gillian_icon.gif jenny2_icon.gif

Scene Title Tattoo
Synopsis Two sisters have a long-needed talk, but a single thing changes the conversation, at least for one of them.
Date March 7, 2010

The Lighthouse

From the outside, the Lighthouse looks as if it has had better days. The massive tower rising out of the house has fallen from its former glory. It is no longer a shining beacon, guiding wayward ships in from the lost harbor — though some may argue its purpose now is even more admirable. In its current state, the lighthouse seems to be in disrepair. Though upon closer inspection it all seems to be in the details. The paint has chipped away, leaving a discolored patterns of grays, whites, off-whites, and more grays. The occasional graffitti tag is here or there along the large building. One would notice that the doors, the windows, and the integrity of the building are all quite sound and newly repaired. The lighthouse has just been left with the look of abandonement.

Inside is a completely different story. Upon entering the main door, one will find a completely furnished and cozy arrangement. A spacious living room lined with two large blue sofa's, facing each other, a coffee table between them and several large bean bag chairs have been planted in the room. Shelves have been hung on the wall to display various different pictures of the occupants. A large bookcase is against the wall, holding a large variety of books from Dr.Seuss to the Bible, and even a copy of the Qur'an. The living room is focused on the fireplace a small black fence encloses it, the wood stocked on the bricks in front of it.

Connected to the living room is a kitchen, complete with a large rectangular table capable of seating around four on each long side and two on each end. A sink, a stove, an oven, a microwave and two refrigerators complete the look. Several low and overhead cabinets line the kitchen. At the edge of the kitchen are a pair of doors, one leading to a bedroom and the other, which has a padlock on it, leads to the basement.

At the back of the living room a glass sliding door leads out into the backyard of the Lighthouse, but just before it a staircase leads to the upper levels of the structure.

The Lighthouse is rarely quiet, during the daylight hours, and even by the time people are shutting curtains against the darkness and the cold, checking in through doors and turning the locks, it's not exactly a graveyard. Always, the pad of feet above, illegal whispers and giggles, the creak of floorboards and the sound the river makes. Give it a few more hours, and you would be able to hear the whisker of a mouse twitch. Right now, it's an hour in a limbo between those periods of nighttime.

Jenny went to bed early. Again. Claiming that she did not feel well, turning in for the night, and she didn't look well either before sequestering herself in her room. Now, as she picks her way down the stairs and towards the kitchen, wrapping her bathrobe around her and feet bare, she looks a little better. More herself. Her hair is allowed to tumble loose about her shoulders, eyes a little shadowed and vague with sleepiness, freckles standing out on her white, white skin as she wraps her arms around herself and drifts like a ghost into the room.

As she moves through the kitchen, it's obvious that most of the playtime occured inside today, which. There's books laying out (someone in the house is reading Twilight, looks like) and a board game. With the snow piled up outside, the activity within the house itself has heightened. The kids can't go out. A smell greets her from the kitchen, as well, the smell of a pot of coffee. Sitting at the table, hands warming on a cup of coffee, Gillian glances at a laptop that's turned on, not typing, but reaching a hand away to scroll with the mouse touch pad.

The light is dim, limited mostly to a lamp near the stove and microwave, where the coffee pot also sits, and the light coming from the monitor of the laptop.

Face highlighted by the dull colored screen-lights, she looks up at the haunting form that's very much like a ghost, even now. A ghost that walks, and talks. And probably needs coffee. "Hey, you're looking better. There's some coffee next to the stove if you want any," she says, voice rough and slightly tired.

"Mm. Planning to get back to the sleep thing eventually," she murmurs in her own sleep-rough voice, almost matching Gillian's rasp. Wincing a little as her feet meet cold tile, Jenny shuffles on over towards the fridge, pulling open the door with a hiss of suction and leaning in to peer inside. "It's been a while since I've seen a fridge that wasn't its own little liquor store." The half-filled carton of chocolate milk certainly isn't liquor, and this is what she extracts, rattling it around at a frothy shake as she moves in automatic to get a glass. "Whatcha working on? Or are you just watching funny cats on YouTube some more."

The comments bring a smile to Gillian's tired face, that makes the dimples visible as she looks down the the screen. It doesn't appear to be videos at all, but some kind of PDF file on a reader program. There's a motion and she clicks the minimizing, so that only a background really shows. A habit of privacy, one she always had. Never liked people looking over her shoulder, even if there was nothing at all to hide. "Actually I'm doing some homework. I signed up for some online classes. Working ahead in case I can't get internet access for a while. It's hard enough to travel with all this snow."

