Tears For Today


colette_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Tears For Today
Synopsis Plenty of apologies are doled out, and no forgiveness is given.
Date November 15, 2010

Grand Central Terminal

With the topside of the iconic Grand Central Terminal in ruins, it's its basement level that sees most activity, as covert as such activity may be. Entrances are sealed (at least, to those who don't know any better) to the upper levels leading above ground, whether with rubble, or with manmade additions of gates and blockades, and so most will find their way to this place via the countless tunnels that run like arteries in what could appropriately be termed the heart of Manhattan's train system.

Electric lights shine pallid white in the arching ceilings of the basement concourses and foyers, running off their own generators and so power is only used conservatively. Here, the wide open spaces are used for storage that is destined to be moved either towards the arching doorways opening to platforms and subways for shipping out, or waiting to be dragged down to the subbasements for longer term storage. The floors, the walls, the ceilings are differing kinds of tile and vary in cleanliness.

Tables have also been set up so that supplies can be sorted, shifted, packed properly. Folded cardboard boxes awaiting use can be discovered in most corners. Signs on the walls in the form of crude spray paint indicate where things might go, from food, to clothing, to medical supplies, and some things even more exotic. This is a place of motion and organization.

Last but not least, a makeshift recreation room has been set up for the workers of the Grand Central Station, and this can be found within what used to be known as the Whispering Walls. Famously, this interstitial space was known for its strange acoustics, wherein one could whisper to a companion from one far side of the corner to the other by talking directing into the curving corner, where sound would travel along the curve of the arcing ceiling. This, of course, still works, but now the space is no longer simply a foyer - there's a semi-portable kitchen area offering simple food and beverages, a television (which gets no reception, but is hooked into a VCR and a DVD player, with a modest library for both), a card table, a few comforts such as couches and armchairs.

Upon one of the walls, is a rough but well-meaning mural, a mock up of an aquarium - an addition that came after the Ferrymen claimed this space as theirs. It seems to grow in size every several days, with new aquatic characters added each time.

Blood lands on concrete with a noise so soft it is drowned out by the echo of voices.

A single spattered droplet of red rolls off of the back of torn, bloodied knuckles on trembling hands. Heavy breathing reverberates in a small room and the distant sound of people conversing helps hide that too. Hunched over with her arms draped over her legs, Colette lets thin rivulets of blood run down the backs of her fingers, dripping off fingertips to the concrete below.

Hanging from the ceiling of this small, fluorescent-lamp lit concrete room is a single canvas punching bag, dappled with streaks of crimson against its blue surface where Colette's unprotected hands have delivered more punishment to herself than the bag. Sweat slicks her forehead, makes her hair stringy with it, droplets hang off of damp locks hanging in front of her mismatched eyes.

She's looking up, though, through the open door to the silhouette standing out in the hall, seeing her, seeing her bloody knuckles, seeing the expression of guilt plastered across her face.

Colette's silence gives Tasha time to find her words.

To find her voice.

One Week Earlier

November 8th, 2010 — 10:47pm

Somewhere Below Midtown Manhattan

Heavy breathing echoes off of concrete walls, along with the steady drip of water landing in a stagnant puddle from condensation collecting on a broken steam pipe. It's hard to tell just how far they've walked, but the journey beneath the East River has been a long one. Bypassing the Roosevelt Island terminal, crossing beneath the Bronx and upper Manhattan. A winding, labyrinthine network of access passages, sewer tunnels, Con Edison maintenance shafts and derelict subway lines no longer in use.

The gradual turn from well lit to unlit has been steadily observed by the three woman traversing several miles on foot. What in a straight line is roughly 8 miles is closer to double that taking the winding and serpentine tunnel system into account. Lit only by a phosphorescent glow shed by a bare hand, Tasha Oliver and Nicole Nichols follow the lead of Nicole's younger sister Colette, her photokinesis causing the distant shadows to seem darker, thicker, deeper as light is pulled away from the periphery to create a cone of dim illumination by which to light the way home.

Not any sane person's home, however.

By the time the tunnels start to look more crumbling, more derelict and abandoned, graffiti starts to look a lot less random, and more like some sort of encoded message. A white circle with a yellow "X" in the middle causes Colette to turn right at a four-way junction. Another sigil that resembles the letter "L" with a dot at the top has her taking another turn. It's, in a way, like Hobo markers; cryptography used by the Ferrymen to serve as a coded map of the tunnels.

