Gloomy Colors


colette_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Gloomy Colors
Synopsis Days after meeting with Nicole, Colette finally approaches Tasha to tell her what has been happening.
Date December 12, 2010

Solstice Condominiums

Joanna's place is quiet after dark — a day out spent shopping has exhausted the lady of the house, who has retired to her bedroom to rest and to leave her daughter to what Tasha has spent most of her time doing: painting, studying, and writing papers, all in odd little bursts of inspiration.

The easel in the dining room holds a dark and gloomy abstract piece of art that matches the tone of the other paintings stacked against the wall. Paint in gloomy and drab colors speckles Tasha's hands, clothes, cheek and nose. The number of books scattered across the table is rivaled only by the bottles of paints and paintbrushes in number, and Tasha's laptop is open to her third term paper to be written this week.

Currently taking a rest from painting and writing, Tasha is reading, a green highlighter in hand to score through the key terms and ideas of her art history book, a stack of notecards in front of her. But she's read the same paragraph four times in a row, the words blurring together as she begins to nod off. The earbuds in her ears leak sound, though it's too tinny to recognize. The fact she can sleep through the noise suggests just how exhausted the teenager is.

Had she not been nodding off with headphones on, Tasha may well have noticed the gentle rapping on the livingroom window that had been going on for the last half an hour. By the time it tapered off, she may have also heard the sounds of a key turning in the lock of the door to Joanna's condo, further the noise of someone jimmying the slide chain on the door open and awkwardly shoe-horning themselves into the apartment.

Were Tasha not nodding off, she might have seen a blurry silhouette in her peripheral vision, lingering in her doorway in as many gloomy colors as the canvases she has worked on. No, Tasha instead sees much of the inside of her eyelids and the tinny noise of music in her headphones as she finally succumbs to sleep and slouches forward, eyes closed.

It isn't untill she feels the cool touch of leather-shod arms wrapping around her that her intruder is revealed. Wrapped around her from behind, the arms of Colette Nichols squeeze gently around the brunette, followed by the touch of a cold nose on her cheek, the kiss of lips at her ear, and a hoarse murmur of, "sleepyhead," in whispered confidence. That she smells like cigarettes will hopefully be forgiven.

The thin-armed embrace and the touch of lips and nose are familiar enough, though the scent is confusing; for a moment, Tasha stays slumped, not wanting to open her eyes because the dream might end, this reunion she's been hoping for, dreaming of, even praying for to a God she doesn't believe in. A choked breath is swallowed down and Tasha pushes herself up, whirling around and standing from her seat in a jerky motion as she stares at Colette — dark eyes wide in a pale face as she waits for the apparition to disappear.

When Colette doesn't, Tasha's arms fling around Colette's neck, the tears already sliding down her face over the blotches of navy blue and slate gray paint. "Cole," she breathes out, unable to say much more than that. Colette will feel the slight tremble in Tasha's body, the pounding of her heart against her chest.

Something flashes thorugh Colette's expression, something guarded in the moments between Tasha's realization and the present moment. As fleeting as that look is, it is no less worrisome. When Tasha alights up out of that chair to turn around and wrap her arms around Colette, the ever so slightly older of the two hesitates in the briefest of moments before returning the embrace as if unsure if she even has the right to anymore. But Tasha's affection, her strong-arm hug and emotional state has Colette returning the embrace with an unexpected ferocity of her own.

One gloved hand moves to the back of Tasha's head, and Colette guides Tasha to lean against her shoulder, pressing a series of butterfly-small kisses across the side of her head, through her hair and over one ear. "Surprise," sounds like an attempt at humor, thought the tightness of Colette's voice belies the real emotion behind it.

"I missed you," isn't humorous or an attempt at anything. It's painful honesty.

Dark eyes shine with tears, a mix of pain and joy evident as Tasha steps back to look at Colette. "I miss you," she whispers in near-echo, though the present tense shifts the meaning the smallest of degrees. She presses her lips together to keep them from trembling as her brows knit in worry.

"I didn't know where you went or I'd have…" she'd have followed goes without saying, because it's what she does. Tasha takes a deep breath and shakes her head. "Which is why I wasn't supposed to know, of course," she breathes out with a slight humorless laugh, accompanied by a small shrug.

What she doesn't ask is why didn't you tell me. She isn't sure she's ready for the answer to that. Tasha exhales, reaching up to rake a hand through her own hair in frustration at her inability to speak.

"The Garden," Colette whispers, as if afraid to admit it in anything more than a hushed undercurrent. She presses another kiss to Tasha's forehead, slides an arm around her waist and pulls her close, her free hand up to take hold of the one Tasha is raking through her hair. "Hey," Colette murmurs, squeezing the hand and just holding it gently. Her nose brushes an errant lock of hair away from Tasha's forehead, followed by a faintly smoky smelling kiss against her brow, then beside her eye at her temple, then down onto her cheek. "I'm here now, that— that's what matters."

