On Being Late


colette_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title On Being Late
Synopsis Colette often is, and for various things. During a dinner with Ygraine, she discovered she's late to a few different things.
Date October 2, 2009

West Side Sushi

Located in the Upper West Side, West Side Sushi is a small sushi bar and restaurant that caters towards a medium income though manages a more upscale environment. The decor is tasteful and modern, vibrant in the tone of wooden floors, reflective glass bars, tricky lighting fixtures and artwork on the walls. A winding bar occupies one side of the building, the other devoted to private, comfortable tables with booths and armchairs. A decent range of Japanese cuisine is offered, from light meals to proper dinners, with a focus on sushi of varying prices. A full range of liquor is also available, including sake.

It has a trendy kind of vibe that implies temporary success and limited lifespan, but while it's in its prime, it's a nice place to go, with a casual if still sophisticated ambience with prices that aren't out of reach of the common man but quality that doesn't guarantee it will be overlooked by the wealthier patron.

For all her admiration of a man who was a former watch-maker, Colette Nichols is notorious for never being on time. Nearly a year, it seems, has done nothing to change that.

A five o'clock meeting with Ygraine at the stylish West Side Sushi in upper Manhattan turns closer to near six by the time she shows up. At this hour of evening, the trendy sushi restaurant in the heart of Manhattan's upper west side is bustling with activity. No threat of the crumbling economy or the violence escalating across the city seems to have driven the patrons away on this Friday evening.

Thoughtfully, the long wait for a table is mitigated by the forethought of Ygraine Fitzroy in having secured a table during her inevitable wait for the young woman who will be late to her own funeral. Colette almost goes unnoticed on her arrival, looking less the part a scruffy street kid and more the part of a business professional — as much as a seventeen year old girl can manage that at least.

While her hair looks windblown, the young woman is dressed more properly for an upper-middle class restaurant. A crisp button-down white shirt with a black sweater-vest worn over it is revealed as she unbuttons her black pea coat. A matte black skirt hides the young teen's matchstick thin legs that are kept from the bitter cold by thigh high black stockings. She's dressing like a woman and less so like a teenage boy; even her hair looks combed. It's like an early Christmas miracle.

Looking abjectly lost in the crowd by the door, Colette flips open her phone and starts to dial Ygraine's number, not noticing where the Brit had managed to get a table. Colette, goofily, assumes that she somehow got here before the Brit.

Having apparently taken the gamble of not needing to be dressed for either war or a rapid escape, Ygraine is indeed dressed quite differently to her archaically masculine attire of the night before. Instead, a tight top clings to her upper body, though its high neck is thoroughly respectable in cut. The same might not be said for her skirt - only reaching to mid-thigh even when she's upright - or the fashionably high-heeled, over-the-knee boots. Her hair is ornately braided, and clasped in knotworked silver to match the rings on her right hand.

She is, however, having to stifle a laugh when she gives up on waving, rises from her table - leaving her book, with place carefully marked, resting on the cloth - and hurriedly stalks forward to put a hand on Collete's arm. "Are you looking for someone, by any chance?", she asks teasingly.

Letting out a yelp of surprise and jerking around with a wide-eyed stare, Colette looks up to Ygraine with the expression of someone expecting a mugger. The immediate reaction is at first indignant and then embarrassed, then finally sheepish with a touch of awkwardly applied smile. "Y— Ygraine I ah— " The hesitation only comes when Colette finally sees how the Brit is dressed. Green eyes sweep up and down and repeat that leer one more time. Embarrassment doesn't quite explain the lingering in the color on her cheeks, or the awkwardness with which she offers her nervous laughter.

Flipping her phone shut, Colette waggles it from side to side and tucks it into the pocket of her peacoat before folding that jacket over one arm. "You… um, you look gor— " Teeth toy at her lower lip, "ahh— n— nice. You look nice." She's a bit shy about being too forward with that fondness.

"I— I'm so sorry for being late. Grace was grilling me at work and then Nick wanted to show me something about how the servers are maintained in case I need to reboot them while he's on break or something and then I got a call from Alistair telling me they need me on Staten Island tonight and— " she realizes she's rambling.

"S— sorry."

Ygraine waits - expression mingling patience and fond amusement - for the flood of words to stop, before she offers Colette a grin. "Thank you. And you scrub up very nicely as well. You're a far better clothes-horse than I am. And apology accepted. And… would you like something to drink? I think that covers all the bases."

The Briton flashes another amused grin at her younger companion, but does manage to resist the temptation to shake her head again.