Colette may have a good navigational sense above ground, but underground she still needs some guidance, especially when every crumbling tunnel, every collapsed wall and buckled ceiling leaking streams of murky water all start to look the same.

Are they lost?

Only she knows.

"I thought most of these tunnels collapsed in the bomb," Nicole confesses as they make their way through the abandoned subway. She's recharged her proverbial batteries since descending underground, leaving her eyes shining brightly in the low light. Her skin feels hot to the touch, and her brow is slicked as if with fever. The energy that surrounds the elder of the two Nichols girls is palpable. "Do you know where we're going?"

Tasha trudges, legs growing more and more tired with every step. She doesn't have the vision that Colette does, and has to rely on the little bit of illumination the other uses to guide their way. Her eyes strain as she looks at the markers on the walls, and her brows are furrowed in that perpetually worried expression.

"I don't," she says quietly to Nicole. She's only been here a few times anyway, and never from this direction. She reaches up with a bloody hand — this time the blood is hers from the ragged tear in her palm from the chain-linked fence — to push a strand of hair out of her dirty face. "It feels like we should be in Jersey by now, I swear to God."

"Will you two shut up," Colette snaps over her shoulder, face half illuminated by the pulsing glow of her hand, brows lowered and only her blind eye lit from the angle of her face. It isn't like her to snap, to be so abrasive, especially to the two people she's with. "We're almost there, Jesus." Wiping a hand over her forehead, Colette turns away from Tasha and Nicole, walking towards a pile of rubble and slamming her shoulder up against a closed, metal door as she levers down the handle.

There's a clang, another loud crash as the door hits something on the other side, followed by Colette pushing with all her strength against the door, boots scraping on the concrete and metal doing the same as she pushes aside something on the other side of the door. Stopping, Colette slouches forward and closes her eyes, the pain in her back and shoulder where she was shot by the rubber bullets as sharp as a knife.

She looks back over her shoulder, once, and then steps sideways and shimmies through the narrow space open in the door. It opens out past a pile of metal debris that was once turnstiles from the floor above which is now a tangled mess of broken concrete and twisted rebar reinforcement. Colette is hasty to duck under the debris, towards what in the gloom look like escalators that have stopped functioning.

Thankfully, broken escalators are just stairs.

Nicole is taken by surprise when her younger sister snaps at her like that. Shock keeps her silent for only the space of a few seconds before she speaks up. "Colette Elizabeth Nichols." The tone of her voice is a warning. "You do not speak like that to me. Or to Tasha." Scolding her like this is something she hasn't done since Colette was barely in her teens. She will turn this fucking metaphorical car around, god dammit. "Especially to Tasha."

Being perhaps the least injured of the three, and arguably the one with the most energy, Nicole shoves the door open just a little bit wider with a grunt of effort before she slides through. She has to duck a fair bit more than her little sister to avoid braining herself with misshapen rebar, but finds little trouble manoeuvring herself to the escalator stairs.

Brown eyes widen at the snapping tone in Colette's voice, but Tasha doesn't complain, just nods, biting her lip to keep it from trembling. When Nicole starts to lecture, she shakes her head, reaching to touch the older of the sisters on the arm.

"It's okay. Don't worry about it," she whispers, then narrows her eyes as Colette seems to disappear into a wall. "I can't fit through that," she says with a little bit of a weak laugh, but then Nicole's pushing it wider, so she follows.

As she begins to walk down the escalator's uneven steps, she misgauges and slips, landing on her bottom and slamming that cut hand on the metal with a wince. She doesn't say anything but stands up again, not daring to complain from the rear of the group. Tears of silent pain cut through the grime on her face.

That Colette looks over her shoulder when she hears Tasha fall at least implies that she heard it. That she waits might suggest that she cares. That she doesn't run to her suggests that Colette isn't entirely home right now.

"C'mon," Colette dismissively murmurs with a jerk of her head towards the subway platform at the end of the escalators. None of this area looks familiar to Tasha, and certainly doesn't to Nicole. As Colette starts to walk towards the edge of the rail platform, she stops just past the yellow line, brows furrowed. Then, knowing what it implies, Colette doesn't bother to say anything as she drops down over the edge into knee deep, freezing cold water with a loud splash.

