elisabeth2_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif

Scene Title Sunshine
Synopsis Another stolen moment in a life full of tension.
Date June 2, 2011

The Esplanade

The Esplanade runs the entire length of Battery Park City, along the Hudson River from Stuyvesant High School on the north end all the way south to Historic Battery Park. With its views of the Hudson River and New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the New Jersey shoreline, the Esplanade is a pedestrian paradise. Parks and gardens line the entire route, along with numerous sculptures and public art installations.

While the park itself remains well-maintained in the aftermath of the bomb, the city's growing homeless population has made large portions of the Esplanade their home. While not quite the tent city that Prospect Park in Brooklyn has become, the presence of tired and weary homeless individuals in the Esplanade plaza or sleeping on benches along the coast during warmer months is not an uncommon sight, though the NYPD does their level best to try and mitigate this, it is still a problem.

Having given Liz a call a while back, though without having given a particular reason and being particularly evasive about reasoning, no less, Graeme now waits in a section of The Esplanade, stretched out on his back on the grass. But the implication given was that the teacher didn't want to go near the safehouse, at the moment. It's a quieter section of the park, and although he's relaxing in the late morning sun, he's definitely alert, watching for Liz to arrive as he idly plays with the strap of either the canvas bag, or his messenger bag, or rolling his skateboard — the brightly coloured longboard — back and forth with his feet.

Elisabeth didn't like the feel of that call. As she makes her way along the Esplanade wearing scruffy shorts and a short-sleeved top with her sneakers, she continues to let her long hair disguise the way she moves and obscure her face from casual observers. Graeme is not hard to spot really, and she meanders in his direction and then lazily plops down next to him with a faint grin. "You look about 12," she observes mildly. "What's up?"

On the other hand, where he's put himself, he's also impossible to surprise, no matter how much it may look like Graeme is just lazing in the sun, and he notices her approach long before she gets there, propping himself up a little on his messenger bag before she gets there. When Liz sits down, an arm sneaks around her waist in greeting. "Oh good. I feel about 16, or so," he retorts.

"But the sun is so nice. I've missed the sun so much, living here. It feels like it never gets warm, not the way that it did in New Mexico where the sun baked the sand and the heat rose off the ground." Then, the question comes. "So, I heard Jaiden got Remi to the safehouse?" He doesn't sound exactly displeased, but he obviously doesn't sound pleased, either. Apparently whatever he wants to bring up, Graeme would rather it be away from prying and curious telepathic minds.

The snuggle isn't rejected, Elisabeth willingly borrowing his chest to lay her head on. She scoots so they're laying at 90 angles to one another and she can turn her face toward him. "He did," she says calmly. "Not thrilled about it, but the situation she was in was… questionable at best." She wraps the two of them in a silence field, and with her knees propped up the way they are, they look like nothing more than a couple lounging in the sun. They could be talking about anything.

There's a half-a-nod, and then Graeme just sighs, quietly, resting his arm around Liz's shoulder as they lay there. "Yeah. I know it was, and I'm just as glad we can do something, but …" Obviously, he isn't thrilled about it either. "Her presence isn't ideal at all. I'll try and bring her some of the plainest of her clothes the next time I go over there, maybe see if that can keep her less than unhappy for a while. I just wanted a little more time before I subject myself to it."

There's a quirk of an eyebrow. "She's unhappy in the safehouse?" Elisabeth asks curiously. "As to her clothing, I couldn't care less. Stop at the Wal-Mart and bring her cheap stuff. If she's staying there, she needs to blend in." She considers. "What's bothering you about her presence there?" She hadn't known there was strife — and that she won't put up with.

Graeme shakes his head. "No, but she's liable to not be happy with it for very long," he says. "I know Remi, and I know the standard she's accustomed to, and she's eventually going to miss it very much. I am sure she's glad to be with us and not Varlane, but still. I wonder how long it'll take before she misses France." There's a very soft sigh. "What bothers me is just that I don't know if her head is still in the clouds."

There's a long period of silence as Elisabeth considers the situation. "The way you phrased your objection — that her staying is not ideal — it sounds as if we have a problem, Graeme. And if we do, I need to know about it."

It takes Graeme some time to figure it out. "No, it's not a problem, not like that," he says, though that's after consideration, but he is certain of his answer. "I just worry, perhaps too much. She wasn't in touch with reality like we know it before, and I can only wonder if she is now, and I wonder whether she'll be able to learn discretion in her ability. What happens when she overhears things we don't say that are important, or that foretell the darker future people've seen." Worry furrows his brow, and Graeme runs his fingers through Liz's hair. "I hope that my worry is for nothing, but I lived with her, before all of this, and sometimes she's a spoiled, entitled brat. And I don't know."

