Of Stars and Residences


tamara_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Of Stars and Residences
Synopsis Tamara makes a social call on an old friend.
Date May 15, 2018

Jackson Heights: Skinny Brickfront

It's late in the day that Tamara takes herself into Jackson Heights, the strongly orange light of impending sunset harsh and unforgiving to the neighborhood's disrepair. It's one of the noisiest neighborhoods, the ambient sounds of ongoing construction filling the air; needless to say, she picked a route that avoided the actual work. Her destination is a small building, long and narrow, three floors of brick facing; she lets herself quietly in the door, then unobtrusively sliding into the room where a small passel of teenagers are being taught the basics of self-defense.

The blonde sets a tall, narrow basket down to one side of the door, then — not even trying to hide her smile — slides herself into place at the end of one of the two rows of students, on the far side of the room from Ygraine. Ignoring the baffled look the nearest teens give her, Tamara settles into a mimicry of their stances and adopts the air of having been here all along. She's wearing knee-length cutoffs and a lilac tee whose color has become a bit faded around the edges, along with white ankle socks and well-worn sneakers.

For her own part, Ygraine is clad in black exercise gear, the sleeveless top displaying the trio of Brynn’s tattoos on her arms and glimpses of Xiulan’s dragons through the cross-hatched back. Her hair is bound into a hip-length braid, dyed glossy black and warm blue in much the same manner for which Tamara expressed approval years before in Kabetogama. The woman herself is more powerfully toned and displays more predatory grace in her motions than she did back then, but seems markedly more at ease with her class than she usually is when dealing with comparatively ‘normal’ people.

The makeshift sensei is dimly aware of the new arrival thanks to the sensation of moving mass within her ability’s sensory range, but with so many moving bodies close by she is quite consciously trying not to pay attention to the promptings of her power. Thus, it takes her a good few moments to register an addition to the end of one row - and another few seconds to identify the newcomer.

That prompts a double-take, a blink, a grin, and then a low laugh. Shaking her head, Ygraine shoots Tamara a decidedly amused look, before hauling her thoughts back on track so that she can pursue the remainder of her plan for the class.

Tamara echoes the instructor's grin with one of her own, wiggling fingers at the woman in a cheerful wave. She doesn't interrupt as Ygraine puts her metaphorical teacher's hat back on, but finishes out the class as the student she's pretending to be.

When the lesson is all said and done, and the students in the process of dispersing, Tamara moves over to join Ygraine, leaning her shoulder against the Brit's. "Not so busy now."

Ygraine gently leans into the blonde, before turning to offer a hug. Radiating happiness, she seems both pleased and at ease. “It is very good to see you,” she informs the seer, the weight on her words perhaps suggesting that it is a statement of enduring fact rather than temporary truth.

The lean turns into a hug, which is returned in kind. "Of course it was!" Tamara agrees with a grin, reaching up to tap fingers against Ygraine's cheek. Stepping away, she pads back towards the door, but not out it — only retrieving the basket left behind. Bringing it over to her host, the seer holds the thing out, obviously intending for Ygraine to take it.

There's a plant inside, what looks like a shrubby ground cover with long, thin leaves and clusters of flowers that are just beginning to open — dark lilac blue, distinctly star-shaped.

"It wanted to be outside," Tamara remarks, in case there was any question on that point.

Ygraine closes her eyes for a moment in response to that cheek-tap, her smile still contented even as she arches an eyebrow when Tamara pulls away towards the door Then she laughs happily. “Oh, it’s lovely! I’m… I shall have to work out quite where to put it. We don’t exactly have a garden here. But I’ve wondered about squeezing in a few plants on the roof, if we manage to secure one of the adjacent buildings.”

As she talks, she examines the plant with evident interest. “We’re hoping to get somewhere a bit roomier to run classes in. But I’ll certainly have to revise the plans, if you’re going to start giving me blue stars again.”

Lifting her gaze to Tamara, she smiles beatifically. “Thank you. You grew this yourself, didn’t you? That means all the more.”

Ygraine's quandary of where to put the plant is met with amused silence, the kind that says that's entirely up to you. Which probably says something about the adaptability of the plant in question. "Just this one," Tamara assures her, on the subject of stars and their giving. "You had room enough, at least until it got bigger." Which plants do — but at least they do so slowly, in the scheme of things.

Tamara considers the plant for a moment, expression pensive. "We had some under the tree. It's a very busy garden," she observes, looking up to Ygraine again.

