She's Gone


colette_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title She's Gone
Synopsis Two young women cross paths in a derelict subway station and reveal uncharacteristic vulnerability.
Date December 2, 2010

Grand Central Terminal

Thirty two days, two hours, fifteen minutes.

That is the amount of time that has passed since Sable has seen hide nor hair of Colette Nichols. One underground venue is traded for another, and while the musty confines of Grand Central Terminal don't have the punk rock charm of the Rock Cellar, it does have its own post-apocalyptic vibe that is equally anti-establishment.

Off of the subway tracks, up on the platform that overlooks the recessed railway, Colette Nichols would look like a commuter waiting for the train in any other time but now. At a glance, she's just a darkly-dressed silhouette carrying a backpack, but a closer inspection reveals the muzzles of a four assault rifles poking up from the mostly zippered top of the duffel bag slung over one shoulder. Colette's leather jacket is heat-scarred, its facade cracked and peeled on the right side of the collar and down one sleeve where a molotov cocktail nearly set her ablaze during the riots.

Her scuffed and worn leather pants show equal wear, accenting just how much weight she's lost in the last month and change that she didn't have to lose. The hooded sweatshirt beneath her jacked hides how dangerously skinny she is again, the hood hides her messy hair, but can't do much to hide the dour look of unhappiness she wears.

But despite not being a commuter, Colette is waiting here for someone, or maybe something; It certainly isn't the train. Up close, the tinny beat of music filtering out of her headphones suggests that her iPod survived the riots, though for all it is comfort to her she'd trade its value a thousandfold to have just one person back.

Therein lies the root of her problem.

The world is unkind, the way it half-grants out wishes. The way it holds out hopes it knows to be impossible, tantalizing in the truest sense. Assuming no malevolent creator or ruler, assuming no intent on the part of the universe, this cruelty must lie solely in the self, the universe an individual builds with their thoughts, beliefs, and ways of seeing. Hell is not just other people, it's just us. Just you. Alone.

But tonight's cruelty takes the form of companionship, and the gentle click click of unclipped canine nails against concrete. The takkapad-takkapad sound of a puppy's paws, which should accompany the tread of some other leash-bearer. Misty heralds no seeress this evening, though. Thirty two days, two hours and fifteen minutes ago was when Colette last saw Misty's current keeper. Short and dark and possessed of precious little foresight, Sable is a poor substitute indeed. But she is what she is, and she's mostly unapologetic about the fact.

Dressed neither to impress nor for success (save for the success inherent in managing to survive winter in New York City), Sable is puffy in a down jacket that hasn't been seen since the unnatural winter of even-further-ago. Present, too, are the lizard eye goggles she claimed during that time, clamped to her hairline, trapping dark strands against her pale forehead. Her breath comes in plumes as she picks her way down towards the platform, her own earphones hanging around her neck, bleeding song softly in to the air around her head, a sonorous halo.

Misty smells Colette before Sable sees her, and so the yellow eyed woman is tugged the rest of the way down to the platform by the eager puppy. It gives a few short barks of excitement as Colette herself enters sight as well as scent, and both dog and dogsitter jog across the intervening space.

"Evenin', darlin'," Sable says, as Misty greets Colette in her own way, jumping up at her - Sable is not much for obedience training - tail wagging in broad, happy stroke, oblivious to the girl's mood. Sable notices, however, and her voice is kept low. "Glad t' see y', but rather be seein' y' glad."

The sharp barks just barely heard over the noise of her headphones, Colette sharply turns towards the sound, hands moving up to her ears and duffel bag shifting on her shoulder in precarious balance. Color washes out of Colette's face when she recognizes Misty in the corner of her eyes, that mismatched stare following the leash upwards towards the young woman holding it, only to register visible disappointment on the realization that it isn't who she wants it to be.

Blinking back emotion in her eyes, Colette's shaky hands let the earbuds of her headphones dangle limp down her neck. Her throat tightens in a swallow she can't quite get down because words are struggling to find their way up the other way. "Sable," is a croaked greeting, one of unprepared temperment. Jaw trembling till she clamps it shut, Colette takes ons tep back and away from Misty and Sable, her lips quavering between a frown and a smile, unable to settle on one or the other.

