent. "A very generous morning it seems, then." He gestures with one hand towards the doors behind him. "Services are in progress right now, and you're both welcome to come in and take part. I'll go let the staff know that you've some clothing," His eyes wander to Colette, "And that you'd like to speak about volunteering." He bows his head to the both, giving a silent farewell as he steps through the open doorway into the side foyer, a few young men and woman walking past as he does with cardboard boxes.

"T-Thanks!" Colette awkwardly calls out as the priest makes his exit, turning around to face Ygraine, "I've got an odd habit of bumping into you lately." She winks, folding her hands behind her back, one foot scuffing the stone steps. "I um," She tilts her head to the side, looking a bit pensive, "Elaine?" She passes off a nervous smile and laughs to herself, "I — I'm sorry, I'm kind've bad with names."

Ygraine inclines her head to the man, before quirking a swift grin at Colette. "Ygraine. Not a common name, so I'm not surprised it didn't stick first time around. And this is only our second meeting, as I recall - but it's good to see a familiar face. There are few enough of those, in New York."

"Yes, but two coincidental meetings in a city of a whole bunch?" It's a technical term, for Colette anyway, "That's pretty unusual!" She tries to feign grace at her misremembering of Ygraine's name, a crooked smile spread across her lips as she descends a step with a hop to land in front of the lycra-clad courier. "So, Raine," She emphasizes the nickname, so she'll remember it, shoving her hands into the pockets of her unzippered hoodie. "It makes it pretty obvious this is more than just coincidence." At first, perhaps, it seems she might be trying to make a salient point about fate, or perhaps serendipity, but no — this is Colette. "Are you stalking me?" A teasing smile spreads across her lips.

Ygraine laughs, then blinks in surprise, cracking a grin as she shakes her head. "Hey, I first came here back in '06. Were you a visitor then? This is just my first time back, since… well. I figured I should stop dithering and get around to it." She hefts her pack. "Got some gifts for them, that should be more use to people here than to me."

Colette's expression darkens for a moment when Ygraine asks that question, and her fingers find something in the pocket of her hoodie, the sound of something crinkling in there as her shoulder momentarially tenses. Her eyes blink, teeth drawing over her lower lip before she looks back up again, managing a smile as thoughts are brushed aside. "That's really nice of you, y'know." Her smile turns more genuine now, "I um, no I…" It's obvious something disrupted her playful mood, "I wasn't really a visitor in… um, back then."

Her tongue brushes over her lips, brows tensing. "I just came up here to, um, I dunno…" Colette rolls her shoulders for a moment, then withdraws a creased and faded piece of photograph paper from her hoodie. "Hey, um, Raine," She sticks with it, "Can I ask you a favor?" Whatever it is in Colette's hand, she curls her fingers around it with that same crinkling sound.

Ygraine frowns slightly, but apparently from concern rather than anger. "Sure…. I can't promise I'll be able to do it, but feel free to ask", she says gently, though she's clearly fighting off the urge to ask questions of her own.

Nodding, Colette turns that piece of paper around with her fingers, then holds it up. It's a badly burned photograph, half of it completely burned away, a hole in one corner, browned on the edges. There's a look in the young girl's eyes, something mixed between hope and hopelessness, her teeth pressed down to quell any movements of her lower lip as she gives Ygraine a clear view of what is still visible in the picture. It's a woman, dark hair pulled back into a bun, an awkward and perhaps joking expression on her face. She's dressed entirely in black, moving the strap from what might be a bag off of her shoulder.

"T-this is, um," She swallows, "This is my sister, Nicole Nichols." She motions for Ygraine to take the photograph. "I um, she… she's been missing since the bomb, I…" Her demeanor is a complete reversal of the composed and cheerful girl that was just teasing Ygraine but moments ago. "Just, can you look at that and tell me if you recognize her? I-If you've seen her before? Y-you see lots of people, s-so… so maybe…" She's trying not to cry.

