Her Heart Cannot Forget


colette3_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Her Heart Cannot Forget
Synopsis Colette and Tamara are finally reunited.
Date December 3, 2011

Bannerman's Castle

Bannerman’s Castle features a prodigious amount of storage space in its lower levels. Designed to hold food stores, medical supplies, and other essential long-term materials, they are in the process of being converted into overflow residences. One of the storage rooms, that housed construction materials, is in the process of being cleaned for repurposing. A few plastic crates, coolers, storage boxes, and metal cases are stacked up against the far wall, below a patch where the masonry has crumbled away to reveal brickwork below.

Seated on one of the low, metal crates, Colette Nichols isn’t really helping per-se. The need for further space accommodations in Bannerman’s Castle is because of overcrowding. There’s little to no privacy here anymore, and when one can find it there’s rarely enough space to do much of anything with it. Colette is here, not to lend a hand, but to hide something from the too-close prying eyes of Pollepel. Personal shame.

Sweat beads down Colette’s forehead, hair is matted to her brow, arms trembling. Laying on the cold, concrete floor on her stomach, Colette looks as though she’s collapsed. The fitted tanktop she’s wearing hangs a little loose on her, borrowed from Tasha’s wardrobe. Her bare arms, traced with scar tissue from surgical incisions, tremble, palms planted firmly on the floor and elbows bent.

With one, pained cry of exertion she pushes herself up on shaky arms until her elbows lock. Eyes are wrenched shut, teeth clenched, she’s straining against pain and weakness and then collapses down onto her chest again with a muffled noise at the back of her throat. Colette’s never been an athletic person, but here she struggles to do much of anything. She’d been told she had to exercise, to get the strength back in her arms, but to let someone — anyone see her like this. It was unacceptable.

Getting to Pollepel — getting anywhere near devastated NYC — has been a minor odyssey for Tamara, one that required rather more effort than she might have preferred; it's a weary seer that picks her way down to the sublevels of the castle, one who would have promptly found a corner to sleep in except that another priority came first. Her feet make no sound on the stone floors: she doesn't want them to. Also, she took her shoes off, stuffed them into the backpack she still bears. Blue-winged dragonflies chase one another across black socks, or would if they were more than mere thread and dye. Her jeans have mud spatters at their hems, but the gray coat is warm; the end of a blue scarf dangles freely, its end reaching down level with her hands, though she's not toying with it now.

No, as Tamara comes to a halt in the hallway, it's the bracelet on her wrist she fiddles with instead, fingertips tracing the contours of each and every cut-glass component. She listens, silent, to Colette's cry, to the rustle of cloth against floor. Weighs options, choices, outcomes. None of them are any different now from five minutes ago, of course.

"I wasn't good at it, either," Tamara offers, as she steps up to darken the room's door. "We could share."

Colette startles at the voice. She comes up to her knees, one hand sweeping now shoulder-length hair from her face. The young woman takes in a few heavy, gasping breaths and stares with vacant, blind eyes in Tamara’s direction. Then, with a huff of breath that almost is a laugh, almost is a sob, but somehow manages to be neither, she exhales, “Tamara?

Both of Colette’s scarred hands tremble instantly, her jaw tenses and lips tremble. That fat tears start rolling from her bottom lashes is expected. Both by seers and not. She exhales a ragged breath, wipes a hand at her face repeatedly and awkwardly shifts up onto her feet. “T— Tam,” she stammers, voice tight and with a still-recovering rasp to it.

Apologies and accusations blossom and die behind her eyes. In a myriad of possibilities she blames herself, blames the Ferrymen, blames Tamara, blames everything she can imagine for what happened to Judah. The first thing on her mind. The guilt. The horrible, unrelenting guilt of survival.

Instead, she can say and do nothing. Colette breathes in more rapid breaths, trembles, hiccups back sobs and helplessly paws at her face in the onset of a panic attack. The scars are more than skin deep.