That phosphorescent hand is lifted up like a beacon, briefly, and Colette starts to slog ahead through the water with the intention of following the flooded tunnel into the dark. Nicole's on-again off-again relationship with water not vocalized.

Nicole is quick to help pull Tasha back to her feet when she falls. She doesn't ask her if she's okay, if only to save her the embarrassment of the question. A look of askance is all she needs to know the other girl can soldier on still. She does Tasha the courtesy of not watching her tears fall.

When they reach the platform, Nicole stands at the edge and stares down into the water. "Sissy? I cannot be down there with you when I'm like this. It's like you're sitting in the bath and asking me to drop the radio in on you." She peers down the tunnel apprehensively. "Is there another way around? I honestly don't know if I can keep from discharging in there."

Tasha murmurs her thanks to Nicole, keeping her head down, her hair falling forward to try to hide the tears as best as she can. She pauses with Nicole, glancing at the other woman, then down toward Colette as the woman forges ahead.

"Colie," she says softly, the word probably not carrying far enough to reach the other's ears. "Are you sure this is right?" She doesn't want to doubt Colette, but this looks wrong to her, and even if it is right… "We can't split up."

A frustrated sound escapes Colette, halfway between a growl and a groan as her hands wave at her side, legs slosh around in the freezing cold water as she turns around. "So fucking throw some lightning around or something, Jesus Christ do I have to be your fucking mother!" Colette's voice cracks at the end, a wavering tremor building as she wipes one sleeve of her jacket across her face. "This is the shortest way down to Grand Central, we cut right through the flooded highway and end up ont he east side of the station, the other way would take longer!"

Echoing down the tunnel, Colette's shrill voice reverberates until it finds silence after too many echoes. Breathing heavily still, Colette's throat visibly works up and dwn in a tense swallow as she stares up at the two, her jaw trembling and eyes reddened, puffy and evidence of her crying during the drive out to the Flushing Street Station in Queens.

"Did you seriously just make me jump in the fucking cold water for nothing?" Sharply delivered, those biting words are lobbed up from behind Colette's tense mask of anger.

It has been a long time since Colette has managed to make her sister this mad. Nicole eyes close, and she breathes in very slowly, and very deeply. It's very possible that she's counting to ten. Or maybe twenty, because ten isn't quite enough right now. "Don't you ever," she warns, her eyes opening again so she can glare accusingly at her sister, "talk to me like that again. I just murdered people — Police officers to keep you safe. Do you have any clue how I feel right now? Do you have any clue all that I have done for you? Don't you dare talk to me about playing mother."

Nicole is positively seething, and electricity crackles between her fingers, forms arches off her legs below the knees and to ground. "I just lost the only person in this world that meant half as much to me as you do, little girl. And I came running to fucking Queens to find you. When you should have been home!" Her voice rises in pitch and in volume, until her tirade, too, is echoing off the walls.

"You are not the only one who is hurting and scared right now! Grow the fuck up!" When the scream has begun reverberating off the walls, Nicole goes staggering back, putting distance between herself, Tasha and Colette. One hand is held out in warning for both of the two girls to stay back as she frantically looks around for something into which she can pour the restless current spilling out of her without harming anyone else tonight.

"Colette," Tasha says, aghast — they haven't had many fights — one? — and it was quickly resolved with tears and hugs and whispers of love. This side of Colette is new to Tasha — and frightening. She takes a step closer to Colette to touch her hand, to try to bring her back to herself and to Tasha, because this girl is not her Cole.

But then Nicole is screaming and sparking and Tasha's eyes fly open wide, backing up and tugging Colette back with her, pushing her behind her. "What do we do?" she gasps, looking at Colette with wide eyes.

From where she stands, down in the water off the edge of the rail platform, Colette isn't staring up at Tasha as it looks, she's staring past her at her sister. It's a good question that Tasha is asking, though, one that Colette doesn't really have an answer for.

What she does have is anger.

"Maybe if you try a little fucking harder it will make up for leaving me with Richard when I was ten!" In the realm of arguments, personal or otherwise, what Colette just said to Nicole is the sisterly equivalent of the N-Word being spat out in a racially heated dispute. It is all of the worst profanity balled into one, and once it leaves her mouth, Colette is already sorry.

Unfortunately, sorry is a little late.

