One Reflection


chess_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title One Reflection
Synopsis Strange questions receive strange answers when Chess seeks Tamara's help.
Date July 1, 2018

Williamsburg: Tamara's Home

The morning is bright and clear, blue sky and bright sun and verdant foliage bringing a sense of vibrancy to the reconstructed streets of Williamsburg, a vital presence which masks the fact that the majority of buildings remain uninhabited. There are children out playing in the street, armed with a ball and complete disdain for any rules adults might recognize; in contrast, the handful of people walking their dogs and stroller-bound progeny keep themselves more decorously to the sidewalks, briskly passing by townhouses restored and unrestored alike.

On the stoop of one particular brown-brick townhouse sits a blonde woman in white pants and green blouse, her gaze turned towards the children at play but without any sense of investment in their activities; implicitly, none of them are hers. A pale-furred dog lies on the step beneath her feet, easily taking up the full width of the stairs in its sprawl; it could be mistaken for a rather fuzzy Akita, though its eyes and facial shape are different. Neither of them seem in any hurry to go anywhere at all.

Coming from the opposite direction, Chess looks a little out of place amongst the dog walkers and pram pushers, children and mothers. Despite the certainty that the day will be a warm one, her clothes are dark and capped off by the black leather jacket she’s rarely without. As she walks, she glances down at a slip of paper in her hand, then studies the numbers of each townhouse she passes, her gaze alighting on the numbers of Tamara’s finally, and then on Tamara herself.

“Hi,” she says, a little brusquely, a hand reaching up to push a strand of hair behind one ear. “I was looking for a Tamara Brooks?” she says, turning her back to the street so she can glance down the sidewalk the way she came, while facing Tamara more directly.

The dog on the stairs perks up as a new person slows to a halt on the sidewalk, first lifting her ears and then her head, tail brushing a single hopeful sweep across the concrete. Tamara leans forward to ruffle the dog's fur, casting a smile towards her visitor. "You were," she says brightly, before picking herself up from the steps, briefly brushing dust from her pants. "Not anymore."

The dog scrambles to her feet as well, coming to stand along one of the rails — now taking up only half of the steps. She looks between the two women before once again settling her attention on the stranger, clearly keen for her own introduction, just as clearly waiting for an invitation. "This is Misty," Tamara supplies. "She's very polite."

"Come on in," the seer continues, turning her back and walking up to open the door. "You'll be more comfortable there."

The visitor glances from dog to woman and back, before smiling — it’s mostly a polite facade to the worry that doesn’t quite get hidden behind her dark eyes. “Thanks,” she says, in that same terse manner, before following the woman up the steps.

“I’m not interrupting anything? I probably should’ve called, but…” Chess lets the words trail off. Cell service being spotty at best is a good excuse, but she doesn’t try to make one at all.

“Sort of a spur of the moment decision, I guess,” she says instead.

Tamara smiles as she leads her guest inside. "There are no interruptions," she assures Chess. "And there's no phone here, anyway." Untrue in the literal sense, but only that; without service, there might as well be no phone. No need for one, not when Tasha takes calls at the market, Colette cheats, and Tamara cheats in an entirely different way.

Just inside the door, they detour off to the left, passing downstairs and into a small room immediately off that's been set up as an office, if one not exactly traditional in its interior design. The walls are white, save for the one that is entirely brick, the hearth in the middle of it converted into an inset bookshelf. Bare wooden rafters stretch across the ceiling, imperfect complement to the hardwood panels that comprise the floor. Two windows look out on the street they just departed, and at this hour provide all the illumination the room needs.

There's a single-door wooden armoire tucked into the back corner of the room, a bright blue tassle hanging from its handle. Three chairs and a round table make up the rest of the office furniture — well, that and a dog bed near the door that Misty assigns herself to without prompting. There's a carafe of water sitting expectantly on the table, and two glasses.

"I'd say make yourself comfortable," Tamara remarks as they enter into the room, "but it's not so easy as that, is it?"

There’s a glance over her shoulder before Chess enters the interior of the home, and one hand curls around the strap of her courier bag while the other slides into the pocket of her leather jacket as she makes her way inside. She glances up and around, taking in her surroundings as they move into the office.

Tamara’s words earn a soft huff of a laugh that doesn’t quite reach the younger woman’s dark eyes. “What is it they say — just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you,” she quips lightly. “But yeah, don’t take it to heart. It’s not personal.”

