Queen Of Hearts


colette_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Queen of Hearts
Synopsis After finding their way forward, Colette, Tamara, and Tasha spend one last night together before the Siege of Pollepel.
Date December 19, 2011

Bannerman's Castle

Were there clocks, the bells would be tolling three.

At this early hour of morning, Bannerman’s castle is as silent as a tomb. The cold, stone hallways between closed up rooms are devoid of all but the barest heat, and under bare feet the floor is prickling and uncomfortable. Large-burned string lights following one old stone wall lead the way back to the barracks, and Colette Nichols is shuffling barefoot back in the direction of warmth and blankets.

Behind her, Tasha had the understandably good sense to have shoes on. Her sneakered feet scuff across the floor was she walks, Colette’s hand entwined with hers as she moves. Their silhouettes dance along the walls, joined hands making their arms a bridge between their separate shadows. As they approach the door to what was once ostensibly Tasha’s quarters, Colette quietly disentangles her hand from the smaller girl’s and gingerly presses down the latch to open the door.

When Colette left an hour ago, the room was a disaster. The small ten-by-six space consisting of a narrow writing desk stacked with finished counterfeit passports, a single bed laden with extra blankets, and then two sleeping bags on the floor with a layer of additional blankets between them and the only light an oil-burning lantern on a low end table. With the overcrowding everyone is doubling up on the island, but at least here it's more comfortable.

Pushing the door open, Colette expects to find Tamara either asleep, or not find her at all. The sibyl’s sleeping habits are just as unpredictable as her wanderings, and as she's wide-awake at three in the morning she has little room to criticize another's sleeping habits. But as the two return to their shared space, Colette is still thoughtfully quiet as she opens the door.

“How are you not fre-ee-ezing,” Tasha whispers, her hushed voice a little shaky as she shivers, elongating and breaking apart the e’s. The blanket she’s wrapped around herself for the trek through the castle isn’t as warm as a jacket would be, and at least she has shoes on — the thought of bare feet on cold stone floors is unfathomable to her. The dome above the castle may protect them from the snow and sleet, but it’s still cold in a castle with no central heating.

She stills when Colette lets go of her hand to open the door, resting her chin on the other woman’s shoulder from behind to peer into the room, to see just how quiet they need to be.

The quietly-opened door reveals a room dimly illuminated by lamplight, the space remarkably tidier than it was left; someone has been awake, indeed. Tamara is currently seated at the desk. More correctly, she's seated with her back to the desk, chair turned around to face the middle of the tiny room. She's still dressed for sleep, which is something — mismatched blue and gray flannel that clearly came from different sets, and those blue-winged dragonfly socks once again on her feet. Misty is curled up on the seer's sleeping bag, nose tucked under her tail; the dog was sleeping. The people in the doorway get a swivel of one ear and an ostentatious yawn before Misty resolutely closes her eyes with every obvious intention of going right back to sleep.

At least someone keeps something resembling sane sleep hours.

Tamara smiles brightly at the brunette in the doorway, and at the second one peering over her shoulder. "You could come in," she assures them. "It's warmer here."

There’s a flutter of quiet laughter from Colette at the sight of Tamara awake, and her comment about the cold. “Yeah, it’s uh, not… warm out there.” She slips in through the door, leaving enough space for Tasha to sweep in behind her before shutting the heavy wood door with her heel. It latches noisily, and Colette shuffles bare feet across the floor just a few paces. Her teeth toy at her bottom lip, brows furrow and a sidelong glance is briefly flicked to Tasha. Colette takes a moment, breaks through her awkwardness, and allows herself to appreciate the cozy quarters.

She pads the few steps it takes to get over to where Tamara sits and gently wraps her arms around her shoulders and presses a kiss to the top of her head that lingers for a bit, allowing her to breathe in the smell of her hair. When she disengages, she sits squarely down on the floor beside Misty. “Hope I didn’t wake you up when I left, I… couldn’t sleep.”

