It's As Simple As


colette2_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title It's As Simple As…
Synopsis Ygraine pays Colette and unexpected visit, and complex emotions begin to form into a simple idea.
Date December 18, 2008

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The kitchen is a barebones affair with outdated tile floors that contrast with the stainless steel appliances and glass backsplash.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.

Clutching a small bag in her hands, Ygraine comes to a halt outside the door of apartment 109. A couple of moments are taken to try to compose herself, then she knocks smartly upon the closed portal before, adopting as cheerful an expression as she can manage.

The knocking sound echoes down the hall, rewarded by silence for a few long moments. Beyond the door to apartment 109, there aren't the usual sounds of life; a television left on, music, running water. It's ust silence and the howl of the strong winds outside. But a few moments later, the sound of claws on wood clatter towards the door, along with soft footsteps. The security chain rattles on the otherisde after a mumbled voice murmurs something, followed by the click of the deadbolt opening just before the door does. "Ygraine?" Peering out from the crack of the open door, Colette looks like she was just woken up. Her messy black hair matted down completely on one side, the rest flattened down over her blind eye, and most of the back sticking straight up. She wrinkles her nose, looking back into the apartmnt before focusing on the guest at the door, a smile creeping across her lips.

She could use the company.

"Sorry, been sleepin' weird hours n'stuff…" At three in the afternoon and she looks like she's been in bed all day. The small girl steps away from the door, waving on ehand as her socked feet scuff against the wood floor. "C'mon in," she adds, as Jupiter pads with a click-clack of his claws on the wood floor away from the door and back to his blanket near the kitchen.

Ygraine moves inside, expression awkwardly apologetic. "I didn't mean to wake you. I… I could come back another time, if you wanted. But… well. I… I wanted to give you a Christmas card. And a present. Though you should probably open it before the day itself…." She glances around, then quirks a nervous smile. "And I wanted to offer to talk, or listen, if you wanted."

Colette stops in mid-stride at what Ygraine says, her eyes widening a little as her head tilts to one side, letting her messy bangs fall away from her blind eye. "Oh…" Her lips stay parted, and she wraps her arms around herself, drawing her unzippered sweater a bit more closed over the thin t-shirt she ewears beneath. "I— Christmas."

There's an awkward laugh to match Ygraine's nervous smile, and Colette looks around the apartment, seeming no differently decorated than the last time Ygraine had been here, the day Grace brought Colette home. "I — I kind've forgot about Christmas." Her dark brows knit together, letting her eyes wander the room absently for a moment before settling on Ygraine again. "Y-you didn't have to get me anything." She winces, "I— I didn't get you anything." The topic of talking about it isn't approached at all, she either ignored it accidentally or on purpose, it's hard to tell which.

Ygraine chuckles softly, delving into the bag to produce a card, which she holds at arm's length to offer to Colette. "Well, the point isn't that you have to get me anything. It's that I wanted to give you something", she says with a smile.

Colette's expression quickly shifts into a bittersweet smile at Ygraine words, and the young girl looks down to the card, then up to Ygraine. Her arms unwrap from around herself, and scuffing feet walk with quick steps over to the Briton, plaid pyjama pants swishing around her legs — clearly too large for her — with each step. She reaches out, hesitantly, for the card and gently plucks it into her hands, then curls her fingers around it. "I — " The girl swallows, awkwardly, then looks up from the card to Ygraine. "Thank you." Her teeth press down on her lower lip, to keep herself from just rambling after the appreciative comment.

Ygraine chuckles softly. "I wrote that one just for you, but this, you might want to share with Judah", she says as she draws out a roughly cuboid parcel, about a foot long. The paper is white, decorated with silver snowflakes. "If you don't like it, feel free to give it back to me", she adds with a wink.

The card is tucked under one arm, unopened, as Colette reaches out to take the package. "Should— " She hefts the parcel a bit, as if trying to guess what's inside by the weight, and doing a poor job of it. "Should I wait to open the card? I— This— I'm really not used to Christmas at all." Her smile thins out, then fades away entirely.

Ygraine's face falls for a moment, before she musters another smile. "The card, you can open now", she says gently. "You might want to open the present with Judah whenever you next see him. It's probably not one that should wait for Christmas Day itself…. But… gah. You look like you need a hug, if it's not rude to say so."

"I…" Colette makes a crooked half-smile, stepping to the side to lay the gift down on the arm of the nearby sofa, then picks at the corner of the envelope the card's concealed in, opening that before sliding it out and letting her half-blind stare settle on the front. "I feel like I need one, all the time. But that's not how strong people work. They pick themselves up," She tucks the envelope behind the card, opening it, "and dust themselves off." Grace's words are so much easier said than done to Colette. "However that works…"

Ygraine laughs softly. "People need to find their source of strength first", she says quietly. "For some, it IS just willpower. A determination not to give in, or bow down, or back off. The raw drive to keep going no matter what…. For others… for most, there needs to be something more. Something to work for. Or something to work against. But working _for_ something positive is a lot better than being driven _against_ something. But… I'm babbling, I fear. Would you, ahh, like a hug instead?"