Brows furrowing together, Colette finally looks away from Tasha, then back again. The fear in Colette's expression is palpable, felt in the tiny tremor of her hand holding Tasha's. "Is— your mom okay?"

Tasha looks away at the mention of the Garden, the hurt still there, the uncertainty that can't quite be assuaged by kisses and embraces, though they help. She nods at Colette's words that she's here now, and then again at her question, though neither nod is very sure. She rests her chin on Colette's shoulder; hot tears sliding own her cheeks and into Colette's hair and the leather jacket.

"She'll be okay. She's still recovering, but she'll be okay. We went Christmas shopping today." There's a slight snort at the very idea of Christmas shopping, of celebrating when the world seems to be tipped upside down and torn apart.

There are questions she wants to ask but she's afraid to, so she simply holds Colette, letting Colette tell her what she wants to. Everything feels so fragile, and that if she asks too many questions, it will crumble away in her hands.

A worried look is shot back in the direction Colette came from, and that the fear is still present in her expression comes with realization that there's a street-side window in the dining room. Tensing up, Colette gently tugs Tasha towards her as she backs up, easing out of the dining room and into the kitchen, where the only window views an alleyway instead of a street. Swallowing down that fear, Colette's mismatched eyes finally meet Tasha's.

"I'm… I'm sorry I took off, I— I needed to get away, clear my head." She looks away, down to the floor, her eyes distant and searching. "I took Sable with me, and— we're getting the Garden back up and running. I need— " Colette cuts herself off, closing her eyes and shaking her head.

When those glassy eyes open again, she's lifting a gloved hand to Tasha's cheek. "My dad's been taken," can barely be said above a whisper, but her voice lets out a nervous tremor and a painful squeak. "He's— he tried to warn Nicole. It's— it's what he saw that was going to happen on the 8th."

That Colette blames herself for failing him is written in her tearful eyes.

That she needed space, to take off — Tasha's eyes flash with something less hurt and something more angry, but before she can voice whatever is rising within her, the bad news falls, shattering everything again.

"Oh, God," Tasha whispers, eyes wide as she looks at Colette. "How… we need to tell someone… someone who can help… my dad, maybe…" How he could help she isn't sure, but he's a hero; he has to help somehow, now that Colette needs him. Now that Tasha needs him. "I'm so sorry."

The anger isn't missed, but that Colette doesn't flinch away from it is perhaps some of what she's been seeking to inflict on herself for a while now. Not that she's liking it, now that she has it. "I… I don't even know where he is," Colette wearily admits, leaning her slight weight against Tasha. She's skinnier now than the last time Tasha saw her, unhealthily so and the cigarettes acting as an appetite suppressant likely aren't helping matters at all. Weakly keeping her arms wrapped around Tasha, Colette leans forward to rest her head against the other brunettes.

"Nicole doesn't know anything, just— just that in his vision he was arrested. I— talked to her a few days ago, I— I w-wanted t'come see you sooner, I just— I was… I was afraid." Jaw trembling, Colette curls her fingers into the fabric of Tasha's clothing. "Nicole thinks whoever it was isn't police. It— it might've been the Institute. They— she thinks they bugged the apartment. I— I was afraid someone might see me come here, or— or know I called you. S-something happened to Wireless, she's gone too. I— I dunno what's going on. I didn't— I didn't have any way to get in touch with you."

Tasha's arms wrap around Colette's thin body and she nods, her head rising and falling against Colette's cheek and she sighs. "It's okay. It's okay. I understand. We needed to take care of our families, and it's okay to … to take care of the things we have to, because we know we'll always be there in the end, all right? It's okay."

She's assuring herself as much as she's assuring Colette — she wasn't sure Colette would come back to her, that they'd be together in the end, but now that Colette's here, she can pretend she did.

"I love you and we'll get through this, Cole," she whispers, tipping her head up to brush her lips against Colette's mouth; her own taste of salt tears. "What do you want to do? You know I'll help. However I can."

Salt and cigarettes isn an unflattering flavor, but Colette doesn't bother to vocalize an answer for Tasha immediately. What she needs is what Tasha offered, the reassurance of physical contact, the language that Colette learned to speak — and be silenced to — long ago. Vocalizing her fears as a subtle caress of gloved hands over the small of Tasha's back, vocalizing her love in the warm touch of their lips together, voalizing her worries in the way she needily clings to her love's side. That those three dangerous words, "I love you," are whispered between the kisses speaks of the desperation in Colette's own self-inflicted lonliness.