This is the first Elisabeth is hearing of Graeme's…. dislike is too strong a word, but uncomfortableness maybe… with Remi and her ability. "I didn't have time to put this to a committee vote," the blonde says calmly. "And I've been steering clear since she arrived two days ago simply for the fact that I have a lot on my mind anyway and I don't need either her or Aric too close to my brain about now." She purses her lips. "I'll make a point of speaking with her when I go back — dealing with telepaths makes me squirmy at the best of times, though Aric at least has begun to learn some kind of biting his tongue. Remi, however…." She trails off and considers. "I'll look into it," she finally completes the thought.

"For the most part, I just keep my mind pretty clear, with Remi," he says. "I haven't bothered hiding anything from Aric, except once … he may not be good at hiding that he's a telepath under stress, but he's damn good at not saying what he hears." Graeme pulls Liz a little bit closer, letting the closeness and the comfort in how simple it can be, ease the tension. "I really hope that my worry is for nothing, and I'll probably go by later. I sincerely hope we don't have a problem. I really do."

Another moment of pause. "That, and I dunno. A small part of it is my own personally not wanting anyone overhearing my thoughts at the moment. Too much on my mind, too, and a lot of it less than pleasant," Graeme admits. "I've … been going to the firing range, recently. But it's … hard." And it brings up the few nightmares the teacher has, and his lips form into a small, tight line.

"Ffft," Elisabeth murmurs. "He's only gotten good about not blurting in the past couple of months," she points out, referring to Aric — who is a constant blurter! She's already said she'd speak with Remi, so she doesn't reiterate it. There's a quiet sigh as she sits there with him. A couple of people off a ways are playing frisbee, and it makes her smile faintly. It also brings a quick lump to her throat and makes her avert her eyes. "So you just wanted to get me out here to talk about Remi where she and Jaiden couldn't hear?" she asks.

"Pretty much. Jaiden knows my worry, I brought it up when this all started, but I didn't want Remi to hear." There's a faint smile on Graeme's face, part forced. "I don't want Remi to hear, she doesn't need the things that bother me in quiet moments." Graeme falls silent again. "Though I admit laying here in the sun with you is rather nice. I brought you lunch, too, sandwiches from Piccoli's."

Apparently the blonde is going to be moody today. Though she forces a smile for him, sincere gratitude in her tone as she says, "Thanks, Graeme… that's sweet," she turns her face up to the sun to avoid looking at him for a long moment. Elisabeth then chuckles. "That's been kind of my attitude too — that no one needs to know the things that bother me in the quiet moments," she admits.

Graeme nods. "Hell, I would rather I didn't know the things that bother me in quiet moments." There's a faintly wry tone to his voice, given the impossibility of what he's saying.

"But I don't need Remi to know them. She'll not understand, and apologise, or feel pity, and so." Without getting up, or moving, Graeme pulls the canvas bag over to where he can get to it when they do decide to eat, before gently pushing Liz's hair out of her face a little. "And since I did get you out here, I fully intend that we're going to have a nice little picnic." Even if they don't get to enjoy themselves often, it's Graeme's belief that such moments are important. "I got some juice, and chips, and some dessert too."

She doesn't push him away but Elisabeth does move to sit upright and peek into the bag. "What kind of sandwiches?" she asks, her tone casual. Blue eyes flit around the park regularly, merely keeping tabs, but linger occasionally on the groups going about their business.

The bag has, in fact, eleven sandwiches in it, and dessert, and three small bottles of juice and some water, with Graeme having figured that he'll send some back with Liz, and whatever is leftover will be eaten. "There are two pastrami, two reubens, two turkey …" He grins up at her, counting on the fingers of one hand. "And some others. And they should still be hot, actually … I had them wrap each of the sandwiches a few extra times to make sure that they'd stay hot until we got around to having lunch."

"Thank you," Elisabeth says, sort of amazed at the variety. "I, uhm…. well, I have to admit that Piccoli's does the best Reuben in town." She peeks at the labeling to retrieve one of the coveted prizes along with chips — the pickles are always wrapped within. She glances at him and grins a little. "Comfort food," she confesses.