Ygraine looks at the picture comparatively briefly before being distracted by Colette's upset. She gives the girl a worriedly sympathetic look, then refocuses upon the singed photograph, studying it carefully. Slowly, she shakes her head. "She's very pretty…. I _might_ have seen her somewhere… but not any time recently, I'm pretty sure. Maybe before… things. But I can keep an eye out for her now."

Colette nods, unsurprised, giving a bit of a sniff as she lowers the photograph, carefully cradling it in her hand beside sliding it back into her hoodie pocket. "Thanks," She says quietly, sniffling again, then giving a feigned shivver as if to try and play off the sound as being from the chill on the breeze. "Um," Colette looks away, trying to recollect her bearings as her eyes close, one slow breath drawn in, "Thanks, I mean, for… for saying that." When she looks back up, it's clear she's managed to get her emotions back under control, her mis-matched eyes no longer showing those tell-tale signs of encroaching tears. "Sorry for getting all stupid on you." Her voice comes out as a mumble, followed by nervous laughter. She's embarassed.

Ygraine lifts a brow, then shifts her grip to tentatively - allowing plenty of opportunity to pull away - reach out and attempt to put a hand on Colette's shoulder. "Hey, she IS pretty", she says, apparently seeing nothing wrong in emphasising the present tense. "And I can see the familial resemblance, you know."

There's no sign of movement as the hand comes to rest on her shoulder, another sniffle coming from her as she keeps that smile as strong as possible. Then, following it comes another awkward laugh that grows to a more honest if not somewhat shy one. Her eyes upturn to Ygraine again, "T-Thanks," She says with a bit of color coming across her cheeks, "She is." There's no past-tense when Colette refers to her sister, there's no grieving, she's not going to give up that hope. "I dunno," Her nose wrinkles, "She's taller an' more refined an' stuff. All I've got going for me is one spooky eye," Some of her more chipper demeanor starts to come back, "and a winning personality." Colette grins playfully, sniffling once more as she shakes her head.

"Oh, I'm sure _everyone's_ more refined", says Ygraine, venturing some teasing in the hope of further lifting the mood - though she does deliver what she intends to be a reassuring shoulder-squeeze. "And they do say that personality's nearly everything…."

Colette laughs, that kind of anxious half-emotional one that masks a crack in composure, "H-Hey," Her nose wrinkles as she lowers her brows in mock indignance, "I'm all sorts've refined n'stuff." N'stuff. "I'm like, cultured and…" She cracks a smile, unable to keep up that boasting as finally a laugh comes from her. The reassuring squeeze does just that, and serves to give the girl a sense of grounding that she needs to keep her from sinking back down into less comfortable thoughts. "Hopefully it is," She says in regards to that comment about personality, "Cause I ain't got money." Her laugh is a more level now, though it's still clear that whatever brought her to show the picture and ask about it isn't quite faded yet.

Ygraine nods gently, then glances around. "If I remember aright, this place had a coffee shop back in '06. Fancy grabbing something? I've got some time before I need to head off, and the company'd be welcome…."

With a somewhat more gentle smile, Colette nods and looks over her shoulder to the door at the top of the steps the priest had exited through earlier, "I think I know what you're talkin' about," Her lips purse in thought, and she looks back to Ygraine with one brow raised over her blind eye, "But they rearranged a bunch've stuff because of the shelter. I saw some coffee downstairs though, in the hall they use for dinners. They're probably serving breakfast," Her lips curl up into a smile, finally getting over whatever was eating at her. "Besides, I need to talk to someone down there about helping out anyway!" There's the Colette that Ygraine recognizes.

Ygraine laughs softly, nodding, giving Colette's shoulder another squeeze before letting her hand drop away. "C'mon, then. I can buy you a coffee - or breakfast, if you like. And we can see about getting you a voluntary job…."

