Longer Than Tomorrow


colette_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Longer Than Tomorrow
Synopsis Tension and conflict can only go so long before something either cracks or gives. Love proves to be resilient.
Date February 10, 2011

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station hasn't been this quiet in a long, long time.

The distant hum of generators rumble up from the depths of lower levels, fluorescent lights flicker softly overhead, and a wayward rodent somewhere off of the rail platform scrapes along curiously. Two hours after curfew, and Grand Central feels like a ghost town. The Milburn brothers are out of sight, most of the hub's residents have hunkered down in warmer and less drafty areas of the abandoned station for the night. This is the witching hour in which Colette Nichols opts to come home, so late in the night that any noise she can hear in the dark of the tunnels isn't just ambient noise echoing from above. So late that there's no one to ask her where she's been, what she's been doing, or where she'll be tomorrow. Usually even Tasha is asleep by now, having done her best to wait up for Colette. They'll share a bed for the night, hold each other beneath heavy blankets in the small ticket booth that serves as a makeshift bedroom. Then come morning, Colette will be gone again, usually before Tasha awakens, sometimes only just after.

Colette's blurry outline sharpens as she fades into visibility, heading up the steps from the railway tracks to the subway platform, the hood of her sweatshirt drawn up over her head, leather jacket zippered shut. There's a dark stain one corner of her courier bag, a tear in the side where there wasn't one before. Oil, maybe? Too black to be anything else.

Throwing one hand down to her side, Colette tosses the snubbed butt of a cigarette down onto the platform, and it hits with a shower of orange sparks and a puff of smoke before rolling off of the edge and down to the rails. Boots clomp across concrete, zippers and a wallet chain make soft rattling noises. Her mind is a wash with too many thoughts and too many plans for tomorrow.

Dark circles emphasize the cadaverous nature of Colette's countenance, more an image of Emile Danko in this lightning than anything else, high cheekbones looking more pronounced these days, eyes seeming more deeply set due to lack of sleep. She hasn't washed her hair in days.

Tasha had tried to wait up for Colette tonight, away from the warmth and comfort of the pile of blankets and sleeping bags they've claimed as their bed. Instead, she sits curled up on the corner of the platform where she could see Colette's approach — assuming Colette was visible, of course. Her arms around her knees, knees pressed to her chest, Tasha can't hear Colette's footfalls thanks to the yellow earbuds that snake into her ears from the iPod in her pocket — the music is loud in her ears, but doesn't keep her from sleeping. Her own hours are spent splitting herself into three — student, daughter, Ferryman. Like Colette, there is no down time; what time isn't spent on Ferry errands is spent on trying to keep up with the schoolwork her heart isn't in.

Her heart is carried by Colette; separated from Tasha for all but five hours or so a night.

Were it not for the fact that the tinny sound of Tasha's headphones being audible, Colette might not have noticed her curled up with her back to the fish mural, seated on the creased canvas tarp spotted with long since dried paint. Coming to a stop, Colette breathes in deeply through her nose, then exhales a sigh that causes her shoulders to slouch forward and eyes to fall shut. Turning towards the mural, Colette's eyes track up the painted shapes, spotting one garishly contrasting fish just above Tasha's right shoulder, bringing a bittersweet smile to her lips.

Swinging off her courier bag, Colette carefully sets it down onto the ground with a metallic clink, then drops down onto one knee in a crouch, gently lifting gloved hands up to pull the headphones off of Tasha's ears, folding the noisy earbuds up into one hand. Another chilly leather glove brushes knuckles over her jawline, followed by Colette leaning in and pressing a kiss to Tasha's forehead, one that smells of cigarettes.

The chill that comes with Colette's touch makes Tasha's eyes blink open with a start, her breath catching in her throat until she realizes who it is and she smiles, eyes closing again before she lifts her chin, nose bumping up against Colette's jawline. Her arms reach up and loop around Colette's neck as she tips her head to meet the other's mismatched eyes. The music that bleeds from the tiny speakers is cut off when one hand reaches to push the button on her iPod.

"Hey, beautiful," Tasha breathes, lips curving into a smile, brown eyes sleepy as she surveys Colette's face. "I wish you wouldn't go out so late by yourself. I don't think the robots need to see you, you know," she warns.

