Mirrors In Minnesota


graeme_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Mirrors in Minnesota
Synopsis Past events, visions of the future, and darkly-seen mirrors
Date November 21 2011

Kabetogama Resort, Minnesota

With one patient firmly on the mend - if still old, injured, and frail in spirit as well as body - and the other now up and about, Ygraine has moved from her spot on the floor of the makeshift infirmary to a cabin. Though she shares the building with Tamara, she has found a spot for herself: up on the roof, wrapped up against the Winter cold, where she can gaze up at the stars and enjoy the feeling of openness around her.

At the moment, her head is turned Westwards, watching the tones of blue deepen towards black as the last remnants of the departed sun’s light fade from the sky - a wistful smile curling her lips as a slow succession of stars emerge from hiding.

Evening, when it's dark out, is not usually a time for outside chores, let alone in the cold that winter brings, but nonetheless, Graeme emerges from one of the sheds wearing a lightweight long sleeve shirt, a sweater, jeans. Not really appropriate for the weather if not for the combination of his ability and physical activity. He's also carrying an axe, walking slowly without much hurry towards the pile of firewood that's yet to be split. He's split a lot of firewood since they arrived, more than strictly necessary.

He doesn't actually notice Ygraine up on the roof, actually, until he's setting the first log against the chopping block to be split, and then the Briton gets a brief nod of greeting, and a half a smile.

“Boo,” Ygraine says softly after being noticed. She raises a hand in greeting, corners of her mouth lifting into a gentle smile. “I know I’m being weird again, but I like the open sky too much not to. Would you care to join me?” She doesn’t even bother to look concerned or express doubts about Graeme’s attire, seemingly willing to trust in the success of his recovery after events at the Ark.

There's a bit of a grin in response, and Graeme looks dubiously up at the roof, and then at Ygraine. "Sure," he says. There's a grin. "Since when are any of us not weird?" is the question that follows. "You're gonna have to help me get up there, though, unless there's a ladder I'm missing seeing and you got up there by more… normal means."

"'Course I'll help," Ygraine says warmly, rising to her feet and walking to the edge of the roof… before swinging around and stepping onto the wall with barely a hitch in her stride. Now perpendicular to the world, she holds out a hand to Graeme, offering him a cheerful grin. "C'mon. Put a foot up on the wall and I'll walk you up and over. And yes, even after things went 'wild' back in the Ark, I'm confident I can manage *this* much reliably."

It's far, far from the first time that Graeme's been helped by Ygraine's ability, but even the teacher has the briefest moments of pause before he takes her hand and makes that step up and onto the wall. And swallows, shaking off the disorientation that follows. "What actually did happen, anyway?" A question that he hasn't asked until this point. "I was a little busy figuring something out at that point, didn't see most of it."

"Depends on quite where you want to start," Ygraine says dryly - but remains silent until she's guided Graeme through another orientation-shift, letting him settle down next to her chosen spot on the roof. "It… all got rather confused for all of us," she concedes. "But… Tamara had concluded that the meltdown had to occur, to destroy the Ark. Luis thought that she was there to *save* it from meltdown. When she threw her crowbar - or whatever it was - into the control panels and shorted them all out, he reacted badly and tried to shoot her. I leapt to grab her… but wasn't entirely quick enough. She was turning away from it, and got clipped on the arm, before the bullet hit me. On the vest, thankfully. Brooke responded by stabbing Luis in the back. Liette responded badly to *that*, and telekinetically grabbed Brooke - slamming her into the ceiling, sliding her up it… then dropping her. I… well. When I said, a while back, that I broke the space-time continuum, I wasn't *entirely* joking. I have a range of about six inches for each part of my ability. Twelve, if I push it. Maybe a *touch* more. If I'm within a foot of you, I can link you to something that some part of *you* is within a foot of. It's the connection that matters, not how long you are, or how far the other thing is from *me*. And I only link one object to one thing with one 'charge'. I can stick multiple objects to something, but only one at a time."

"Or… that's what I understood as 'fact' about my ability. Not that I'd wanted to risk too many crazy tests. Brooke… was appreciably more than a dozen *yards* away. Some distance horizontally, and stuck on a fifty foot high ceiling. But when she dropped, I *tried* to link her to the ceiling to slow her fall… and something kind of… ripped in my head. I managed to reach her *and* reach the ceiling with my ability. Only momentarily, but it meant that for the last bit of her fall she was *de*celerating prior to impact. And at the same time, all sorts of other things around me were starting to fall up towards the ceiling."

"So… I broke the range, and the number of targets, and my head a bit. Maybe being irradiated's the key for me. I 'awoke' or whatever the phrase is, after being caught on the edge of the Bomb in oh-six. This time, I was down there… though the main wave of radiation came moments after I'd done that, of course."

Graeme settles down, cross-legged on the roof and not at all worried about falling now that they're up there, and nods. "I've always — more or less always," he amends, "had my ability. It started part way through high school." He shrugs his shoulders, and shakes his head. "Yeahhh." A pause. "Remi's pissed off at me," half a grin, "that I took the moment to help her when she screamed into everyone's head."