Colette reaches out and runs her fingers through Misty’s fur, blind eyes drifting from side to side as she contemplates something unsaid. At her side, the lamplight flickers. Not because of waning fuel or a sudden breeze, but because of the young woman sitting nearby. It twists and bends, representing a moment of uncertainty. But eventually it rights itself, burns calm and bright.

Cleaner, too,” quips Tasha, with a grin. Maybe not cleaner than the hallway — it doesn’t have the clutter of three young women in it. But certainly cleaner than they left it.

She follows Colette in, shutting the door behind them with a dull thud, before making her way to the bed, stepping carefully over stepping over Tamara and Colette and Misty, too, before sitting on the small cot.

When the light bends and twists, she glances up at it, watching it for a moment — its light is reflected in the dark mirror of her eyes, before she glances at Colette and realizes it’s her doing and not some wayward wind in the tiny room. She reaches down to pet Misty, letting Colette have her moment of uncertainty — knowing she will either alight upon the right words, or Tamara will help her find them.

Tamara leans lightly into the embrace, then casts Colette a lopsided smile once she's sat down. "I won't know," she replies, a little rueful, mostly seeming amused. "There could always be more sleep," she continues, a statement that gently pushes those concerns aside, relegates them to the land of the trivial.

To all appearances, the seeress minds the candle not at all; she slides down from the chair to seat herself on the floor next to Colette. Legs folded, elbows on thighs and hands draped over ankles, Tamara leans forward and fffs a breath at the ear Misty has cocked her way. That ear twitches in mild irritation; then the dog lifts her head, resting her muzzle across Colette's calf, casting a one-eyed glance towards the blind woman's face.

Tamara smiles, pats Misty's flank affectionately, and lets the silence stand.

It’s the smart thing to do, all things considered. The silence, from all three, forces Colette to think critically about what’s rattling around in her head. Her blind eyes reflect the candle’s light in the same sheen Tasha’s darker ones do, and for a time the warm candle-lit room is a quiet and comfortable place apart from the chaos of the world beyond the dome. For that silent time, they’re inside the snowglobe, an isolated moment of peace long-deserved.

Though peaceful, both Tamara and Tasha can see the crease between her dark brows. That pensive look of contemplation, followed by the toying of teeth against a bottom lip. When she finds her resolve, its with a long sigh. Delicately, she untucks her leg from below Misty and looks to Tamara, then Tasha. She leans back, toward the cot, taking one of Tasha’s hands in hers with fingers wound together.

Then, with a ginger tug, brings her down on the floor too so they can all sit together. “I’m kind of a mess,” is the first thing said in the room after long minutes. “In… a lot of ways. I don’t think I’ve ever, like— really knows how t’be, like…” she trails off, then closes her eyes and shakes her head. Words are slippery. The candle flickers.

“Nothing ever made sense, till you two.” Colette reaches out, fingertips dancing over the back of one of Tamara’s hands, which she nervously insinuates her own hand atop. “Never been happier in my whole stupid life, never— felt like I had a family. You two’re like, some’f the only people who’ve ever like…” she stumbles over her words again, slips, and shakes her head as her jaw trembles just a touch. She breathes in, bubbles with awkward laughter, and just gives up and lays down beside Misty on the floor, holding one of their hands in hers.

“M’gonna spend the rest of my stupid life with you two.” Colette affirms, staring up at the ceiling. The candle calms. “S’all there really is to it, s’like… s’like, a promise.” The more nervous she gets about her feelings, the more she mumbles, but the tighter her grip gets. “M’gonna get us a house, an’ a garden t’make up for the one I lost, and… like… we’re gonna have an art studio and…” she’s exhausted, rambling, but unwilling or unable to really sleep. Every moment from here on feels precious, every moment that was spent agonizing over herself and her feelings prior feels wasted. To Colette, there’s years of time to make up for.

