Tea Sympathy And Post Irradiation Planning


graeme_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Tea, Sympathy, and Post-Irradition Planning
Synopsis Now that one of her patients has stopped bleeding from the eyes, Ygraine takes two risks - offering him food, and announcing that she's intending to travel from one war zone into a worse one. Dreams of one future and plans for this one are also discussed.
Date November 10 2011

A motel, on the outskirts of Boston

A polite and familiar knock precedes the opening of the door to Graeme’s room, allowing his self-appointed carer and warden to gain entry.

The tray she bears is balanced atop splayed fingers without seeming effort, the Briton casually making waitressing easier with a few minor uses of her power - anchoring assorted items to the tray, and the tray to her hand.  That leaves her gaze free to search the room for both Graeme himself and for signs that her patient has been failing to rest appropriately.

Admittedly, she has dared to have some confidence that even Graeme will take bleeding from the eyeballs as a sign that he might actually have been ill for the past couple of days.

Admittedly it's usually more difficult to convince Graeme to rest. Not this time. He got to the motel, got the rooms, both the ones they're using, the ones he secured as a buffer from anyone else, the one at the other end as a decoy, and by the time Ygraine got there, he was pretty much convinced already. The past day and some have seen him holed up in bed, sleeping more than his ability usually allows, not even trying to read or use his phone.

But now he's dressed, washed, shaved, and sitting up against some pillows he's arranged and watching the news. He still looks like hell, but at least it's better hell, and Ygraine's entry gets a quirk of a smile to his face.

"I think," Graeme says, wryly and with a slight amount of the usual self-deprecating tone that accompanies any amount of being laid up, "that I might be able to keep breakfast down this time."

Ygraine’s lips twitch into a wry smile.  She looks pale and drawn as well, but rather more in an over-worked and over-stressed manner than a nearly-dead one.  She’s ‘merely’ been dealing with a days-long headache and the hassle of trying to keep all her charges alive.

“I brought a few things for you to try,” she says gently, nudging the door closed behind her before moving over to the bed.  “Still water, fresh orange, and apple juice.  Dry oatcakes if you only want to risk something as inoffensive as possible.  Porridge.  Bread.  Sliced fruit.  If you can keep any of that down, we can potentially risk something more substantial for you.”

Her tone’s gentle, concerned, and perhaps also a little guilty.  “You do look a bit better.  Sound more like yourself, too.”

A bit of a smile, and Graeme mutes the news, puts the remote aside, reaches out and lets his hand gently brush against Ygraine's for a moment in his own expression of worry. It flicks to the wall that is shared with the other hotel room, acknowledgement of the rest of the wounded of their little merry band. Because of course he'd worry about her and about them, when he's the one who walked into a gods damned nuclear reactor.

Aloud, though, all he says for a moment is, "I'll start with the bread and the fruit." Then, "I'm starving." Which, considering that he usually eats anywhere between two and five times a normal amount of food and he's barely had water and some saltine crackers for the past day and some, isn't surprising. "I don't suppose there's any chance I could get a hamburger?" Pause. "Or um. Five?" Sheepish grin.

"I'll be fine," he says. "I promise."

No chance of that until you prove you can keep down simpler food,” Ygraine informs him - though her words are softened by a fond smile.  She perches on the edge of his bed, setting the tray in her lap as she deftly rearranges a few things… before passing him a single slice of apple to start with.  If nothing else, it should be a good test of whether his gums still hurt and how he copes with a slight hint of acidity.

“But if you can keep this down… then yes, hot food and some protein would probably do you good.  As for….”  She nods to the wall.  “Tamara’s still out cold.  I’m worried, though she seems physically stable.  Remi’s headache’s not faded, though I think she’s coping a bit better with exposure to light than she initially was.  The Doctor’s… old, heartbroken, and got stabbed.  Given that, he’s in pretty good shape.

As for me?  Well, like the others I got at least a little irradiated - my second time of being Evolved-nuked, personally.  I’m a bit concerned with how it interacted with what else was going on, to be honest: I pushed my ability so hard it went wild, and right after… well.  Things went spectacularly, and horribly, wild for someone else.  But my own headache’s a lot better, and my ability’s working fine on all the small things I’ve tested it on.”