"Heel, girl, Jesus, control yerself," Sable says, suddenly the disciplinarian now that Colette's backing away. The retreat, she presumes (however weakly) is the result of puppyish over-enthusiasm. Sable gives Misty's leash a pretty sharp yank, causing the puppy to airbox briefly before coming back down to earth. Misty wheels to peer at Sable - 'what did you do that for?'

The yellow eyed girl makes amends, crouching next to the dog and giving her a pretty vigorous scratch behind the ears. Her eyes, though, are pointed up towards Colette. "Thass me," she confirms, smile canted to one side, uncertain, "last I checked 't least. Though I'll be whoever y' wish, called whatever y' like, if y'd settle on smilin' f'r me."

Confusion emotes across Colette's face, brows rise, lips part and eyes widen, then the whole thing comes crumpling inward into a furrowing of brows and a downward's turn of her lips. Reasserting her grip on the strap of the duffel bag, Colette adjusts its position on her shoulder with a shake of her narrow frame, resulting in the guns she's carrying rattling around together.

"Fuck off," almost sounds like something in an alien tongue for how unexpected it is. Briefly guilty eyes flash down to Misty, and Colette's jaw tenses as her eyes bat shut again as she sharply turns away from Sable and the leashed puppy. It takes almost that long for the sting of the words to start prickling in their aftermath, about as long as it takes for Colette to start walking away.

This isn't like her at all.

No, it ain't. Prompting Sable to respond by being even more like herself. Which is to say stubborn, insistent and, with Misty as a model, dogged.

She's after Colette before the caustic force of those two ugly words can really hit home. Some more adaptable part of Sable's mental processes, no less efficient for its opacity, pushes her into action before action can be prevented by hurt or shock. On her feet, feet moving, paces closing the distance before it has a chance to really widen, Sable doesn't grab Colette. That won't work, she's almost positive. No, she has to find a more passive way to halt Colette's progress.

The lucky thing is that storming - however furious and brisk - is rarely as rapid as a run. Same goes for stalking, skulking and other kinds of irate exit. With a fast paced scuttle, Sable flanks Colette, and steps right into her path. Feet set wide and arms parted, Colette is going to have to bowl Sable over or at the very least awkwardly circumvent her if she wants to get any further.

"Can't do that," is said with a touch of apology, but no matching hint of uncertainty. Sable's ocher eyes peer up at Colette frankly under dark brows, lofted slightly.

That Colette is on the verge of crying is the first thing that Sable sees.

The second is a fist whipping up from Colette's right. Sucker punch be damned, however, for with all the whip-crack speed at which Colette seemed intent on laying Sable out, the yellow-eyed young woman has more catlike reflexes than a whole burlap sack of cats. Dark hair shifts with the swift reflexive motion as Sable ducks out of the way of the right hook, causing Colette to stare slack-jawed at the sudden movement. It didn't, admittedly, seem so sudden to Sable. From the yellow-eyed girl's perspective, that punch was outright telegraphed.

Colette doesn't look prepared for that outcome.

Now, some part of Sable thinks that maybe letting Colette clock her would be for the best. Pounding the shit out of someone is ranked up there with single malt whiskey on her (admittedly short) list of preferred therapeutic methods. Trouble with reflexes, though, is that they act without your conscious consent. It's for a good reason; they'd be awful slow if they waited for an all-clear from cerebral command.

So the reflection on the merits of letting Colette score a hit comes, by virtue of its being a reflection, too late. She's out of harm's way before she can think 'better' of it. Not a fully body dodge, just a tilt in one direction, making sure Colette's knuckles find air. The telegraphy of the blow is precisely what stifles real surprise however, plus Sable can, as stated, totally get behind wanting to beat someone up when feeling down.

This may account for what she says next.

"Oh, come on," Sable says, and yeah - that's goading in her voice, "try a little harder, babe. Gonna give you 'nother shot at that. Here," she sticks her chin out, openly inviting another blow, soliciting it, even, "put some feelin' int' it."

Watching the humans do their weird human thing, Misty is, appropriately, mystified.

