Given Values of Better


broome_icon.gif df_cardinal2_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Given Values of Better
Synopsis At long last, Tamara awakens from her recovering sleep — but the question of to whose advantage isn't easily answered.
Date December 23, 2010

Commonwealth Institute

She's been asleep for a long time. Longer than necessary for her body to overcome its wounds; the flesh is still new and mending, but very far from its original life-threatening state. Yet despite Tamara's return to physical health, not so much as a flicker of eyelids has indicated any impending return to the waking world in that entire period.

Not until blue eyes snap open abruptly, without prelude or introduction; bare feet find tiled floor, and Tamara slides through a door opened just wide enough to admit her into the hall. It snicks quietly shut in her wake.

Then she starts to run.

Her hair has grown out somewhat in the past month, no longer only just long enough to brush across shoulders; it provides a hint of warm color to contrast hospital gown and indoors-pale skin. Her feet are quiet on the corridor flooring, for all her haste; the seeress is careful to pick a route which brings her into contact with no one else. As large as the arcology is, and as comparatively few its inhabitants, that task isn't particularly difficult.

She couldn't handle a difficult one, right now.

There's a detour, once, to appropriate keys and card from the pockets of a coat left on the back of its owner's chair; a matter of timing, not to be seen. So is slipping past the guard post monitoring the stairwell which connects subterranea to the buliding above; playback on the camera recording, if anyone ever bothers, will show her departure, but for the moment they remain blissfully unaware of the young woman's passing.

Tamara is perfectly aware that certain others aren't, information conveyed by a possible convergence of shadows.

She takes the stairs two at a time, all too many flights upward; breath labored by the end but strides undaunted, need continuing to outweigh fatigue. Slides out another door, not on the first floor but on the building's second, quietly easing its heavy weight closed before venturing out into yet another corridor. Sterile and antiseptic white lit by cloud-diffused winter sunlight isn't Tamara's goal, and she keeps walking.

Steps gradually slowing, she comes to another door, and through it outside — out into the brisk, snow-dusted air, bare feet dimpling prints in the thin layer of powder frosting the balcony surface. She could keep going — the second floor isn't so far to leap from, over the balcony rail and wire-grid fencing, down to the ground beyond. There are places she could take refuge in, passed by, until the seeress was prepared to embark on the journey home.

No one here means what the people out there do. Yet when Tamara's hands close on the railing, it's only for her forearms to lean heavily against it, spine and shoulders dragged down by fatigue. Side tucked into the corner drawn by black metal rods, eyelids drooping wearily closed, she at last comes to a halt beneath the cold morning sky.

Whether Tamara intended so or not, this is as far as she's going today.

The second floor balcony, connected to administrative office hallways, views out over the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, beyond the half acre of empty land that borders the Commonwealth Institute's fenced in grounds. The breeze that blows out here is frigid, especially so by the sparse attire wrapped delicately around Tamara's weary frame. Snowflakes stick in her hair, little white flecks that decorate wavy blonde locks, reminding any casual observer of just how cold it is outside.

The world has moved on while Tamara slept, a jarring sensation to most people — that humbling realization that the world will continue to spin, even if the individual is long gone. To Tamara Brooks, though, that notion loses some of its great impact and much of its temporally jarring dissonance.

Fifteen minutes pass here, long enough for the cold to sink in and for Tamara to catch her breath, to be reminded of her fingers and toes as they reach a point of chill, to remember her nose as it turns red and remember her cheeks that prickle from the sting of the wind. What she forgot, or perhaps what she forsook, is instead offered to her in the aftermath of her flight.

"It might be a bit big, but you should put it on…" is both a familiar and unfamiliar voice, as all things are with Tamara. That the weathered and old countenance of Simon Broome — or a reasonable facsimilie thereof — stands behind her is no secret to the sybil, she always knew he'd come, maybe even knew he'd be willing to part with his long wool jacket too.

Dress shoes scuff along the balcony's cold, concrete flooring as the salt- and pepper-haired scientist moves to stand beside Tamara, jacket unfolding like a blanket for all that it swallows her small frame to wrap around her shoulders. "You seem to be feeling better…"

The cold isn't really felt, as such; but she's aware of it as the potential hazard it is. Aware that if she stands here long enough, all warmth will be leached from her limbs, and finally from her body's core; that sleep could lead to death, untended. But the possibility is vanishingly slim, vanishing in truth when Simon makes his choice to follow after.

