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Synopsis Directly following Desaturate, Colette and Ygraine spend time together, and discuss the young girl's direction in life, love and the Evolved. And there's a surprise phone call by Teo.
Date February 4, 2009

Le Rivage: Judah's Apartment

The tenant of this small studio could probably afford a larger space on his budget but, judging from the unique style of his decor, seems like the type of person who would rather spend his money on other things. Several Ansel Adams prints in black and white are positioned strategically throughout the room, stark against the studio's walls which have been painted a light beige colour to lend the area just a hint of warmth. Through the use of furniture and built-in shelving units, the apartment has been divided into three distinct sections: one for cooking and eating, one for relaxing, and one for sleeping.

The kitchen is a barebones affair with outdated tile floors that contrast with the stainless steel appliances and glass backsplash. It also contains a tiny eat-in nook with a circular table, two matching chairs and a plain white tablecloth held in place by a potted jade plant at the center of the arrangement.

The living area consists of a dark leather couch, a matching armchair, a zen-style coffee table that sits a mere foot off the ground and — the centerpiece of the apartment — an entire wall of bookshelves that house several hundred different titles ranging from such classics as Crime and Punishment, Heart of Darkness and The Turn of the Screw to more modern titles like Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. More prominent, though, is the tenant's varied collection of nonfiction which includes works on forensic studies, criminal psychology, philosophy and even indoor botany. On the coffee table rests a copy of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, but why this particular title is on display is anyone's guess.

The bedroom area is separated from the rest of the studio by a low wall and a series of thick black curtains designed to block out the light streaming in from the apartments untreated bay windows. Even at night, the area is unusually bright thanks to the placement of a street lamp directly outside this street-level unit. The bed itself is a twin-sized platform dressed in crisp white sheets and a down comforter for warmth.

The bay windows open out to a small patio completely enclosed by wrought-iron bars designed to prevent and unwanted guests from visiting the premises when the tenant is out, and while this gives it the appearance of a prison, the effect is lessened somewhat by swaths of ivy and a meticulously-cared for succulent garden.

There's only so much emotional turmoil one person can take in a day, only so much sadness and loss before the capacity to feel pain is so deadened that nothing seems that bad.

It's that point of dull ache, when the hurt has been cried away and red, puffy eyes stare out at the world that Colette Nichols is in now. She's like a small, frightened animal in her posture, curled up on the sofa in the arms of Ygraine FitzRoy, her head resting on the older woman's shoulder, one hand still covering her own face. It took a long time to reach this point, and it look many shed tears, and the painful recollection of what was lost — who was lost.

Conrad really is gone, and with his passing slips so much hope from Colette about discovering her ability, and learning to control it, and not be controlled by it.

Exhaling one last, shuddering breath, the young girl presses her nose firmly into Ygraine's shoulder, a measure of comfort she found in her sister so long ago, and that same near sibling relationship she has with the Brit; one of needed comfort and companionship, the desire to have someone to take care of her, protect her and watch over her. It's one thing to have an adoptive father, it's another to have someone who she can treat like a sister.

After all, surrogates are all she has left in this world.

Whether or not Ygraine feels quite the same way about Colette, she doesn't say. Indeed, she's not said much of consequence for a good while now, apparently content to hold the younger girl, stroke her hair and back, and croon softly to her in an apparently random mixture of French lullabies and hopefully-reassuring English.

Now, however, she moves one hand to Colette's chin, gently trying to lift her face so that she can be given a gentle smile. "I'm not sure if you're an addict or not - but would you like a cup of tea?"

There's a choked back laugh and an awkward smile that slips up from the touch to her chin and the gentle recommendation. Colette nods her head ever so slightly against the touch of Ygraine's fingers, and then motions with her nose to the kitche. "There's some, um…" She swallows dryly, sniffling afterwards, "The cabinet next to the 'fridge." Wrinkling her nose, Colette slides away from Ygraine's shoulder, managing something of an embarassed look on her face as she wipes at her eyes with the back of her bright red sleeve. "I — I'm sorry about that. I mean — getting all…" The girl shakes her head, breathing a sigh into her hand as her eyes lid partway. "I'm so fucking emotional," she mumbles defeatedly, shifting her weigh tthe rest of the way off of Ygraine, letting her legs pull back up towards her chest.