"What the fuck is your problem!?" Colette's ironic shriek comes with forward momentum, fingers curling around the front of Sable's jacket and enough push (and enough willingness on Sable's part) to find the brunette backrd up against a tiled concrete dividing wall adjacent to a bench seat. Colette's hands are trembling, gloved fingers creaking with taut leather at either side of Sable's neck, fistfulls of overstuffed jacket clenched in each hand.

Seething, Colette belatedly realizes exactly how she's acting, or at least that Sable sucessfully goaded her into pushing things. It isn't the first time these two have been so close together, this time isn't ending with a kiss, though. Colette's fingers slowly unwind as she leans back, jaw trembling and tears streaking wet paths down grubby cheeks.

Blinking away the tears that fall despite her best efforts to quell them, Colette's expression juxtaposes disgust and anger in matching quantity.

It's the wrong blend of feelings (and Sable permits herself no treacherous addition of 'for now') though strong in their own way, and close too, more than just in literal physical proximity. As such, Sable does not escape Colette's grasp. Passion is something she can respect. Fury, sorrow, despair. Those are creative emotions to her, much better than coldness, distance or restraint, which lie always barren.

But she'd still rather Colette be happy, should there be the option.

When Colette draws back, Sable tips forward. It's a risk, she knows, but she won't be distant. Their approach made absurd by the black puff of the winter coat, Sable's arms close around Colette and draw her into an embrace that sends a pair of tiny feathers flying, escapees from the coat.

There's still a leash in her hand, which remains closed in a loose fist. Misty tugs a little, trying to get a sniff at a really interesting puddle of dank rainwater, and Sable is forced to tense up her arm a little to keep it in place

Colette continues her retreat, booted feet scuffing back across a concrete floor. All her bolstered anger is not much more than a wax mask, melting with each advance Sable makes. The heel of her right boot goes past the hatch-marked yellow line, faded writing that once said Do Not Cross in equally yellow letters now little more than a faint reminder of a warning of the dangers of standing too close to the edge.

"Just— j- just leave me alone," Colette breathily murmurs, taking another anxious step backward, another foot joining the last over the yellow line as she continues to shakily backpedal. Mismatched eyes track to Misty, and in watching the puppy there is a momentary pause in Colette's movement, just enough until she matches eye contact with Sable and goes to take that last step back. Her heel slips over the edge of the concrete lip of the subway platform, the weight of the duffel bag she carries causes her to teeter, balance wavering from standing to falling and back, arms windmilling.

Suddenly her eyes don't say go away as much as they say help me.

Okay, something you should know about Sable is that she takes a certain joy in the sight of a woman falling. This is not because she's some latent sadist - her cruelties are pretty overt. It's because she is always in time to catch them. Just something that comes naturally - something in her blood. And it's a hell of a move. The dip of the stomach, the sudden increase in heart rate, the slightest drop of adrenaline and then- salvation. It can do wonders.

But this is not some cute, clumsy thing tripping over a rug. This is Colette teetering at the edge of a serious fall. No time is spent appreciating the particular aesthetics of a pretty girl in free fall (and surely some speedsters share this appreciation). Sable's too busy panicking. She allows herself only the briefest moment of stupid, wasteful imaginings and internal 'oh no!'s before she lunges out to catch Colette just above her center of balance, heaving back, heedless of her own footing, rather than risk her own weight being insufficient.

Of course, as she feels Colette's weight, even in its descent, she is surprised at her lightness. Given a moment longer to think, and she'd be worried.

The bag of firearms is the only casualty, sliding off of Colette's narrow shoulder by a too-loose strap, seemingly moving in slow motion as it tilts, twists, and falls away over the edge of the railing, even as Colette is being wrenched forward. Colette is moved with all the helpless ease of a ragdoll, jerked forward with unprepared lack of balance, one foot scuff-stumbling in front of the other, heel to toe and then forward momentum is failing to arrest just like reverse was a moment ago.

Colette's added momentum and Sable's sudden backwards pull hair the pair tipping over in tandem, a precarious horizontal landing that had gotten them into trouble before, though with far less in the way of clothing as intermediaries. When Sable's and one padded elbow back hits the concrete, Colette is soon to double that weight as she falls forrward on the brunette. Freed of Sable's grip on the leash, Misty clicks clawed pace around the two, eyes wide and ears perked forward as if this were some sort of game. Her participation in said horse-play is running up to lap at Sable's face with flicking tongue and tail waggling rapid-fire back and forth.