“You receive a lot of visitors there?” Ygraine sounds amiably curious, Tamara’s presence sufficient to hold at bay the shadows that haunt her so much of the time. “If this is the sort of thing you grow in the garden, then I would like to see it some time. If that would be all right with everyone. I’m delighted enough to have this. And if you say I have room enough, then …”

She grins, then frees up one hand to reach out and deliver a squeeze to Tamara’s shoulder. “But how are you yourself?” It’s perhaps as close as she’ll come to asking if there’s anything the seer needs from her.

Tamara tilts her head at Ygraine, seeming puzzled by the question, then lets her shoulders describe an unhurried shrug. "There were visitors," she affirms, in broad strokes at least. "They are who they were. How many made a lot?"

Patting Ygraine's arm with her now-unencumbered hand, Tamara grins and shakes her head. "I was fine," she assures her host; then, with more than a flicker of amusement: "just visiting."

Laughing freely, Ygraine squeezes Tamara’s shoulder again. “It is very good indeed to see you.” The enduring truth of that statement evidently makes her happy.

“You are welcome here, and I hope you’ll visit us in future. I would warn most people to be careful about the trip” - Jackson Heights does have a rampant crime problem, even if one dodges the feral dogs and doesn’t spot the rats - “but with you, I think that I can move straight on to offering you some tea. Or coffee, if you prefer. For such an honoured guest I could even roll out the fruit juice.”

Tamara links arms with Ygraine's free hand, her own other hand gesturing the Brit to lead on. "It's a nice walk," is all she says about 'the trip'. Rats, dogs, criminals — clearly not problems so far as she's concerned.

"We can find your flowers a place. Even if just for now. Then drinks." Of the social and non-alcoholic kind.

Ygraine leans into the contact, smiling fondly across at Tamara. However loose the seer’s mooring in time might sometimes seem to be, her presence encourages the Briton to relax in a manner only a few others see. There’s care in negotiating the doorway, but only to ensure that they and the basket get through without bumping - her instinctive checking of corners for lurking threats is in remission, at least for the time being.

“It’s not exactly luxurious, but we’re trying to make it feel like home.” The building has evidently had a lot of work done on it; formally derelict even before the War, it is now damp-, mould-, and rot-free, with new floors, plastering, and paint throughout. The electrical systems evidently work, though examples of Ygraine’s beloved crank-powered tech are scattered throughout to help reduce the need to use them.

The building itself is an odd design: long and very narrow, its three above-ground storeys split up into slender rectangular rooms. Half the top floor has been turned into a small apartment for Ygraine; furnished with an eclectic mix of second- and third-hand items, amongst which are scattered brand new ones constructed from Ikea flat packs. Bookcases feature very heavily, though there are still boxes and neatly-arranged stacks of unshelved volumes awaiting the arrival of their own homes.

There’s artwork, including photographs and drawings by the hostess herself. Pride of place is given to a more complex and coloured version of the chess-piece tattoo on Ygraine’s right wrist, evidently created by the same artist who provided the arm-tattoos. Dragons also feature prominently, including a diorama of a six-inch-tall drake keeping guard over a tiny kingdom of (real) miniature plants.

“My current garden,” Ygraine says with a wry smile, gesturing towards it. “A gift from Graeme.”

Tamara gives Ygraine a sidelong look at her reflexive apologetic introduction to the building's upper floors: tolerant, mildly amused. "Home was where you made it," is all the seer says in return, however; and "This one did just fine."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the visitor pauses to peruse the art on the walls. She has seen them all before, as well as before, and yet — there remains something compelling in line and color and shape, something that draws and holds the seer's eye. Not to mention, there is no penalty here and now for her taking the time to dawdle.

Still, Tamara turns to the little indoor garden as Ygraine indicates it, smiling at its small sentinel, reaching out to touch a finger to the dragon's head. "He's much too small for the new one," she remarks. "He'll get lost in it."

“I think that I might leave him in his own little kingdom.” Ygraine’s smile is both fond and grateful, evidently welcoming Tamara’s willingness to embrace her hostess’s oddities. “I don’t think that he’s a particularly outdoorsy sort of dragon. But perhaps I can find a stone one to watch over your gift, and whatever we might find to go with it in the outer world. It should be possible to find one - or more - who suits…”

Cocking her head, she arches a brow, then nods towards one of her own pictures. “How many of my attempts at getting something like that right do you see? If any at all, that is. I don’t expect my efforts at art to be in any way significant. I freely admit that I’m just being nosy. And you certainly don’t have to indulge me. Especially when I’ve not yet given you that drink yet.”

