I Love You


colette3_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title I Love You
Synopsis Twenty-one days after the fall of Pollepel Island, Colette finds Tasha.
Date January 9, 2012

Montreal, Canada

The window in Tasha’s hospital room looks out onto a green space — a park of sorts, for the hospital patients and their families. That space is white in January, of course. Outside, children are building a snowman, and it’s this that has captured Tasha’s gaze now that she’s alone for one of the first times since she’s been in the hospital.

Where her father is, she’s not sure — perhaps to shower or get a change of clothes. She doesn’t know how many days it’s been since she’s been here, that they number in weeks, not merely days, at this point. Her father doesn’t lie to her, but she hasn’t asked — not in the 24 hours or so since she’s been alert enough to speak coherently.

The snowman reminds her of one she and Colette had built with the Lighthouse kids, wrapping it in the green-and-purple scarf Tasha had worn in those days. The memory is vivid, more vivid than anything she can piece together in the gray haze of anything that happened on Pollepel. Tears blur her vision, and she brings the hand she can move easily up to wipe them; the other curls into a helpless and loose fist.

It's enough to distract her from the fact that someone else is in the room with her. It had been too many days getting here, too many hours spent walking, driving, waiting in anxiety to get here, though. The ghost in Tasha’s room isn't seen by anyone, not the hospital staff, not the cameras in the halls. That ghost came in when an orderly left the room, but the growing puddle of melting snow on the floor proves she's here.

It takes Colette a long time to parse her thoughts. To put into context the ephemeral warnings that Tamara had extended, reinforced by promises that everything would be ok. It both was and wasn't. Tasha’s condition is visible in her posture, in the bandages around her head and the absence of hair tucking through them. The pinned gauze tells a story words might get wrong.

Rather than announce herself from behind, Colette walks into what will be line of sight. Tasha sees the puddles in the shape of boot prints on the floor a moment before Colette is painted into being in daubs of blossoming color. She's bundled in a heavy blue winter jacket with white fur at the collar. Mittens, old corduroy pants tucked into winter boots. Her face is partly hidden by a blue scarf. Melting snow is still clinging to her knit cap. Puffy eyes are red from crying.

Colette can't make words. Doesn't have them in her. Instead, she steps forward while tugging off her mittens, and stares with wide-eyed relief and fear all in one.

It takes a moment — too long —for Tasha to understand the shift in the colors in the space in front of her. It isn’t until Colette’s fully coalesced into her full, solid, visible self that Tasha makes sense of the illusion. Her eyes widen and her breath catches in her throat.

Face to face now, Colette can see that Tasha’s eyes are alert, if dilated from all the drugs in her system — the spirit and intelligence and soul are still alive, despite the too-pale skin, the dark bruises beneath her eyes, the curl of that weaker hand held against her chest.

It takes another too-long moment for her to find the right spot to start the word “Cole,” the syllable stretched and warbly and scratchy at the same time. Tasha reaches for Colette’s hand, tentatively at first, like if she touches it, the apparition might flitter away entirely, merely a figment of her addled imagination. “H-here?”

She responds with actions, not words. Colette reaches out and takes the hand, brings it to her mouth and kisses Tasha’s fingertips and then slides up onto the bed at her side. “Here,” she exhales against those small digits, wrapping her other arm gingerly around Tasha’s waist, uncertain of how extensive her injuries are.

A moment later she has her cold nose against Tasha’s cheek, a kiss to her ear, to her brow, and then withdraws to look at the smaller girl with tear-filled eyes. “I'm sorry,” Colette croaks out next, not bothering to quantify the levels and depths of sorry that needs to be applied to a situation this dire. But she holds that hand, firmly. “Tamara’s here too, outside. We’re here. We’re here.

Colette bubbles with the sound of small near-sobs, her jaw unsteadied and continually alternating between kissing Tasha’s fingertips and whispering, “I'm here,” and “I love you,” against them. She's never been happier to be able to hold someone's hand in her life.

When Colette cries, Tasha’s tears overflow again, and she shakes her head slightly, almost imperceptibly, as if too hard or vehement a motion might be too much for her. But there’s a fierceness in her eyes that speaks stronger than her voice or body language can. “Don’t. Be,” she manages out, a space between the two words as she has to think about how to make them. “Just. Here.”

She squeezes Colette’s hand back, staring at her as if she’s afraid to stop, that if she looks away, Colette might disappear again. “Okay?” she asks, those dark eyes, luminous with tears, flicking left to right as if she might read all of the answers she seeks in Colette’s face. “Lost?” is a harder question, but one she forces herself to ask.

Harder still for Colette to parse. She lets it slip past for a moment, cradling that hand to her mouth and keeping the other arm wound around Tasha’s waist. “We got split up,” Colette isn't sure that's what Tasha was looking for, but it's the best she can muster. “We've been traveling. I— I don't know what happened,” to you goes unsaid, but her blind eyes flick up to the bandages and then back to dark eyes again.

“We’re staying. Here.” Colette squeezes that hand again. “With you. We’re not going anywhere.” The we is reinforced, kept as a resolute bond as unwavering as the hand holding Tasha’s. “We won't leave you.” Colette hiccups out a tiny sob she'd been trying to hold in. “We love you an’ you'll be ok. Tamara promised you're gonna be ok.”