"Hey," is Colette's quiet greeting, pressing her cold nose against one of Tasha's warm ears, followed by a brush of her lips across the teen's cheek. "I'm careful," is all she has to say about the robots she hasn't seen hide nor hair of, "you don't need to worry about me." Sliding an arm around Tasha's waist, Colette helps her up to her feet, drawing the younger girl in to an embrace even as she does, letting her lips ghost across the corner of Tasha's mouth, then briefly pluck at her lips in a soft kiss that tastes a little bit like an ashtray.

"What were you doing sitting by yourself out here? It's damp an' drafty, you're gonna' get a damn cold, an' them I'm gonna' have t'sit around with you an' feed you soup n'stuff till you get better." Colette manages a lopsided smile at that, letting her nose brush across Tasha's bangs and one eyebrow.

"C'mon, let's get you in to bed…" Comes as Colette tilts to one side, reaching down to pick up her courier bag.

Tasha reaches for her own book bag, wincing slightly as the heavy bundle weighs down one shoulder. "That's my scheme. If I get sick and you have to sit with me and feed me soup, then I'll see you more," she teases. It's not a guilt trip. Not really. "I just wanted to get away from the others, and wait for you. I didn't mean to fall asleep. What time is-" the rest of that question gets eaten up by a yawn.

Tasha's eyes fall on the black stain of Colette's bag, and she frowns, reaching to touch it. "What's that?"

"Lightbulbs," is not the answer Tasha was probably expecting about the clinking contents of Colette's bag. "Don't— worry about that right now," she dismissed, rolling the shoulder that soon bears the burden of the bag's strap, one arm still hooked around Tasha's waist as Colette walks with her towards their ticket-booth bedroom. "It's midnight, or… maybe a little after?" One dark brow comes up in question to that, she hasn't carried a watch in a long time.

On the way towards the ticket booth, Colette's head hangs slightly, brows furrowed together and lips pursed to one side. "Been busy today… how's— how's your mom doin'? I haven't seen her in forever." The last time Colette had seen Joanna Renard, the riots were just a dirty threat on the horizon. She hadn't even gone with Tasha to see her once she'd been hospitalized. Colette hasn't done a lot of things she should have lately.

Stopping outside the door to the ticket booth, Colette leans in towards Tasha and presses a kiss to the top of her head, exhaling a warm breath into her hair. "Have you seen Kaylee around, by the by?"

"No, not what's in there. What's that stain?" Tasha says, tipping her head to try to get a better look at it, but then there are questions and kisses interrupting her inspection.

After holding Colette tight for a moment, returning the kiss gently, Tasha shrugs. "She still has good days and bad days. More good than bad I think finally, instead of the other way around. Unless she's lying to me." There's a rough quality to her voice in regards to that — she still blames herself for her mother's near death, for abandoning her to run after Colette and Tamara.

"Kaylee's asleep, I think," Tasha adds, stepping back out of the embrace. "It's pretty quiet."

That Tasha knows Kaylee is asleep means that Kaylee is here, which adds one more thing onto Colette's morning agenda. Opening the door to the ticket booth, Colette furrows her brows as she turns her attention inside, causing light to blossom at the ceiling in the shape of a corkscrew, like one of those energy saving bulbs. It sheds a warm, candle-like illumination down into the room. Windows are covered up by sheets duct-taped to the frames, to both help insulate the small space and afford some measure of privacy. Past the ticket counter which is cluttered with soda cans, empty water bottles and a box of handgun ammunition lays their makeshift bed, little more than a single mattress, sleeping bags and a few thermal blankets.

"Grease," Colette belatedly answers about the dark splotch on her bag. "By bike broke down yesterday, spent all fucking day today trying to pull parts out of a scrapyard in Brooklyn to put it back together. S'not like I can just go to a store and buy parts anymore… so…" She steals goes without admission. "I can't get anywhere in this weather without it, too cold to walk."

Locking the door, Colette steps back over to Tasha, turning her around and hooking her gloved thumbs through the brunette's belt loops. "Are you okay?" Says the girl who has lost ten pounds she didn't have to lose since the riots.