Ygraine leaves one hand on Colette's back as she moves, head cocking a touch as she pensively studies the younger girl. "Don't be daft", she murmurs. "You've been through a lot. Most people'd cry after any one part of what you've had to put up with…." She strokes once more, then rises - somewhat stiffly - to her feet. "Mmmm. Tea definitely sounds good, though", she says with a smile, starting towards the kitchen.

Lowering her chin to her knees, Colette stares vacantly at the tattered and well-read old book on the coffee table. At one time its cover may have been the same shade as the hooded sweatshirt she wears, now it's faded something a more pinkish hue, dog-eared pages and crooked cover starting to slip from the binding. The black block text on the front still reads House of Leaves. The young girl's half-blind stare lingers on it, watching as if waiting for the book to try and move and slip out of sight. Her chin slips down, covering her mouth with her knees as her nose presses down into her jeans. The girl's eyes close, and she lets out one last whimpering noise in the back of her throat.

"What'm I gonna' do now that he's gone?" It's more a rhetorical question mumbled into her knees than a real question, but the sense of hopelessness there is still as real as it was earlier. "I… am so sick of this."

Ygraine chuckles ruefully. "Hey… you want to do things. And you're sick of feeling like this. Both are at least one grade up from where you could be", she calls back to Colette as she moves into the kitchen starting to potter around making tea for the pair of them. "What you do… well, that's up to you. I personally think that you should accept offers of help, and see how good they are for you. Not to say that you should be mercenary - but I know I've offered you teaching, and neither of us knows how good I'll be. I'd be happy to find out. Other people… I have the impression there might be others who'd like to help. Maybe even that fed."

"Felix is a jerk." COlette grumbles out against her knees, hugging her legs with her arms, one hand clasping to her other wrist as she rocks back against the soft leather of the sofa. "I — I don't know… I'm — fuck — " She does have quite the mouth on her, " — I don't know what to do." Snorting to herself in an indignant way, Colette cranes her neck to look back at Ygraine, the black of her bangs falling down to cover her good eye, quickly swept back behind one ear to give her sight again. "Do… you really have time to do this? I mean — " Colette shakes her head, then creases her brows.

"Hey um — actually — do you… mind if I ask you a question?" There's an awkward hesitance there, even as Colette unwraps her arms from around herself and climbs up onto her knees, resting her arms over the back of the sofa as she looks towards the kitchen. "How — um, well do you know Grace?" One dark brow raises to the question, disappearing behind the ragged finge of uncontrolably bangs.

For some few moments, Ygraine continues to busy herself with drink-preparation. Then, with the kettle filled and set to boil, and the bags and cups sorted, she looks back to Colette, lips pursed. "Not very. But… my few encounters with her, she's seemed a decent sort. And I know that she's trusted by some good people. Didn't you decide I was her henchwoman, or something? Why do you ask?"

There's a quiet, rueful laugh at the term henchwoman. It's hard for Colette to imagine a time when she allowed herself to be so quirky and happy. And even back then, she was living on her own, shouldn't she be happier now? "I just — " There's a muffled and discontnt sound that comes from the girl as she clouches down against the back of the sofa, "I don't know I — She's… I got a job where she works. Like, well, an internship… thing." Anything to try and normalize the conversation, to get away from the absurd way that Conrad died, how he died, where he died, why he died.

"She — I asked her to like — show me how to… you know, defend myself." The young girl's brows scrunch together. "I haven't gotten the nerve to follow through yet, and… maybe I shouldn't. I — I'm afraid about… all of this." Everything. "I… didn't ask for this."

Ygraine sighs quietly, shaking her head. "I suspect that few of the Evolved asked for this. A lot of people dream of being "superheroes" - or supervillains - but…." She shakes her head. "There's a lot more to it than just donning spandex and running about with people adoring you. And precious few of us measure up to the comic-book heroes anyway. Sure, I can stick to walls. And I get to make other people stick to things - temporarily - too. But I rather seem to have missed out on Spider-man's strength, toughness, webs, "Spider-sense"…."

She cracks a rather weak grin, then picks up the kettle as it announces that it's done its work. "The truth is that we've got to make the best of what we've got. And what _we_ have is a chance, that precious few other people have. We've got abilities that most don't. We can try to hide from them… but you know that's not likely to work. Or we can learn to make the best of them. And, given the way the world is, part of that's learning to make more of ourselves. So… if you want to learn a bit of something else from me, I can teach you some self-defence. I'm no expert, but I've had fifty-odd lessons, all told."