As Colette rises, Tamara remains in place, sliding the backpack off her shoulders and setting it to one side just inside the door. "Yes," she says softly, not that confirmation is needed. But it's the only thing she can really give, as the tumult of could-be-spoken words offers the seer no straightforward guidance for navigating this reunion — no guidance at all, when each and every one ultimately evanesces like dew beneath morning's light, all paths unchosen. Their dissolution leaves behind just one overwhelming impression, along with the heartbreaking burden of wishing anything else could be and knowing no such possibility exists.

Tamara steps forward, fully entering the room, crossing the merely physical distance that separates them; she reaches out to Colette's hands, or at least to lay her own against the other, offering the tactile contact that has formed the base of so many of their interactions. "Ssh. Breathe, kitty," she says, voice gentle, sympathetic, affectionate. "Just breathe. Let it pass."

It’s only when Tamara’s hand brushed Colette’s that she seems to realize that Tamara has moved — that time has passed — and she levels blind eyes in widened state to the seer. That consoling, soft tone, the way in which it brings back so much of their relationship in both temporal directions, anchors Colette in this moment rather than the historical or potential. She exhales a shuddering breath, is still for a moment.

Trembling hands then, palms touch, fingers slip between fingers and entwine. Then Colette is movement, embers to flames, and she approaches Tamara with as much a stumble as it is a lunge. One hand move up, warm fingers around the column of her throat, then along its side, up past her ear into her hair. Noses touch, brush beside each other, and there's an outburst of a kiss more explosive and frantic than any Colette had known she could find. Warm breath against Tamara’s lips, teeth too, it's a needing and consuming kiss — the way fire kisses wood.

Colette doesn't have words, doesn't communicate in them. Instead she just moves her lips to Tamara’s cheek and curls the fingers one one hand into her hair. Her slight frame slouches subtly against Tamara’s, warm and damp from exertion but also chilly in the surface from the ambient temperature of the room.

That embrace has little strength, but not for lack of wanting. It's in the tremble of her arms, the unsteadiness of her hands, the ways in which she can't exert herself in ways she wants to.

I love you,” Colette frantically whispers, as if she were afraid Tamara would turn to smoke before she could relay that truth. It's depth is more than it's been before, tangled in matters of hearts, loves and losses, but woven out of threads of truth. She repeats it, incessantly; raspy and breathlessly, until she has to stop to breathe, until she's sure the sibyl is real. Tangible. Here.

Touch is the language they most truly share, communion of initiation and response, silent action and subtle tactile nuance. A momentary roughness under Colette's touch marks the chains of two separate necklaces; the hair her fingers knot in falls to the same shoulder-length extent as it did before their long separation. Meanwhile, Tamara keeps secure hold of Colette's other hand; her own slides back over that too-loose tanktop, settles firmly with fingers splayed across the center of Colette's back, completing their embrace.

Closing her eyes, Tamara leans into the breadth of their contact, muffled though much of it is by the coat she wears; does so carefully, innately mindful of the other's weakened state. Leans into the kiss, accepting the intensity of need so expressed, absorbing and balancing out its fervor in a manner that affirms rather than quenches.

In its wake, Tamara leans her cheek against Colette's, silent save for a subtle murmur of breath, listening. A thin tickle of moisture falls into the crease where skin meets skin, trails down that joint contour. When Colette at last succumbs to need for air, "I love you," is murmured into the ensuing silence — sentiment the sibyl is not wont to voice, cognizant as she is of the fraught nature of implications, the vast weight that one paltry four-letter word can be expected to bear.

"I'm sorry," is spoken even more quietly, two words bleeding grief and regret for something the sibyl doesn't even remember in specific — only in the form of an abiding sense of sorrow. She smiles a moment later, expression telegraphed through the intimacy of touch; its melancholy timbre might only be filled in from context. "I brought you something," Tamara says, almost managing to give the words a light, arch cast. Almost. Untangling her fingers from Colette's, sliding her hand up the bare few inches needed to bring familiar shapes of cut crystal and hematite into contact.

And now there's two things that Colette feared were lost forever, found again. The apology prior elicited a hiccuped sob, but the bracelet she thought was lost to the Institute brings out a small keening noise. She leans further against the seer, the hand in Tamara’s hair moving to the back of her neck.