If it's an apple that he gets to start with, it's certainly better than the previous status quo, which was no food, and there is a nod. Rather than respond, Graeme spends the minute slowly and carefully eating, swallowing, taking a few sips of the apple juice to follow it. "Seriously, I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."

"We all pushed ourselves in there." Saying it aloud though is a sort of reality check. The news channel screen flashes again, a little bit of the footage of the absolute massacre of the exiting of the tunnel and Graeme turns the television off with a too-emphatic push of the button, sets it down on the bed with a little too much force; he promptly winces at the effort. "It was a freaking shitshow, not to mention…" Everything else going on, the news has been non-stop depressing ever since he turned it on, and he changes the subject. "Have you heard from the others?"

Ygraine shakes her head, her renewed attempt at a smile tight and rather sad - but not despairing.  “No… but given that New York was apparently hit by an EMP, and the military are cracking down here and there…..”  She shrugs ruefully, before presenting Graeme with a single dry oatcake as his next test.  If he can cope with that without choking or bringing up what came before, he might well be allowed to tuck into the rest of what she has brought.

If you are up to it, then I want to move you through next door in an hour or so.  Give your body time to try digesting - see how it does with that before we move you anywhere.  Then I’ll have you give Remi a bit of a break while I make a few preparations.  And, yes, maybe even buy you some more food.

But I want to get down to New York, if I can.  No, you’re not coming.  And nor is Remi.  I’m going to need to go under a military cordon to get in and out.  And that’ll almost certainly involve sewers.  At best, it’ll be abandoned tunnels.  I’m not exposing either of you to that in your current state.  And I’d like each of you to watch the other, and the other two as well.  You’ll have your hands full here.

I’ll be aiming for the safehouse.  From there, if I can, I’ll visit one or two other sites accessible without coming up to the surface.  Gather what news I can.  I’m hoping that it’ll be possible to get in touch with Alia - through her, we could suddenly have much wider reach.  But anything I can get, I’ll welcome.  And on the way back up, I can stop off at the Island, and see how things are there.  Who made it there.”

Whatever protest Graeme would usually have is quelled this time, and he pushes himself to sit up a little further in order to eat. And he's doing better than he was immediately after, or the day before, that much is clear. "Be careful when you go," he says.

But his brows furrow for a moment after that. "You're leaving me alone with Remi. Kinda," is the eventual accusation, and in the silence that follows Graeme chews on his lower lip for a moment. "Well I mean, just about." He sighs. "Did I ever tell you," he didn't, not that either of them can recall to the moment. "that Remi and I apparently had a kid together, in those dreams of that other future?" It doesn't entirely explain the tension between Graeme and Remi the past few months, or why they avoided each other entirely for most of the autumn, and yet at the same time, it does.

Ygraine pauses, cocking her head, before sighing heavily.

“Jolene - Lene - is my future foster-daughter.  With Robyn Quinn,” she says softly.  “She asks to be part of our family, after she’s orphaned in that apocalyptic Hell-hole of a future.  Robyn and I have a marriage that endures decades of the world falling to shit… and that is strong and appealing enough that a teeanger asks to join it.  And then grows up to be brave, kind, resourceful….”

She shakes her head, a sadly tender smile curling her lips.  “That, I began dreaming of when I was at my lowest point.  Just after going into hiding, when it seemed like I’d lost damn near everything I’d tried to build or had put faith in.  Before I was as close to you guys as I became.  And you, of course, were still out in the world, fortunately.  I was glad of that - but it meant I didn’t have you around at the safehouse to fall apart on.

The dreams of Lene… they gave me some things to hope for.  Believe in.  A glimpse of something better.  If I hadn’t been quite so low, then it would have probably affected me rather differently.  But believe me when I say I have a good idea of how powerfully those dreams can hit you.  They kicked me off one mental and emotional track and onto another, near enough on their own.  That they could hit you and Remi hard… I can absolutely believe that.