Dark brows dip and Tasha shakes her head. "Why didn't you call me?" comes out with unfiltered exasperation. "I can just walk into a store and buy parts. I can hop on the subway and come bring them to you. I can help you if you just let me, okay? How many times do I have to tell you that? How long before you realize I'm here because of you, because I love you and want to be here for you?"

Her dark eyes narrow and she looks away, cheeks flushing with the sudden tantrum. She sighs again, but this one is a little softer, a little more resigned. "What parts do you still need? I'll get them for you tomorrow, if you tell me what to get," she offers.

"I— You were… you were with your mom, and…" Colette shakes her head, looking down at the ground and then back up to Tasha. "I haven't carried a phone on me for months, I don't use public phones. I— I can't just show up at Joanna's either. I'm… it was easier just to… to do it myself." Managing a weak smile, Colette slowly tugs off her gloves, tossing them atop the box of handgun rounds, then rolls her narrow shoulders to shed her jacket, letting that just fall to the floor with a scuff of leather on concrete.

"I picked up everything today, took me like four hours to dig through everything in the scrapyard, but— I got it done." Rubbing a hand on her cheek, Colette steps around Tasha and towards the bed, then looks back to her. "I didn't— it's not like I'm trying t'keep you out. It's just— it's…" A noise sounds in the back of Colette's throat, and she looks away, wrapping her arms around herself.

"I keep feeling like… we live in two totally different worlds." That admission comes as Colette sinks down to sit on the corner of the mattress, pulling up the cuff of her jeans so that she can drag the zipper down on the side of her tall boots, wriggling one off of her foot. "You have your family… you… you can go out in public without worrying about someone just— just grabbing you." All the while, Colette can't make eye contact. She just stares down at a hole in her sock where one toe is poking through.

"We can't do anything together anymore…" Is so softly admitted, enough so that it sounds like a whimper when Colette finally says it.

Instantly, Tasha regrets her tantrum, tears of sympathy and worry filling her eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispers, and moves to the bed, curling one leg under herself as she sits beside Colette, resting her chin on the other's shoulder as her arms wrap around the other's thin frames, hands finding each of Colette's where the hold onto herself.

"We don't. You're my world, Colette. My mom — yeah, she's out in the real world, she's important, but she's… she doesn't need me. She's strong and she's safe. My dad, I haven't seen since we were last on the island, and you know how we are." Family, but not close.

A hot tear slides from Tasha's eye and onto Colette's neck before Tasha murmurs again, "I'll quit school and just be with you, if you want. I don't want you to feel alone. I don't want to be in a world where you aren't. Colie."

The embrace isn't returned, not right away. Colette looks conflicted as she unzips her other boot, tugging it off awkwardly with Tasha's arms around her. When the boot clunks to the floor, Colette finally turns her mismatched eyes to Tasha, brows furrowed and stare soon dipping down to the matress, then her lap.

"I can't…" Shaking her head, there's a harsh sound at the back of Colette's throat. "You can't quite school because of this," her mixed eyes alight back to Tasha. "You can't— keep making concessions to your life for me, it— I don't want to feel responsible for you just— just throwing your life away t'be with me." Colette's jaw trembles, throat works up and down, and she stares at her feet. "I love you…" Colette says with a crack in her voice, "but… I'm a terrible person to you." Tears well up in Colette's eyes, then dribble down over dark lashes to spill across her cheeks in narrow rivulets.

Her head shaking vehemently, Tasha reaches to touch Colette's cheek gently, thumb scraping over wet cheek to dry the tears, before tipping Colette's face up to look at her directly. "And I feel like shit trying to go around like a normal person because of some chance of genetics, while you have to hide. I'm only still doing school because it's what my mother'd want, it's what my father'd want. It's not what I want, not when you're out here, not when I don't see you 20 hours of every day."

She lets go and stands again, distancing herself this time, wrapping her arms around herself in a mirror of Colette's gesture of moments before. "You're not terrible to me. I'm not throwing my life away. I choose this. I was Ferry before I knew you, and I'd be Ferry if I didn't know you, and you know I'll do whatever I can for them, and for you. I might be more willing to give some things up for you than I would for just the Ferry, yeah, but I'd still be doing it without you."