She moves to the round table to pull out one of the chairs and lowers herself upon it, moving her bag onto her lap. “I’m not entirely sure if this is the right sort of place for what I need help with, to be honest. I don’t want to waste your time. Even if I’m not interrupting anything.”

Seating herself across from her guest, Tamara busies her hands with pouring water into both of the glasses. She smiles past the carafe at Chess. "If you were a waste of my time," the seer states quite matter-of-factly, "if I had somewhere better to be, trust that I would be there."

That smile dims, and it is a more sober expression that is given to Chess as Tamara slides her glass over the table's surface, intent and confident and knowing. "To each, only so much sand in the glass, and rare the chance to recover what's already fallen. No, there is nothing good in wasting time." She taps a finger on the table, twice. "Which means you aren't!"

"Not mine, anyway. You will have to decide about yours," the seer concludes with a small, slow shrug.

Chess listens as Tamara speaks, eyes widening just a little at the speak of sand and glass. She shakes her head very slightly, opening her mouth to speak for a second, before closing it again and exhaling audibly through her nose.

She reaches for the glass instead and takes a sip, taking the moment to consider what it is she’s hoping Tamara will help with.

“Someone said you were kind of like a private detective,” Chess says at last. “I need to find someone. Possibly multiple someones. Maybe none and possibly up to eight, but probably somewhere in the middle. I don’t have names or places, just that they were born in China, and look like me.”

She pauses, setting down the glass. “Identical, at least genetically. I have photos and fingerprints, if you need them. But I don’t want people to know I’m looking.”

Tamara picks up her own glass while Chess considers, rolling it between her palms and looking down at the shivering surface of the water within. Once her guest speaks up, the blonde's gaze lifts, the motion of her hands going still.

"Kind of like," the seer echoes with a slow, broad, amused grin. She might as well have said no, not really. "Keep the pictures. I don't need them."

"Names are helpful," the seer continues, setting her untouched drink aside. "Symbol. Identity. Easier to pick out of the tangle when it's what they recognize, too." But for all her musing aloud, there's nothing in her tone to suggest discouragement or dismissal; instead, her gaze remains fixed on Chess, and the blonde leans forward over the table, lightly touching two fingers to her cheek.

"You who are not you…" she murmurs, pupils dilating momentarily in a way that has no relationship whatsoever with the lighting of the room, "that's not so different. I can work with that," Tamara concludes earnestly as she settles back into her seat.

The younger woman studies Tamara as she speaks, dark eyes moving left to right as if she is trying to read those paler, blue eyes of the seer. She sees the shift in the size of Tamara’s pupils, but doesn’t react visibly but for a slow, half-blink.

“I can tell you mine,” she says at least, regarding names and symbols. “Francesca Lang. I was born in China, like I said, but lived in Denver, so if you find things related to me, it’s not what I need. Late 1993 but all of these people, these women, would probably be adopted, so they could have birthdays of early 1994, maybe. I don’t know.”

She’s quiet again, for a moment, taking the time to take a sip of water, then look at her glass as if the answers she seeks might be in the clear liquid inside. “Be careful, though. I just want the information — you shouldn’t try to talk to any of them, yeah?” It’s almost said guiltily.

Leaning her elbow on the table and resting her chin in her hand, Tamara waits with quiet patience while her guest speaks, shares, worries. The seer's utter lack of concern is obvious, as is the good-natured amusement dancing in her eyes.

"Chess." A name never given, yet used to catch attention all the same. "I don't talk to anyone but you. Don't go anywhere but here." Rising from her chair, Tamara pulls something from a pocket, sets it on the table with a distinct click: a plastic card, dominated by a photo of its owner, terse information laid out opposite. Her Registration card, oriented upright to Chess' perspective.

Easier by far than reaching for the words to explain.

Over at the side of the room, Misty perks up, but soon settles back as it becomes clear no one is actually going anywhere — nor inviting the dog over. Leaning her hands on the table, Tamara smiles at her petitioner, just a touch of rue to the curve of her lips.

"They didn't tell you that part, did they?"

The use of her nickname gets a tip of the younger woman’s head, eyes narrowing slightly — not angrily. Curiously. Maybe suspiciously. The thought that more people know her than she wants is short-lived because then the registration card is being set in front of her.

