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Scene Title Stay
Synopsis Tamara wakes up, for real this time, to talk with Tasha and to strike an understanding of sorts with Colette. If the future is still an ominous looming specter, the present may just work out into something they can cope with. …Once a certain brunette gets around to finishing the communication loop and enlightening Tasha with that idea.
Date June 19, 2010

Gun Hill: Odessa's Clinic

Sunlight diffuses indirectly through the windows high on the basement's walls, reflected from any number of buildings outside, providing a dim sort of colorless illumination to the room. More than enough to see the clinic bed, no longer as neat and orderly as it has been for the days since Tamara was placed here — where her unconsciousness was at first quiescent, the oscillation between sleep and nearly-awake which has been the rule for some time now is not. The blankets are more of a shapeless lump drawn into the middle of the bed, edges and corners trailing outwards. The girl herself is curled around this mass of fabric, her torso and arms long since worked free of the coverings. Her head is pillowed on one folded arm, the other pressed against her chest; at first glance, she seems still asleep.

She isn't the only one in the room.

Music still beating from the headphones in her ears, though the player has again slipped out of sleeping hands and lies forlornly on the floor, Colette lists to one side in the folding chair beside the bed. It's definitely not good for the chair, and probably not good for her either, to be slumped over with her head on her arms, and those braced on the top of the adjacent nightstand.

Colette never did go back upstairs last night, and now seems determined to sleep through the morning.

Tasha hadn't slept well last night — alone but giving Colette the space and right to sit vigil by Tamara's side. Strange how just a couple of months ingrains a habit — what side of the bed she lies on, how the two girls nestle together in sleep in a way that's comfortable for both. And how that pattern's breaking makes it hard to sleep at all, how, despite the fact the bed is really not large enough for two of them, it seems so small with just her in it.

Yawning, she comes down the steps carrying two cups of coffee, eyes first falling on Colette as if drawn there by a magnetic force, and frowning a little at the awkward position that will no doubt give the girl a strained neck and shoulders. Those eyes than flicker to Tamara's bed and notice that she's apparently either been awake or in something closer to consciousness than the state she's been in — sleeping instead of comatose. It's a sign for improvement.

Tasha sets down the two cups of coffee on a nearby shelf and watches for a moment before turning to go, to get Odessa.


The word isn't much more than a hoarse whisper, thick with weariness and the effort of jumping through all the mental hoops needed to get it out. A second look at Tamara verifies it really was she who spoke — or, at least, that she isn't as asleep as appearances suggested. One blue eye is slitted open just enough to be visible, though it doesn't stay that way any longer than it needs to, closing again on the current of a heavy exhalation.

There's a lengthy pause before Tamara overcomes inertia and translates awake into motion; not much of it, but movement nonetheless. She pulls herself up enough to get a supporting elbow underneath her ribs, other arm sweeping up a section of blanket as padding on which the girl can prop her chin. The better to watch Tasha, blinking slowly and sleepily.

Freezing midstep, still several feet from the stairs, Tasha turns to look at the two girls — Colette hasn't moved. Glancing at Tamara, her brows knit in that worried look that often prefaces tears, but she gives a small nod, moving closer to the bed. "I was going to go find the doctor, is all," she says in a hushed voice.

She studies Tamara for a moment. "Do you want a glass of water or anything?" she offers, her hands sliding into her pockets, shoulders rising a little in a stance that looks both uncertain and slightly defensive.

Looking up at Tasha in return, Tamara seems to weigh the question for a bit before finally nodding into the lump of blanket. "Please," she thinks to say; but her listener wouldn't hear the deliberate choice in that word, only the courtesy offered.

As the younger girl goes to fill that offered glass, Tamara marshals energy and focus enough to sit up, her back against the wall at the head of the bed, leaning on it more than a little. Her knees are pulled up, the better to drape her arms over them. And Tasha is then granted another moment's courtesy, even before the glass is handed over: "Thank you."

There's another furrow of those expressive brows, and Tasha shakes her head, sending dark hair swinging against her cheeks. "Don't try so hard… to be… now," she whispers. She finally understands what caused Tamara to pass out in the first place, how it taxes her to focus on the present and be coherent. "Just… you know. Be yourself."

Whether it's difficult for Tamara or not to make those lucid word choices, Tasha has apparently decided it is. "You've been out a few days. We've all been really worried," she adds, dark eyes flickering to the sleeping girl in the chair. Tasha's worry has been more for Colette, that glance says, but she looks back at Tamara and smiles. "I don't want you to pass out again, and on my watch, so to speak. I really should get the doctor for you."