"Oh ah— oh god you already got a table I'm so sorry." Grimacing and ducking her head, Colette sweeps one hand over the top of her hair, nervous fingers making sure the silvery hairclip keeping her bangs from falling over her eyes is still in place. "Um, I'll— yeah, drink I— " green eyes dart around the restaurant as she follows Ygraine back to the table, looking a bit like a fish out of water in here as she settles down into her seat, smoothing out the black fabric of her equally thigh-length skirt afterwards.

"God this place was dead the last time I was here." Dark brows furrow together and Colette glances around before grabbing a menu. even if she doesn't really look at it. "Sorry I— I should've guessed this place would be busier on a Friday night." Nervous like someone on a first date, Colette awkwardly shifts in her chair and flicks green eyes down to the menu again, hands folded in her lap and shoulders rolled forward.

Ygraine sighs faintly as she folds herself onto her chair, reaching for her book - titled "International Peacekeping" - and checking that the marker's in place before tucking it away into her bag.

"I'm not going to bite", she says gently, offering Colette an encouraging smile. "We have a table, and you have your chance to teach me some more about sushi. And it being busy should help to give us some more privacy. It sounded like you had a few things you wanted to talk about… or that can wait until after we've eaten, if you prefer."

"Well it— " Colette's words are interrupted by the arrival of one of the young waitresses that serve the sushi bar. Offering a familiar smile to Ygraine, she turns her focus over to Colette and quirks her head to the side.

"Is there anything I can get you to drink?" The question comes with a baffled expression from Colette, mouth agape and eyes quickly scanning the menu in the hopes of finding something quick enough not to look like she has no idea how to order something.

"I ah— yeah uh, one of those— " Colette waves one hand in the air flippantly, "just get me a hot tea?" Dark brows rise up as if it's a question when it's more of a statement, regardless of how she said it. "Oh and, just get us an assorted platter from the sushi bar?" One black brow lifts up, and Colette's eyes track the motion of the pen scribbling on the notepad. "One ah— " her nose wrinkles, "actually yeah put a spicy scallop maki on there too." A little math in her head on approximation of the bill, and she offers a crooked smile to the waitress and offers her out the menu. "That'll do it."

Looking back and forth between Colette and Ygraine, the waitress tips her head in a nod and takes the menu, folding it with a few others under one arm. "I'll be back shortly then," she adds with a tired smile, departing from the table with a brisk pace. Now actually giving thought to how much she spent, Colette bites down on her lower lip and then simply rolls her shoulders. She can regret splurging on a nice dinner out later.

There's a moment of protracted silence, and the young girl seems to be trying to remember what it was they were even going to start talking about.

Ygraine settles back in her chair, cradling her glass - water, or perhaps a lot of clear sake or vodka, from the look of it - in one hand as she smilingly studies her young companion. "So…. Shall we start with something simple?", she asks gently. "What do you work as, and where, and for how long? And are they nice?"

Breaking into a nervous laugh at that, Colette can't help but smile. Reaching up to rub atone of her cheeks — and feeling the warmth from them that indicates their still reddened state — she seems to turn a touch sheepish and quiet before determining how to answer. "You know I— guess that sort've is what I wanted to talk to you about…" Fiddling with the napkin in front of her, unable to stay idle, Colette stares down at the motion of white cloth and pale fingers.

"My day job's a paying internship at the computer company called Bit By Bit…" Green eyes alight to Ygraine, a little anxious. "A friend of mine, Grace Matheson got me the job. I dunno if you know her or, you know— " Colette rolls one shoulder, "I saw your name on the computer that Cat has, the uh— Catabase?" Dark brows furrow at the absurdity of it. "So I know you're like— you know some of the weird shit going on 'round here. I just— I don't know how much you know, and a lot of what I do's kind've like…" she tugs at the fabric of the napkin.

"It's not entirely legal." Colette finally clarifies in a quieter tone of voice. "But it's the right thing to do, and it's a responsibility, and— and I'm helping people and I just— " she seems tense about this. "You used to talk to me about all sorts of stuff. You're… the first person I ever told I was…" She still seems to have a hard time with it. "You know…" Shoulders rise and fall, a quirk of her head. "So— so I thought maybe we could talk about my night job."

Ygraine looks more than a little surprised, then laughs softly. "I believe that you must have come a long way if you have access to the Catabase now", she says gently. "Good grief. Yes, I'm aware of a good deal of what _was_ happening, but… it was made clear that the role that the leadership of a certain set of night workers had in mind for me was one that categorically excluded using my brain. As far as I'm concerned, my brain's one of my better features - but when you're not even worth the effort of telling when you're "officially" given a new post and a new role, and have to find out about it after the event…."