Nodding affirmatively, Colette gives Ygraine a confident smile and snatches her hand once it's lowered, taking a few steps back up the stairs, "Come on then," She pushes away those last vestiges of something clouded with a smile, "Coffee is waiting for us!" As Colette drags Ygraine willingly along with her, there's a thought that should be considered in times such as this, now that the mood has lightened. If Colette hasn't had coffee yet, is it truly a wise idea to give her any?

Too late to back out now, it seems.

Cathedral Basement

Thorugh the back halls of the Cathedral, it's clear that renovation is a constantly active process. The interior halls of the Cathedral lack that certain opulence that the main prayer chamber does. And while the old stone walls and marble floors give it some semblance of grandiose appearance, the stacks of folding tables, cardboard boxes filled with canned goods, and the constant through-traffic of transients makes it seem more like a well-built relief shelter than a place of worship.

A double-wide series of old stone stairs with anachronisticly new looking metal handrails wind down beneath the central floor of the church. The muffled sounds of prayer and orgel music echo through the halls from above. Downstairs, there is even less of a sense of old-world charm, as exposed water pipes and unfinished ceilings give the expansive basement a very worked-on feeling. Makeshift walls have been put up to separate a portion of the basement for the living quarters for the homeless that spend time here, looking quite like a disaster relief shelter, lined with rows of cots and privacy curtains. Colette's eyes linger as she leads Ygraine through the halls, not asking for directions, seeming to know her way with considerable familiarity.

It is past the living quarters, though, that she takes the courier. Bringing her to a large and open room filled with folding tables and long bench seats, the kind used in highschool caffeterias. The beakfast crowd has already thinned out and moved on by this time, most of the long tables empty, save for a few wayward souls. Serving areas serve as partitions for the kitchen in the back, and a long area of counterspace features tall coffee pots and stacks of cardboard cups. Colette, first and foremost, simply leads Ygraine over to that very space, quite eagerly. "So!" She exclaims, a grin spread out on her face, "It's not much, but it was home for a while, and the people here'll treat you well." She nods, looking back to Ygraine with a broad grin, only now finally letting go of her hand.

Ygraine is more than a touch surprised to have her hand grabbed, but doesn't object. Slinging her pack on her back for ease of carriage during the unexpectedly long walk, she grins at Colette upon being spoken to once more. "It's certainly better than many places. The Anglicans are generally good at quiet charity and half-organised chaos. "

"Half?" Colette cracks a smile, snatching a cup and a plastic cover before rising up on her toes and leaning in to look at the labeles on the coffee dispensers, "Yeah that sounds about right." Her lips crack into a crooked smile, finally finding what she wants as she slides the cup beneath the spout, pressing down on the pump as steaming hot coffee pours down in. Turning to look over her shoulder back at Ygraine, Colette tilts her head to the side. "How long've you lived here anyway, um, I mean," She grimaces awkwardly, "I figure you're not from around here, you know, sounding all Monty Python and stuff."

Counted among the ranks of those wayward souls is a face familiar to both of the new arrivals. Dressed in utilitarian clothing — a white tee printed with a tesselation-like design of blackbirds in flight and light blue jeans — dark hair fallen forward to frame her face, Grace is deep in conversation with a volunteer, one Stephen by name. Deep enough that she isn't watching the entrances, and so doesn't notice the pair who walk in for coffee; her hands move through the air as she speaks, blocking out an imaginary visual aid to whatever they're discussing.

"Monty Python?", asks Ygraine, brows raised - before she laughs and shakes her head. "I suppose it's better than some of the options…. I've only been here since August, this time. I lived and worked here for a few months in '06. Then… got evacuated out of a refugee camp hospital by my government after it." As she talks, her hands go through the motions required to provide herself with coffee. "So… I skipped all the hard work of getting things back to the state they're in now, I admit. But I'm hoping I can do something to help keep things moving in the right direction." Taking a cautious sip of her drink, she peeps around the hall - blinking in surprise as she spots Grace.