Nicole's face goes through a myriad of expressions. First shock, then it twists to sorrow, followed by something akin to incredulity, and then finally rage. "I had my first abortion when you were three." she whispers dangerously, just loud enough to carry in the cavernous surroundings. Just loud enough to be heard over the crackle-pop! coming off of her. "I had two more before you were nine." Big, fat tears roll down Nicole's cheeks. It was a sucker punch she never expected. Their father's name is a curse worse than any other. Sharper than any knife. More devastating than a hollow-point bullet.

"You ungrateful little bitch." The words are meant to hurt, but there's just no conviction behind them. Nicole curls up on herself and sobs brokenly. "He told me I was special. He said I was the only one. I didn't know until Mom got sick. And I came home, and you looked just like me." The harder she cries, the less her ability seems out of her control. Though by no means should that suggest she actually has it under control.

Sucking in a sharp breath, Tasha stares from one sister to the other, her own eyes flooding with tears as she sees Colette lash out at Nicole, knowing she's likely next as Colette spins in that downward spiral of despair. She takes a step forward to plant herself in between the two Nichols, looking at Nicole with apology on Colette's behalf, and then at Colette with love and fear and pity all rolled in one.

"Stop it," she whispers, her voice quiet but sharp. "Stop it. This isn't helping. This isn't … that's in the past and it sucked and I'm sorry and I love you, Colette, but this isn't the fucking time, okay? Nicole can't go in the water, she'll probably kill all three of us if she does. Is that what you want? Because if it is, if that's what you fucking want, let's go."

Colette is silent, absolutely and completely silent as she stands there knee-deep in the water. Mismatched eyes are wide, visible only for a few more moments before her fingers close and the light at her hand is snuffed out. In the pitch blackness of the underground, crackling sparks of electricity jumping and arcing off of Nicole are the only things that can be seen, popping and crackling noisily in the echoing subway tunnel.

When Colette's light flickers back on like a guttering candle, she's closer to where Tasha is, hauling herself up onto the lip of the rail platform out of the water, noisy splashing heralding her climb as the murky water drains out of her pant legs and boots. Sopping wet from the knees down, Colette climbs back up onto the concrete landing, apology and something close to sickness written in her expression.

She'd never meant to take the argument in that direction, never even meant to have it at all. She isn't mad at anyone here except for herself, the one person she can blame soundly for all her probles.

Clearing her throat, Colette looks down to her feet and lifts one hand up to partly hide her face. She's still, silent, and mournfully immobilized.

From her crouch on the floor, Nicole trembles and shakes with silent sobs still. Crying for the childhood she never had. For all the things a little girl should never know, and never experience. For all the things she missed out on as a teenager and a college student because she was too scared to trust in anything. For the mistake she made trusting her mother to protect her baby sister. For believing that wishful thinking and empty promises would keep her safe. For all the things she couldn't provide for Colette growing up. For the unprepared surrogate mother she has been. "'Letty, I'm sorry," she whispers, still convinced it's all her fault.

The stress of the past year has come to a head. This would normally be the time where Nicole would storm off to the kitchen, grab the most convenient bottle of whatever and drink herself stupid. She's almost at a loss without her crutch. "Please. Just leave me here," Nicole begs weakly. "You're so much better off without me."

"We're not leaving anyone," Tasha says decisively, looking at Colette and back to Nicole. "Is there another way? Or you can go ahead and see if that's it, and I'll stay here with Nicole while she calms down — if that's the only way, by the time you check and come back, we might be okay to continue? Or we can stay here for a little bit, rest, and maybe try again in a few hours, after Nicole feels better."

How that is going to happen, she doesn't know.

"So choice a: find a different way. Choice b: you go ahead, come back if it's right — though I don't want you go to by yourself." She starts to grow a little weaker in her resolve, brown eyes watering as she looks at Colette. "Choice c: we all wait a little, calm down, rest." She swallows. "What do you want to do?"

Covering her mouth with the back of one hand, Colette stares down to Tasha and Nicole, then swallows down a noise in the back of her throat. "T-theres," she stutters, voice muffled partly by the raised hand. "There's another way," sounds confident enough to matter. When Colette's hand falls from in front of her mouth, her bottom lip is trapped between her teeth, and while apology is written in her expression it's nowhere to be found in her voice. Nicole blames herself, Colette blames herself, it's part of being a Nichols.

