Love and Hope


graeme_icon.gif ygraine2_icon.gif

Scene Title Love and Hope
Synopsis A rather optimistic talk about recent events, and relationships of all kinds
Date March 14 2011

Le Rivage — Ygraine's apartment

Graeme had called Ygraine Sunday night, that he'd be bringing breakfast again, and so, despite that it's not that much past seven in the morning — not that his own sleep schedule tends to leave him room to talk about things like 'morning' — he stands outside Ygraine's door, peacoat over one arm. "G'morning." It comes at the same time as he knocks twice on the door.

The opening of the door is, as usual, preceded by the removal of tiers of security - the portal being swung open to reveal Ygraine, face still slightly softened by sleep, clad in loose exercise gear and the simple grey sling. Her hair, however, is a gleaming cascade of black, the lowest portion of it a rich and warm blue, and she musters a smile in greeting. "Come in, come in", she directs, her available hand on the door while a jerk of her head provides the emphasis of direction to her words.

"Thanks," Graeme says, balancing the three bags full of breakfast food that he's brought between his hands and stepping in through the door. "I hope I'm not too early or anything?" There's a grin. "Call for work today means I don't need to be at the school until nearly eleven actually … but I figured I'd come by a bit earlier." And Graeme at least, as per usual, doesn't really look anything but wide awake, this morning actually cleanshaven, hair neatened as much as his hair actually will. He steps aside so that Ygraine can close the door behind him, moving to set the bags down on the dining room table. "And well, I figured I'd get out of the house a bit early, too. There's only so much I can keep myself focused on soccer playbooks and such."

Ygraine dallies at the door to restore the security measures, before padding back through - heading straight for the kitchenette, from which the aroma of freshly-made coffee is presently washing over the apartment. "Help yourself", she instructs her visitor, nodding to the percolator - though she simply reaches for her own mug, closing her eyes as she sips from it.

"Do I need to offer you advice on dating in New York? If so, I know of somewhere to take you. I think that you might be crazy enough it'll appeal. I like it, anyway. Or are you trying to busy yourself at six in the morning with coaching manuals for some other reason? I know that if that was the best I could find to do, it'd probably be a sign I was dodging something more important."

"Hah," Graeme says, slightly under his breath as he begins to pour coffee for himself. "No, it's that busying myself with something inconsequential to think about is … important. My roommate, Remi?" There's a bit of a half-grin, more along the lines of long-suffering. "She can be naïve at times," understatement of the year, really. Graeme sips his coffee, leaning on the doorframe. "And it's much … easier to think about the playbook than it is to otherwise not worry about my sister, and just … everything."

"This… would be the hot, French, head-in-the-clouds, insanely wealthy woman who was once literally a prima ballerina, right?", Ygraine asks with a wry smile. "She's got a closer acquaintance with what the rest of us would see as reality than you might expect, but… I'm not at all convinced that it's where she lives, no."

There's a nod. "Yeah. Head-in-the-clouds," Graeme agrees. "Don't get me wrong, she's … it's proven a good place to live so far, but there are some things I cannot, cannot explain to her." He grins. "She's currently pissed off at me for keeping things from her." He sets his coffee down on the counter, going to get out two plates and bring them to the table with all the food.

"And in a bit of a residual temper tantrum about not needing to be protected." That's accompanied by an eye-roll. "Despite that she recently did her touch-talking-into-your-head trick on someone in the lobby of the apartment and was fucking lucky she didn't get a bullet to the head." Graeme shakes his head ever so slightly.

Ygraine can't help but laugh quietly, moving out of the way so that Graeme can more easily get at the fridge for milk should he want any. "Who was in danger of shooting her in your apartment building?", she asks quietly, her own lack of telepathic ability clear in the way her eyes search his face for signs of just how serious he truly is.

"I'm not sure if they'd actually have done so, if they had a gun," Graeme murmurs. "But she doesn't really seem to get how serious such things are. Casual displays of ability and such. Generally, I can't think of many people who'd respond well to what she did." There's a pause, and Graeme moves over to the table, laying out the various containers of food before piling his plate with some eggs, sausage, and hashbrowns, as well as a waffle. All of the food is still steaming when the containers are opened.

"It was past midnight. There's a kid that lives in the building that I occasionally run into while restless and not sleeping. Except Remi showed up and started yelling at him, because things had … come a little bit to blows. Nothing that wouldn't have handled itself without her there." He grimaces, before letting the topic fade into a little silence.