Graeme slowly, lazily sits up, arms stretching above his head as he too glances about the park. There's a grin. "Good," he responds, "I'm glad … figured you hadn't had a sandwich from there in a while." Then, he's pulling out one of the pastrami sandwiches, unwrapping it and setting it in his lap while he speaks. "Some of these are to go back home with you, too. And the rest are my lunch, especially since I didn't get breakfast before going to work this morning, and only ate one sandwich when I picked these up."

Considering his metabolism — while not as bad as Felix's — that means the guy's gotta be starving. Elisabeth chuckles. "Yeah… I don't dare go. I used to order take-out or meet Richard there regularly," she murmurs. "You eat your fill, I'll take the rest with me. I'm sure they'll appreciate them." She focuses on unwrapping the sandwich in her hands, laying out the paper to keep the massive sandwich off the ground. Inhaling appreciatively, an expression of bliss crosses her face. It's been quite a while.

There's a nod of approval at watching Liz, as Graeme begins eating the sandwich. Skipping breakfast really wasn't the smartest idea, at all. In between bites, though, he responds. "Yeah. Well, it was on the way here from school, too." Though the school he's teaching at is all the way up in Harlem, but.

Elisabeth glances at him, well aware that is kind of a lie. But she smiles, appreciating the sentiment behind it. She takes a big bite and chews it thoughtfully… who would have thought a sandwich would make her roll her eyes and close them like that? Maybe it's just that when something is forbidden it becomes all that much more attractive.

Graeme grins a bit. "It wasn't really that far out of the way," he amends his statement, more amused than anything else, and pleased that he can do these things, even if it's more because of the situation which means that they can no longer simply just go to the delicatessen. "And little things like this are important, anyway. So."

"They are," Elisabeth agrees. "Though it feels odd to have someone else always picking up the tab on everything." She grins, settling into a better mood. The reminder of things 'normal' seems to at least be only a momentary mood. "How go things in the classroom?" she asks, enjoying the opportunity to ask such a mundane thing. Sitting here in the park in the sun, the only thing that could make things better might be that life actually was as normal as this looks.

Graeme nods. "Well, it's not like I'm paying rent at the moment," he says. If he were, this probably wouldn't have been possible by any means. As it is, it works out pretty well. "It goes well enough. This past test saw most of them only getting about half the spelling test wrong, and that only minor errors. And they're reading, and I'm still not sure what else to do. I got textbooks, though."

There's a moment of surprise and Elisabeth says, "I thought you were subbing at a high school." The surprise, though, turns to something more like a grimace. "It's that bad? I had kids at Irving who were… but not that bad."

"I'm at a middle school," Graeme says, the small correction. "I couldn't get any positions subbing at high schools, and I have a multisubject credential as well, so I figured I'd take what I can get. Sixth grade, two classes, but it is bad." There's his own grimace as well. "They're at least two grade levels behind, it's a low-income school, they haven't had a teacher steadily for the whole year until me, who knows about elementary school. About a quarter of them evolved, unmanifested, scared to hell of manifesting."

"Can you fucking well blame them?" Elisabeth asks around a mouthful of her sandwich. Her appetite's good, at least — the few pounds she's dropped since they went on the run haven't made her too skinny yet. "If I were a kid today, I'd be scared to fucking death. It's hard enough being an adult and evolved. The kids in the high school I taught? They were more streetwise than I was, and I was a cop!" She shakes her head.

"No, I can't," Graeme admits, quietly. "I can't blame them at all, I just wish I could do more." He shifts a little, sitting cross-legged now. "And then there're the kids whose parents teach them so much anti-Evo rhetoric, and they come to school and make so many problems, so all of the crap is coming from people their own age and all around them." Even the mundane topics of conversation show how grim things are, though, and Graeme looks wistful, for a moment, missing when things were more normal, in general. "And I've got two kids who are manifested, though thankfully that's not common knowledge for their classmates."

Elisabeth is eating quietly for a long while after he says that, perhaps remembering the kids she used to teach. Was it really only a couple of years ago? It seems like so long. She sets the sandwich down, suddenly far less hungry than she was when she opened it. The image of the ceiling coming down behind her in that hallway, students and teachers still desperately running for the fire door where she stood… and then coming to yards from the door with a broken arm passes through her head. The image of 35 dead kids on a brownstone floor, holding one another as if they were sleeping flashes next, and that's the one that makes her have to choke down the bite in her throat that threatens to make a reappearance. She grabs the bottle of water and forces the bite down with a drink, murmuring, "Sorry." So much lost. And so much more to come.