"Guess you're kind've lucky." Colette admits, moving over and rummaging through the canisters of milk and creamer, finally settling on half and half as she lightenss up her coffee, "I kind've had, well, I guess you could say a spot of bad luck." Colette laughs in a derisive manner, snatching the sugar dispenser and holding it upside down as a powdery stream flows into her cup while she talks. "My sister and I lived in Midtown," She explains, her back to where Grace is, "She went missing, day before everything went stupid." It's a colorful term for what happened, "I don't even remember it, you know, the bomb." Finally deciding enough is enough with the sugar, Colette starts stirring the mix as she speaks, somewhat distractedly. "I woke up in a hospital, paramedics said they found me in the street like, on the other side of the city from where I remember being. I guess they said it's like, a mental thing?" She taps her forehead with one hand, "The brain shutting out all the trauma or something. That's I guess what happened to my eye too." She snaps the lid on, lifting the coffee up to take a sip between words, "Oh that's good," She murmurs between sentences, "I had radiation sickness," This comes so casually, as if she said she had the flu," I had to spend a lot of time in physical therapy, saw more doctors than I even thought existed." As she turns from the counter, her eyes finally settle on Grace, and Colette makes a matching blink to the one Ygraine had made.

The blinks, identical and perplexed though they may be, do nothing to attract Grace's attention to her uninvited audience. When her hands fall, she leans one against the table they stand beside, then tips her head and looks at Stephen, apparently having asked a question. Her slightly taller companion bobs his head, but whatever his reply is, it's as quiet as Grace's earlier words; the conversation doesn't carry.

Ygraine is distracted from Grace by Colette's tale, one hand again moving to the younger woman's shoulder. "Oh, you poor thing", she murmurs. "I was on Broadway, heading North. On my motorcycle, in full leathers. I got put through a storefront by the blastwave, and… well. My next clear memories are from two days later, when I came to in that refugee hospital. I… spent most of the next year, after I was taken back to the UK, in care. In an asylum. Sort of fell apart. And that was without losing as much as you…"

Colette frowns, looking up to Ygraine at the hand on her shoulder. As she listens, there's a remarkably sympathetic expression, and the girl raises a hand to settle on top of Ygraine's, squeezing it gently. "I…" She seems a bit embarassed by calling her lucky, "I didn't know." Her eyes cast to the side for a moment, then back again. She wants to joke about the asylum, to make light of it to ease Ygraine, but she can't find a way to do it that doesn't seem to be making fun of her indirectly. It causes Colette to fluster for a moment, needing to find some way to use humor as a distraction. It's then her eyes settle on Grace.

"Uno momento," Colette notes with a flourish of one hand, setting her coffee down besides Ygraine at the counter, "She's not expecting it this time." The young girl grins with a mischevious intent, hopefully enough mischief to distract Ygraine from her thoughts. With that said, Colette begins stalking around the tables, making her way towards where Grace is, her fingers flexing as she starts shuffling up behind the dark-haired woman in a manner anyone who knew Grace well enough would know better than to do. Colette reaches out, intending to jab the demur woman right in the side with a finger in the hopes of eliciting perhaps an uncaricteristic squeal or yelp in her misguided search for a laugh…

Misguided, indeed. Stephen sees Colette's approach but doesn't think anything of it; people move about through here all the time, and the important parts of their conversation are over.

Grace notices Stephen's eyes flicker away only in the moment before the girl comes up behind — not enough time to dodge. Her reaction to the jab is not vocal, but physical, free hand clamping down on the offending wrist, the young woman whirling to face the mischief-minded teen. Because of where she is, who she's with, Grace doesn't turn the grab into a counter; instead, her other hand just catches Colette's opposite shoulder. The expression on her face is at first cold and less than pleased, but it softens quickly as she recognizes the impudent jabber. "Oh. You."

When it becomes evident that Grace knows the girl, Stephen breaks out laughing.

