Normal, But Not Normal


f_gabriel_icon.gif f_tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Normal, But Not Normal
Synopsis Gabriel stops by looking for someone who isn't there; Tamara invites him in anyway. The socializing is eminently normal, but the two participants don't really qualify for that description themselves.
Date April 10, 2019

Dorchester Towers: Colette and Tamara's Apartment

Ideally he would be home. The sun is too bright, even if peeking through dense cloud, the weather smoggy and overcast, and as usual, everything is too loud. Too louder, especially today. But here he is, all the same, arms windmilling a little as he comes to touch down on the roof the apartment building. The soles of his shoes scrape loudly as he skids in place, comes to a haphazard halt. Unexpected arrival, and Gabriel only has to concentrate to unlock the rooftop doorway.

Breaking and entering doesn't count when the person you're coming to see is probably home and happy to see you.

But when he gets to the shared door of Colette and Tamara's apartment, Gabriel has the courtesy to knock, three times, and even straighten his jacket, run a hand through windswept hair. There's at least one heartbeat on the other side of the door, and he rests a hand against the doorframe, leaning a little heavily, as he waits for it to approach and admit him inside. In retrospect, he should have called ahead, but there are a few things he's neglected to do today anyway.

Colette is out, their erstwhile visitors are away learning about the foreign time they've been dropped into (and maybe avoiding the strangest of their benefactors just a little), and Tamara is alone in the apartment. She knows he's coming; is polite enough to let the visitor go through the motions of knocking on the door. People tend to get flustered or disoriented when she preempts them on little things like that.

There's no change in the heartbeat, no spike of surprise at the disruption presented by his knocking, and Gabriel's likely been around them enough to identify whose it is by that small fact. Assuming he notices it before Tamara opens the door and makes the guessing game purely academic.

"Hello, Gabriel," the woman greets with a welcoming smile, gesturing for her guest to come in. She's dressed in a teal cardigan with half-length sleeves, black jeans, and white socks that don't actually look like they've been inside shoes yet today. "She's not here right now. She might be back in a little while, if you wanted to wait." Or she might not. Things change. Sometimes quickly.

By the time the door opens, it's true; they expect to see each other, although Tamara still has the jump on him in that his amber-brown eyes sweep the apartment over the head just as she's confirming the absence of an old friend. Of course. Calling ahead is not only a social nicety, it's practical, and his mouth draws into a slightly rueful expression for Tamara's benefit. Out of uniform, Gabriel is still dressed neatly. Fashionably layered, a shirt collar peeking out of a sweater with a heavier coat over them both — flying is cold, typically. Jeans are clean, almost new, boots less so.

Here's to hoping that clothes make the man, because otherwise Gabriel doesn't look well. But only in that he seems overtired, rather than actually sick. What cops aren't somewhat tired, anyway? Especially if last night's shenanigans had somehow reached Tamara's ears.

"Tamara," is his greeting, hands hdiing in the pockets of his coat, indecisive for a moment, before trusting that perhaps the seeress might know what she's talking about in terms of Colette's schedule. Whether through mundane means or not. "I can wait." He's already taking half a step forward by the time he thinks to add; "If I'm not intruding."

The seeress grins cheerfully at Gabriel, the characteristic open and friendly expression that makes her seem so much younger than she is — even now. "What does it mean to intrude?" It's a rhetorical question, though he's welcome to discuss such abstract notions if he sees fit. Tamara shakes her head, locks of blond hair shifting over her shoulder with the motion. "You are invited, Gabriel. You are always invited." She leans against the door, waiting for him to finish that step and walk inside.

Step touches down, with a faint, if bemused smile at Tamara's words, both the abstract ones and the kind ones. He doesn't say it out loud and yet her rhetorical question turns over in his mind. Intruding implies being unwelcome, and if there is something Tamara isn't, it's unwelcoming. Home, however. Is it possible to intrude in your own house?

It's a strange word, also, if you repeat it over and over. "Thank you," he adds as he moves inside, shouldering off his coat and hanging it somewhere familiar, moving in a wide circle as if to scout out the best, most polite place to sit down. "How's the agency going? It's been a while since I checked in, I know."

She doesn't hear what he doesn't say, merely closes the open door once there is no longer a man standing in the middle of it. The latch clicks softly into place. There's a faint quirk to her lips as Tamara considers the way Gabriel contemplates seating options, a gentle smile that in no way offers rebuke. Rebuke implies either impatience or error, and neither is present here.

"You're welcome." She crosses the room and ducks into the kitchen; the presence of a guest puts her in the role of hostess, and hostesses provide refreshments. It doesn't occur to Tamara that most such people also provide their guests with a choice of refreshments.