By the time Colette relents, by the time the feverish attention has ebbed, she's resting her forehead against Tashas, breathing gasped breaths to try and catch them. She brushes one gloved palm over Tasha's cheek, threads dark hair behind one ear and murmurs, "don't leave me," in desperate apology.

"I love you, too," Tasha whispers, more tears slipping beneath her lashes and onto her cheeks, affection and pain mixed in a complex cocktail. She shakes her head at the plea not to leave her — the angry part of her shoved down deep, the retort that it was Colette who left her forced back. It's not a time for blame.

"Never," she murmurs, cheeks rising as her lips curve into a shaky smile. "You're stuck with me." She reaches her hand up to brush back Colette's hair, looking up into the mismatched eyes. "Stay tonight… take a hot shower, have some real food. We don't have to tell my mom you're here, if you don't want, but it'll be safe for one night, won't it?"

Won't it?

"Leave with me," is Colette's alternative, one that comes with a desperate curl of her fingers against one of Tasha's hands, squeezing it as tightly as she can. "It— I don't know if it's safe here, I…" she doesn't know it isn't either. "I— I just ran off on Sable, left her down on Staten Island to take care of everything herself. I can't— " she's making excuses, ones that bring a pleading look across her worried expression. "Come with me, tonight, we can stow away on Miguel's supply ship and be in the Rookery by midnight…"

Colette's lips twist, wavering between a smile and a frown, and all her body posture is like a stray cat come in from the alley. A wild animal now struggling to be domesticated. She's afraid to stay in one place for too long now, and Tasha hasn't ever seen her like this before. "I— I need t'find your dad anyway, I— "

Family brings a pang of guilt to Colette, and she looks off in the direction of Joanna's room. "Does— does your mom still need you?" Do you still need your mom goes unsaid. Every daughter does.

Tasha's eyes close and she leans forward, forehead resting against Colette's. "My dad's still on Pollepel," she says, hands squeezing Colette's as she tips her head toward the dining room, where all her work sits. "I have finals this week — and to turn in all that crap," she says with a chuckle.

"It's crap, but it's enough to pass this semester. I know it's… it's not as important as you, not at all, not by a longshot, but it's a couple of days and then I don't have class 'til February, right? I can skip out second semester before my parents have to pay for it, but they already paid for this semester, and I've just spent the last three weeks catching up on like a month of missed work." The words are shaky, spoken with apology, her eyes shimmering with tears.

"I can join you on Thursday, help you guys at the Garden — but you know my mom will want me home for Christmas… you'd be welcome to join us, too. I … I think my mom'd be okay by Thursday, and that's the day of my last test."

Sliding her tongue over her lips, Colette glances back to the paintings, offering up a weary smile to Tasha as one gloved finger brushes gently beneath a teary eye. The leather does little to help move the tears away, only smudges them around. "You come Thursday," Colette agrees in a hushed tone of voice, leaning in to press a kiss to Tasha's cheek, "and I'll stay the night tonight." It's the closest thing to a concession that Colette is willing to make, but she can't spend another night alone in this city.

Pollepel goes unaddressed for now, and as much as Colette is aware that it exists, she's fairly certain that the Camen Islands exist too, not that she could pinpoint them on a map. This is a situation much the same.

"I gotta spend Christmas Eve with Nicole," Colette explains in a hushed tone of voice, her lips pressed to Tasha's cheek as she talks, her words felt in warm breaths. "It's her birthday," because neither of them can have ordinary birth dates. "I can come by here Christmas day, I'll— " she hesitates, remembering what Nicole gave her, "I'll have something for you to unwrap," is meant in the most chaste manner, and probably a little bit the other way too. But whatever subtly salacious comments Colette was going to offer softens when she leans in and presses a kiss across Tasha's lips.

"Friday," Colette notes, "when we finally get to the Garden," because just getting to Staten Island is going to be an endeavor, "we're going to have cocoa," she insists, "on the sofa at the Garden." Because they're both overdue for a little time together.

Cocoa on the sofa at the Garden. Tasha grins. "My favorite date in the world," she whispers back, wrapping her arms around Colette and squeezing. "It's a deal."

Her fingers curl around Colette's, paint-speckled bare hand in leather glove, and she tips her head toward the hallway. "Come on. I'll get you something to eat while you shower. And then we can catch up on lost time." With words and without.

There's a small enough smile dawning on Colette's face that implies that maybe — just maybe — she can be happy and ignore the worry nagging at the back of her mind, pretend that everyone who is important to her isn't being torn from her life one by one. Maybe for tonight she can just try and remember who she is, delude herself with a little comfort before facing the cold, harsh reality of the world they're all in now.

That she'll amend the details of her shower from singular to plural will be a more immediate concern.


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