At the mention of more sleep, Tasha yawns, as if the mention of more sleep reminds her of how little she’s gotten. But it’s a rare moment of peace, despite the conflict warring in Colette. She waits it out as Tamara does, glancing down at her hands to scratch at a tiny patch of dried glue on her thumb, a remnant of all of the forged documents she’s been working on.

When Colette reaches for her hand, she lets herself be pulled down to sit, watching her feet in the dim light so she doesn’t step on anyone. Her legs fold lotus-like and she holds Colette’s hand in her lap as Colette finally finds the words she’s looking for.

She smiles, glancing across at Tamara before offering Tamara her hand, to close the triangle. “Forever works for me,” she says simply.

Interlacing fingers with Colette, Tamara looks on affectionately as she stares at the ceiling, stumbles her way through promises as symbolic as they are sincere. Glancing over to Tasha, she takes the proffered hand, squeezing it briefly. Then she retrieves her hands, both of them, so she can drape one arm across Colette's shoulders and press a kiss against her cheek, replying with gesture rather than words. As long as you wanted, she's said before; that pledge still stands.

Caught in the midst of their triangle, Misty gives up on any plans of continued sleep and clambers up onto her paws, taking one and a half steps out of the triangle before shaking herself vigorously. Then the dog promptly twists around and takes advantage of the opportunity — everyone's down on her level! — to lick at Tasha's face.

Serene laughter bubbles up from Colette, watching the dog seek out Tasha’s face while at the same time watery tears slide down her cheeks. Her expression is one of overwhelmed emotion, cheeks flush red, lips twisted into a smile so broad it reveals rarely seem dimples in her cheeks. Laying as she is on the floor, the tears slide back across her temples into her hair, and she’s quick to lift her free hand up to sweep her fingers and wrist against them.

“Gotta— have a yard for the dogs.” Colette adds, her voice just a little tight with emotion. There's optimism in all of this, even if the reality of their current situation is far more uncertain than any other time in Colette’s life. The thought of that uncertainty brings a look to Tamara, brows furrowed in that way she gets when she's trying to read the seer’s expression, intention, or maybe even just impress that moment of her in memory.

Eyes closing and a deep breath taken, Colette asks to the air a question of both whimsy and practicality. A flight of fancy loosely tethered to the earth “When we get out of here, what d’you wanna do with your life?” It's a challenging question, one more long-viewed than Colette is prone to take. She has her own answer, ready to go, but she wants to hear what the voices around her say. Because right now, the future matters more than anything else.

Tasha squeaks when Misty interjects her kisses into the conversation, and she turns away laughing, wiping her face on a hitched-up shoulder.

The more sobering, grounding question brings her focus back to Colette, and she’s quiet for a moment. Her eyes go to the stack of forged documents she’s been making and she studies it for a moment, before looking back, first to Colette, then to Tamara.

“I might change majors, if I can ever get back to school,” she says tentatively. “Art’s… you know, so important and I love it, but it feels like I should do something,” she pauses, choosing her words carefully, “not more important, because I think art is love and like, essential, but you know, like more… useful?” Her face screws up for a moment, as she considers her words.

“Oscar Wilde once said that all art is useless — he didn’t mean that it has no point. He loved art and was an artist. But that art is meant to just be. And I don’t agree, because there’s a lot of art that has purpose, like satire and stuff, but still — I think I want to do something more useful. Like maybe be a civil rights lawyer. Specialize in helping people with abilities. Fighting people in power who take away their rights, you know?” Tasha chews her lower lip, nervously, because it’s the first time she’s said this aloud.

Looking down at Colette, Tamara meets the glance cast her way and tips her head, the meaning behind that glance inscrutable to her. It remains so as Colette moves on, framing a question that has the seeress sit back, her expression faintly pinched; her gaze skips aside, and not in the way that suggests I'm working on that answer.

Given that, it's no surprise that Tasha speaks up first. Tamara looks to her, and smiles softly, approvingly; there's nothing pinched in that expression. As she talks, Misty ambles around the group to give Tamara the same treatment Tasha just lately received. Tamara lets her get a couple licks in before wrapping her arms around the dog, burying her face in a fuzzy shoulder. Then she pats the dog, who obligingly moves on to ambush Colette — not that it's much of an ambush at this point.