Tamara sips at the water, then lowers it, tilting her head at an angle that causes a few strands of blonde hair to fall across her face. Reaches out to touch Tasha's face, fingertips light against the arch of her cheek, as if to be certain the younger girl is there. She is. "Was it enough?" she asks, in a tone that doesn't really expect a meaningful answer. After all, people generally ask those questions of her.

She smiles for Tasha's sake, curling her fingers in and letting her hand fall again despite the fact that she'd prefer not. Tamara's almost certain she can keep focus anyway. At least for long enough. Taking another small drink, she also lets her gaze shift to rest on Colette — though, when she speaks again, the sleeping brunette doesn't seem to be the direct subject of her words. "You still worried," the seeress remarks mildly. The sidelong glance at Tasha is equally mild, and slightly amused. "Not for me." There's nothing accusatory about the statement — if anything, it's pensive.

The question gets a confused shake of Tasha's head for response, though she doesn't press for clarification from Tamara — after all, she just told the girl not to try too hard. If Tasha doesn't understand, well, it will be her problem, not Tamara's. Her lips tremble a little when Tamara speaks next, and she presses them into a thin line before shaking her head again.

"I'm worried for all of us, and you, too. I've been worried about you since you collapsed, and I'm worried about what we saw, and how we got there, and how we can stop from getting there." Now her tenses are as confused as Tamara's — she furrows her brows and gives a shake of her head. No wonder it's so hard for the seeress to make sense.

"She's been really worried about you. We all have, but… but she seemed to think it was her fault," Tasha adds, eyes dropping down to try to hide the tears that fill them. She knows why Colette thinks it's her fault — which makes Tasha feel guilty as well.

Two fingers intercept Tasha's downcast field of view to hook under her chin, lifting gently but firmly upwards — denying her the attempt to hide. There's a presumption of familiarity in the contact, but Tamara isn't about to let consideration of that stop her: no more than she acknowledges that there should be awkwardness between them. "Don't cry," she says. Then, "Don't hide," even a touch more softly; there's something more accepting than commanding in her tone, as if the words may've been intended a blessing. "Not from me."

She holds Tasha's gaze for a couple of breaths, then reclaims her hand again, folding her fingers around the glass. She looks down at the clear container, the equally transparent liquid within, expression thoughtful. "I don't know," Tamara finally says, the statement wonderfully lacking in explanatory context.

Tasha was afraid of Tamara just a few days ago — it's surprising she doesn't jerk away from that touch, either the hand on her cheek a moment before, or the fingers beneath the chin now, but she doesn't. She gives a crooked smile. "No use hiding from you. You'd be the world's best hide and seek player, knowing where I'd hide before I did," she says quietly, her defense mechanism of making a joke in awkward situations kicking in.

The smile fades, and she glances away again, even as one of those tears slips free and runs down her cheek. "Anyway, whatever happened, we can change it. I will change it," Tasha whispers, a little more fiercely than her voice has been, though the fierceness is not directed at Tamara — merely at the intangible, nebulous future. "Somehow." She takes a step back, and glances at the door. "I should get the doctor. Just to be sure you're okay."

Tamara smiles back at Tasha, though there's nothing crooked about her expression. She nods once, tacit permission for the younger girl to slip out — and, yes, find the doctor, though Tamara has no doubt that she's okay. Enough. This time. Besides, it seems like fewer complications for Colette at once is likely to be better. Even just a little. Closing her eyes tiredly, she leans her head back against the wall, half-full water glass held absently against one knee.

Tasha moves away, then picks up one of the two mugs of coffee, leaving the other for Colette, glancing back over her shoulder as she makes her way to the stairs. "I'm glad you're okay," she says quietly. It's for the most part the the truth — she's afraid of Tamara in the future, in what the internet boards say is still months away, but not the fragile girl on the bed who isn't that Tamara. Not yet, at least. Tasha turns forward once more to head up the stairs, still splinted wrist trailing up the bannister.

Tamara's known that Colette's been awake since the coffee was settled down on the table so near to her head, knows that she's been playing coy where she's slouched so awkwardly. When her mismatched eyes open, it's only a formality, as if to say hello I am awake now, because she was watching Tasha's retreating form disappearing through a tall and narrow doorway out to the stairs; disappearing into the goldenrod shafts of warm morning sunlight.

Silently lifting one hand up, Colette tugs the earbud headphones out from her ears and fishes her MP3 player up off of the floor by it, pressing her thumb across the front to pause the music, her brows furrowed and mismatched eyes locked on Tamara in scrutiny and half-guilty silence. Words can't fully explain what Colette's feeling right now, and they aren't entirely necessary when dealing with Tamara, so they're put to the side with her MP3 player.