And.. I’m sorry I wasn’t a good person to share this with.  I was lost in my own head for at least half this year.  You’ve had to cope with far, far too much without the support your friends should be able to provide.  At least I get to be your nurse every now and then, whenever you get broken while saving the world.  But I really do understand that all this can twist your mind around into ways you’d never even imagined were possible.

So… as a serious question: will you being here with no one to talk to but Remi and the Doctor be a problem for a couple of days?  I can try to find another solution, somehow.  Breaking either of you any more than you already are isn’t at all what I’m after.”

There's a moment of pause and Graeme tilts his head to one side, and there's a brief smile as he reaches over and squeezes Ygraine's hand. "No hey, quit apologising," he instructs the Brit, the soft southwestern drawl coming through again. He cracks a grin, probably the first real grin he's had since the end of the raid and the resulting being laid up. "You've got nothing to apologise for…" Another pause. "Unless that apology means you're going to bring me a stack of cheeseburgers?" He's teasing, but also somewhat serious. Or at least, hungry.

"Everything was… complicated, and even when I was spending time in the safehouse it's not like it's something that I exactly wanted to… focus on or talk about, much. I'm… should have been around more to talk to, though." Another pause, in which he finishes the apple juice and picks up the water, though doesn't have any of it yet.

"And the dreams. For us," Graeme says, "it wasn't that long after Remi's ability had… expanded." A grimace. "She'd kissed me, and I rebuffed it because she's my friend, young enough to have been one of my students, just." He shakes his head, furrows his brow a little more. "But she was seeing things when she touched people by then. And."

"She saw me, with Liz, and she got jealous, and then the dreams go and show her a future in which she and I… briefly had something that she can't have, here and now." He chews his lower lip. "And even in that future, I wasn't there for her really. Or for our kid. I was too busy out fighting and trying to help everyone." He shakes his head. "We'll be okay." He pauses.

"I'll be up for moving into the other room in a bit," he says, "but now that I can look halfway presentable, I'm going to go down to the store a few miles away and get Odin. The folks who were looking after him for me are getting out of town given the chaos." Because the dog is important to him. Because the dog can be a buffer. But there's not actually much question there, no room in his tone for staying in bed longer. "It shouldn't take longer than an hour."

He returns to the previous topic. "We'll be okay, even if it's awkward again. I… when she started yelling with her mind. I didn't even think about it, I called her the same term of endearment… that was used in the dreams. That…" he sighs. "When we were all possibly right about to die because the reactor might explode, I realised… Maybe I can't be what Remi wants me to be," he says, "but I'll always be what she needs me to be, I care about her too much not to."

Ygraine returned the hand-squeeze, before listening attentively  At the end, she offers a faint chuckle.

“I’m glad for that.  For her sake, and for yours.  But… you’re going nowhere for an hour after you finish this lot.  We need to find out if your body can actually cope with digesting anything - or if all this will reappear at speed.  From either end.”

Bluntness, perhaps, might actually drive the point home for Graeme.

If you are okay in an hour’s time, I’ll feed you a burger or two, and you can go and check in with Odin.  I can delay my own departure until you’re back.  But I’ll need you to stay with the guys here after that, if you possibly can.  I might be as much as three days, depending on how tough it is to get in and out of New York.  Things seem to be a lot worse there than they are even here” - where the National Guard were engaged in street-fighting with rioters, and part of Cambridge dropped into a sudden sinkhole - “and I’m probably going to have to go by the least-pleasant and most awkward routes I can, to avoid drones as well as soldiers.

I’m hoping - really, really hoping - that I’ll be able to pick up definite news in New York.  That Alia’s in touch with everyone, and I can get in touch with her to tap that network.  But with everything that’s been going on, I’m scared that we’ll still be pretty much wholly in the dark about it all.  Still… when I get back, we’ll have to make a decision on where to go from here.