After watching for a short time, Ygraine pads over to the table, folding herself onto a chair, watching Graeme over the rim of her cup. "And… she pushed in and… what? Spoke directly into an angry person's mind to try to calm them down? Spook them?"

There's half a nod. "I dunno. She thought she could get him to calm down. It didn't work. It spooked the hell out of him more, and I can't say I blame him." He stares up at the ceiling a little before picking up his fork and beginning to pay attention to the pile of food on his plate.

"It's just one more thing that reminds me that she is naïve, in the big picture of things," he murmurs. "She is a good person, and her heart is in the right place, but…god." He shakes his head, shrugs.

Ygraine sighs heavily. "There's… a powerful temptation to use abilities because they're there. Like the sixteen year-old kid, over here, with his first-ever car and a desire to drive everywhere. It's often not remotely the best idea, but it's… not just a new toy, but a new option. An expansion of one's life, in a way. A new avenue opened up. So of course you want to use it."

Another nod, around bites of food. "She also doesn't understand that there are … things out there that she doesn't want to know. Things that it is safer for her not to know." Graeme leans one arm on the table as he eats. "I'm pretty sure that her thing about what she hears from other people's heads being secret is one of those head in the clouds parts." He grimaces again, and sighs.

"That's… part of the reason I'm trying not to be open about the full nature of my own relationship to Liberty", Ygraine murmurs. "Liberty is what it is - but how it is viewed will depend in part upon what people believe to be 'the truth' about it. And as a foreigner with a history of mental problems - I could be used all too easily to blacken its name and reduce its chances. So the fewer people in the general populace who know that I came up with it and did most of the leg-work to set it up, the better. And the more absent I am from the spotlight for it, the more credibility Adelaide has - and the more credibility it has. And as far as secrets go, these days, that's not even a terribly threatening one."

"Yeah." Graeme looks up from his food for a moment. "I'm giving Remi some space until she can get over her thing about that she doesn't need to be protected," he admits, after a few moments pause, picking up his coffee. "She may not, but…"

"I didn't get as much of a choice, in general, in choosing a side, as I might have if the circumstances were different. Or a choice in where my role ought to be. And well, I'm a teacher. It was about protecting and helping people to start with. It still is." He sighs. "She's not going to understand that, at least, not understand it beyond what she can glean of my own understanding." There's a glance up at the ceiling. "Agh. I'm sorry. This is an overly depressing breakfast topic," Graeme admits.

A snort, and Ygraine shakes her head. "Hey, in the past few weeks I've been firebombed, choked on smoke until I couldn't breathe, shot, walked through blood and body-parts, been betrayed by a friend, lost my lover, and had a mental and emotional breakdown. Then I discovered that some of my experiences are really quite mild compared to what one of my real friends has been through. For lack of cheer, you are falling way short, old thing. You're simply pathetically failing in the 'causing depression' stakes, you know!"

Offering her companion a gentle smile, Ygraine carefully frees up her hand, then leans forward to try to gently rest her fingertips against Graeme's arm. "You're right to be worried about her", she murmurs gently. "And I think that you're right about her, too - I'm not at all sure that she appreciates how much the world has changed. Nor that it's changed in ways that mean that a famous name and a lot of money aren't the protection they used to be. Sure, she's safer than hundreds of millions of people here - if the government ever wants shot of her, it can just rescind her visa. And if she makes a fuss, someone can wheel out the 'cheese-eating surrender monkey' jibe and the tame media'll laugh at the French on cue. But I don't think that she's even thought that far. She… thinks that things are still fundamentally the same as they were when she came here."

Graeme manages to chuckle a bit, and rests his own hand on top of Ygraine's for a moment. "There's a lot different, these days," he agrees, looking at his now empty plate before reaching for another container to pile more food onto it. "And I would … I would hate to see something happen that would make her acknowledge what we know as reality. And I'll do my damnedest to make sure that it doesn't happen like that, you know?" There's that slight determination behind his voice.