Tamara turns her head as Simon steps up to fold his jacket about her, not so far as to really see Simon — or for him to see her eyes, for that matter. Rather, the motion is a chosen acknowledgment of his presence, a gesture of awareness. Slender-fingered hands come up to hold the enveloping garment closed over her collarbones, the rest of its length left to drape as it will — or as Simon chooses to adjust it.

"Closed," the girl says tiredly, in what likely a reply to his observation. She appears to watch the perspective beyond the rail, a tableau of intermittently passing-by vehicles, the smaller forms of slower-moving pedestrians. The campus beyond is quiescent, this second day before Christmas, but not purely deserted. Snow drifts sidewise on the chill breeze, her face turning as if to follow one particular flake's promenade past.

"Sliding sideways in the white sea. Grab the window before it's gone." Tamara pauses, gazing into the distance through a long moment's silence; blinks abruptly, shaking her head as if coming back to herself. "Fuzzy," she adds, tone apologetic, casting a sidewise glance towards Broome.

"Fuzzy is a start," the old man opines with a tired but genuine smile, adjusting the jacket just so before leaning to rest his hip against the metal railing. "You gave us all quite a scare when we picked you up, Tamara. We didn't know what to make of the situation you were found in, and our attempts to reach out to you in your unconscious state were…" Simon's brows lift and his expression turns awkwardly sour. "Well, we learned that your mind isn't as different from Mister Ray's as we'd believed it was." A lesson painfully learned by an Institute telepath.

"We were hoping that you might choose to stay here with us for a time, I have a feeling that there may be a great deal someone like you could learn from us, and a great deal more that we could learn from someone like you." Simon's lips creep up into a hesitant smile, one weathered hand offered out to Tamara, invitingly.

"Why don't you come back inside, out of the cold, we can get you some proper clothes. I'm sure that there's a few people here who would love to catch up with you." The old man's expression wavers between bittersweet recognition of her situation and a grandfather's gentle tones.

Rather than accepting the extended hand, Tamara's shoulders hunch up, her chin tucking down towards her collarbones in defensive rejection. Standing obliquely angled as she is, Simon can see wide blue eyes slant up towards him, wild-shy with caution. One hand drops to cling white-knuckled on the cold black railing, as if in preemptive counter to any attempt made at physically carrying her indoors. "Closed," the girl reiterates, quietly insistent. "Echoes, all echoes, spiraled down."

After a moment more, she lifts her chin, looking still sidelong but more fully towards Simon's eyes, as if to gauge his comprehension — or lack thereof.

There isn't any, though what there is behind that old man's dark and tired eyes is an echo all its own, like an echo of a voice reverberating across the Grand Canyon, a lingering afterimage of an ability that this body doesn't have, yet gives his eyes a deep and empty quality. For a short while, Simon's brows furrow and his head tilts to the side, trying to assess what it is that Tamara's attempting to convey to him, more of a riddle than even Eve Mas was.

"She doesn't like hospitals," comes a sibilant voice from the balcony's doorway. The sharp whisper offered by the man wearing the countenance of Tyler Case comes off more harsh than welcoming, though Richard Cardinal may not have intended it that way. "Anything static and unchanging, really. Consider this advance warning, if you keep her locked up down there— nothing but white walls everywhere, it won't go over well."

Turning dark eyes up from Tamara, Broome's attention squares on Cardinal's borrowed body thoughtfully. "Hello, old friend," he murmurs in greeting before looking down to Tamara with a quizzical brow raised. "Is that what you were trying to tell me?" Broome asks, preferring to treat Tamara as capable of conversation, even if that may not always be the case.

Blue eyes lift past Simon to regard the man who is and isn't Richard Cardinal. His presence, the spectrum of possible actions, reactions, and interactions, are absorbed and interpreted on a purely instinctive level; their tenor defines her demeanor, and as their gazes meet around the obstacle of Simon Broome, the seeress smiles briefly, wan yet sincere. "Hello."