There's a look of understanding, but not of acceptance on Colette's face as she listens to Ygraine. An idle smile is afforded to the card, and she folds it closed, looking up to the brit again with a silent stare for a short time. Then, closing her eyes, she weakly nods and takes a few steps forward to lean up against Ygraine, laying her head down on the older woman's shoulder as she presses her nose down into the fabric of her shirt. "What'm I supposed to do?" It's a whined out string of words, "I — I don't know what to do — how to control it, I — it just turned on when I was in the shower yesterday. I burned a hole in the wall — I — I covered it up with a picture frame, I haven't — Judah's going to be — " She just rambles, letting out a string of mumbled words, "I don't know what to do."

Ygraine enfolds Colette in a tight, warm hug, unable to hold back a chuckle. "I suspect that Judah is going to be very understanding", she says gently. "But that in itself can feel bad, can't it? Making others test their limits of understanding, and putting them in situations where they have to be nice to you about something you feel you should have avoided…."

Leaning back a touch, to try to meet Colette's gaze, though she has no intention of letting go, she offers another smile. "What you need to do is find somewhere you can practice. And perhaps someone who can watch over you doing so. Maybe even someone who's had a bit of experience in figuring out how to control an ability…."

Colette makes a small, quiet sound, "I — I don't want to practice with it." She mumbles into Ygraine's shoulder, not moving an inch from the embrace, her own thin arms moving up to wrap around the older woman's waist, squeezing firmly. She wants, just for this moment, to be able to act like a child, not one who was forced at an age far too early to become an adult. "I want it to go away. I — I don't want to — I — " She whimpers, squeezing Ygraine a bit tighter.

"I don't want to die." That's rather sudden, "I don't wan' t'be killed." She sniffles drying her eyes on Ygraine's shirt as she rolls her head from side to side. "Felix, all those people on the news, I — I don't want anyone to know what I am. I — J-Judah he — He'd get hurt. I — I don't want that, I just — I don't want this," There's a choked back sob, she struggles to balance her own desire to just bawl her eyes ouot like a little girl, and to try and be strong for the other woman she idolizes that isn't here to see her so pathetic. "I didnt ask for it."

Ygraine sighs heavily, one hand coming up to lightly cup the back of Colette's head. "D'you remember the afternoon that you came to me to ask for advice? About Tamara?", she asks gently. "There was something I'd been going to tell you then, that you… pre-empted with your rather unexpected line of questioning…."

The distraction away from her own whining causes Colette to lurch for a moment in Ygraine's arms, then slowly lift her reddened face away from the older woman's shoulder. Her mis-matched eyes meet Ygraine's, glassy and wet with stringy black bangs matted down against her forehead. She quickly rakes them aside with one slender hand, brows furrowing together as she watches Ygraine's expression. There's a quiet sniffle, the back of her hand rubbing at her nose as she mumbles, "W-what? I mean, I…" She looks away, embarassed, "I already know your — well I guess s'not a secret."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "I was going to tell you, after your… vehement explanation of your fears regarding the Evolved, that, well…. I might be able to help you train, because I'm one myself", she ventures quietly.

Colette's immediate reaction is largely embarassing. She gasps, hissingly, and steps back away from Ygraine, letting her go as if she was somehow uncomfortable to cling to now. Her arms go wide, and when she realizes just how brash and hurtful her actions and movements are, not to mention hypocritical, she closes her eyes and wraps her arms around herself, looking away. "No, y-you're — you're not." Thin fingers curl into the sleeves of her sweater, eyes now hidden by her shaggy bangs, "You're not, you can't be, I — I don't — You're not," When she looks up, eyes only partly hidden behind the black hair, she rasps out, "I don't want you to die too."

Ygraine manages a laugh at that last, after some little while looking deeply hurt and worried by Colette's response. "I… thought you were going to tell me you hated me, or something", she says softly. "I… honestly was going to tell you before, but… didn't think that I should add it to my fumbling attempts at romantic advice." Another nervous smile, and she cautiously reaches out one hand towards her young friend's shoulder.