The background of her desktop is a picture view of a sunny beach, complete with palm trees. The total opposite of what's outside the windows. "So you'd been staying in places that actually had fridges?"

With her back to Gillian, Jenny pours herself her milk, and the elder sister can see the jolting shrug beneath soft wool and tendriling red hair. "No place of my own," she says. "I managed to make friends. Sleep on couches." A slight hesitation, there, the sentence sounding like it has more to it than that, but perhaps they aren't the kind of sisters who share that deeply when it comes to their sleeping habits.

Closing off the lip of the carton, she clears her throat as she goes to put it back. "Knew a guy who made his own home brew, and the fridge was stacked with the grossest beer you'd ever know." Moving up to the table, she settles down, her sleeved arms folded in. "What kinds of classes?" sounds like an obligatory question from her mouth, or maybe just the desire to move on from her own exploits.

From the way her head tilts upward a bit, Gillian saw through the omission, but knows better than to speak on it too much. A glance back the the screen means that she's not about to pry too deeply on that. After all, some of the bed she's shared are not ones she'd talk about with her… The man in the door happens to be the one she shared a bed with the most… The question takes a few moments to register, as her mind wanders.

"Uh— human services, actually. I blame this place, and a lot of the stuff in the last year. I— didn't go through the same things you did, but I saw a lot. I got hurt by a lot. And my librarian training doesn't really help those who can't even read, you know? A couple of the kids here— they could barely read when I came. I still have to help Hailey sometimes. And… there's a lot more to it."

Spidering her fingers around her glass, Jenny takes a sip, nose wrinkling a little at the too sweet taste but better than plain milk or icy water. Eyes almost hazel in these lights, she peers across at Gillian, and twists her mouth into a smirk. "I'll bet there is, Ms. Mom," she teases, before her smirk eases into a more neutral smile. "It's not like there's such a thing as too much help, in this city. I never really got it, before, I don't think so anyway. Then you start living with it, and…" Her fingers fan out from their grip on the glass.

"You see it. Whoever said you can't see the forest for all the trees was stupid. So many people who lost homes so fast, and can't afford to pick back up or go somewhere else."

"I didn't get it either, not for a long time. I kind of just… ignored it. Pretended it didn't really matter, or that there was nothing I could do anyway so I shouldn't fucking bother," Gillian says, slipping into her old cursing for a moment, before guiltily glancing toward the door frame. She controls her tongue around the kids as much as possible, but sometimes it slips out.

Ms. Mom… Something she can only really be like this now. The reminder catches up to her, and she takes a sip from the warm coffee to cover it up. Just tired, really…

"You never did tell me about… what happened. With the drowning. You know, besides that it happened." Her voice is tentative, whispered. "We probably should have talked about it before I dragged you out to the old library."

Setting down the glass, Jenny's back straightens, though she keeps her green-eyed gaze dropped downwards, a small crinkle forming in her brow. "There's— I mean. There's probably not much to tell, you know?" In nervousness, her voice hitches up an octave, recified when she clears her throat a little, pressing a hand high to her chest, and taking a long sip of milk. "I was on Staten Island." She glances up at Gillian, eyes lambent and lemur-like in study. "Which is probably why you didn't hear about it. I didn't really know what I could do, who I was.

"Long story short— it's like every other story you hear about girls on their own in the big city, except this time, the guy dies in two inches of water." Bringing up her hand, she wipes her sleeve against her mouth, in time for the fabric to fall away just briefly enough, past her slender wrist, showing off the slightly tigerish edges of solid black marks curling around her arm before the sleeve falls back into place with a swift shake of that limb.

"I hope he deserved it," Gillian says quietly, even as she looks at the marks around her wrist, the movement having caught her attention, even as the sleeve falls back into place. The dull light probably shouldn't attract so much attention to this, but there's something about it that draws her in. "Is that— a tattoo?" she asks, perhaps prying even further on the younger sister who just confessed to murder, but that's kind of her thing! Even if most of her tattoos are still ruined and practically unslightly. She's half opted to leave them like that, since she could get them touched up by a normal tattoo artist with some extra money. Which admitedly she doesn't have a lot of.

Either way, the brief flash seems to have registered to her as a tattoo, the cooling coffee mug is set down, in favor of reaching out towards the younger sister… who happened to be one of the last people she would ever expect to get something like that.

Jenny's eyes flare wide, briefly alarmed at both words and gesture, and for a moment, she cradles her arm defensively against her chest, before— blinking, rapidly, and shaking her head at her own skittishness. "Sorry, still half-sleep," she says, before sheepishly drawing back her sleeve, most willingly. "I got this stupid thing— back before I was me. Maybe if I hadda known I was a model I'd have thought again, right?"