Neither of them quite pull off 'normal' with unqualified success, do they?

"It's doing well," the woman calls through the kitchen door, dishes clinking and waxpaper crinkling providing a muted undercurrent to the words. "There's always things to do. More now, also. We have… I guess they're visitors." He can't see her face, but the sentiment that wrinkles her nose also flavors her tone. Partly on the inadequacy of words; partly frustration with her own shortcomings. Even now, remembering can be a chore. "They're rather lost."

He selects an armchair, the light creak of furniture just audible to Tamara as Gabriel lowers himself into it at a sprawl, long legs settling a little awkward. He lifts a hand to rub his forehead, warding away the aftermath of a headache threatening to summon it up again, but he listens, not so self-absorbed that he can't. But self-absorbed enough for it to not occur to him that Tamara's words aren't just odd due to their source, but odd in general.

So he replies with, "I'd offer a hand but work's been riding me. Especially now— my partner's landed himself in some hot water. He— " Tried to kill someone? There's a slight hesitation as Gabriel reels those words back in and comes out with, "Got into a fight." Then, finally, his head tilts a little, going back over her words, and he tilts back a little more as if to try and see her around the wall and into the kitchen. "What kind of visitors?"

She heard the words, but then they weren't spoken; were forgotten. Tamara doesn't pay them a lot of attention either way; what's already been done isn't her concern, most of the time. She walks out of the kitchen to see Gabriel trying to peer around the doorpost, and smiles at him; carries two mugs and two plates bearing cinnamon rolls, one of each in either hand, somehow managing not to look like anything is held precariously.

One set is placed before her guest; the other, Tamara brings along to the chair currently deemed her own. She tears off a piece of pastry and dips it in hot chocolate while mulling over Gabriel's query. "They're… they weren't in the river, first. Then they fell in. I couldn't see where from. Sometimes they disappear the same way — not dead, just…" The seer waves a hand, eyes darkly distant. "gone." Her gaze flicks to Gabriel, refocusing. "Liz and Abby said they should be dead, so they're ghosts."

A murmured word of 'thanks', hand reaching first for what he's pretty sure is coffee, at first, but the too dark, too rich quality of the liquid gets a second glance. Chocolate. A departure from the pitch-black coffee, the energy drinks, Abby-style, and the Chinese white tea he's used to consuming, and it's almost too sweet when he sips it. But pleasantly so. He lets large hands curl around the mug in an instinctive clasp for warmth, eyes of a slightly brighter colour than the beverage turned to the seeress as she talks.

Oh. Those kinds of visitors, obviously. ???. Gabriel raises an eyebrow at the answer he gets, but he's talked enough to the woman to be used to this, and so there's no real criticism in his expression. His mind automatically heads to a law enforcement related field, but there's a niggle there that indicates he's thinking too… small. A habit he's developed, from being normal. It's what stops him from asking, "You mean, like missing persons?", although possibly Tamara sees him asking it anyway.

Instead, he says, as he reaches for the cinnamon bun he was given, "According to you, should they be dead?"

There's some things Tamara can't explain even now, and time travel is one that her power just doesn't really mesh with. "If they are missing," the sybil replies quietly to the question that wasn't asked, "then it's missing from everything." To the question Gabriel does voice, Tamara shrugs one shoulder. "They're obviously alive." Some things truly do boil down to simplicity; Tamara takes the world as it presents itself to her.

"I can follow shadows, futures— " She remembers to use the word other people understand. "— for a long, long time. I can see where you go, when you walk, when you fly. When you sleep. Hear what you might say. Who you say it to." Tamara tilts her head; pauses to pick up her mug, fingers curving around its warm sides as she sits back in the chair. "As long as the thread keeps running, I can follow it. But these — they came from nowhere. Sometimes, just some times, they go the same way." By extension, sometimes they don't.

People that just are, and should be dead according to the technically sane. Gabriel's brow furrows, before he realises he's picking apart his cinnamon roll without execution. Mimicking Tamara, he dips a piece into his hot chocolate, consumes it, little crumbs of pastry gently spinning on the surface of the beverage. "Liz and Abby haven't mentioned anything," Gabriel says, with a slight shrug to dismiss this as completely relevant.

People tell him exactly how much they think is a good idea, which can range from nothing through to… not much more than that. A glance her way, contemplative, something on his mind— I can hear what you might say— before stating it in words, anyway.

He may as well keep up with himself if Tamara is going to do such a good job. "Does it make it easier to trust people? To see everything they are going to do?"