Closing her eyes tighter, Colette rests her brow down against her folded arms on the back of the couch, "I just… want to live a normal life. I can't — I don't want any of this. All I want to do is just — " She hisses out a sharp breath, then slumps away from the back of the sofa, falling down to lay across the ouch, one arm draped over her eyes. "I just… I'm so sick of being afraid. When I — once I figure one thing out, more stupid shit happens and I just — I — " A sigh, deep and frustrated. "I shouldn't have to know any of this stuff — I — I should be going to school, I… I just… I want friends." Her voice cracks at that, and Colette rolls onto her side, burying her face in the throw pillow. "All — All I ever do is just stay inside, and — or sometimes when Conrad — " She shakes her head, "Goddamnit, I hate this. I don't know what to do — I… just want to know what I should do."

Like most girls her age, she has a lot to grapple with.

Unlike most girls her age, she doesn't have much help with it.

Ygraine returns, bearing tea, rather surprised at Colette's earnest mention of school. "You bit my head off, once, when I dared to say that this was the time of your life at which you should be learning", she observes with a smile, offering one cup to her young friend before perching beside her once more. "But if I could give that to you, I would. Instead… you've got a washed-up former athlete and still-current nerd offering you what she can give. I don't know how much help it'll be, but it's yours if you want it. As is the friendship."

It's hard not to smile with sincerity like what Ygraine is offering, and the tea doesn't hurt either. Sitting up to accept the glass, Colette cradles it in her hands, pulling the cup close to her chest to let the steam wash up and over her face, the soothing smell reminding her of better times and happier places. "I… I'm sorry." It's a bit late coming, but there it is, "I've — been an ass lately. Often." She gives a shake of her head, black bangs swaying side to side as she does. "It's… so much stress and — just, a lot of emotional stuff. I — I didn't mean to be sharp with you, m'sorry." When she finally looks up from her tea, Colette furrows her brows and watches Ygraine for a short time.

It takes a slowly exhaled sigh to clear Colette's mind, and even when she does it's clear there's still a lot weighing on her. "Why… do you treat me so nice?" The young girl's eyes drift up to Ygraine, "I mean I — I hardly know you and… and you've — you always have just… been there for me. I — " Her voice grows more quiet, "S'not like I deserve it."

"An ass… lately?" teases Ygraine with a wink. "I…." She shrugs thoughtfully, taking a sip of her tea, swallowing carefully before replying. "I hate to see people suffer. And I hate even more to see them do so when I think that I might be able to help. I… saw strength in you. And fragility, but there's strength there. You've been through a lot, and it's not shattered you. It would have done so for many people. We both know that you're damaged. But… so'm I. That makes me sympathise with you, rather than be scared of you. And… many people are scared, when they see someone hurt. There's a fear that if they get involved, that might happen to them. That… that disgusts me, I admit."

She shrugs sheepishly. "I'm a self-righteous bitch, in some ways. But I try to only let it out when I'm able to put it to good use. I sympathise with you. I like you. And I think that, with help, you've got the strength to learn to do more than cope - you _cope_ already. I think you could really make something of yourself."

Colette tries to hide the smile that creeps up on her lips as Ygraine talks, but in all honesty she can't. There's just a warm, happy feeling as her head ducks down to hide the embarassed look on her face, followed by a testing sip of the clearly too hot to drink tea. At the last sentence though, Colette scoffs a little, then blows an errant lock of hair out of her eyes as she looks up to Ygraine. "There's not a whole lot someone like me can be — I'm a dropout." Her lips quirk into a lopsided frown, "I mean, I'm not like — good at anything. I don't… you know. I — my sister used to say, there's two kinds of people who get by in the world." Hr nose wrinkles slightly at the notion, "People who get a good education, and people who have a good talent."

Colette's eyes divert back down to the steaming brew in her cup, "I got nothin'."

"Riiiight, yeah. You're so crap and useless that you just rolled over and gave up. Didn't keep yourself together. Survive for two years. Keep looking for your sister earnestly enough that you got people from a courier to a private eye to a college professor trying to help you." Ygraine shakes her head. "Just totally hopeless, aren't you? Nothing going for you at all. No determination, no loyalty, no guts. Useless!"