Reaching out for her coffee that Tasha had left her, Colette sits up slowly and creakingly, her free hand moving immediately to the side of her neck where brows furrow and lips downturn into a painful frown from the awkward position she'd fallen asleep in. It was a wise choice to sleep in the chair and not where she wanted to — in the bed beside Tamara — given that Tasha came looking for her.

Sipping at her coffee, Colette smiles behind the ceramic rim. Tasha knows how Colette likes her coffee because she remembers, Tamara knows by trial and error in inumerable futures. Both ways wind up being sweet.

Blue eyes slide sideways to meet green, no surprise in their depths; only affection shadowed by lingering fatigue and some concern. If Colette isn't going to ask questions, she isn't going to fret over answers; and the only questions Tamara would care to ask can only provide answers that illuminate her not at all. She's aware of this, in a general way, and — like many things the seeress knows she can't change — can accept that. Fail to dwell on it.

Instead, Tamara takes a last drink from her glass before stretching out her legs, the better to lean down and set the glass on the floor by the far side of the bed. Either she's ceding the table to Colette — or she's being contrary. Or perhaps it's just more convenient. Her companion may feel guilty; for her own part, Tamara is of all things uncertain, but she accepts that too. That'll only change when Colette resolves her dilemma. For now —

For now, the blonde looks over at Colette, weighs her choices a moment, extends a hand in offer. "Let me fix it."

She doesn't mean the coffee, which of course needs none.

"Please?" Colette isn't above seeking help when she's exhausted her own options, and right up until she was taken by Bella Colette assumed that Tamara could fix any problem at any time in any place. What she assumes the sibyl is talking about may not be as deep and as metaphorical as she wants, but it's still a problem.

Settling her coffee down on the table beside her MP3 player, Colette rises up out of the chair and in that same motion crawls up onto the bed on her hands and knees, springs creaking in protest of the additional weight and blankets pinching beneath her progress. She crawls over to sit just beside Tamara's legs, crossing her own and resting her hands in her lap, crooking her head from side to side uncomfortably.

Tasha and Colette both fail at talking most of the time, but they understand each other in their inability to convey their feelings with words due to stumbling awkwardness. Colette and Tamara understand each other — as best as can be expected — without the need of fumbling words at all. The times they are exchanged, it's usually important.

Her sore neck is very important.

And when they are exchanged, these two also stumble over words — as two who speak related but fundamentally dissimilar languages stumble in comprehension of one another. But some things are simpler than that, and demand no such trouble, induce no such uncertainty. There's no uncertainty in the way Tamara's hands bracket Colette's shoulders, fingertips sliding inwards over shirt and skin until they find the wrong spots, kneading at the muscles beneath.

She doesn't have to think about it. Doesn't have to hunt and peck for meaning and wrap it into the rigid boundaries of words, doesn't have to struggle to retain enough, or to weigh the ramifications of myriad choices and outcomes with more influencing variables than anyone would want to consider. She just has to listen, letting an understanding too impermanent to be called knowledge direct the actions of her hands.

She can do that.

Closing her eyes, Tamara lets her own shoulders relax, then leans forward until her own forehead rests against the back of Colette's head, dark hair rustling under her quiet exhalations.

The sigh is a cool, relaxed one, and Colette starts to slouch back against Tamara before hesitating if only because it would make the massage that is melting her muscles to butter harder to deliver. There's a contented sound, a soft and sweet noise that Colette never thought she's be making in thanks to the blonde. Her mind wanders, as it is wont to do, color flushes her cheeks and brows furrow as she casts her eyes to the side. Moments like that she's thankful for Tamara being a prophet and not a mind-reader.

"I don't know what to do…" isn't so much a plea for help as it is words to fill the silence. It's truthful, admittedly, but it's not as though Colette expects an answer. She huffs out a sigh, breath blowing a dark lock of hair from her face, wrinkles her nose and makes a contented sound, finally resorting to leaning back against Tamara so that the back of her head comes to rest on the blonde's collarbone.

Delicate hands reach up to take Tamara's hands, draw them over her shoulders and pull her arms like a blanket around herself. Colette doesn't know what to do, doesn't know what she wants, and that Sable was right likely hurts less than the horrible things Colette threw back at the brunette in fearful response.

She lets Colette settle back, automatically adjusting her own posture to compensate for her intent. Lets the younger girl preempt her hands and pull them forward; but her fingers stay closed acround Colette's hands, retaining them with a gentle insistence. Tamara leans her chin on the brunette's skull, fingers briefly squeezing in response to the words spoken. "Be," the seeress says quietly, a single word felt as much as heard, spoken that close to Colette's head. It's the sort of simple-but-impossible answer prophets are wont to give.