Colette completes the fall with her head on Sable's shoulder, their bodies just so misaligned to afford that natural position. That she starts crying isn't because the fall hurt.

And God bless those intermediaries! They cushion both girls as best they can. Feathers kick up into the air, a good half dozen of them, one pirouetting up then drifting down to settle in Sable's bangs, just above the cold-blooded gaze of those holographic eyes, its barbs impaled on a dark little spike. It wobbles slightly before being snuffled lose by Misty's warm-tongued assault. A hand goes up to bat at her, waving the dog away. "Aw, Jesus…" are Sable's thoughts on Misty's interjection. Stop, stop! This is not conducive to anything!

By the time Misty has been warded off, and Sable's attention can be properly directed at the member of her own species, the crying has already begun. "Shit…" Sable murmurs, softly, and brings her hand down to cup the back of Colette's head. One leg shifts to a somewhat more comfortable position. Not about to jostle the weeping girl. The arm around her waist, the one that caught her, slides a little further up, and presses lightly down. See? The hug was going to happen anyway. And look what happens when you fight it.

Noises down the other end of the tunnel are the background murmur of voices at Grand Central Station proper, beyond this tunnel entrance. Distance, alone, has spared Colette the embarrassment of other people seeing her break down. Why it always winds up being Sable she breaks down on, why she finds it easier to confide in her, only Colette knows.

"I'm sorry," squeakily protests the entire situation, a whimpering and largely pathetic sound of weakness coming from Colette. "I— tried— I tried so hard." Lacking context, all Sable has to go on is the way Colette's gloved fingers curl into her jacket, the way her nose and brow buries into the smooth surface of the jacket at Sable's shoulder. "I'm so sorry," shakily comes out again between haggard, sobbing breaths. "Th— there was so much blood I couldn't— I couldn't— " each couldn't, punctuated by a hiccuped sob.

Then, nothing but unintelligible murmuring as Colette rocks her head from side to side against Sable's shoulder. Misty, for all that Sable tried to dissuade her, has turned that flicking tongue on Colette's head, lapping at cheek and brow with paws resting on Sable's chest to give her the height vantage necessary to perform her most important task.

Whatever the reason, Sable's flattered. For someone like Colette to show any sign of weakness, she can only imagine the difficulty. These are both proud women, but their pride is cut from very different clothes, worn in different styles. To bare yourself in all that you hide even from yourself… that takes great humility.

Of course Sable would romanticize Colette's breakdown. That may be just her problem. But she receives a great and humbling challenge of her own very quickly. Hubris hands her talk of blood between sobs. So much blood.

Three words you never want to hear together.

Licking, groomy, mending - Misty is doing her bit to comfort the fallen people. Sable doesn't ward Misty off this time, letting her at Colette, hoping to God that some of the sweetness and simplicity of the dog's affection might combat the reality of Colette's words. But doggy kisses won't quite make them go away, and so Sable must ask.

"Whatall happened, darlin'?"

Her embrace is tight, the hand at the back of Colette's head soft but assured of its place. Sable's not eager to let Colette draw away, and not for her own sake. Even if she must ask a question, the unconditional affirmative of her presence is something she will insist upon.

Colette's hands tremble with their tension, arms shake and breath comes out in whispery gusts that accompany the trembling of Colette's slim frame. She doesn't seem inclined to move away, both from the affection that Misty is trying to offer or from atop Sable. Swallowing noisily, Colette just continues to bury her head in the shoulder of Sable's jacket, letting out a huffing breath followed by a strangled sob at the tightening embrace and the hand gently placed at the back of her head.

Maybe it's guilt that keeps Colette rooted fast where she is; guilt for having not been able to do anything, guilt for not having been able to tell Sable until now, guilt for not wanting to move away from this embrace.

"Tamara," is whispered between sobs, and it's the first time since the day it happened that Colette has come to terms with her situation. It's also the last name Sable would have ever wanted to hear associated with the topic of Colette's crying.

"She's gone," is a misconstrued whisper, unfortunately.