I think we’ve got a few basic options.  The worst is probably to stay here: if the roads are under surveillance and traffic’s being stopped and searched on all the routes out of Boston, that might be our only option, at least for a day or two.  Another’s to run for Canada… though the one significant Ferry base I knew of up there got destroyed some time back.  The third’s to head for New York, but while I’m confident of getting myself in and out, I do not want to try that with sick and wounded people.  The fourth’s a Ferry site North of New York - but it’s overcrowded already.  The fifth’s Minnesota.  I’m not keen on heading there ‘blind’, without word that Jaiden’s got out and is going there himself… but it seems our safest option once we actually get to it.  That, of course, ‘just’ requires crossing half a continent with a comatose teenager and a wounded guy who might or might not consider himself a prisoner.  Oh, and a telepath with a migraine and PTSD, whom we don’t want to expose to people at all lest it overwhelm her.

I don’t like any of those options… but I’m currently inclining to the last one.  You’ll have a couple of days to see how people are doing yourself, though.  Help to judge whether or not we can even try traveling a thousand miles and more.  At least the weather’s not been too bad, so far this year.”

There's a nod, and a half a pout, and Graeme acquiesces to staying put for a while longer with a nod. "Alright, fine," he agrees, and then listens as Ygraine goes on.

"I'll stay," he says, "but you're taking a burner phone with you and you're texting me with updates once a day at minimum, alright?" There's a grin. "We'll figure it out, one way or another. Going to Minnesota and laying low until we've got a better grip on things sounds like it might be the best option." A pause follows, and then Graeme looks at Ygraine and asks, "Is he a prisoner, though? That's the first thing we need to properly figure out. And other than taking him with us at least until he's recovered somewhat, what the hell are we going to do with him?"

“The burner’ll be off whenever I’m trying to breach the perimeter,” Ygraine cautions, as she hands over the bowl of porridge.  “I don’t want to show up as a moving signal where there shouldn’t be one: after the EMP, and with patrolling drones, I’d guess they’re going to be looking for ‘rogue’ electronic signatures around their cordon.  But… yeah.  Right now, I’ve been hiding behind Luis being an invalid.  It’s a lot easier to deal with him as ‘old man who got stabbed’ than… whatever the heck he is.

As best I can tell… he prefers being with us to either being grabbed by any other part of the ‘underground’, or having to face the music as part of the organisation that had a secret prison-base under Boston and that shot children when they tried to escape.

We don’t know what happened in Alaska… but clearly something big did.  And as best our intelligence could confirm, Mount Natazhat and the Ark were the Institute’s last bases.  So the organisation he was part of seems to have fallen.  And at the end, we saw him at odds with it: trying to stop the meltdown, and upset about the murdered technicians.

I don’t trust him… but as best I can tell, we’re his best bet for survival.  And he’s realised that the people he was working for were trying things even worse than whatever it was that he’d seen in the Ark before then.”

Graeme fidgets with the spoon. It's another sign that he's feeling more himself than he was the day before. Before, he was too tired and his ability stretched too far to even fidget, but now, there's excess energy in there somewhere. "Fair enough," Graeme says. "Actually, probably best that it stays off entirely except for the few minutes it takes to check it, and send the message to check in. And make sure you do that somewhere that you're not sticking around after."

More fidgeting with the spoon, but at least in between fidgeting, Graeme eats, and soon enough the bowl is handed back to Ygraine. "Then he comes with us wherever we end up. I'm not a big fan of the idea of handing him over to anyone, and I don't exactly have faith that there is any sort of justice possible with the state of things these days. And then whenever we reach Minnesota, meet up with everyone else, there can be another discussion about his fate then."

A shrug follows. "But in the meantime we have to worry about now," he says. "Whenever it happens that we do pack up and get out of here, I should be able to get us a car that won't attract too much attention." He glances to the other room. "Or maybe a minivan would be better."

Ygraine nods, absent-mindedly turning the bowl to and fro in her hands as she thinks aloud.  “A ‘family trip’, we might well be able to get away with, as an overall impression of what our group is doing.  Long-distance travel around Thanksgiving, or in early preparation for Christmas, should hopefully seem to make sense to people.  Two or three generations visible.  Even a somewhat frail old man and a sickly teenager who sleeps a lot could be quite in keeping with heading out on the road to get to a family gathering at this time of year.  And if it’s some big gathering of a ‘clan’, then we don’t need to look like we’re closely related ourselves.  Can be cousins and nieces and the like, who just happen to be coming from the same direction.  Or even just getting the heck away from the chaos of the East coast, for that matter.”