Tasha’s brow furrows, frustrated in her inability to make her thoughts clear, but it eases up again at the press of lips to her hand and the earnest promises Colette makes.

“Love,” she says more firmly, her head tipping to touch Colette’s lightly. She rests against the other woman’s head for a long moment, her eyes closing for a moment of peace. She smiles when Colette says Tamara promised and she nods very slightly, the motion felt more than it is visible. “Lucky,” comes a little breathlessly — she’s heard the word more times than she can count — when no one thought she could hear them, so deep under the darkness.

It’s now that she is realizing just how true that word is.

Colette’s hand moves up form Tasha’s side to pull her shoulder in. She leans up, kissing beside her eye, leaving her cold nose there again. Though it's somewhat warmer than it was before. “I saw your dad in the hall,” Colette offers in a whisper. “I'm— I'm glad he’s here.” Still unsure of how all of that came to be, though. But there's time for that later.

It's only now that Colette notices Tasha’s other hand hasn't moved. She looks down to it, over to Tasha, to the bandages. Colette slides her arm from around Tasha, tucks a leg under hierself and gets melted snow and gritty sand on the blankets. She takes each of Tasha’s hands now, squeezes them both and holds them firmly.

That Tasha is bereft of words, that she's clearly struggling makes enough sense to Colette. She doesn't — can't understand the full extent — but she knows what matters. “Sometimes,” she says softly, “sometimes words are slippery.” Something Tamara has said for a long time makes sense now in ways it never had. But she knows how to make those connections without words.

Colette leans in, warm lips to Tasha’s, a reaffirming kiss as she holds her hands. Nose to nose, eyes shut. Three squeezes of both hands, simultaneously, for three syllables. Colette mouths, I love you wordlessly. Relates it to the squeezes. Makes it a word without words.

“What d’you need?” She asks Tasha, and it doesn't matter what it is. Right now, Colette is prepared to try deliver her the moon if Tasha asked for it.

Tasha smiles when Colette says she saw Vincent — there’s nothing but love and admiration in that look, in stark contrast to so early in their relationship when the mere mention of her father was enough to make her nervous or angry or both. She glances down at her own hand when Colette wraps it in hers, and the fingers manage to flutter a little in her grasp — enough to give hope.

She blinks once, apparently an agreement to the statement that words can be slippery. If she could speak better, she’d probably put it another way — likening them to boulders or blockades, something she has to find a way around, something rough and gargantuan. But slippery will do for now.

The kiss followed by the three pulses draw a broader smile, one that actually shows her teeth, and she uses her good hand to repeat it, a soft tattoo back into Colette’s hand. She shakes her head at that question, a slight motion that’s a little stronger — as if Colette’s nearness, her touch, has already given her strength.

“You,” she manages to say after a moment’s struggle; she draws Colette’s hands to her and presses her mouth against the knuckles of one.

Colette was prepared to deliver whatever was needed, and even after all this time is still surprised when the answer is her. She stutters into a sob, clutching Tasha’s hands as far tears dribble down her cheeks and off her chin. She leans in, heedless to the mess her boots are making of the bed and lets her cool nose trace across Tasha’s brow and cheeks.

“I crossed half a country to find you,” Colette whispers against the brunette’s cheek. “There isn't anything that'll keep me from being here.” At least not yet, and not for a while past that.

As she sits there beside Tasha, Colette looks out to the show and seeing the same vista Tasha did reminds her of the same times, the same carefree wintry days at the Lighthouse where they fell in love. She closes her eyes, presses a kiss to Tasha’s cheek. “No matter how far apart we are,” she whispers, voice heavy with emotion. “I will always find you.”

The tears bring a soft sound from Tasha, an inarticulate thing that she doesn’t try to force into something more meaningful. Her good hand lets go of Colette’s to reach up and touch those wet cheeks, wiping the tears away, even as her own eyes produce more.

She turns to look when Colette does, smiling at the kiss again. The words are a lot and she listens — comprehension dawns slowly and Tasha closes her eyes, too. Her hand slides from cheek to shoulder to arm to hand again, wrapping itself around once again; fingers interlace clumsily — a finger or two off.

She squeezes three times. Somewhere in the back of her mind, where things are less clumsy, less arduous, Tasha makes the connection between the threes in her life: Tasha, Tamara, Colette. Her father, her mother, herself. The phrase I love you. Even the holy trinity — her grandparents were Catholic, even if she and her parents never really went to church.

Three squeezes of the hand, she decides, is the perfect symbol for love.

Colette reciprocates the three beats, runs a thumb over Tasha’s knuckle, and sits there in the comfort of her presence and finally lets that knot of anxiety that had been twisting in the pit of her stomach come unwound. Tamara, as always, kept her promises. At least to Colette, and those are the promises that — selfishly — matter the most.

For now, she isn't going to leave. When doctors come — and they will — she'll plead her case to stay, to care for the woman she loves and to be by her side the way partners should be. But for now, for these two, they sit by each other's side watching the snow fall.

Just like when they first fell in love.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License