"I think it's safe to say that she'll forgive you for that." Ygraine shoots Graeme a wryly fond look. "If anything, I suspect that part of the reason for her being angry with you is that its a safe option. Things got very, very scary for all of us - and that was her first time 'out': out of the safehouse for something significant, on a major mission, trying to make conscious and sustained *use* of her abilities in a situation where she couldn't know the parameters of what she'd encounter…. While there'll be genuine elements about not wanting to be babied - at a guess for what she's angry about - it's also the case that you provide a convenient focus for *everything* she's got to deal with."

Another nod. "Yeah." He's quiet for a while, glancing down at the pile of firewood that he's left in order for conversation. "I just wonder what we're going to do next." He looks out. "I've seen the news broadcasts. There've been riots and worse, all across the country." He chews on his lower lip, just for a moment. "Not that I've got a job to go back to, or really… anything in New York, anymore. It'll be great to put on my resume for the next job, though, yeah?" It's a half self-deprecating comment, and for a moment, Graeme just seems… tired.

"I'm a washed-up professional track cyclist," Ygraine answers, tone again dry. "In a sport for which the pinnacle was the Olympics - and the International Olympic Committee have ruled out accepting any Evolved participants. That leaves me with… what? Being on the run from the Feds? A couple of degrees that only ever served to get me an intern position? Admittedly, a really cool one, but still. My main formal employment has been as a bike messenger. My last official job was as the personal assistant of our lovely fellow 'terrorist' here. Most of my few actual achievements are ones I can probably never talk about in public. Where the heck I go after all this, I honestly don't know. But I'm going to keep trying as long as I can. Keep fighting, too, if I need to."

There's another nod, and for a moment Graeme is quiet as he looks out across the treeline. "It's kinda nice up here," he says, shifting to sit cross legged.

Eventually, he adds, "I'd do it again." Pause. "All of it — though I'm not sure I'm ever going to be okay with the collateral damage." The former teacher lets out a breath. "I'm quite sure no one ever should be okay with something like that." He pauses, and tilts his head for a moment. "Well, you could probably get some sort of teaching credentials with the degrees," he pointed out. "Or at least, if it weren't for the whole on the run from the federal government thing."

There's another pause, and then he shrugs. "We'll see," he eventually says.

Ygraine turns a sympathetically sad smile upon Graeme, before reaching over to rest a gloved hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently.

“There’s an immense amount of the past few years that no one should ever be okay with… but I fear that we’re going to have to choose between running away and experiencing more horror. Participating in it, so that we can try to mitigate it, and spare some people from it. Maybe even find some way to build something halfway decent out of all this mess… though it doesn’t look as if the riots will be enough on their own to change the government or its policies. Sadly.”

She sighs, shaking her head before managing to find a half smile. “Teaching… I’m not sure I’d be well cut out for in the long term. I enjoy helping people to make progress, get better. See real results. Lazy, inattentive kids… I think I’d get far too angry with. It’s one of the benefits of sports coaching: the kids who don’t want to be there tend not to stick around for long anyway. Being assigned randomly-filled classes of children to pursue a year-long syllabus set by people I’ve never met… that probably takes more courage than I have at my disposal.”

Another grin. "Having done both," Graeme says, "I can agree that you're right on that matter." There's a pause. "But if kids are lazy it's because they haven't had enough examples to the contrary. Not because they don't care."

A shrug. "I played cards with Tamara earlier today," he adds. "For a little while. We played Go Fish." There's another pause, and then Graeme continues, "Odin likes her." And clearly, Graeme considers the dog a good judge of character.

“Oh, I’m inclined to think that some people are born with a love for doing the wrong thing,” Ygraine counters - though her tone is wryly amiable rather than bitter. “But a paranoiac on the run might perhaps be considered somewhat biased there.”

Winking and shrugging, Ygraine then sighs contentedly. “I had been meaning to talk to you about Tamara. But I wasn’t quite sure what to say, that wouldn’t sound crazily off-putting. I wanted to warn you… but not make you apprehensive. How did you get on? That you managed to play a game puts you ahead of a fair number of people, I think.”

Graeme considers this for a moment. "I'm pretty sure," he says, "that things which I might once have considered 'crazily off-putting' have become part of my life now, so…" Another shrug. "It was…" A pause, as the former teacher considers. "Difficult at first, having a conversation with her, but the game was fun. I lost, I'm actually terrible at card games… I'm terrible at lying," he notes. "I think it was fun for both of us, there wasn't as much awkwardness by the time we'd been playing for a bit." A soft chuckle. "And she put up with Odin trying to be a lap dog, he's going to be spoiled by the attention at this rate." He shrugs momentarily. "I try not to judge people on things that are out of their control, or let it get in the way. Plus, I'm a teacher… playing cards with Tamara was easier than a classroom of rowdy high school students, hands down."

Ygraine nods, listening attentively. “When first I met her, I thought she was like me,” she explains quietly. “She is, in some key ways. But we’re on opposite sides of the mirror - and she tends to be appreciably farther out than I ever was….”