Ygraine shrugs. "There's a great deal of good that can be done, and that ought to be done. And if the Sailing Club are taking you under their wing in that regard, then you should get both worthwhile tuition and opportunities to put it to good use. I have a great deal of respect for the Club."

She pauses a moment, then tries to catch and hold Colette's gaze. "Two of their members were there, for Conrad's last performance", she says quietly.

The mention of Conrad brings Colette's head down into a slow nod. Biting down on her lower lip, she forsakes the tactless comment of Ygraine's other good features for the time being, preferring to solemnly stare down at her napkin. "That's… exactly who'm working for now. I dunno what Helena and Cat do but— I helped them once because they needed it, and I've got a scar on my shoulder to prove it. I— I'm not cut out for stuff like that, fighting and— " Shaking her head slowly, the dark-haired teen offers a mild smile as she looks up and meets Ygraine's eyes.

"I've been working for them for a while now. The church I met you at the other day, it was…" Colette considers what she's about to reveal, but given the ruined state of the church and who she's talking to, it's only a passing hesitation. "It was one of their safehouses. The pastor who ran it was a good friend of mine. This— those fuckers— those racist goddamned fuckers from Humanis First burned the whole thing to the ground. They— " Colette's dark brows furrow, her fingers wind tight into the napkin. "They hung him…" Her voice cracks when she says that. "They hung him from the street light. I— "

Hunching her shoulders and shaking her head, Colette calms herself down and takes in a slow, deep breath. "Sorry. I just… I know you're not sure what you wanna' do, if you want to stay here or go back home or— you know…" Looking back up to Ygraine, it's obvious Colette was working herself up into an emotional fit when talking of that pastor that was hung. "I work at an orphanage on Staten Island, s'run by one of the people from the Club. I… I take care of kids like us, kids with nowhere else to go. I think you could… you know, I'd like it if you'd stay. Here— in the States. You could do a lot of good…"

Ygraine sighs softly, closing her eyes. "I read about… that incident while at home", she says quietly. "I wondered how much it was tied in to… well."

She shifts position again, polishing off her drink and setting the glass on the table, before leaning forward to rest her arms upon it. "I'm not going to stay. I've got to go home, at least for a few weeks. But I'm here in part to find out whether it's worth my while coming back. When last I was here, a lot of the… junior sailors made it very clear that because I dared to suggest that Conrad's performance might not have _had_ to be his last if something resembling planning and proper use of assets had been followed for all the teams, I was making myself persona non grata. I was even accused - repeatedly - of not wanting to have bothered at all. Maybe some time I'll tell you why that hurt quite so much, but…."

She takes a deep breath. "The Club, even at senior level, tends to be a bit disorganised. But that's partly because of its nature. If it became a tightly-controlled hierarchy, it'd be much more likely to lose to its opposition. But every single thing I've seen it commit to doing, it's done. And from what I've seen, it's as good at looking after itself, when it needs to be, as the junior club prides itself on being."

Another careful exhalation. "So… if I do come back, it'd be to work with the Club, if they were willing to associate with me after the bad reports they've presumably had from the junior branch. I can stay at home in a country where I'm much, much more free than I am here… and where I can expect to make more money, if that were a concern. To come here, I need a good reason."

"That thing Helena and Cat run isn't— " Colette wrinkles her nose and shakes her head, "they're not in charge of what I do. I dunno, it's complicated. This guy — Scott Harkness — tried to explain it to me once." Scott. A familiar name to Ygraine, the old soldier who fought alongside her, Brian and Conrad at Eagle Electric. "I dunno, but, what Helena does is sort've like their own little thing. The Ferry's not… it doesn't really have leaders I don't think. I've been trying to learn about how everything works, but every different safehouse has a separate operator, and they run things how they want. Each safehouse is different from the other, but they all have some semblance of similar rules. I work at a bunch on Staten Island, and each one might as well be a totally different organization with how they feel."

Biting down on her lower lip, Colette shifts awkwardly in her seat. "Ferry doesn't fight, they don't go looking for something, they're like— They just move things around and try to fix stuff. It's more my style, I guess. If… If you decide to come back, I could introduce you to Alistair or Scott or something. They're good people, they'd be able to tell you how it'll be, let you make your own decisions."

But all that aside, Colette manages to offer a more honest smile to Ygraine. "Ferry or no… I— I'd really like you to come back, stay, something." Her smile turns more earnest, tinged with worry. "I… I miss being able to talk to you. M'sorry I ran off like I did. But… I was trying to keep everyone safe. That's… a really long story."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "Careful with names", she murmurs. "Part of the reason I left is that I had a G-woman come up to me for a chat to ask how the people who were at the last performance were doing. Your would-be explainer's one of them, incidentally. And believe me, he can fight when he has to. But sure - if he's interested in meeting me again, I'd be interested in meeting him. I came out of that night with a lot of respect for the man."