Mismatched eyes look to an indiscernible location in the dark, as least until a fraction of the light from Colette's hand dims away and moves across the subway platform, coming to spotlight in dim circle a maintenance door set into the mildew-spotted tiled walls. "Over there…" Colette whispers softly, her hands shaking unsteadily as she starts to walk away from where her sister is crouched and where Tasha is trying to help her.

It's a long few tense moments before Nicole calms down enough to pull herself to her feet. Wiping at her eyes and her nose with the back of her hand, she approaches the platform again, shaking her head. "It's fine. Just… don't follow after me until I've discharged," she warns. Common sense.

She wavers just a moment, tipping forward before taking the plunge off the platform. Logan would be wrinkling his nose at the way Nicole's ruined a perfectly good suit. At least, Nicole thinks so. Or she would be if she could manage a coherent thought at the moment. The discharge of electricity when she hits the water results in a loud fizzle-pop! and a display something like a lightbulb exploding, just the sudden flare from the burst of expelling that build-up all at once.

Days of minimal sleep - coupled with the lack of adrenaline fuelling her system currently - catching up with her leave Nicole staggering back against the wall of the tunnel. For a moment she looks as though she might slip down into the water entirely. "Okay," she groans weakly, "Now you can get back into the freezing water."

That two solutions are found so easily after all the buildup and fireworks has Tasha gape-mouthed, glancing from the door that Colette finds and then looking at Nicole in the water, and she tilts her head, widening her mouth to speak, then shutting it again, then opening it once more, then clamping it shut tighter this time.

Finally Tasha just shakes her head and rakes a hand through her hair, then looks from the water and Nicole to the door, then back to Colette. It's her turn to not speak, her jaw clenching tight as she waits for Colette to lead one way or the other.

Likewise is Colette silent, though for entirely different reasons. The resolution of the argument is typical Nichols-family, they weren't actually arguing about anything they had said, but were vocalizing their frustrations behind a mask of other problems. Once they'd both gotten it out of their systems, it became business as usual. It's the passive-aggressive way in which their family unit still dysfunctionally operates.

Wiping at her eyes with one grubby hand, Colette comes walking down over the edge, dropping into the icy cold water with a splash, rubbing her hands dry on the front of her sweatshirt before sloshing ahead through the water to get a lead on Nicole. Colette's hand lights up brighter as she lifts it up like a flashlight, directing a cone of bright illumination ahead.

It's a flooded metro tunnel, one that the knee-deep water serves as a blanket of obscurement for the uneven footing beyond. Loose blocks of concrete, trash that has flowed down from above, all manner of debris and refuse. "Go slow," Colette warns as she starts ahead, leading the way into the dark.

Later there will be words, because Nicole knows they can't keep on like this not actually talking about the real issues between them. But not now. She's shivering from the sudden drop in her body temperature that has little to do with the cold water she wades through. She has the good graces to shoot Tasha an apologetic look, at the very least. Almost more important than clearing the air with her little sister, Nicole almost certainly owes an apology to her sister's girlfriend.

"Hope we're all up to date on our tetanus shots," Nicole mutters. She makes her way along the tunnel by leaning heavily against the wall as if she has trouble supporting her own weight.

Last into the water is Tasha, breath sucked sharply through her teeth as the cold bites through the fabric of her jeans and she begins to wade behind the others. Her eyes are narrowed as if the light were bright rather than dim — to try to keep the tears from flooding down her cheeks once more.

Her steps are slow, each booted foot carefully feeling for what lies beneath so as not to trip and pitch herself face first into the murky, dirty water; her hands are held out to each side as if to keep her balance or to grab something if she does trip.

It's a long, awkwardly silent walk. One that winds down a serpentine corridor of ever deepening water until it reaches waist height. Eventually, though, the tunnel starts to wind upwards and out of the water, connecting with an adjoining circuit of subway tracks from another, rubble-filled by considerably dryer tunnel. Here things start to look familiar to Tasha, the pile of sandbags blocking off the tunnel they're coming from as part of the once necessary flooding preventions put up in the spring.

Climbing over the low sandbag wall, Colette sets boots down on the gravel between the tracks on the other side. Marching up the walkway, she eventually leads both Nicole and Tasha down a curving tunnel towards distant lights a shade of orange that usually implies danger, or at the very least caution. Halfway down the tunnel, Colette finally stops walking, holding up her hand in silence to elicit the others to stop. Tasha knows why, Nicole will soon find out.