Colette can't form words. The whiplash of embarrassment and frustration to catharsis and joy is too much. After everything she'd failed to do — save Judah, save Tamara, save herself — Colette is presented with the notion that perhaps, even if just for a time, things can get better. For a long while she stands there, arm around Tamara, small in the seer’s embrace, fingers dancing over the bracelet. Eventually, she slides her fingers along Tamara’s arm, under the slightly elastic band of the bracelet, letting it loop around both of their arms for a moment before withdrawing her hand and taking the bracelet with her. She kisses Tamara again, gentler this time, and when she leans away it's to cup the seer’s cheek with a hand that slides away from the back of her neck.

Looking at Tamara, in the way Colette can right now, she smiles for the second time since returning to Pollepel. This time, as the last, brought on by someone she never thought she'd see again, someone who is a portion of her whole. “I'm sorry too,” Colette whispers, leaning in again to rest her brow against Tamara’s forehead.

They fall into silence, mutually motionless in the dark, supporting and supported by one another. Uncomplicated, undemanding commiseration; if Tamara could stay in this moment forever, she probably would. Seriously tempted to do so, at the very least. But all moments pass, all things change, all must move on — the seer knows that better than anyone.

Even this, if only in degree.

Relieved of the bracelet, Tamara slides her now-free hand up to Colette's shoulder, letting it rest beside the base of her neck. She smiles at the apology, expression unseen but felt; easy enough for Colette to fill in the shape of that particular smile, the faintly wry affection with which most such statements are received. It's accepted nonetheless; while the past-blind seer may not need to hear them herself, sometimes others need to give them.

"There's still tomorrow," she says softly, breath whispering past Colette's lips. Tomorrow, and more than just tomorrow.

After a few beats, Tamara straightens out of their mutual lean, reclaiming the hand she had wrapped around Colette but leaving the one on her shoulder: she's not going anywhere. Just lifting a chain free of clothes and coat, pulling it over her head to the soft accompaniment of a bare handful of metallic chinks. The hand on Colette's arm slides down, past scars and bracelet to fold around her hand, turning it palm-up. Two rings land in that palm, along with the delicate tickle of coiling chain.

"Still tomorrow," the seer promises. "As long as you wanted."

Scooting a bit closer to Tamara, Colette crosses one leg over the other, then reaches out to take one box in each hand. Green eyes alight ot the older girl, and only one of the boxes is offered out. Wrapped in green abd red paper with little gold accents, the sticker-tag on the top reads rather obviously, From: Colette, to: Tamara.

The other box held in Colette's hand is matching in its small size and wrapping, but the sticker identifies that it's to //Colette and quite mysteriously from Santa. Sure, she bought them both and one's going to her, but it's the holiday spirit that counts.

"A year ago, I hardly knew you…" Colette says as she sheepishly looks down to Tamara, then out and over to the windows. "I mean— I— don't know a lot about you now," she admits with an awkward laugh, "but it feels like I do." She finally looks back to Tamara, lips creeping up into a smile again. "It feels like I've known you so much longer than I have, it— I don't know. I don't know if you meant to… or if you meant things to wind up like this, but— you taught me how to trust people again. Before I met you— I never wanted to let anyone else in. Never— never could've become who I am without you."

Fingers toying with the edges of her wrapped box, Colette stares down at it, face a bit red from all of the talk. "You taught me how to… how to be close to someone, you— sort've made all the terrible things that happened to me go away." Looking up from the box, Colette smiles a bit more earnestly, more emotionally. "So— So when I found out that some people went to the future, I— asked them about us."

Leaning to one side, Colette picks at the taped corner of the wrapping paper. "They said we were still together, ten years in the future, and— and that you were better." Carefully having chosen the word better, Colette anxiously looks up to Tamara, uncertain how she might react to the idea. "They— they said we were happy."

One hand uncurls from its grip on the coffee mug to take the proffered box. The cup is lowered, the box raised, the better to regard its festive wrapping. One finger rubs over the pattern, connecting the dots between patches of color. "One person walked a road," Tamara remarks quietly. "But they didn't write it alone."