Times like this, it would pay to be less cunning. As it is, Sable's just cunning enough to link together Colette's spare words, unable to delay the sinking feeling in her stomach with the comparatively blissful state of ignorant confusion. The trouble is, this very link is what makes misconstrual so easy - so much blood, she's gone - hard to think two ways about the latter with the former still dripping darkly through the mind.

Though it's cold, Sable breaks out into a sweat. Color retreats from her face, what little there was to begin with. And the sink has become a pit. Sable's own breath hitches, just once, but then she's turned her face into Colette's hair, pressing down into it. There's basically nothing to say. Nothing at all. Save for a simple statement of fact. "I'm here," and a permission to do what she's already begun, "y'all weep," and a pledge, not made easily, "I'm gonna join y'."

Crying doesn't always come naturally to Sable, not at least without some measure of fury. But this is a loss she can't feel passionate about, nor rage against. She closes her eyes, tight, willing the tears to come. Feeling the pain. And, in time, they do. Welling up and tricking out in thin, shining streams.

Sable has long been Colette's rock, her anchor of — unlikely — stability. Emotionally resolute even if in her own unorthodox way. To know that she is breaking down as well only exacerbates Colette's own emotional crumbling. The sounds of crying are quiet enough not to rouse suspicion from down the hall, weak enough not to sound strained or in need of help. Grand Central Terminal isn't a stranger to people needing to go off on their own and cry, not anymore.

It's a long while before Colette wants to talk again, it's a long while before she manages to peel herself away from Sable, draw herself and the younger girl back towards that tiled concrete partition to sit up against. It's cold down here, cold and damp and those are two unfortunate things to have in any measure of in combination.

Huddled together less for warmth and more for companionship, Colette shows an uncharacteristic closeness, or willingness to be close. By the time she's managed to get her crying under control, she's wound an arm around Sable, drawn her knees up to her chest, and hides her mouth against the backs of her knees.

She should talk, but she doesn't. She should clarify, but she hasn't.

Sable doesn't often get to feel like the big one. She has that emotional role - she comforts more than she is comforted - but the compactness and terrible lightness of Colette make Sable feel physically bigger. Like she can really ensconce Colette, that primal expression of protectiveness.

"Sometimes," Sable begins, and her voice is clear - the tears are tears only. Sable is not sobbing, though the tension deep inside her feels bad enough that she wishes she could, to get it out. "Sometimes it helps t' speak on things. And sometimes we just gotta shut th' hell up. Y'all… get a sense 'f what time it is we got here? …'cause I'll just hold y', knowin' that that's all y' need."

Leather creaks, and it is the sound of Colette's slow movement as she gradually leans away from Sable. Silence is the way she eases the separation, lifting up a hand to run gloved fingers through Misty's fur at the back of her neck, then plants her palm on the concrete and helps to lever herself up to a standing position. Mismatched eyes look down, side-long, to Sable, then away to the edge of the subway platform.

"She isn't gonna rescue herself…" is an abrupt correction of any misunderstandings, delivered like a slap across the mouth. "I need to get that bag, and… go." Colette turns to offer an askance look back to Sable, "You… wanna' come with?"

As if that makes up for everything, a simple offer and nothing more, a hastily murmured explanation that clarifies life and death out of a misconception that Colette isn't even aware she created.

Now Sable could afford to be cleverer. She's look less stupid that way. Because for a moment she just gapes. She… she cried for God's sake but now… rescue? Rescue who? No, no, not… Wait…
Did she say come with?

It's hard to call what she does to get up anything besides scrambling. She needs to be on her feet for this. She needs to keep the blood from pooling in her head and making her think crazy things like being asked to join a rescue mission. Because that's silly, she's a musician.

Only then it occurs to her that she's Time Cop, as well. There is a flash of sudden realization on Sable's features once she's on her feet again. A decision made in a single, powerful, crazy stroke. "Well, I gotta, don't I? Wouldn't be true t' my Fate if I didn't." Because it's that simple. She cricks her neck. "What th' fuck's the situation. What do we gotta do?"

Nothing if not adaptable.