"They've been a little busy," Tamara confides, with the impish smile of a mischievous child. Briefly, at any rate. She takes a sip of her chocolate, looks across the top of the cup at her companion. "I don't know if it's easier," the woman replies slowly. "I don't… know where you would define 'trust'." She looks down at the dark brown liquid in the mug, frowning thoughtfully. And then Tamara lifts her gaze to Gabriel. "I think you would say yes, if you could compare." The sybil, however, seems to have a few more reservations herself.

At least in all the roads that diverge before Gabriel, unwinding futures that he haphazardly chooses with blind foot steps, none of them end with Tamara's murder, not within this room and no matter how jealous he might be of the power to see the future. Price and all. Gabriel lifts a half-smile Tamara's way at her assessment, nodding once as if to say 'probably', before he ducks his head enough to take a sip of hot chocolate.

How long ago was it that they met randomly outside the temple, in this same city? Who knew they'd be sharing hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls over a decade later? Tamara, possibly. "Most people wouldn't tell me I'm always welcome," he says, as he sets down the mug of hot chocolate. "Unless they had absolute certainty— " He pauses. Certainty of what? Nothing he wants to say out loud, so the sentence is left there as he dusts his fingers of pastry crumbs neatly onto his plate. "Or unless trust is like faith."

It was meant to be Colette, the one he wanted to contemplate such things with, perhaps with more specific words, and instead, Tamara is the one perched across from him, who's awarded with a vaguely apologetic look.

Tamara would tell him the future is overrated — though it's true she wouldn't give up her power for very many things at all. She knows what happens without it. But Gabriel doesn't say, and the woman doesn't press; she takes another sip of her chocolate before setting down the mug and picking up a piece of roll, smiling amiably at him in return.

"It is like faith," the sybil agrees. "Even what I see isn't decided; it's made, day by day, second by second." She grins cheerfully at her companion. "Colette can do the most improbable thing and mess up weeks of nudging." She says it with affectionate good humor. Tamara manipulates, steers, subtly influences; does it the way she breathes — usually without deliberate intent, but sometimes consciously. Anyone who spends much time around her tends to realize this eventually. "Sometimes it takes faith people will act like themselves. And sometimes it takes faith that they'll do the improbable when the crossroad arrives." Certainty isn't truly part of her power.

"You're not alone and you shouldn't be," Tamara continues, speaking from her peculiar perception of the world. "Colette likes you and I don't have to pretend so much; you understand." They're part of society now, but never normal. "Everyone wins," the woman concludes brightly, picking up another piece of roll and popping it into her mouth.

"I do," Gabriel says, lightly, and perhaps not as warmly as the other woman. The ideas of pretence and masquerades to be normal are a touchy subject in the Gray household, but there's no bitterness in his delivery. Just weary acknowledgment.

The plate he's been holding his hands comes down with a final click against the wooden surface of the table, only crumbs left of the pastry by the time Tamara is done talking. "There are a few people I need to be seeing today," he says, in tones to communicate he's about to leave, and doesn't particularly want to. Honest enough, he's meant to be checking if Deckard is going to be pressing charges. "Can you tell Colette I came by?"

Tamara smiles softly, inclining her head to study Gabriel. "I can," she agrees. "She'll be sorry she missed you." The sybil rises, both taking the hint and knowing it would be… difficult and less than optimal to try and persuade him otherwise. Opening the door would be a little too rude, in her estimation; Tamara opts to be helpful by fetching Gabriel's coat instead. "Feel free to come back later." Where later is as open-ended as can be.

And other social estimates. This whole pretending to be normal thing is almost second nature, even between them when such courtesies had been thrown out the window not so long ago, in the grand scheme of things. It's not a bad idea, anyway. Practice. Puts at least Gabriel at ease. He takes his coat from her with a 'thanks', puts it on. And as envious as he might be of the future, he doesn't ask for prophecy. Although Tamara will see it, the hesitation before he can step towards the door, stumbling over his words about whether his thread of future is meant to diverge from Eileen's, whether they're all breaking apart again like some cosmic explosion in the corner of the universe and going drifting.

In reality, Gabriel bites his tongue, and says, "Thanks," for reasons he can't pinpoint but likely from her offer to come back, before he's moving for the door, to open it.

She doesn't answer what isn't asked; certainty, significance, meaning isn't part of Tamara's vision, except inasmuch as she forces it to apply. "You're welcome," the woman replies, offering him a smile as he takes his leave. Doesn't say goodbye, because goodbyes are final things, and they'll meet again. The sybil waits until the door closes, then sits back down in the chair she so recently departed, absently picking up the mug half-filled with cooling chocolate but not drinking from it. She merely gazes out the window, blue eyes focused somewhere far away.

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