For her part, Tamara lays back on the sleeping bag, fingers toying with the blue pendant at her throat, flicking it idly from side to side. "That depends," she says at last, closing her eyes; an answer that is no true answer at all.

Tasha’s answer elicits a smile from Colette, one that is so excited that she doesn’t quite notice the uncertainty of Tamara’s answer at first. “I’m gonna become a detective,” Colette affirms with a look square at Tasha. “Blood-spatter expert! Maybe back in Manhattan if it ever gets better. S’like, a lot of work but… maybe we could work together, y’know? Bringing in the bad guys, making sure the punishment sticks!” There’s a lopsided smile at that, and Colette looks up to the ceiling with a wistful expression. “Judah’d want me t’do something that helped people, made the world a better place, n’stuff. The Ferry’s good, but m’hoping we aren’t always gonna have to be around. Y’know?” Blind eyes track to Tasha, and Colette reaches out to lay a hand on her knee. “Partners in law,” she adds with a quirk of her brow.

But then, as she starts to plan a clever pun for Tamara’s answer, she recalls how ambiguous it was. Teeth worrying at her bottom lip, Colette sits up and looks to the seer. Brows knit together, and Colette tentatively rests a hand on the blonde’s knee. She doesn’t say anything, not right away, just lets the touch linger as she watches Tamara’s expression. Eventually, and accompanied by a brush of her thumb back and forth at Tamara’s knee, Colette asks. “What’s it depend on?”

Colette’s broad smile earns a bigger one from Tasha, who then looks expectantly at Tamara for her answer to the question posed to them. The expression on her face isn’t lost, but she’s less adept at reading the seeress than Colette — who still takes a moment, even with her practice.

“I think that’s what they call a conflict of interest,” she says with a smirk for Colette’s suggestions. “But we could do it on the downlow,” she says in a conspiratorial whisper. Dark eyes slide back to Tamara when Colette asks the inevitable question.

“We-We all make it, right? Out of here?” she says a little tentatively. She usually doesn’t ask about the future, doesn’t want to know. Her brows pull together and she brings her knees up, wrapping her arms around them, and rests her chin on top.

Colette sits up before Misty can quite realize her plan; the dog settles for shoving her head under her arm instead, whuffing in a prompt for attention. Meanwhile, Tamara matches Colette's silence with quiescence of her own, watching potential resolve from behind closed eyes. There is no change in her expression during Colette's contemplation; only when she speaks does Tamara look up, ordinary blue eyes framed in an apologetic expression — the flavor of apologetic that accompanies phrases like words are slippery. "Everything," the seer answers, and the cast she implies for that word is grand indeed.

Taking hold of Colette's hand, Tamara uses it to lever herself back up into a sitting position, the better to look over at Tasha. She gives the other brunette a smile, sympathetic, reassuring, and reaches out with her free hand to brush back a lock of Tasha's hair. "Don't worry," the seeress assures, implicit affirmation. "You could keep building castles."

It isn't often that Colette has seen Tamara so fraught by the variables. Her eyes divert down to the bracelet at her wrist, thumb on that hand spinning at spinning the ring on her other finger. She looks at Tasha, then softens her expression when Tamara tucks that hair behind her ear. “As long as we’re together,” Colette says in a small voice, eyes drifting back and forth between the two. “That's all that matters to me.”

With the brush of one hand, Colette reciprocates the same threading of hair to Tamara, letting fingertips ghost along her jawline and knuckles stop softly at her chin. “Nevermind the future,” she says quietly, casting a look over to Tasha and reaching out to rest a hand on her knee. There's worry in Colette’s eyes, but it's fading as she focuses on the here and now, and what's important in that precious moment. “Let's focus on tonight.”