Colette leans back and gives Ygraine something of an askance look as she teases, then tugs at her lower lip with her teeth as her hands nervously work around the warm cup, fingers getting just a little too hot to stay still. "Look what good that did them." Her eyes lift up to Ygraine, "Brett — um, the detective, he's gone. He just… up and vanished. I don't know, every time I go to his office it's closed, and he isn't answering his phone." The young girl's eyes wander to the side, over to the book on the table. "Professor Gilbert… I — I don't know. He — the same thing happened. He… found a list of professors that knew Nicole, I — I still haven't called them yet. He — he disappeared too. His home phone is disconnected, and… and he hasn't been back to the University." Shrinking back against the arm-rest of the sofa, Colette's eyes once more move, flitting from the book back to Ygraine.

"I'm good at being pitiful and needing help." She doesn't seem to like the association either, "I don't have any real — I mean, skills. I'm just a stupid kid who people feel bad for. S'all…" She seems intent on diminishing herself, even if there is some kernel of truth to it all, disparaging as it is.

Ygraine sighs, rolling her eyes and stroking her hair. "Colette… let's try a cold approach, then, okay? How many broken kids are there in the city? And… how many have got any ONE of those people trying to help them? Professor Gilbert - he's a Brit. He might well have returned to his home university, and you missed the message in your changes of home. But you can chase up his colleagues. Or I could make a few calls, if you wanted…. But you've achieved things. You. Personally. With your persistence, and your photograph."

There's a purse of her lips to one side, eyes moving back to that tattered old book on the coffee table. She nods, shallowly, either in defeat or acknowledgement — that much is hard to say. "No, I — No, don't… don't go asking around about him. I — Whatever happened, it's his business. I — just, don't." Part of her is terrified of the coincidences, right or wrong, that everyone she's had dig into Nicole's background has disappeared from her life. She won't risk that, silly as it sounds, with Ygraine.

"The one stupid thing I can do, I hate." She looks down at her hands, then up to Ygraine. "Do you seriously want to… help me? I mean — " She snorts out a quick sigh, "I don't even know if I want to keep learning about it. But… Conrad…" Her eyes close, head hanging, "He said I had to, and… I mean, I — " It's a hard call for her to make, to bury her head in the sand and forget about what she can do, or to honor what Conrad thought she could do. "What do you think I should do?" Desperate eyes meet Ygraine's, searching for some hand to guide her.

Ygraine chuckles ruefully, then leans over to plant a kiss on Colette's brow. "I'm a big fan of learning, myself. I love to learn, which rather helps. But… learning's a path to finding out about yourself, and how you fit into the world - or how you _could_ fit into it. If you want a better idea of what you might be able to do - what you ought to do - then learning more about what you do now, and how to do that with more control, more reliability… more style… that could make a lot of sense."

The Briton shrugs slowly. "I think that the major thing you've got to do is accept that you _don't_ need to do everything now. _I'm_ still young, never mind you. You're not _meant_ to have all the answers, all the skills that you'll ever need. No one ever does, unless they lead the most astonishingly boring, unchanging life. But at your age? This is the time of life when you're meant to be figuring out who you'd like to be, never mind who you are."

"Who… I'd like to be?" That's a question Colette has never considered, and is causes a thoughtful look to cross her face. Ever since she decided to slip out of the shelter, ever since running into Tamara, she's been following a dream of who she wants to be with, but never really chasing anything other than the elusive girl that slips through her fingers like smoke. Letting her eyes upturn back to Ygraine, she hasn't quite noticed the flush of color that's come over her own face from the kiss to her brow. But it's there, pinking her cheeks and redening her ears.

"I-I don't…" Her voice cracks a little at the stutter, "I'm not really…" While her voice trails off, Colette tries to sip at th etea again, finding it a little more tolerable in temperature. That in itself gives her time to put her words together in her head, for all the good it does once she finally manages to speak again. "Do… you really have time to help me? I — I mean, I know you work, and… I mean, Jennifer." Her eyes divert to the side at that point, teeth tugging pensively at her lower lip once more.