The Brit is given a pensive look. "It should be," Tamara agrees. Pointed towards the picture, she adopts a more dubious expression, contemplating both the piece of art and the woman who produced it in equal turns. After a few moments, she steps forward and touches light fingertips to the artwork.

"It is what it was," the seer says at last, more than a little diffident, turning her head to catch a glimpse of Ygraine in the periphery of her view. She purses her lips, clearly turning over the associated concepts a bit more; the moment when pieces click into place is visible, if subtle. "Do you count the leaves on the trees?" Tamara asks, as if that question were an answer in its own right — or perhaps a stepping-stone to that thing.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

“Hah. I have tried counting leaves, when my own mirror was especially badly fractured - by my standards, at least. It wasn’t the best way of anchoring myself. I kept losing track.” Ygraine shrugs slightly, smiling ruefully at her past mistake, before the expression broadens into a swift grin.

“Sorry. I remain in awe of your ability to see through the mass of leaves - and past the fractures - and find what you need to focus upon. I’m… curious as to how you experience things. But I wouldn’t want to make you start having to count the leaves just to satisfy my curiosity. I’m just delighted that there’s a place for me amidst it all.”

She gestures towards the art in front of Tamara. “If you’d ever like one of my efforts, I could try to come up with something for you. Perhaps see if I can pick a little leaf that you weren’t looking at. Or attempt something of your choosing, of course.”

Tamara smiles cheerily, even as she clicks her tongue in response to Ygraine's comments. "I cheat, obviously," she confides earnestly, only mostly facetious. "Or the mirror does for me," she adds as an afterthought, as if the distinction were minor, minimal, inconsequential.

Stepping around Ygraine, she leans her chin on the older woman's shoulder, looking up past her at the art on the walls. "They're your leaves," Tamara replies. "You should make them whatever you want." Implicitly, by extension, she should also dispose of them however she pleases.

Straightening, Tamara laces her fingers with Ygraine's and turns unhurriedly back towards the little garden, contemplating the space. "Were the stars staying here?"

Ygraine mutely leans back just a hint to affirm and accept the contact of chin on shoulder, before gently squeezing Tamara’s hand. Thereafter, she needs a few moments to find her voice - lids lowering over suddenly-bright eyes, the display of trust as ever reaching straight to her heart.

“I….” She hoarsely clears her throat, then swallows, before trying again. “I still own a certain old leather jacket. And a very, very faded bit of something that was once more readily identifiable as a blue star, taped to the underside of one lapel. But for the dragon? I’ve considered how to give him a sky. I don’t want to harm the plants, so I’ve toyed with the idea of getting something fashioned in metal. Much more in the way of gaps than metal, of course, but a dome of stars to sit over the top, perhaps.”

Her renewed smile is filled with uncomplicated affection. “For today’s basket of blue stars? I was thinking of keeping them in a window, to start with. I might need to rig something to serve as a rooftop garden. Maybe window-boxes. I’ll have to see what I can turn up, and put together. But at least I can cheat my own way, for putting together something like that. And window boxes could provide the building with a very welcome touch of colour and beauty. And stars.”

Tilting her head, Tamara also regards the little dragon, reaching out to tap a finger on his head. "You could put stars on the ceiling," she suggests. "The kind that shone when it was dark." There's a moment's pause, and a sidelong look given to Ygraine. "Maybe the kids would do it."

An entirely different iteration of star — but expansive, in the way the sky is.

To the subject of window boxes, the seer simply smiles.

“Stars on the ceiling? Heh.” Ygraine peers upwards, before smiling fondly at Tamara once again. “Kids, hmmm? I wonder if Brynn can create the sort of pigment needed for that. It could be interesting to find out, at the very least.”

A sudden burst of laughter precedes a wry grin. “As usual, you expand the boundaries of what I consider possible,” she teases. “In return I can at least invite you to a picnic with my new garden as a view. And I can offer you a fine selection of missing person cases to discuss, or I can pry happily into how your own life is going. I’d certainly be glad to filch whatever gardening tips I might get from you. That basket alone is sufficient to suggest you have a much greener thumb than me.”

Reaching out, she touches a hand to Tamara’s shoulder, the warm gesture matched by her expression as she attempts to mutely convey her pleasure and gratitude. Then she pulls away to fetch the promised drink, and make a start on the food. Whatever the seer wants to share with her thereafter she is ready to welcome, as she basks in time spent with one of the few to have her implicit trust and faith.

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