Leaning a little further forward, she rotates one hand, resting it palm-up in the middle of the table in mute invitation. "I can understand wanting to protect people. But some of us figured we knew what risks we were taking already, and… helping you was something we'd already thought about. There was… strong encouragement to have nothing to do with you, since you were thought to be incapable of keeping a secret and to be amorally selfish", Ygraine delivers the assessment quietly, and without rancour. "I disagreed, and tried to stick with you. And if you'd have given me the chance, I'd have told you that. Sometimes, people choose to help you, Colette, even though it's not the easiest or safest thing to do."

Grimacing at both the deserved chastisement about naming names and the explanation of their initial reaction to her, Colette closes her eyes and shakes her head. "I was an ass…" She murmurs quietly, "I was a selfish ass, they had every right to be pissed at me. I— " It's hard for her to imagine just how selfish she must have looked just a year ago. "M'not proud of it, but…" Green eyes lift back up to Ygraine, but her words are silenced as the waitress comes back over with a large black tray. A plate is taken off of it, set down in the middle of the table with a colorful array of sushi in concentric rings, about fifteen pieces, and a smaller plate with sushi rolls with a red-yellow mustard topping on them next to it. A bottle of soy sauce is set down, and Ygraine's water is refilled and Colette's steaming cup of tea is set down.

After dismissing the waitress' query of anything else needed and waiting for her to get out of ear shot, Colette exhales a tense sigh and laughs to herself, rubbing one hand over her cheek. "That's a lot more than I thought…" she murmurs to herself, looking up to Ygraine with an awkward smile.

Ygraine requests a white wine to go with the fish, while the waitress is on hand, then focuses upon Colette once more. "People do stupid things when they're scared", she says gently. "What I find a lot harder to forgive is stupidity masquerading as careful thought. That, I hope to avoid as much as I can…."

Peering at the fish, she chuckles, picks up her chopsticks, then selects a piece of fish at random, carefully placing it upon her plate. "As I recall, I wasn't the only person to think that you were worthwhile. How're things in your private life? You told me that you got back in touch with your Dad…"

Sipping at her tea and warming cold hands on the glass while Ygraine talks, Colette seems to ease up a bit when the topic moves to something less clandestine. Peering up over the rim of the mug, she offers a partly obscured smile before setting it down on the table. "He was really upset at me, but… He understand. He knows what I do, why I do it. I think… I think he knows to trust me, because Tamara didn't object." There's a warm smile there, a redder cast to her cheeks. "Tamara… and I are good." The young girl's nose wrinkles, voice lowering and eyes drifting up to Ygraine.

"We ah, I— " Scratching at the bridge of her nose, her expression turns a little sheepish as she grabs her chopsticks and splits them apart, handling them more deftly than her usually clumsy self would indicate she should. "I've sort've been figuring out a lot about her. It— " she lets out a girlish laugh, "I learned about how to get through to her. Like, uh— touch more than talk?" Her smile grows, teeth toying at her lower lip again. "It grounds her like, in the moment? Helps her find herself, so— I… it's been wonderful. There's been a lot of rough spots, but— who isn't having trouble, I mean."

Ygraine laughs softly, cheeks colouring just a touch. "I'm glad", she says, quietly sincere. "For both of you. I… was worried. Last time… well. Flattered though I was, that didn't seem to bode well for how you felt things were with Tamara. I've worried quite a lot about you since then. And worried a _lot_ that if I'd done something differently, you wouldn't have run away. I'm… selfishly glad to hear that you did it to protect people."

"No… No it— " Colette shakes her head slowly. "It wasn't anything you did. It— I had to get away from everyone. I found out a lot about myself, about what happened to my sister, why she disappeared, what happened the night of the bomb." She offers a weak smile. "It was to protect everyone from the people who were looking for me, but— I think that's all behind me now."

Then, in a hushed silence Colette whispers. "I marry her. Tamara." A scratch at the side of her cheek accompanies the strange assertion. "I— I know it sounds weird but… someone found out some things that happen in the future, and— and they told me. I know, like, stuff changes but…" Colette bites down on her lower lip, "they made a point of telling me what I was like. What I did… the kind of person I turned into." Green eyes lift up to Ygraine now. "I'm trying to become her."

Ygraine looks thoroughly startled, then laughs softly. "Here, or somewhere else? It'd be nice if Noo Yawk got around to updating its laws", she jokes, before shaking her head and grinning at Colette. "Y'know, some of us had faith in you without an oracle to guide us. But however you found it, I'm glad that you've found some belief in yourself."