Tasha’s eyes study Tamara’s face as her features move from apologetic to affirmative, and she sighs a little — more in relief than in frustration, but there’s a little of the latter as well in her face. More at herself than at Tamara — her inability to grasp the cryptic answers.

Metaphors aren’t completely out of her wheelhouse, though — she is an artist. Still, she smiles a little at the “castle” comment, and takes it as an opportunity to shake off the little bit of gloom that’s settled around them like a blanket.

“No more castles. If I never see one after Bannerman, that is all-fucking-right by me,” she declares, reaching to pet the dog who is determined to be a part of the discussion. “Tonight it is,” she agrees with Colette’s words, reaching down to squeeze the hand on her knee.

Tamara leans lightly into the touch at her jaw, looking up at Colette. "As long as you wanted," she murmurs, breath tickling across Colette's skin as she echoes promises made previously. Her gaze goes to Tasha, and she smiles again.

A moment later, Tamara pries herself away from partners and dog alike, padding over to the corner of the room where her backpack is stashed. When she returns, it's to drop a deck of cards in Colette's lap, sheaf bundled together by rubber band.

Sitting back down, she tilts her head and looks at the photokinetic in silent prompt.

“I love you but,” Colette eyes the cards and shakes her head. “That seems like, really unfair to suggest.” Sitting up more straight, Colette looks at Tasha with a raised brow, one hand motioning over to the deck of cards. “She's trying t’hustle us.”

Blind eyes flick back to regard Tamara sidelong. “You think you know somebody,” Colette teases with an ever-increasing inability to stifle a smile. “And then she tries t’cheat at poker.” One dark brow raises, and while Colette can't imagine what Tamara’s true intentions are, she can't help but treasure this moment.

Tasha leans her head back against the bed, smiling at the sweet moment between Tamara and Colette, then lifting a brow when Tamara gets up to retrieve the cards from her backpack. One eyebrow lifts, mirroring Colette’s, and she looks back to Tamara with a smirk.

Suddenly, the smirk blooms into a grin, and she claps her hands together. “When we get out of here,” she says, voice full of the authority that comes with an Amazing Idea, “let’s take Tamara to Vegas.

What could go wrong?

Chin lifting slightly, Tamara regards Colette sidelong, and sniffs. "I didn't have to play." It is, of course, a complete affectation. "Maybe I just went back to sleep," she continues. Suiting actions to words — somewhat — she stretches back out on the sleeping bag, patting empty space in cue for Misty to lay down beside her, a prompt the dog happily obliges.

Blue eyes regard the artist across the curve of the dog's flank. The seer smiles wryly, but doesn't comment either yea or nay on Tasha's brilliant idea. Which at the very least, suggests it's not inherently a terrible idea.

Doesn't suggest that it's a probable one, though.

Cards in hand, Colette rolls the deck around in her palms and watches Tamara lay back onto the sleeping bag. Laughing to herself, Colette offers a side-eye to Tasha and sets the card down on the table by the lamp.

“I was tryin’ t’think’f some kinda’ cute joke about not liking cards ‘cause there's only one queen of hearts…” Brows raised in an amused expression, Colette crawls down and lays beside Tamara, leaning her head to the side forehead to temple. “‘Cept I couldn't think of how t’say that and also sound like I was sayin’ something sweet about you two.”

An arm is held out for Tasha, fingers curling open and closed, c’mere you. “Because that was like, mostly my goal. Say somethin’ nice about how the both’f you are all I need.” Her lips creep up into a smile, blind eyes reflect the flickering candlelight; glassy with emotion.

“Cause that's the truth.”

“Sleep,” yawns Tasha at Tamara’s words, “sounds like a very responsible thing to do.”

She smiles at Colette’s words, then crawls carefully over limbs of dog and girls alike, to lie on the other side of Colette. Her fingers entwine with hers and she brings Colette’s hand to her lips to kiss the back, before snuggling up and putting a chin on her shoulder.

Her eyes close and she sighs with contentment. “Good,” she agrees. “And whatever game has three queens in it, that’ll be our game. We might have to make one up.”

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