A brow lifts and there’s a silent little ‘oh’ on the lips of Tamara’s visitor.

She’s silent for a moment — a little too long, really, to be polite, but finally she speaks. “No, they sure didn’t,” with a smirk. “So… honestly I’m not sure how this works. But if you think you can find answers, I can pay you.”

Chess reaches into the bag on her lap, pulling out the second of two manila folders and setting it on the table. “I don’t really know how much something like this costs.”

Tamara gives Chess all the time she needs to come to realization, and to realign her perspective in light of that realization. Only once she's broken the silence does the seer move, settling back into her chair. Setting a hand on the proffered folder, she slides it over to her side, tipping her head to one side and briefly contemplating it in a manner that is entirely for the benefit of her audience — the show of precognitive evaluation, not its substance.

"It costs whatever answers are worth to you," Tamara replies, lifting her gaze to meet that of Chess. "What you give up determines what you get." Simple factual statements, with no embedded attempt to upsell her petitioner. Rather, Tamara draws in a breath, closes her eyes, and lets her head bow, thoughts reaching outward into the paradigm only she can perceive.

Silence gathers around the table for several breaths, watchful, anticipatory. In her place against the wall, Misty seems all but asleep.

"…one reflection," the seer speaks at last, "cast by a different light." A pause, a slight motion of her head, a furrow etching itself into her brow. "Alabama." A pause, then, her expression going pinched with concentration. "Maybe also an echo; faint, distant. Too little to easily touch."

After, Tamara is quiet a moment more; then she raises her head and offers Chess a slightly weary smile.

When Tamara’s head bows, Chess seems to hold her breath, unsure of what to do — what not to do — while the sibyl is at work. Patience isn’t her forte, and restlessness kept at bay is visible in the little tics and fidgets of the younger woman. Her fingers wrap around the glass of water only to flutter against it, before leaving it to wrap around the strap, still on her shoulder, of the courier bag.

Dark eyes flit around the space they’re in, watching the dog for a moment, because it seems more polite than staring at Tamara’s face.

When Tamara speaks, Chess’ brows draw together in an effort to understand. “Alabama,” she repeats. The second part of the answer is more confusing, and she shakes her head slightly to indicate she doesn’t understand.

“Only one,” she murmurs, her eyes suddenly welling up with tears. She huffs a laugh of surprise at herself, reaching up to wipe away the moisture from her lashes. “It’s not like I knew them,” she adds, with a roll of eyes at herself for the sudden display of emotion. “Or even that they existed.” It’s more of a reprimand to herself than a comment to Tamara.

Chess begins to rise, but stops, mid-rise and sits back down. “The echo — what does that mean? Just very far away or… I don’t know. Subdued?”

Hooking fingers around her glass, Tamara pulls it over and sips at the water, offering neither comment nor critique on Chess' emotional moment. When asked to clarify, she peers across the glass at her guest, brows arching slightly. "I answered that one already," she points out gently.

“Sorry,” Chess says quickly. “I don’t… my friend’s a precog too and I don’t always understand what she tells me, either.” The smile is quick and a bit rueful.

She stands again, pulling her bag up on her shoulder. “Thank you. I don’t know if this is okay to ask or not, but… if someone else comes to you about finding me — or my reflections…” she trails off, her fingers fiddling with the bucket latch of her bag for a moment, before her dark eyes come back to find Tamara’s.

“There’s not many people I want to find me, you know?”

Tamara echoes her guest's smile. "That's okay." She rises as Chess does, the motion immediately bringing Misty to intrigued alert, head raised and ears pricked forward. The blonde pays the dog's interest no heed, but reaches out to pat her guest's shoulder gently.

"I'm only home to questions that need answers," the seer states as she moves to walk Chess back out. The sentiment is probably meant to be as reassuring as it is actually oblique.

Misty’s eager attention draws a small smile from Chess, though she doesn’t reach out to pat the dog, and instead moves forward toward the exit.

Tamara’s words make her pause, looking to the blond seer, considering her words for a moment, then smirking. “I suppose knowing what people are coming for answers makes it easier to avoid clients you don’t want,” she says wryly. “Like a physical caller ID.”

The small joke made, she adds, more seriously, “Thanks for your help,” before following the path that will lead her back outside, to contemplate the answers she’s received — and what to do with them.

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