Half Asleep


colette_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Half Asleep
Synopsis After pushing her limits to speak with Colette, Tamara at last shows signs of waking up — and Colette, sitting vigil, is there to see.
Date June 18, 2010

Gun Hill: Odessa's Clinic

It's late, and Colette Nichols should be sleeping, but here she is..

Am I alive or thoughts that drift away?

Moonlight spills pale thorugh high basement windows, casting shadows dark and long across the otherwise lightless clinic below the Gun Hill apartments. It's peaceful down here, where the light doesn't touch and where only two heartbeats can disturb the silence. This isn't the first night that Colette has snuck out of bed in the middle of the night to come down here, to sit at the bedside of a young woman she can't quite pin her true feelings for down on.

Does summer come for everyone?

Seated in the folding chair beside her bed, Colette sits slouched forward, her forearms resting across flannel-clad knees, hands cradling an MP3 player between them, headphones snaking up to her ears, hidden behind the choppy black locks of her short hair. She doesn't need the moonlight to see Tamara's serene expression and the way she silently breathes in and out.

Can humans do as prophets say?

The tinny noise of the headphones is subtly audible from a few feet away from Colette, the volume cranked high enough to drown out her own thoughts, because it's easier to listen to someone else's when they're put to a catchy beat. The song has an emotional resonance to Colette, something she remembers listening to on the radio when Nicole moved away from home and Colette was too stubborn to say goodbye to her, because she didn't want her sister to leave.

And if I die before I learn to speak

She didn't see her for years after the fact, and that Colette never got to say goodbye until Nicole came to take her away from her family left a weight in her heart that's never really been lifted. It's that fear of never being able to say goodbye that has Colette sitting here, staring at the back of her eyelids even as she unconsciously watches the room.

Can money pay for all the days I lived awake…

It's late, and Colette Nichols should be sleeping, but she's here because she's afraid.

…but half asleep?

Serenity is inevitably a thing ephemeral in nature.

The first crack in her facade of peace is a twisting of Tamara's expression, brows drawing down, eyelids scrunching more tightly closed. She licks her lips, her breathing short and harried; it would be audible if not for the volume of music presently piped through Colette's headphones. Curling up on her side into a remarkably small ball, the girl buries her head beneath her arms, as one might do when trying to block out sound; as a result of all this, the light blanket draped over her becomes abruptly textured by a chaotic array of hills and folds.

It's impossible, like this, to see whether her eyes are actually open by the end… but it seems that Tamara has finally awakened.

Earbud headphones are tugged from Colette when their short cords come taut as her mp3 player falls from her hands. Mismatched eyes snap open from something she saw before they did, and when she sees with her eyes what was felt by her ability, Colette's heart and breathing both seem to skip a beat in unison. She startles at the clatter of the iPod down on the floor, opens her mouth with the intention of calling for someone. No sound comes from Colette's parted lips, not unless the squeak she makes counts.

Uncertain in the way she is around an unfamiliar wild animal, Colette reaches out hesitantly towards Tamara, then stops entirely. Her head jerks to the side, looking over her shoulder into the dark of the clinic beyond this room, then back to where Tamara lays on her side. Swallowing noisily, she creeps over to the bed, settling down on the side just as she had when Sable was the one occupying that chair.

Leaning across the bed, the springs groan in protest beneath Colette. She reaches out, settling a hand carefully on Tamara's shoulder, then squeezes. She knows how this goes, knows how the waking moments can be and knows that more than anything touch is the anchor that keeps Tamara tethered in one place and one time.

As much as a wild, windblown kite can be tethered at any rate.

…sliding too bright warm…

The contact with Tamara's shoulder brings little in the way of reaction, more in the way of information — tactile information, the quality of the tension in her muscles, the trembling shiver that comes and goes. She whispers, murmurs indistinct in their context, seemingly without direction or intent; the voice they're spoken in is small, quiet, thick from recent sleep.

…red red green red not here not here…

Her hands slide down, catching in the blanket beside her chin, twisting into it with white-knuckled grip. Tamara's eyes are open. They're also entirely unfocused, irises swallowed by dilated pupil, looking straight ahead without seeing anything. Her tongue flicks out over her lips, a brief pause in here whispers.