She almost tries rubbing at her face with the hand presently holding the bowl, then remembers to set it aside.  “Gyah.  Anyway.  Minivan sounds like a good option, I think.  Just make sure it’s something that can cope with snow.  It’s not forecast in the immediate future, but we don’t want to wind up stuck if we can avoid it.  Either on the way or once we’re there.

I’ve got a small stash of emergency supplies we can grab on our way out West - mostly, it’s a few items of that crank-powered tech I came to love during the Winter from Hell.  And we can load up on bottled water and all the canned goods we can squeeze in.  But I don’t think we can risk picking up too much other than food, and some Winter clothing in case we wind up staying there long-term.”

Graeme nods. "We need ID cards for Luis, and Tamara," he notes, "though I might know someone who can help with that if we need." There's a pause, another sip of water, and a look at Ygraine as if to say, 'see, I'm fine'.

"When you're at the safehouse go into my room, move the mattress away from the wall, pull back the loose bricks and then the loose floorboard they cover, and grab the messenger bag from back there," he says, further explaining his 'hiding space', where to find it, and then continuing. "With any luck, we can just buy anything else we generally need along the way." He pauses, and adds, "And if I'm back to normal, I'll take the driving… if I drive, we won't have to stop more than just pit stops, a different one of us gets out each time, and we should make it there within… two days at most, unless I'm really underestimating how far it is to go."

“We’ll need to be able to move Tamara around several times a day, if she’s still in a coma,” Ygraine points out.  “And Luis will have to be able to get up and change position as well.  Spending hours at a time leaning on his back injury - let alone being jostled around by the movements of the car - will be tough for him.

As for you… count on me doing some of the driving, and us trying to limit the amount of travel we do after dark.  Your eyes have only just stopped bleeding.  I am not going to count on your night-vision being fine in the immediate future.  Better that we go a bit slow than that we wind up in an accident and have to explain ourselves to the authorities.”

She chuckles, smiling as she ducks her head.  “But thank you.  I’ll raid your room and see what I find.  I was thinking of having a quick scout around the safehouse anyway.  Try to make sure it’s all okay.  And if it seems in danger, grab at least some of the supplies there.  I also want to look for any messages people left, just in case someone did a hasty stop-over amidst all the chaos.

But… I think we have a decent outline of a plan, at least.”

There's another nod. "I'll see about asking the friends who were watching Odin, if they can grab some pillows. Won't be the best we can do, but it'll help some." He grins. "And I mean, I need to take the dog out twice a day, but. It may be worth some… discomfort, to put an initial distance between us and all that's going on. I'd be more comfortable a few hundred miles away…"

"We can slow the pace down after we've done so and are confident that we're not being followed." Another pause. "We could potentially even get another motel room, although I'd not want to stay anywhere else longer than one night at a time."

Ygraine nods agreement.  “I was thinking that it’d be simple enough, at this time of year, to arrive after dark and leave before it’s light, staying in motels on the way.  It’ll let us control who the folks on reception desks see, and move people in and out over as short a distance as possible.

Anyway… I’ll tidy up the breakfast things.  Would you like a mug of tea, while I’m up on my feet?  We can wait that hour, then see about getting things moving with a burger before you go to get Odin, then I set off for the other major war-zone on the East coast.”

Graeme retrieves the remote, and finally props himself up all the way, sitting crosslegged on the bed, and pulls up a blanket to drape over his lap. "Sure," he agrees. "Tea sounds nice. And Ygraine?" this is softer than the rest of the conversation, as he adds, "Thanks for always looking out for me, and after me. It — it means more than I really can say."

Ygraine rises to her feet, lightly resting a hand on Graeme’s shoulder as she leans over to plant a (quite deliberately) motherly peck of affection on the top of his head.  “Just make sure the Great Dane doesn’t eat a bed or anything.  We need to get away from here clean, remember?”, she teases fondly, a slight blush on her cheeks and a happy little smile on her lips as she turns away to tidy up and make his tea.

However fragile it might all be, thus far it feels like a good morning.  

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