"Yes, I do", affirms Ygraine warmly, though her voice is pitched low. "Not 24 hours a day. Not necessarily at a moment's notice. I'll sometimes be right on the other side of the city, quite apart from anything else. And yes, Jennifer comes first - but I'll be here for you, as best I can and as often as I can. Just let me know when you need me, okay?"

She pauses momentarily, shooting Colette a distinctly quizzical look. "And… what're you not? You seem a lot more sure of what you're not than what you are. Or what you want to be, other than "different" or "normal"."

"I'm not good at guessing games." Colette adds with a wrinkle of her nose and an awkward laugh, "But um… thanks, Ygraine, I — " The girl's eyes wander down towards the sofa, then back up to the Brit. "I… really, really appreciate you being here for me. I — I mean, Judah's…" She looks towards the empty kitchen, and then back to Ygraine, "I don't… think he really knew what being a parent was like. I… I feel like — like I'm… a burden to him." Her fingers clutch the cup between her hands tightly. "I — I thought this was going to be so much different than it is, but I just — it's like… I don't know I…" Her lips downturn into a frown, "I don't… know."

Ygraine sighs softly, then leans over once more - though this time she gently bumps foreheads rather than delivering another kiss. "I'm not setting you guessing games. You need to figure out what you want to be. Who you want to be. For yourself and for others. You've a good heart, when you don't let fretting about what you're not and how useless you are get in the way."

There's a choked up sound of something mixed between a laugh and a whimper when Ygraine lightly rests her forehead against Colette's. The girl closes her eyes, quietly exhaling a breath through her nose at the gentle words and comforting presence. This is the first time in a long time she's had someone close to her like this, someone she trusts, someone who cares about her. There's something to be said for the comfort of human affection, something needed.

Moving her head just slightly, Colette's nose brushes against Ygraine's cheek, ever so slightly tracing across her skin, and it's obvious when the girl's head tilts back like that, from the touch of breath across Ygraine's lips, that her mouth wandered exceptionally close to the Brit's. But in that exact moment where things might have become more awkward, Colette blinks her eyes and shakily jerks her head away, looking down at her cup of tea as if something terribly important was visible in its surface.

"I — God, I — I'm…" She rubs at her face, breathing out a sigh through her nose, not looking at Ygraine. "Sorry I — um, I — I have — " She's looking around now, for an excuse to make more space between them, for an excuse to get up off of the couch.

Ygraine blinks, blushes… but doesn't pull away. Instead, she wraps an arm around Colette, and tries to hold her close - albeit gently so. "Shhhh. I'm not offended. Not in the slightest", she murmurs, tone warm. "I'm really rather flattered, instead."

The arm, all of that, it's too much. Colette gives a shiver, and despite herself she wriggles free from Ygraine's well-intending embrace. The girl hops up off of the sofa, sloshing her tea and spilling a good portion of it down the front of her hoodie. "N-no. No." She holds up one hand, palm out, her arm shaking, trembling. "No I — No I'm — I'm sorry." She seems horrified by her own reactions, moving to shakily settle the teacup down on the coffee table, to other hand snatching up her copy of House of Leaves as she circles around the sofa, putting it between her and Ygraine.

"It's — I shouldn't — I'm — fuck." One hand rakes fingers through her hair, pushing back the girl's shaggy bangs. "I'm so sorry I — that was wrong I — that's — It's not — " She stumbling over her words, face bright red, enough so that it's spread down her neck, cheeks nearly the same shade as her hoodie. "I'm sorry." Is she apologizing to Ygraine or herself?

Ygraine sighs heavily, closing her eyes for a moment. "Colette - try finishing your sentences more often", she suggests when she looks up once more, offering her young friend a wry smile. "I'll understand you better, and we can probably spend less time with you apologising. What are you sorry for? And why?" She shakes her head, setting aside her cup. "I'll grab a cloth for that", she announces, rising to her feet and starting towards the kitchen. "But I'm listening, I assure you."

She's mortified at this point, one hand covering her face as she just stands there like an idiot, trying to compose her thoughts. "I— I can't help it I — when I get upset, I just, it — " Moving her hand down to her mouth, Colette's mismatched eyes follow Ygraine. "I'm sorry for… that." She won't even say what she did, she's so embarassed. "I — I'm — emotionally all screwed up. I'm… I'm sorry it — um," the pause here is long, thoughtful, if not still harried. "It was inappropriate. You — I mean, we both have someone who — " Does Colette? The words coming out of her mouth makes her sick to her stomach.