There's a faint, restrained motion in her shoulder, like everything she was wants her to pull away, but everything she should be is telling her not to. Her watery stare lingers on Ygraine for a moment, then to the hand, then her own feet. She doesn't say anything for a long while, just stands there looking anxious and conflicted, and lets out one small whimpering sound before sucking back her tears with visible effort. "Why're you telling me this? I — I'm a jerk." SHe forces her eyes shut, "A— a selfish, stupid jerk. I — I'm —" All she can think of is what she said and did to Abby, and her imagination plays out the horrible life she imagines the blonde now lives, eating cold soup out of a can in an alleyway, homeless and on the run in fear of what Colette threatened. "I'm not your friend. I — I'm a bitch."

Ygraine laughs, shaking her head. "C'mere. Take a seat. Have another hug if you want. A… I hope that I've not already told you this, but maybe it bears repeating. A friend once told me, years ago, that friends are the people you forgive for hurting you. At the time, it seemed the opposite of what I'd expect. Friends, surely, are the people you can trust _not_ to hurt you! But the more I've seen, the more true it's become. Friends are the people who're worth the pain. Friends are the ones who mean more than being upset, who can cause you worry and concern, and who you go back to help because you think that behind it, there's someone really worthwhile whom you'd like to know…"

Colette manages a faint smile, wiping at her eyes and nose with the back of her sleeve. She smiles a bit more at the offer of the hug, but to try and at least be considerate of what Grace had said and not feel like a completely helpless child, she shrugs off the offer and moves to settle down on the arm of the sofa next to the gift package. Ygraine's words make sense, even if right now she doesn't want them to, all her emotions are telling her she deserves to be a ball of anxiety and frustration, to cry and throw a fit. But what she wants, she knows she shouldn't get— at least in this respect.

"I don' really think m'worthwhile." Her words are mumbled, lacking any semblance of self-confidence, "M'a leech. I just… I sit around and feed off've other people's charity. I — I wouldn't know how to do anything for myself if I had to. I —" She hangs her head, knowing this isn't what Ygraine, or anyone wants to hear.

Ygraine cautiously reaches out, now attempting to take Colette's hand, to deliver a fingers-only version of a hug. "_I'm_ still learning. I'm terrified that I don't know anywhere near enough about what's going on in my life, even without considering any of the… broader events of our times. You're young, Colette. At your age, you should still be in full time schooling, shouldn't you? The person putting most pressure on you to be an adult is you yourself. And you're always likely to be your worst and harshest critic. What you _need_ to do is take some time to learn. Train. Study. With control and knowledge'll come the ability to make a difference. And that's what you really want to do, isn't it?"

Her fingers lace with Ygraine's, but her hand is hardly steady. The shakiness of the hold is a mirror to her own shaky hold of what she wants out of life, and Ygraine's words pick certain pointed topics that cause the girl to bristle, "I'm not going to school. I don't— I saw what happened on TV, I'm not going to get blown up!" She raises her voice, furious about the very idea, but not at Ygraine, more at the world around her. "I — I almost signed up to go to school there, b-because that girl went there, and I — I could've died!" Her fingers don't slip away, they just squeeze for support. "I… I can't make a difference, m'just — I'm trouble. I can't, I — I can't Register, J-Judah doesn't want me to, he says s'not safe. A-and… and with Mister Felix… he —" Her voice lowers some, "Since he's dead I… I don't have anyone I care 'bout who is. S-so… so I — If I don't register, t-then — I'm one of them." She automatically assumes Ygraine is registered, since she obviously isn't a school-destroying terrorist. Obviously.

Ygraine's smile mixes amusement, sadness, and some small degree of confusion. "I wasn't suggesting that you go back to school - just get trained. This is a time of your life when you're good at learning things, believe it or not. And… I'm not Registered, Colette. I've no desire to let the government have any excuse to abuse me. I'm just as opposed to that as I am to terrorism. I'm one of those lunatic foreign idealists who're meant to be such a threat to the US of A, with our weird and wacky ideas about how society ought to work without a need for guns, prejudice, or databases of people to be watched and tested…."

"The government?" Colette snorts derisively, as if she has all the answers. Her hand slowly slips free of Ygraine's as she shakes her head, "The government is just protecting people! It's those crazy terrorists who are killing everyone, and that serial killer, and the people who attacked the library! They were rounding people up by their cards!" She shakes her head, emphaticly, "You sound just like Trent, all full of conspiracy and… and…" She can't quite put to words how she feels. "Mister Felix wouldn't have hurt anyone, and he worked for the government. He was a good person, and one of those — Someone killed him!"