And a day in the park with a picnic suddenly seems a betrayal of them all. Of the work that is yet to be done. Elisabeth's jaw clenches and she closes her eyes, struggling with the instant sub-audible hum that ruffles the hair on her and his arms. "Shit," she whispers, glancing around.

Graeme sets the remaining fraction of his sandwich down on the canvas bag, for a moment, and scoots over next to Liz, wrapping his arms around her shoulders, just quiet for a little, steady and very much there as he always is. "Ssshh," he murmurs, just sitting there.

Shaking her head, the blonde grimaces. "Sorry… I seem to go off a lot lately. Not as bad as last year," Elisabeth admits. The panic attacks were far more frequent earlier on, before Antarctica. Nowadays, it's more a low-level anxiety that is although not constant seems pretty frequent to her. She leans back against him, just letting the companionship and comfort ease her reaction. It wanes reasonably quickly, not a full-bore attack. "You know…. just when I think things are going along great, I pull shit like that," she murmurs, annoyed. "Lately it seems closer to the surface. And I can't tell if it's just that I'm staying anxious so much that I'm reacting on a hair trigger." There's a long pause as she looks toward the blue sky and sighs quietly. "For a long time, Richard was the only person who could even get close to me, much less touch me, without making things rumble. After a while, it mostly stopped unless I was angry or anxious. Fight or flight, mostly."

Graeme nods. There is a moment where he counts himself lucky, for his ability mitigating what issues he does have. "It's not 'pulling shit like that'," Graeme responds, pulling her just a little bit closer. "It does happen, and it's not your fault."

He pulls out a second water bottle, taking a sip and then putting it aside; but at this point on full alert and glancing around the park as well, though the parkgoers are sparse enough that no one seems to have noticed, and once more, they could still be any couple enjoying the sun. "We're allowed to enjoy ourselves some," he adds. "What little we can get, it's important, with everything going on. We can't just get mired in how bad things might or might not get, how bad things are."

"I know," Elisabeth agrees. "I do know. It's just… occasionally hard to look around and enjoy this knowing what we know. I'm doing everything that I feel like can be done, but sometimes when I find myself with downtime I start feeling like I'm not doing enough." She grins a bit. "It's called being a workaholic, I think," she adds on a chuckle. She pats the arm around her shoulders, and then leans forward a bit to pick up the other part of her sandwich to nibble on it while they talk. "There used to be concerts down here sometimes in the summer. Norton and I used to go to them — here and in Central Park. City's changed a lot in four years."

"Jessa used to take me to the concerts in Central Park when I was a teenager," Graeme says, quietly, distant a little. "Especially while her parents were still alive. It was a whole big outing, and we had a picnic, and most of them were pretty good. I do remember being bored a couple of times, but…" The words trail off wistfully as Graeme picks up a half of his second sandwich. "I miss her. I think she'd have liked to meet Aric. She was always asking me when I was going to settle down." There's half a grin. "I don't know if all of this specifically counts as settling down, but I think that she would have approved. I hope she would."

There's a soft chuckle and Elisabeth remains sitting in the protective curl of him while she eats slowly. "I don't know that I'll ever 'settle down,'" she admits. "Richard is the closest that I've ever come that I know of. And we just… work." She slants a faint smile. "Unorthodox as it is, it just… works."

Graeme grins, quiet laughter for a moment. "Unorthodox as it is sometimes works better," he says. "Stodgy conservative bigots be damned. At least that's one thing I don't miss about New Mexico. Even if I miss the sunshine. You know, I used to consider seventy to be cold weather?" There's that hint of an edge behind his voice, the anger that comes against any form of bigotry really, but it's not touched upon for very long. The weather's a better topic anyway.

She's quiet as she eats, finally opting to speak only when they're both done with their sandwiches. "Thank you," is what Elisabeth offers, looking over her shoulder at him. "You, Felix, and Ygraine are really the only people I talk to about Richard. And I want you to know that I appreciate that you let me. That it doesn't… create unnecessary emotional baggage."

Gently, there's a squeeze of her shoulders, and blue eyes meet her gaze, with a steady calm and some sort of inner peace behind them. "You're welcome, Liz," Graeme responds, quiet. No more words than that, nothing to complicate his response or anything of the like.

Elisabeth nods slightly and relaxes to just enjoy the sunshine with him. Good food, friends, sunshine, and … life. Another stolen moment in a life full of tension.

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