Her gaze flicks back to Simon, fingers uncurling a beat later from the winter-chilled railing, tucking under the coat's insulating shelter once more. Tamara fidgets with its edge, fussing with the reinforced stitches about one of its buttonholes. The squint of her eyes is uncertain, drawing dubious furrows in her brow. "Is it?"

A moment later, she takes an uneasy step away from the balcony's edge, towards the two men, looking back and forth between them both. "You promise?" Tamara asks, though whom she asks it of is not made particularly clear.

Watching Tamara with a marked scrutiny and curiosity, Simon turns dark eyes up towards Cardinal as he moves in to settle the distance between the two. "We have a young man working for us, younger than you," Cardinal clarifies with a nod of his head to Tamara, "who's learning to control his ability. He can make one place look like another, change the scenery as it were." His brows furrow, a look offered to Simon and then back to Tamara.

"I could arrange for the two of you to get to know each other. He could help keep things… fresh, and maybe you could help keep things entertaining?" There's a crook of one corner of Cardinal's mouth up into a smile as he tucks his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "We'd very much like for you to stay with us, Tamara. Even if just for a little while…" Even a Richard Cardinal this deranged by his journey thorugh time realizes the impossibilities of trying to control Tamara; you do not bottle a tornado.

That Tamara's expression doesn't change, her eyes continuing to flicker in hesitant, considering fashion between Broome and Cardinal, suggests that the words wash over her more than anything, figuratively passing in one ear and out the other. She blinks once, slight shake of her head serving to refocus wandering trains of thought… for the moment. The girl holds her borrowed coat more tightly close, a second eyeblink extending long, transmuting into what might be considered 'resting'. "Tired," she states; not an answer, and yet with implications that might be answer all the same.

Simon exhales a sigh, lifting one hand up to his forehead and scrubbing his fingers over his brow gingerly. "Well, I suppose that's a start…" Simon admits with a gentle smile, laying that hand down on Tamara's shoulder, followed by a firm squeeze. "We'll get you situated with a room all your own, and I'll see what we can do about getting you a friend to stay with." On that notion, Cardinal seems to have an idea.

"Give her Eve's apartment," he offers with a look to Broome, "paintings, furniture… it's visually distinct. If nothing else, it might be stimulating." Then, Cardinal tilts his head to the side and offers Tamara a look and a smile. "We'll leave you some paint and something to paint on too. You know I'd never thought to do that before. I'm— kind of curious to see what happens."

Can a precognitive painting be abstract or impressionist?

If no one can understand it, is it still precognitive?

"Oh and," Cardinal's borrowed eyes flick up to Simon. "Can you call Doctor Sheridan?" A smile creeps across his lips slowly. "I… think she's going to want to have access."

Talk of rooms, friends, painting — psychiatrists — pass without remark as Tamara leans into Simon's hand, then over further still, shoulder and cheek nestling against the taller man's side. She breathes out a quiet, weary sigh, her eyes still closed; it doesn't take a precognitive to assess that the odds of the girl walking back into the building — much less down to anyone's room — on her own two feet are slim to none.

Broome's reaction to Tamara's posture elicits an unusually paternal reaction from him, in the curling of two fingers against an errant lock of blonde hair. He looks up from her, wordlessly, to Cardinal and affords the younger man a slow and subtle nod. "I'll take care of her," Simon attests, but that very reaction gets something of a worried look from Cardinal, who's brows furrow and lips downturn into a frown as he takes one uneasy step backwards.

"Just remember, Simon," Cardinal warns with a look down to Tamara, then back up to the old man, "just because a wild animal is domesticated, doesn't mean it won't hesitate to rip your throat out if the mood strikes." His brows furrow, a look down to Tamara, then back up to the old scientist before turning his attention skyward to the falling snow. There's an awkward silence between the two, and in that silence Cardinal takes the time to turn away back towards the automatic doors that lead back in from the balcony.

Watching Cardinal return inside, Simon offers a nervous smile down to Tamara, squeezing that shoulder again, gentler this time. "Come on," he urges softly, "I have a spare wheelchair you can rest yourself down in."

"Then we'll go see your new home."

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