"That's… why I hoped she'd back Liberty with more enthusiasm. I went to talk to her about it", Ygraine admits. "She was… by most standards, she was very generous. Pledged to give a - low - four-figure sum to the trust fund for court costs. Find another few dozen people to match her, and you've got enough to act as a seed fund. A hundred grand will at least catch the attention of most firms of lawyers as a downpayment instantly available to them. But I confess that I'd hoped that she'd appreciate the situation enough that… well. I'm not entirely sure what I was hoping for. I have no idea how rich she actually is, as opposed to well-off. Whether her parents left her disposable money to go with the homes and the butler in France and…"

Shaking her head, the Briton chuckles. "I wanted her to be enthused, and pleased that someone was trying to fight things wholly peacefully. I don't see her as a revolutionary, and it's the non-revolutionaries whom we need if we're to stand a hope of resolving this. But she seemed… cautious, more than anything else. Wary of being scammed. Still - her commitment puts her ahead of the vast majority of people, and I'm grateful for it. And she did give me tickets for Swan Lake."

Graeme nods, listening to Ygraine speak as he finishes off his second plate of breakfast in a time frame that would seem impressive, really. "Sometimes I wonder how she can be so cautious, at the same time as such naiveté." There's a bit of a shrug, overall. "I think she may in time come around, however. And no … she's rich, pretty much,. Because I am more or less well off, beyond even what I consider reasonable. If I wanted to, I would not have to work very much. I work, and I teach, because I want to. My adoptive parents left me the property in New Mexico that has rent income that more than pays the taxes on the property, and Jessa's investments in the past several years have been rather sound, overall, and pay out a modest living without me doing much. And most of that isn't particularly taxable, as inheritance stuff."

"Jessa…?", Ygraine asks after swallowing her latest mouthful, tone somewhat cautious. "I don't think I've heard you mention her before…."

"My adoptive mother," Graeme says. There's a hint of grief still in his voice, things that he hasn't been able to deal with. "I was adopted, when I was ten, eleven. I'd been in group homes most of my life, and wasn't … the most well adjusted of kids. It was a rough time. But … Liam and Jessa were good to me. I don't know why me, they never actually said. But I was placed with them as a foster family, and they petitioned the state to adopt me shortly thereafter." He bites his lower lip. "Liam died in the bomb. Jessa died just over a year and a half ago, now."

"He was…? Ahhh." Ygraine sighs gently, lips compressing even as her brow furrows with worry. "I rather better understand why you're here, I think. And I am very sorry to hear that. All I lost in the Bomb was my mind and my shot at an Olympics. Serious by most standards, but… not in this context."

Graeme's hands unclench a little, having gotten a little towards white-knuckled at talking about his adoptive parents. "We moved to Manhattan, from Buffalo, when I was twelve. Because Jessa's parents were aging and Jessa wanted to be with them." He swallows, the muscles of his jaw and neck working slightly. "After the bomb, I got Jessa to move to being in New Mexico with me, away from here. She couldn't do it, and our house was right in the bomb radius in midtown. And sometimes I wonder if the stress there, with the bigotry and prejudice and all that … whether it brought about her death, or at least made it more likely."

Graeme looks, slightly into the distance and truly looking past Ygraine for the moment. "It's not like I have that much left here, either, but it's something. They were good to me, when they had no real reason to be." There is grief and pain in his voice that he rarely lets through.

"People doing things without evident, immediate, self-interest… that's the true foundation of society", Ygraine murmurs. "Without altruism, without a willingness to take a risk on someone else reciprocating kindness… it just doesn't work. It's so very often the things that get beyond money and power that have the most startling and wonderful impacts."

"Eventually, I came to love them both very much. And I miss them." There's a nod. "And I … was not the easiest of kids," he admits. "I had problems, like a lot of kids who grow up in the system do. I had a record, because I didn't allow myself or others to be picked on and sometimes I resorted to physical ways of enforcing that when adults weren't watching. But they saw that I could be someone, and not just another druggie's kid who was left at the hospital. And they … they were supportive of me, when my ability came about. When things got confusing in the world. Always."

There's a pause, and a frown. "And yet, no one was around to give that same chance to my half sister."

"That's not your fault", Ygraine says gently. "The good thing is that she hasn't lost you. And… from the tiny amount you've told me, she's aware of that. Or she wouldn't have made the decision she did. Family still matters to her."

Graeme nods, and a bit of a smile manages to show on his face. "I suppose so, yeah." His coffee cup gets set down, and he leans back in his chair somewhat. "I hope so." Because at some level, that's all he has left. Hope.