Colette jumps to her feet off of the couch, hands clenching shut as warm amber-hued rays of light stream forth from between her fingers. "They just killed him and — He — Nobody knows! He's gone, the one person I — I thought he — " She lets out a ragged, whining growl. "It's everyone who thinks the government isn't trying to protect people that's wrong." Youthful idealism, "F-Felix he… he believed in it…"

Ygraine gently shakes her head, expression sad. "I'm not saying that Felix _would_ have hurt people. He protected you, which counts for a good deal with me. But… Judah's "government", too, isn't he? He's a cop. But he thinks it's not safe. The problem isn't that _everyone_ with the power to do harm, to abuse the information, would do so. It's that there are enough people in there who might. And there's a problem that… there's no test to find out if you're a good person, before you get born - or before you get an ability. We're responsible for our own lives, and the impact we have upon the world. And some people want power. Or money. Or just to see things burn. And some of us lunatics think that there's a better way than that, and want to try to help people."

Ygraine musters another faint smile. "What path you take is up to you, Colette. Just as other people's paths are up to them. But I'm offering you one possible guide, for a few steps along the way, if you want me to help. I've only ever studied my own ability, but I trained myself in its use, once I figured out that I really _wasn't_ totally insane and imagining impossible things…"

Toying at her lower lip with her teeth, Colette gives Ygraine a slight nod, "I — " She looks away for a moment, eyes half-lidded, "I can't… I mean — " So many conflicting thoughts, emotions, ideas. She hasn't the capacity to sort them all out at once. The young girl doesn't even notice that her hands were momentarially shedding light, as the glow subsides before her gaze downturns in their direction.

"Give me… some time." It's the best answer she can possibly give, with all things considered, "I — " Her words keep getting cut off, trying not to be insensitive, hurtful, or worse to someone she cares about. Someone who's helped her. "I just need some time."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "Of course, Colette. I'm not here to force anything on you, save the offer of kindness now and help in future if you want them…. But… I've studied how conflicts work. How they start, how they get worse, how people act when they think they're under threat. Even if it's just trying to help one person to fight that, I'm eager to give it a go. And you're someone I think could be a good friend, Colette."

"M'glad someone thinks so." Her words are said more reactionary than thoughtful, and Colette's eyes move to the empty couch as if looking where something, or someone should be in her mind. She nods, quietly, and keeps her eyes down on the couch, turning to look at the package resting on the arm of the sofa before managing a weak smile.

"Thank you…" She mumbles, looking back to Ygraine as she turns around, "Thank you for — for everything." This time, the words are a bit louder, and while the effort hasn't come close to settling the turbulence in her heart, it has done much to affirm that just maybe there are choices out there for her to make. At least now she has one starting point. She just has to move to initiate it.

Ygraine quirks a wry smile. "Fancy company for a while? If so, I can hang around - or go off and let you get dressed. Feel free to wander up. I'll be in this afternoon, and I've got DVDs for you to zone out in front of, if you fancy a break from things for a couple of hours."

Colette snorts out a laugh, surprised by the offer despite her attitude she's given Ygraine. The girl smiles a bit awkwardly and nods her head, hiding her hands with the long sleeves of her sweater, "Maybe." She is very non-comittal tonight, "I… I think I do need to get dressed." There's a bit of a flush to her cheeks as she looks down at her wrinkled and slept-in clothes. "And, I — I think I just need to think. I've been… avoiding that, a lot, lately." The young girl looks away for a moment, them back up to Ygraine again. "But I will come up, even if it's just to say… that I'm staying in."

Ygraine nods sympathetically. "Hiding from thinking can be _very_ tempting. But figuring things out can be really worthwhile." She rises smoothly to her feet, offering an encouraging smile. "Please do drop by. Today or otherwise. Even if it turns out that I'm busy, I'll be glad that you took my invitation seriously."

"Yeah it… it is tempting." Colette agrees sheepishly, sniffling again to try and get her runny nose under control. "I — I always take you seriously, Ygraine. That — that's why I really need to think." There's a hesitant smile, she's not sure if she feels like she should right now, but it's as though anything else to Ygraine at the moment would be a disservice to her. "I— I'll open the gift with Judah as soon as he gets back from physical therapy." There's a dimming of her smile at those words, of thinking about Judah's injuries.

Ygraine musters another attempt at an encouraging smile. "I hope that you both like it. If you don't, feel free to hand it back to me, please - I'll gladly deal with it for you, and buy a replacement. But for now, I'll leave you to get ready to face the world - or at least the corridors of the apartment block." A wink, then she moves towards the door.

Ygraine picks up the sound of Colette's faint laugh at her comment when she turns away, and while she can't bring herself to admit it right now, Colette knows that the offer Ygraine has given might well be the right choice. Not for any altruistic reasons of getting herself under control, or learning about herself, but something fueled more by the tempestuous emotions of her teenage youth. It isn't fear, anxiety, or even curiosity that would fuel her accepting that offer. It's what she feels about losing Felix, an emotion so foreign to Colette that it would seem like someone other than her thinking those thoughts. It's something simple, something primal.

It's as simple as revenge.

December 18th: Nemesis
December 18th: Shifting Winds
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