"I wasn't mad at you," Tamara adds a couple of beats later, as if hoping that might lend support to the prior statement. Which it might. It's more likely by far to just compound Colette's sense of guilt and indecision —

— but those words, too, are important.

Colette's fingers squeeze Tamara's, her head turns towards Tamara's, chin lifts up and the most subtle of affectionate gestures comes with a brush of the brunette's nose against the bottom of Tamara's chin; a porpoise of affection is what Tasha calls it, but names don't matter. It's affection nonetheless, and the faint smile Colette offers after it is as conflicted as everything inside of her is. She swallows, noisily, then turns to look out and away as she was before, eyes closing as she relaxes her body against Tamara's, finds comfort in the blonde's embrace where there was only fear before.

"You asked me for time," is a reminder for Tamara, more so than anything. "Last spring, we were standing outside at Dad's… and I asked you, if you could have anything what would you want…" Colette's dark brows furrow together, "you said time." Running her tongue over her lips, Colette's fingers squeeze Tamara's tighter.

"I didn't know what you meant… I still don't." Colette tries to laugh, but it comes out half-hearted and as nervous as she feels. "But you have it," is less nervous, more earnest. "I… I don't know what's going on, I don't know what I saw," her voice cracks there, eyes clench shut tighter, "but… but we— we can figure it out."

Teeth toy at Colette's lower lip, her head turns and this time it's seeking out Tamara's bicep, hiding her face against it and shaking her head from side to side there. "I'll give you all the time in the world, so please…" Colette's jaw trembles in a quaver beat, "please don't go."

Tamara listens, patiently quiet as Colette talks her way through — through words, through memories, through decisions. Her left hand releases Colette's so she can set it on the brunette's shoulder instead, brushing fingertips through darker hair in a reassuring caress. She leans her cheek against the younger girl's head, replying softly. "No noise," she muses, describing the connotations asking for time brings up; it's as much of an explanation as the seeress can provide. "No whispers, no ticking tocks, no current dragging at feet."

Is that answer enough? Tamara considers it, considers the diffuse reflections of this moment and the words that the girl before might speak next, weighing them for apparent comprehension. As she does so, she moves a last lock of hair back from Colette's face, then folds her arms around the younger girl, holding her close. Time passes, measured only in the regularity of breathing, in the meter of heartbeat; in the end, it seems that safe is better than sorry, one might say — in this context, it might take as little as a single word to elicit comprehension. And so she adds that word:


The noise Colette makes implies painful comprehension, not because what Tamara herself said is hurtful but because the understanding of it means someone eventually is going to get hurt, and she doesn't know how to possibly make that decision. With eyes shut, Colette nods her head slowly as her cheek brushes over Tamara's arm and she allows herself the time to lay in this familiar embrace. There's still so many things she doesn't understand in the broader scope, things that don't make sense to her, but the small focus, the microcosm makes perfect sense and is wonderful. It's only when Colette pulls back the focus and tries to see the bigger picture that things get muddied and ugly. Inverted Matisse.

There were two other things that Tamara said that day, out in the cold snow on the patio outside of Judah's apartment, two important things. One of them has haunted Colette since the days she first met Tamara, since the day she first tried to understand the sibilant words the blonde offered to her in explanation. Can I stay with you there? has always coincided with shelter in Colette's mind since she heard that less wordy request.

Understanding was the other, and much, much harder to offer in the context Colette imagined. Maybe now, with the context of a vision of the future, understanding can take on a whole new meaning.

"I want you to stay here," is probably something she should have checked with Tasha before offering, "not— here here in the— in the clinic… but…" Colette's lips creep up into an emotional smile, her nose pressed gently against the inside of Tamara's arm.

"I don't understand," Colette honestly explains about nothing and everything together, "but I can give you time, and I can give you shelter, and I can try— I can try to give you understanding…" which brings to mind exactly what Tamara's answer to Colette was that night.

You tried.

"One stipulation…" Colette whispers in an attempt to keep herself from breaking down, "you have to take care of your puppy." Jupiter doesn't make for a very good baby-sitter.

Tamara presses her lips against the curve of Colette's head, smiling into her hair; it's probably just as well the younger girl can't see the particular tolerance of that expression, the amusement that shades her affection. But she can hear it, in the warmth of the blonde's voice, the reminder that seems to have fallen to her to make:

"Check with her first." No promises until then.

But now doesn't need promises, at least not on that subject. "I always did," Tamara assures on the other; at least when collapsing and the decisions made by other people aren't in play. She runs her hands through the brunette's hair, quiet for a while, and ultimately smiles again; shifts to rest her cheek against Colette, closing her eyes. There's one thing Tamara didn't answer, and though the query, the plea, has passed, it's of the kind that return: so she answers it now.

"As long as you wanted."

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