Nor is he exactly alone in feeling that way. "It's always easy to see the worst in a situation", Ygraine says gently. "But… the nuances of how bad things happen can be vital to determining how to resolve what caused them, or to avoid them in future. There are usually reasons to hope, tied up with what's going wrong…."

Another nod follows, and Graeme manages a bit more of a smile. "That's true," he admits, voice quiet. "I spend a fair bit of my time, at home, not thinking about things … it can be too tempting to see things in the negative when I get a chance to actually think about it." Then there's a bit more of a grin.

"On the other hand, sometimes it eclipses the positive things." And then Graeme blushes, and giggles a bit. "I have a date tomorrow, I think." He grins. "Provided that the eighth grade English class I get to teach this afternoon and tomorrow doesn't turn my brain into mush first."

"Well, even if it does, you'd still have the date. You'd just be a drooling imbecile during it", Ygraine responds, tone dry. "So perhaps you should show up to the class in your date clothes, in case you're not up to dressing yourself afterwards…"

"I'd hate to be a drooling imbecile for my first date with this guy, thank you very much," Graeme says wryly, flushing red. Then he picks up his coffee cup again, raising it to his lips to hide his slight embarrassment. "Really."

A low laugh, then Ygraine picks up her own mug - though only to mime a toast. "Congratulations. Who is he, then, this chap you want to impress so very much?", she enquires, tone and smile both playful.

There's a bit of a pause, as Graeme's expression resumes being more even and less embarrassed. "Aric. He's a friend of Liz's that Remi decided to uh … set me up with, a few weeks ago. And he asked me if I'd like to go to dinner with him, and so." And then Graeme blushes again. "And seriously, dear god he's hot."

"Not to mention," Graeme continues, "funny, and intelligent, and so. Yeah."

Ygraine can't help but laugh out loud again, leaning back and shaking her head. "She does seem to be keen to set you up, doesn't she? I'm wondering if I should suggest that you sweep your portion of the apartment for bugs, given her enthusiasm for you to hook up with someone…. But to be a touch more serious - I hope it goes well."

"She's a telepath, ferchristsakes," Graeme notes, wry once more, the slow drawl creeping a little further into his words as well. "All she'd have to was eavesdrop for a little bit. Though I have to say, it's nice. I have to admit that I could live with a few more of these attempts." He grins. "Since well, maybe she's succeeded this time. And her first attempt at it resulted in me making a friend." There's a chuckle, too. "And I like the normalcy. Of getting to go on a date."

Shaking her head again, Ygraine chuckles. "I have the impression that she's very much a fan of dating, if not of relationships. I hope that she stops throwing men at you if you do find someone you want to stick with."

Graeme gives a little nod of agreement. "Yeah. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, overall," he responds, still quiet though now because if he weren't, his voice might crack slightly in embarrassment. "Still. I will be extra determined not to let the eighth graders turn my brain to mush," he says, all mock-gravity and wry wit. "Because then I wouldn't get to enjoy myself on the date."

"Oh, if he's as hot and witty as you say, then you could just stare, drool, and let the wonderment wash over you", Ygraine eagerly assures Graeme, doing her best to sound sincerely enthusiastic.

Graeme leans forward a bit, reaching across the table to playfully shove Ygraine's hand a bit. "I am never going to catch a break, here," he murmurs, more to himself than anything else, but he's grinning from ear to ear.

Laughing, Ygraine blows a raspberry. "Hey! I wished you well with it! And I did actually mean it. It'd be good to know that… things are going well for someone who deserves it, in all honesty. Would be a welcome little bit of news."

He grins more. "Thank you," Graeme says, smiling. "And yeah. But see, it doesn't stop the fact that I embarrass as easily as I breathe, a lot of the time." He raises his hands in a gesture of defeat. "I'll be sure to let you know how it goes."

"Oh, not quite that easily", Ygraine assures Graeme - albeit with a wink. "So… should I move on to bending your ear about worthy causes again?"

Graeme rolls his eyes a little. "Yes, that easily," he says. "Or at least, sometimes." He's blushing again, even thinking about whatever it is he isn't saying. There's a reach, and he pulls over the container that'd had eggs in it, dumping the remainder onto his plate; and then there's a glance at his cell phone on the table next to him for use as a clock. "I've got about an hour and a half until I should leave for work," he says, with a small smile that turns into a slightly cheeky grin. "So until then, I'm all yours."

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