"Here…" Colette says with a faint smile. "Tamara's… better in the future, like, she's all there?" Despite being unkind words, they're said in a kind manner, there's really no other way to describe Tamara. "I guess we run some sort've detective agency. Everyone's… I dunno, I heard it was like some sort've dream. People like us aren't feared, the city's all cleaned up, it— I guess some things changed though. It's like, knowing your future can change it? Like that one book I read in high school… Something about stepping on butterflies or— I dunno."

Rubbing at the back of her neck, Colette stares down at the plate of food. "Doesn't matter though, really. I've been 'round Tamara enough to know nothing's set in stone. She sees it all happening, all the time… so I know that wherever we're all going, she'll know before it happens. I— I may not really have faith in a lot of things, but I believe in her more than anything. I don't ever question her," she notes with a mild smile, "and so far I'm not bad off for it."

Picking up one of the four scallop maki rolls with her chopsticks, Colette offers a teasing look to Ygraine. "How's things with Jennifer anyway, is she here or did she stay back home in funny-accent-land?" There's a crooked smile, a giggled laugh and a raise of her brows. She seems, finally, to have come out of her shell again around the Brit.

"Oh, she's over there. Studying. Managed to get her transferred successfully, so she should be able to stay there till she finishes the degree, at the least - and having got hitched to me, she should have no trouble staying thereafter. I'm hoping to see her on stage some time soon."

Ygraine cracks a grin. "And I know what you mean about Tamara. But I've always thought that what is there seemed pretty special. I like her. But… it's good to hear that some people have seen things that suggest this'll all work out. I'd _like_ to feel that coming back over here for a visit wasn't taking a risk. I'd like not to be checking for tails wherever I go, and listening for clicks on the line when I make calls…."

"Getting better and being better…" Colette's brows furrow and she takes a moment to occupy stuffing her face rather than speaking, seeming remarkably contented with her choice of dinner. Exhaling a satisfied sigh after just one maki roll gone, she flicks a look up to Ygraine that is tempered by faded cynicism. "Humanis First is fucking things up for everyone, there's… it's dangerous here, but I dunno, it sounds like it's dangerous everywhere. I keep hearing about things on the news, civil wars in South America, genetic cleansing in Africa, it's like— everyone's lost their minds when they found out about us."

Tapping her chopsticks on the edge of the plate, Colette wrinkles her nose. "Where're you staying in town anyway, back at your old apartment?" There's a mild smile that accompanies the question. "I wouldn't mind stopping by for a while after dinner, unless you've got plans. I've got to be on Staten Island tonight but— not until after midnight. So I'm gonna' go tell Dad I'll be out, sooo…" Colette's expression turns into a warmer smile. "You know, I wouldn't be far."

Ygraine laughs and nods. "Yeah, I'm staying there. I'm paying the mortgage on the place, so I might as well use it rather than a hotel. And the security's better than most hotels, too. So… we can catch a cab back there once we're done, if you like? Or should I be taking you out and testing your fake ID at bars, or something?"

Cracking a smile and laughing, Colette ducks her head down and covers her face with one hand. "You know, haha, I've actually been working on a trick about that. Here— " shifting to one side, Colette reaches down and pulls out her wallet from her coat, unfolding it and withdrawing her state identification card. It's not a driver's license. "Watch this…" She holds out the identification, pointing towards the date with one finger.

Then, with a little bit of a squint of one eye, the year of the birth date shifts from 1991 to 1987 in a slow haze. "It's so easy, it's just two numbers and two colors! Plus I can match the water mark on the back, it's like…" She wrinkles her nose and looks at Ygraine with a crook of her head to one side, her smile turning mischevious. "Was that a serious offer because oh my God that sounds like so much fun!"

Oh dear.

Ygraine blinks, then laughs, shrugging. "Sure. You're of age by my standards, and I can keep an eye on you. So long as you order your own drinks, I don't think I'd be committing any crimes", she says with a grin.

"But… I'm not going to deliver you back to your Dad drunk. Just a quiet drink or two. Do you have anywhere in mind?"

Green eyes go wide when Ygraine actually agrees and the young girl's lips curl into a crooked smile. She eyes the bar here, but that doesn't seem to quite settle her desire to do something fun. "When dinner's done…" She suggests with a playful grin, and there's really only one place that comes to mind for her, a place she's heard about plenty of time, but never had the opportunity to go to.

"We're goin' to the Surly Wench!"

Hopefully, Ygraine can put this genie back in its bottle.

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