A quick head-shake precedes an apologetic look. “Sorry. That probably doesn’t make much sense at all. I first laid eyes on her when she was happily handing out little star-shaped stickers to complete strangers in Central Park. Watching her for a few moments, I - being a modest and wholly unpresumptuous soul - leapt to the conclusion that her mind had fractured in the same sort of way that mine did after the Bomb. Some of what she was doing, how she interacted with the world, spoke so clearly to seeing it in ways that most people didn’t. But those were ways that made quite a lot of sense to me."

Graeme turns to more wholly face Ygraine when she speaks, and then nods once as he draws a knee to his chest to listen.

“For a lot of people, that sort of strangeness can be profoundly off-putting," Ygraine continues. "Even frightening. A visible sign of mental illness can be reacted to as if it were a blood-drenched weapon being waved around. So quite apart from sympathy, I wanted to help her when opportunity presented itself. I managed not to give in to the temptation to try to force any aid on her - I knew how badly I’d have responded to that, after all. But for quite a long time thereafter, I thought she was ‘just’ whimsical in the brainpan.

“The reality is that her ability transforms her perception of the world. I can’t pretend to know the full details - I’m still learning more of the nuances now. But… at my worst, I was staring at a fractured mirror, with the world somewhere beyond the crazy mass of cracks. Whole pieces had fallen out, when things were really bad. I was well beyond the notion of ‘as through a mirror, darkly’ and confronted with what seemed to be total chaos. It felt like I was confronted with infinite possibilities, and I barely had a clue which ones might be real.

“For Tamara, she’s farther out and on the other side of that mirror - if that makes any sense at all. She sees the possibilities laid out for all the futures before her, and sees them with certainty: she has knowledge, where I was floundering in confusion. Being in the here-and-now, doing simple things - such as petting a friendly dog or playing cards - she likes. But it’s often hard for her, especially to relate to it as those around her do.

“For us, the ‘now’ is the most real thing, almost always. It’s where we unquestionably are. For Tamara… the future flow of the river of time fills almost all her vision. The here-and-now is behind almost everything she sees and knows. We’re all in her past, in a way. But we’re also in her future: she sees us there. So conversations with us… they tend not to be about just the one thing or the one time.”

When Ygraine finishes, there's a pause, and then Graeme nods once more. "You've seen what happens without my ability," Graeme says. "Even the here and now becomes too much for me to… appreciably handle and still pass myself off as an adult who can do things. I can understand and empathise with things being overwhelming, even if it's nowhere near the same experience as the ones that I find difficult." There's a grin. "But, really. One of the most important things I learned as a teacher, is that the basis of understanding is being able to accept others on their level, for who they are, at the moment."

"Knowing that, though, should make it easier to follow or at least halfway follow. I was…" there's a half a chuckle in the soft drawl, "a bit confused by the phrasing a few times, but I'll be able to keep that in mind." There's a grin, and then eventually Graeme falls silent.

“If she’s employing the past tense, and seems relaxed and care-free, then she’s probably not putting in the effort needed to compare where we are with where she is and also with where the time she’s referring to is.” Ygraine shrugs, lips twisting. “Which isn’t getting the description right, even as best as I think I grasp it… but it might be close enough. The odds are that if she refers to something in the past when talking to one of us, she’s actually referring to our present. Even our future. But probably not anything we’d think of as our past. I think….

“In any case, there’s a good chance that much of what she says to you will have more than one layer of meaning, since she’s seeing you in more than one time - and more than one possible future. All of which makes more sense to me than it probably should, though I don’t have a shred of her actual ability. I do worry at times that I’m just projecting my madness onto her, and she’s been taking pity on me from the start… but I do seem to be someone with whom she can relax, and who ‘gets’ most of what she says. At least on some level. Most people aren’t even aware of there being any sort of lens or mirror of perception: it just doesn’t occur to them. I became all too well acquainted with mine.”

"Most people," Graeme snorts, the drawl showing in his words for a moment, "don't have a fucking clue about anything."

Another one of those pauses that are more frequent than they used to be, and when he turns back to Ygraine from wherever his attention had wandered off to, "But that's changing. Whether for the better or not, we'll still have to wait and see."

“Hey, I’m meant to be the cynical foreigner.” Ygraine’s protest is accompanied by a gentle shoulder-squeeze and a look of concern. “And yeah. I admit that I’m hoping that what’s happening in the big cities will lead to change, but… there’s a lot of inertia holding the power-structures in place, as well as all the active plotting to bring this conflict to a head. I can’t help but worry that this is only going to get worse, before it has a real chance of getting any better.”

There's another grin, and Graeme shoulders Ygraine and shakes his head, "I hang around you so much," he says, "it's wearing off on me."

It fades to a faint smile, and then he continues, "Don't worry." He looks out over the treeline. "It has to get better."

A low, gentle laugh slips into the night as Ygraine shakes her head, her own gaze also moving to the trees. “Some time. In at least some of the mirrors, it’s bound to. I suppose we’ll just have to help to make it better here.” She leans over, returning the shoulder-bump. “Our latest world-saving commitment. Consider it a date.”

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