Two crooked rings rest in Colette’s open palm. Rings that fit together, like puzzle pieces, even though apart they may look broken and incomplete. They're meant to be together. Feeling the rings in her hand, that is now three sets of things she thought she'd lost, that had come back.

Colette closes her fingers around the rings, breathes in deep through her nose, then opens blinded eyes with a furrow of her brows an intense concentration. She sees Tamara, really sees her, though the exertion is taxing and painful. It's necessary. Tears come again, and Colette unwinds the rings from the chain, wrapping the latter around her other wrist to keep it out of the way.

Then, Colette takes Tamara’s hand in hers, War and trembling. Overturns the seer’s hand and places one of the rings over a finger. Colette traces fingertips over the ring, rights it, then slides the matching one over her own finger. Hands tremble, and Colette sees in front of her someone that matters, sees family, sees a future clearer now than ever before. All the fighting has to be for something. Everyone worth fighting for is on this island right now.

The mirth replaces sadness, replaces the challenging conversations to come, replaces the fear. For the time being, they can replace lost moments with better ones. “M’never leaving you again,” Colette murmurs into Tasha’s hair.

“Partners,” she reiterates in a raspy voice, “partners work together.”

Tasha’s arms slide up around Colette, gently and wary of bandages and the wounds beneath them. A couple of tears silently slide down Tasha’s face, but she lets them fall, unseen.

“You better not. I may not even let you go to the bathroom without me,” she says, a quick sniffle belying the levity of the words. “I wonder if Avi or someone has some handcuffs and I can just cuff you to me from now on.”

Her hug grows tighter for a moment and she bumps her forehead against Colette’s. “I love you, Cole. And I’ll hold you to that promise.” She tips her head to press a kiss into the other woman’s temple. “Partner.”

Jaw tense, Colette squeezes Tamara’s hand in hers. The seer is blind to the past, and Colette is often bound by it in tangled chains of her own making. But Tamara sees, the good, the bad, the possible, and the could have been. “I'm sure,” reiterates something she swore to the seer two years ago, has no context in today, but Colette hopes has context for the future. No matter the way, no matter the wind, the rings will always be there. Colette can't predict Tamara, can't predict herself most of the time. But she can try to be better. She has to.

“I don't know what you see,” Colette whispers, closing in on Tamara again, letting her head come to rest against the seer’s brow. “But we’ll figure this out. And I'll —” Colette’s voice hitches momentarily. “We’ll make it through this together.” Her lips press to the bridge of Tamara’s nose. Jaw trembles, hands tense. “He would've wanted us to be happy.”

Tamara watches Colette as she takes the rings, as she studies the seer in turn. Looks down, for all that she doesn't have to, as her hand is taken and the ring placed, as Colette does the same to her own. Blue eyes lift to meet sightless gaze, and Tamara smiles softly, affectionately.

Colette draws in again, and Tamara folds her arms around her shoulders, closing her eyes and leaning into the embrace. The soft susurrus of an out-breath does not quite approach sigh, reveals nothing meaningful about what she sees… except perhaps that Tamara has no desire to talk about it. That melancholy note lingers as Colette continues, expressed in slight dip of head, a rounding of shoulders, the touch of fingertips to the pendant that remains at Tamara's throat. Gold chain, a faceted blue drop set next to golden leaf — a gift given eight months before their separation, worn only rarely in that time.

Her mind cannot remember; her heart cannot forget.

Tamara shies away from that precipice, from the gaping hole beyond its edge. Chooses a different context to carry forward instead, ignoring the tears that prick at her own eyes, brushing her knuckle up the line of Colette's jaw. "We will," the seer promises, inflecting the phrase in a way that includes their absent third. "We'll make it through."

Lifting a hand to Tamara’s cheek, Colette tracks a thumb below one of Tamara’s eyes, then brushes it to rest beside her ear. Close, like this, Colette would be content to remain in this moment in time forever, much as Tamara. But she knows, in wholly different contexts, that things change. The world turns, people are torn apart, but in the end, if there’s enough hope, and a capacity for love.

Anyone can find a way.

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