"I… am very sorry. I mean, I know… " She waves one hand slightly, looking down to only now notice the tea spilled on her sweater. But she doesn't move, save for clutching that faded old book in her hands. "I — it's not you I just…" She can't control the way her words burble out, even though she tries. "Tamara." It's all she can strangle out, restrained by embarassment and social anxiety that is causing the girl to breathe far too fast and shallow to be healthy. "I'm sorry."

Ygraine returns with the promised cloth, holding it out in mute offer to trade it for the battered old book. "You've honestly done nothing to upset me - just to flatter me. I promise. But… I have the impression that things aren't exactly going well with Tamara", she says gently. "It's a fair while since I've seen her, unfortunately. I… she's someone else I admit I'd like to help. Maybe I can, by helping you."

Reaching out, shakily to accept the cloth, Colette just nods and seems a little relieved. It's pretty evident she's spooked herself with what she did, "She… helps herself." It's as clear an answer as Tamara would give too. "I — Things… are…" As Colette dabs at the tea stain, she keeps that book held tightly in on ehand. "Things… are as good as they ever will be, with us. She — I know… what she is, and — I just — She is who she is, and…" Her voice drops some, as if not wanting someone else to hear her. "A-and I love her, regardless. I just — " Dark brows crease together, "She… she's gone."

That isn't explained, not right away anyway. Colette heads off of the kitchen, dabbing at the spit of tea as she walks, only looking up briefly to make sure she doesn't bump into the island dividing the rest of the house from the kitchenette. "She was here a lot, I mean, more than usual. She… she spent a lot of time with me, and… then, she just — " Rolling her tongue on the inside of her cheek, Colette lifts reddened eyes up to look at Ygraine. "She just… disappeared, the night the bridge blew up and… everything else happened. No goodbye, just…"

There's quiet for a moment as she sets the cloth down on the countertop, reaching down to tug off the hoodie, pulling it over her head to reveal a fitted camouflage-print t-shirt beneath, as well as a colorful piece of jewelry that the sweater's sleeves hide. The bracelet looks roughly like a one-inch wide flower made from green and red gemstones. The band that holds the bracelet in place are adorned with clear, round cut crystals set in hematite. Far more expensive than anything Colette could afford, and not quite something Judah would pick out for her. "She'll be back…" There's at least faith there, "Just… it'll never be… normal with her."

Ygraine eyes that piece of jewellery even as she sighs and worriedly nibbles at her lower lap. "That… anchors might help her. A lot. She…." Ygraine closes her eyes. "This is a guess, but… I'd say that different shadows came to the fore. She couldn't see you clearly any more. Maybe not at all"

The Briton returns her gaze to Colette, expression sad. "The world's… fluid for her. People, too, from what she's said to me. She knows whoever she sees, but…." Ygraine's hands move vaguely, performing a sketch of a knotting motion. "She can't tie things together. Not easily. Sometimes not at all. But whenever she sees you, she knows you. And it's obvious she cares for you."

"I know she does." It's a heesitant, quiet answer as she looks down to the book, laying it on the kitchen counter as she gives a frustrated glare to her hoodie. "I… I kind've know, how to deal with her, but… I just, I know that it's never going to be normal. She…" There's a faint smile, despite herself, "She's always going to be that way, and I know I… there's…" Her eyes close and she shakes her head, turning to face Ygraine again. "I know what our…" Relationship is a bit of a strong word, "What it'll always be like, between me and her. But I — I owe her my life, and… and everything I have right now." Her smile becomes a bit more genuine, if not bittersweet at the futility of her love. "I… I'm sorry about what I did. It — wasn't me, really. Just…" She wavers one hand in the air. "I… think I just need, um, some… time alone." Her eyes track down to the floor. "I need… just — "

A chiming sound comes from the hoodie, a series of beeping rings and a warbling note. Colette fumbles for the front pouch of the hoodie, and she withdraws a small cellphone from within, but the ringing has already died out once she gets it open. "Fuck." Her eyes focus on the number, head tilting to one side.

Looking back up to Ygraine, she holds up a hand as the phone chimes again for a voicemail. Threading some dark hair behind one ear, Colette paces in a circle as she flicks the speakerphone option on, listening to the recorded message.