Yelping when her wrist is grabbed, more out of surprise than discomfort, Colette scuffs her shoes against the tile floor as her balance is offset by the motion. That hand on her opposite shoulder keeps her steadied, and she stares up, wide-eyed at Grace, at first frightened by the stern and cold look that she is greeted with, but when her expression starts to soften, Colette lets out a tiny, nervous laugh. "G'morning Grace." She says with a mumble, fingers wiggling in a makeshift waveon her restrained hand. At the laughter from who Grace was talking to, Colette musters a crooked smile. "You didn't squeak," She says in a playfully disappointed manner, teeth nervously toying with her lower lip.

Over by the coffee machine, Ygraine winces, dithering briefly over whether to hastily set aside her drink and come to Colette's aid, or make her way over more sedately. Seeing that the youngster's humour hasn't _entirely_ misfired, she opts for approaching in a more sedate manner, moving to intercept Stephen, with a view to delivering the charitable goods she's got in her pack.

Blue eyes narrow at the teen. "You're damned lucky you didn't try that stunt anywhere else." Anywhere where the intent behind such contact might have been less harmless, and reacted to accordingly. Cursing in the house of God doesn't seem to faze her any. Grace promptly lets go of Colette, turning her flat gaze onto Stephen. "And you. Should I tell Scott it's his turn to drop by?"

The threat is delivered sufficiently deadpan that Stephen seems not quite sure it isn't serious. He turns the laugh into a fit of coughing, before managing to swallow it altogether. "Um. No. No need for that." The smile isn't as easily stifled as his laughter, but he shakes a finger at Colette in an attempt to make up for it.

Rubbing at her wrist with her free hand, Colette purses her lips and downcasts her eyes, flexing her fingers of the previously restrained hand as she gives an obliging nod, "Sorry." The word comes out murmured, and the suggestion of Grace's comment to Stephen is entirely lost on her. "Jus' thought, um," Her brows furrow and she grows silent, her mis-matched stare flitting between Stephen and Grace, "M'not interrupting anything, am I?" She asks nervously, seeming to be well-aware of the mis-step on her part towards interactions with Grace.

Ygraine arrives at the edge of the awkward conversation, shooting all concerned a rather worried look - though she does offer Grace a somewhat nervous little finger-wave by way of greeting.

In response, the woman shakes her head. "No, you're not," she answers, sandpaper voice concealing emotional nuances as it usually does. "We were just about finished." Ygraine is given a brief glance and a nod, before her attention returns to Stephen. "Ali will probably call it in," Grace concludes.

Stephen also gives Colette's question a headshake for answer, affirming that she isn't interrupting. "He usually does," is the volunteer's easy agreement. "Never have to worry about you lot coming through." He seems to start to hold out a hand, then thinks better of the idea, settling for a nod instead. "Speaking of which. I need to get records together for a meeting later today. God bless - and let's not break anything irreplacable, okay?" Stephen offers a smile to all three of the ladies, before heading for the door.

Smiling somewhat nervously, Colette takes a step back from Grace, watching her for a moment with a considering expression. She watches the conversation between the two, breathing out a slow sigh. Peering at Ygraine, Colette's eyes focus past her and towards a man waiting in the hallway, dressed in a priest's frock. A nod afforded to Colette when their eyes meet is followed by a motion of his hand. "Oh," She'd entirely forgotten about why she's here.

"Um, s-sorry for disturbing your stuff, Grace." She curls her fingers closed and slides her hands into the pockets of her hoodie. With an apologetic bow of her head, Colette circles around in front of the older woman, eyes upturned to watch her as she does. "I need to go talk to, um," She motions over her shoulder with a nod, "Volunteer stuff," Her eyes flit over to Ygraine after a time, affording her a smile. She's completely forgotten the coffee now growing cold on the counter where she had left it. "Sorry Raine," She says in a gentle tone of voice, "I gotta go, okay?" Her brows furrow slightly, a glance back to Grace, wary now, though respectfully so than fearfully. "Um, if I come back soon I'll look for you both." Awkwardly slipping past Ygraine and Grace, Colette makes her way towards where the priest waits patiently.

September 20th: Coffeebreak Confrontation
September 21st: A Lesson Not Learned
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License