Dark brows furrow as Colette looks over the edge of the subway platform. "I dunno…" is her murmured moment of completely unhelpful information. "She got hurt… hurt real bad, and there was one of those white vans— the kind… the kind the Institute drives. I flagged 'em down, because if she didn't get medical attention she was gonna' die." Colette's throat tightens slightly. "She knew it was gonna' happen," Colette insists, reaching around her neck to withdraw Tamara's half of the puzzle rings on a chain, its tiny diamond glittering.

"So… so I know she's still out there, 'cause she left this for me. I just— " Colette looks back over the edge, brows furrowed again. "I just have a long boat ride out to Staten Island tonight…" when Colette looks back, it's clear that she's cried all that she can cry, eyes puffy and reddened mirrors of Sable's. "I just…"

Her mismatched eyes lid part way, and she starts to turn to walk. "I could just use the company… if you aren't— mad at me." 'For leaving her' goes unsaid.

The Institute is a name Sable has heard murmured. She knows no real details, has inquired after no specifics. She feels she already knows to what it refers, essentially. The Man in one of his more frightening and elemental manifestations. While not untrue, such a vaguely formed opinion, perhaps luckily, blocks the true weight of dread this might otherwise bring. She's unfamiliar with their reputation.

If she knew, would she be so cavalier? So gung ho? She's a bit of both, if not a little grim, trying to lift the heavy mantel of mourning she had too-hastily placed on her shoulders. "Give y' a hand with that bag. Ain't no motherfuckers gonna keep y'all apart, nor none 'f us."

At mention of anger- anger? That hadn't crossed her mind. At least not until now. Her head tilts as she considers Colette and the implication that she might have reason for rancor.

"What I feel 'bout you, darlin'," Sable says, and she's no longer gung anything, "whatever y'd call it, ain't anythin' that'd ever keep me from standin' beside y' if so needed." She falls into step beside the photokinetic, yellow eyes flashing down at the limp shape of the duffle. "'course, feelin' alone ain't getting that thing out. What're we gonna do? What's in there?" She had to ask.

Hopping down over the edge of the subway platform with a crunch of her boots in the gravel below, Colette is slow to straighten up and even slower to answer Sable's question. Misty hustles to the edge, but not further, peering down silently at Colette with ears perked forward. The young photokinetic, however, intently bends down and picks up the duffel bag by the strap, slings it over her shoulder and alights a look up to Sable.

"Guns," Colette states simply, "and we're going to go check out the Garden. And you…" Colette cocks one brow up slowly, jerking her head in a nod to the duffel bag over her shoulder, giving it a jostle of one arm to align it more comfortable. "Guess I'm gonna teach you how t'shoot."

Thankfully for Colette, Sable's a quick study.

Where before Sable went pale, now she turns slightly greenish. Her legs dangle over the lip of the platfom, and she pauses there, Misty held in her arms, feet swinging minutely, as she takes another look at the duffle bag that she thought contained, like… rope or, like, robber masks or maybe elaborate disguises. She's only ever handled a real gun once in her life. It didn't go so great. Colette was there, and might remember, however many years ago that was.

But she's pulled a trigger on a man before - dart gun, sure, but one step at a time - and if she's gotta put some sons of bitches in the ground for Tamara… "So fucking be it," Sable declares, before sliding down and landing a few paces from Colette. She dips down to set Misty on the ground. "Figure we should get this gal somewhere safe though, too. Tam'll wanna know her hound's safe and sound, eh?" Though, of course, she'd already know, if was to be. But that kind of nitpicking has no place in this moment.

"She can come with, safest place t'be is with us. Ronny— the guy who does the boat work— won't mind the puppy. He's got this big shaggy dog he keeps with him on his boat anyway… We can take Misty to the Garden, there's plenty've space for her t'run around there, an'…" Colette's jaw gives a tremor, her throat works up and down as she looks back at the puppy, then Sable. "An' she's about the closest thing I got left t'having her around. So— so she stays."

Sniffling, Colette lifts a hand up and wipes a gloved thumb beneath her eyes, trying to dry them. "I'm gonna' go tell Robin that we're leaving, and leave a message for Tasha. She's— she's up with her mom at the hospital. It— " Colette cuts herself off again, looking away and down the subway tunnel.

"Thanks," Colette breathlessly offers without any lead-in. Nor does she feel free to explain what she's giving thanks for as she starts headed off down that dimly lit tunnel.

She probably doesn't need to.

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