"Buongiorno, Colette." A quaver-beat's pause, revising that: "Hello. This is Teo." Tea Oh. Variety is the spice of life, after all, though his voice is the same depth of register as the man she had met at the Cathedral once upon a time. "My friend Conrad was teaching another woman how to use her ability for some time before I introduced him to you.

"She's offered to continue helping you learn to use yours.

"If you would like to get in touch with her, her name is Elisabeth. Her phone number is—" a beat's pause, to glance down at the scrap of paper kept in the curl of his palm. He states the number once, reiterates again. Lapses into another note of silence, cold with fatigue. Then, "If you need anything else, this number is good for twenty-four hours, and I'll check by the Cathedral again. Take care, signorina."

Colette's eyes widen slightly, and she flicks her eyes over to Ygraine, brows scrunched together. "It… looks like you have competition."

Ygraine laughs softly, shaking her head, offering the phone - and then Colette - a rather rueful smile. "Wouldn't occur to him to ask me, of course", she murmurs dryly. "I… if she's who I think she might be, she's seemed trustworthy from what - very little - I've been able to make of her. I can't say for certain."

The Briton shrugs gently, the gesture expansive. "If you want, I can just offer you clumsy romantic advice, sympathy, and a shoulder to cry on. But the offer of other training's there, too. Self-defence. And Evolved, if you want. I can't promise to be any good - but I'll try."

Flipping the phone closed, Colette just shakes her head and smiles, looking up to Ygraine with that awkward expression on her face she's had most of the night. "I… I think there's room for two teachers." She offers with one brow raised, "Um, if — you don't mind, you know, having a dipshit student." Her lips purse together, tucking the phone into a pocket in her jeans. "I… I'll probably find out what he knows, and, you know, who this Elisabeth person is."

She moves to close the distance again, but stops just shy of arm's reach, seeming to still be a little freaked-out by what almost happened. "Um, I — I'm glad you're around, Ygraine. I…" Her head wavers from side to side, not quite a shake of her head, more of an uncertain motion. "I'm a dumbass, a lot, but — you put up with it well." One side of the young girl's mouth quirks up into a smirk. "I'm… sorry about earlier." Probably not in the way Ygraine expects her to mean, but that's fine. That's something Colette can keep to herself. "But, I… I need time to… I just need time." There's a hesitantly full smile at that.

"I'll give you a call in… soon." Best not to try and pin down a specific date, she's terrible with keeping them. "And we'll see how… how learning works." Colette's mismatches gaze drifts to the floor, then back up to Ygraine. "Whatever you want to teach."

Ygraine quirks what she hopes is an encouraging smile. "Want a hug before I go?", she offers. "And sure. I'll teach you as best I can. I like to be useful, and… I hope that trying to help you counts. I'm glad you're around, too. And if I can help you to be happy - or happier, at least, then I'll be glad, and count that as an achievement. So… if you want something, ask. The worst I'll do is say no and tell you why, whatever it is."

Managing an awkward smile, Colette nods her head, "Thanks, Yggy." It comes out as a bit of a silly nickname, but it's enough to make the smile a little more sincere. She doesn't really get closer at the offer of a hug though, teeth tugging at her lower lip as she shakes her head. "I — I think — n-not this time." She adds, fumbling over her own words again. "S-sorry I — spooked myself." She offers the smile again, then folds her stick-thin arms across her chest. "Next time, though. Promise."

Ygraine looks somewhat surprised, then offers a low laugh as Colette explains her rejection of the offered hug. Cheeks colouring a touch, she chuckles, shrugs, then nods. "As you wish, shorty", she says with a wink. Moving to the door, she opens it - making something of a show of leaning part-way out to check both ways down the corridor. "No lurking spooks that I can see. Call me when you're ready. I mean it." Another grin, then she closes the door behind her, and is gone.

When the door closes, Colette lets out a strangled sigh and slumps back against the wall, hanging her head to rest her face against the palm of one hand, her other arm wrapped around her midsection. She stays there like that for a short time, eyes closed and lips tightly pressed together, and then slowly turns her head, looking towards the old and faded red book on the countertop in the kitchen.

Her eyes close, and she bites down gently on the the knuckle of her index finger after her hand sweeps over her mouth.

"I'm sorry."

February 4th: Desaturate
February 4th: Cake And Ice Cream
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