"Stop that!" Colette suddenly shouts, boosting herself up to stand straight, both of her hands waving around in frustrated motions. "Stop— stop pretending that I haven't been an asshole to you! I— " Colette looks away, her jaw clenched tightly and eyes shut, tears wet in her lashes. "I realize I've— I know… I know I haven't been easy to be around. I— I know— " The hiccuped sound of a sob starts to break Colette's composure, but she struggles through it, her lips contorting into an overwrought expression.

"I— " Colette's breathing catches, her voice hitches, and her jaw gives an unsteadied tremor. "I've been so focused on Tamara… on…" Guilty eyes square down at Colette's feet, and the young girl's arms wrap around herself again. She has no good excuse.

Tasha turns to narrow her eyes at the outburst, her eyes watering as she shakes her head. "So? You can't be an asshole and still have me love you?" she tosses back. "Fine. You want me to admit that I feel left out? That I think sometimes you don't remember I'm here, that you and I've been through so much together that you seem to forget whenever the going gets tough? That it doesn't hurt that you don't think I'm strong enough to do whatever it is you do out there?" She jerks a hand toward the door, to suggest the greater world outside.

"You want me to admit that I'm worried that you love her more than me?" is whispered as tears slide down Tasha's flushed cheeks. "And that then I feel like a horrible person, because I love her, too — not like you do and not like I love you, but because she is part of what I consider my family, and I feel like I'm a traitor for being angry that I feel I've lost you to whatever happened that night?"

One hand comes up to swipe at her eyes and she takes a step toward the door, her other hand reaching blindly for it. "I'd do anything for you, Colette, but you won't let me," is finally choked out and she turns away again, reaching for her bag that was dropped on the ground upon entering the room.

Their argument is easy to hear through the thin, predominantly glass walls. Probably easier for Kaylee to hear, combined with all of the thoughts they can't air, hopefully she sleeps deep, or she may not sleep much at all. Silence is Colette's way of dealing with her problems, typically followed by running and avoiding them. Tonight shows some progress, even if progress in the face of a downward spiral. Swallowing noisily, Colette makes a step for Tasha, taking her wrist tightly before she can get that bag.

Tears blur Colette's vision, for all that she needs it. Shaking her head slowly, the dark-haired young girl slides an arm around Tasha's shoulders, drawing her in to a forcible embrace, resting her head down on the brunette's shoulder and just cries. It's been a good, long while since she let it all out. Too many months now of keeping it all bottled up, and for all that she wants to find the right words, find a way to make it all better and assuage Tasha's fears, she knows she can't.

A muffled, teary, "I'm sorry," is a start.

When her arm is caught, Tasha's breath catches in her throat, and when Colette pulls her into a hard and needful hug, she gives and takes in kind. Her arms wrap tightly, almost painfully, around Colette, and she buries her face against the dirty dark locks. Her shoulders shake as she cries as hard as the other woman does.

"I know," she whispers, moving to the bed to draw Colette down with her. "I know." The words are murmured against Colette's scalp, Tasha's breath warm there as she lies them down. The fierce embrace is eased a little and Tasha instead cradles Colette, wrapping her arms around the other girl from behind, nestling her chin on a too-thin shoulder.

She bites her tongue on the words 'I'm sorry, too' — not that she isn't. She is, constantly, apologetic for not being enough. In her heart, she is sorry she can't be everything for Colette, but right now she knows that apology isn't what Colette needs.

Apologies won't make Colette feel less guilty.

"I know. And I love you," she whispers into Colette's ear, lips brushing the skin behind. "Forever."

Curling her fingers into the fabric of Tasha's sweater, Colette continues to exhale breathy sobs into the younger woman's shoulder, eyes wrenched shut and nose buried at the side of her neck. There's a tremor running through her dangerously skinny frame, a hiccuped cry that comes with shaky hands and weak knees. She's exhausted, emotionally and physically. "I l— I love— love you t— too," comes stuttered through her crying, trying to hold on to Tasha as tightly as she possibly can.

What Tasha isn't aware of, what neither she nor Colette could possibly know, is just how long forever is, and just what twists the winding path of their relationship will take. It may not be easy now, and it won't be easier in the time to come. But what they can't be sure of, though what they can hope for…

…is that forever is at least longer than tomorrow.

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