…no glass changes falling why…

Jaw trembling, brows furrowed, Colette's hand moves to lift up and brush shaky fingers thorugh Tamara's wavy blonde hair, only now really paying attention to the difference the shorter hair makes with her. Crawling across the bed, Colette shakes her head slowly, pleadingly, a tear drips down off the tip of her nose and lands down somewhere on the blankets, and Colette leans forward and slides one arm down beneath Tamara's neck so she can lift her up even as she's settling down on her side.

In the end, she's cradling Tamara against her shoulder, the fingers of one hand lost in the back of Tamara's hair and her other arm wound around the seer's waist. That Colette lets out one guilty sob is expected, and she affords herself that one moment of emotional discord as her embrace comes tighter around the seer.

A cold nose finds its way into the hair at the side of Tamara's head above her ear, far warmer breath blowing out beneath it. "I'm here…" sounds conflicted, as if she's saying it as much for her own benefit as she is Tamara's. There is so much conflict in her heart right now that it feels like it's going to tear her apart.

"It's okay, I'm here," Colette whispers tearfully into Tamara's hair, her arms trembling as she holds the blonde close to herself, nose brushing from side to side against her head, that subtle affection would be familiar to someone who remembers it, and Colette's too afraid to know if Tamara remembers it in her own unique backwards way; remembers that it happens in the future.

Is that even possible?

Colette doesn't know.

Colette knows what Tamara's awareness feels like, the sense of touching back that clearly conveys I know you're there. She's felt its lack, and its delay, either of which comes down to I'm not really here.

What Tamara does isn't quite either. Her posture adapts to Colette's embrace without returning it; she's aware of something, it might be said, but whatever that something is and at what level it exists, it's not the immediate present. Not the dimly-lit interior of the clinic, the blanket still held deathly-tight by her hands, the tickle of exhalation against her ear. Not the whimper she herself breathes out, or the murmur still tumbling from her lips, taut and stretched, no less a plea for being softspoken.

…dark don't want closing why…

The seeress shudders, turning her face into Colette's shoulder; dampness touches the younger girl's skin, just one small point, prickling coolly as it begins to evaporate — a single tear. Its twin, caught by her shirt, leaves less of a noticeable mark. One of Tamara's hands begins to unclench from the blanket — but then fails to move from that spot, doesn't finish whatever its intent had been, as if forgotten or misplaced. But — so close.

…can't see can't stop gone…

That the embrace was only intended to be reassuring at the beginning isn't where it winds up. Sable was right, and Colette doesn't herself know what she wants, Judah was right in that she doesn't know what she saw, and somehow in all of that Colette finds herself hiding her face down against the nape of Tamara's neck, marveling in how familiar she smells and the comfort that the scent brings. Her jaw trembles, that quavering motion which belies her emotional state.

"I'm here," is pleading now, in the way come find me would be, in the way her fingers curl into the wavy blonde locks at the back of Tamara's head, gently rake through them as she slowly rocks back and forth, as she kisses the side of Tamara's neck with the same warmth that the tears dampening her cheeks have. "I'm here," Colette whispers again, keeping that firm embrace around Tamara, her head shaking from side to side where it's hidden.

"Come on…" is a tiny, hushed thing, "please…" is even more quiet, and "I'm so sorry," isn't an intentional echo of the future.

The whisper tapers off in a way that could be a reaction to Colette's words, but isn't necessarily; it could just as easily be that the sybil is fading, her awareness refracting, slipping away. That the tension starts to leach out of her frame supports the latter — yet the fingers of one of Tamara's hands fold over the arm of the girl embracing her, gentle in the contact. She was just as muddled last time, too, at least for a while.


The single word is carried on a faint exhalation, voiced at the very threshold of hearing. And after that, silence, but for the more distant tinny chiming of music from Colette's MP3 player, its headphones lying limp on the concrete floor.

Tamara's slipped away again; asleep is as good a word as any.

But odds are she'll find her way back.

And when she does, it won't be alone.

She at least deserves that.

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