She turns her hand out, exposing the vulnerable underside of her forearm to the kitchen lights, to show the shape that looks too big for that slender limb. It's a curving shape, wicked black spirals looking harsh against her pale skin, eclipse-like and mostly indistinct to anyone who's never seen it before. Of course, Gillian has seen it before.

Just not on her sister's arm. "They have lasers and— plastic surgery," Jenny is saying, shaking her head. "No idea if I'll pick it up again— modeling, I mean— but I should probably look into it."

As Gillian speaks, her voice is absent, as if she's not entirely paying attention to what she's saying, even if she's still saying it. At least they're words, though, "I'm sure there's models with tattoos…" Hands move up her arm, while her eyes stare at the design. Generic. It could be a coincidence in shape and size and design, but at the same time…

Adding in placement is too much.

When he got it is clearer in her memory than it'd probably been in his, but he'd never tried to remove it. And he's head too. Or he should be…

When she looks back up, her eyes look even darker in the dim light than they usually are, threatened by forming tears. Haunted, even. By fragments of two very different ghosts, even. "Do you— do you remember when you got it?"

"Last— no." Jenny's eyes narrow in thought. "The year before last year. It was winter. It wasn't really all that long after stuff— became blurry. No wonder I got it done, I must have been out of it. That's always been my theory for you and your ink fetish," she adds with a teasing grin, pushing her sleeve back into place. Even as she does so, her smile dims as she studies her sister's face, brows knitting together. "You okay?"

"No," is the very simple and quick answer to that question. Gillian's not letting go of her arm, but those threatened tears really do want to fall. Biting down on her lower lip, she shakes her head, probably trying to fight to control them. It's working for the moment. "Do you ever feel like… just when you think things were getting together that you're going absolutely fucking insane?" Cause that's how she feels right now…

"You're supposed to be dead— and here you are. With that tattoo." Any other tattoo and it wouldn't have caused this. "You even got it around the same fucking time…" With that said, her hands drop away and she moves back, reaching up to rub on her forehead, at the scar she can still feel there. An indent of what almost happened…

"I want you to be here, Jenny. It's…" She trails off. He could look like other people. But he's dead too… And if he wasn't…

"Sorry," she suddenly says, lowering the hand to rub at her face rather vigoriously, as she often does now when upset. Which is more often then she'd like… "I just… knew someone with the same tattoo." Her expression grows cautious, tone almost testing.

Jenny's mouth twists a little in a frown, her hand resting flat on the table, uncertain. Like she'd like to reach out and touch, but does not. "Sorry," she murmurs. "It doesn't— really mean anything, or I don't remember it meaning anything. Just picked it off a wall. It's probably like the same kanji tramp stamps you see everywhere." She pauses, uncertain, reaching for her milk again before going to sip the dregs of it, licking her lips of errant chocolate droplets before casting her a weary smile.

"I want to be here too," she says, tipping her head to the side as if in effort of snagging eye contact with Gillian, and there's nothing in her own other than bright green and an earnest sort of sincerity. Worry is delegated to the lines in her usually smooth brow.

"Tattoos always mean something, whether you know it or not," Gillian says with a quiet snort of a laugh. It's almost like a ghost of a conversation long past. "In this case, it may just mean that you were too out of it to realize what you were doing." That's about the same as it'd been for him, too. But it'd meant something.

It always meants something.

The genuine look makes it hard to keep doubting as she might… if she didn't desperately want to believe it already. "You're right, though. I think it is one of those generic example shapes that you can find almost anywhere. Probably isn't even unique to one tattoo parlor."

The light in the room shifts as the laptop kicks over to a screen saver, one with running lines on black that change color. It catches Gillian's attention for a moment, and then she looks back, "Oh— how long ago did the drowning thing happen?"

"Little more than a year from now," Jenny responds, with a little more ease than the tattoo's mark in her personal history. "End of January, ish, last year. That's when I decided I should probably stay the fuck away from Staten Island and headed to Thomas Jefferson." Hopping up, she moves to put the glass into the sink, rinsing water before placing it upside down. "I should probably work on the sleep thing. You should too — pulling all nighters does you know favours."

"Yeah, you're right," Gillian says, glancing back at the screen saving computer. It almost makes her laugh, but there's just a hiccuped sound of a laugh, really. "I still need to clean up the living room, but I'll close this up and go to bed once I'm done with that." She leans to pick up the coffee cup, to carry over to the sink. The other black gold is then ran down the drain. There wasn't too much left of it anyway.

"Sleep well, Jenny."

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