Colette's eyes flick to piles of rubble nearby, heaping mounts of broken concrete and twisted rebar, another half wall of sandbags blocking off a portion of the tunnel, a partial wall made from layered particle board and razorwire spraypainted with a red "X".

"Paraffin," Colette calls down the tunnel, her hoarse voice softly echoing along the way. From up past where the tunnel can be seen, another voice calls back to her in response.

"How much change?" There's a brief pause as Colette looks back at Tasha, then down the tunnel again.

"One," then, impatiently, "c'mon is this really fucking necessary?" From behind one of the adjacent rubble piles, a young man probably no older than seventeen dressed in a denim jacket, hair held back by a bandanna slowly steps into view, an AK-47 raised at his shoulder and trained on Nicole. Movement from behind the sandbag wall has a middle-aged woman in a patched dress, hair tied back in a messy bun with a similar assault rifle stepping into view, also keeping her firearm trained on Nicole. They start to ease when Colette and Tasha are recognized, only gradually so.

Nicole is really beginning to hate all of her sister's friends. Seriously. She knows possibly better than anyone that her show of empty hands is anything but a display of harmlessness. But the truth is that she couldn't even produce a spark if she tried it right now. She looks like hell, and feels worse. Dropping the entirety of her charge has left her weak. Too weak to fight her way out of this situation if she had to.

A wary gaze is fixed on the guns pointed in her direction, because that's really the only appropriate response Nicole can summon. "These two are my family," she says of her relationship with Colette and Tasha to the two look-outs. "I'm not leaving them."

"She's okay," Tasha says, finally speaking after the long and quiet trudge up the tunnel, moving to touch Nicole's shoulder in reassurance and peering to the Ferrymen who peer back at them.

She reaches up to wipe her tearstained face, only smudging it with more dirt and more blood in the process. "How many are here? Anyone besides the normal crew?" she says, pulling Nicole forward slowly once she sees the weapons easing when the two guards see Colette and Tasha's familiar faces. "Anyone hurt?" Her need to help and her need to protect is ever present, even when she's in no condition to help anyone at the moment.

Brief apology flashes across the middle-aged woman's face as she lowers her rifle, checking the three younger women over before exhaling a sigh. "We've got ten, maybe fifteen people here with injuries, most of them from the Hangar. All the non-essentials and refugees were sent here, but they got caught up between rioters and police. Nothing terribly serious, but… there's a few kids who're hurt."

Colette doesn't hesitate once they're cleared, storming down the tracks past the woman and towards the distant sound of voices. Watching Colette pass, it's clear that the woman reconizes something is wrong. She doesn't stop the teen from going in though, just turns her attention back to Nicole and Tasha. "Neil and Robin are busy as they can be tending to everything. We're pretty tightly locked down, if you're all coming in you're staying for a couple days at the least, until we can manage contact with someone from the council…"

Glancing at Nicole, the woman seems to consider something, then just exhales a sigh and looks to Tasha. "Have you heard about the attack yet? Have you seen Susan anywhere?"

Nicole wraps her arms around herself once she's no longer worried about being shot. She flashes an apologetic look to Tasha and shakes her head. "I'm going after her. We'll talk later, okay?" She starts forward again, not nearly as quick as her sister was able to manage, but she means to catch up anyway. "Sissy!"

Tasha gives a nod to Nicole, then turns to look at the woman, she vaguely remembers as Terri, shaking her head. "I can help, once I get cleaned up," she says in a small voice, glancing back at Colette's and Nicole's retreating backs before looking at Terri again.

"The attack? Susan? No — Tama— Tamara got taken by the Institute," she whispers, and the tears start anew. "What happened? The council? Is Susan okay?" Her hand comes to her mouth, the thumbnail planted between teeth.

"I hope Susan took a bullet to the neck, that cunt." Terri's lips pull back into a snarl before she spits down on the floor, walking to clear the distance between herself and Tasha. "She turned on us, sold the entire council out to the government if what I heard from the Hangar is true. Bennet might be dead, I heard he got shot. Serrato, and I think maybe two more council members were killed. I— I think Cat might have been among them, I just don't know right now."

Swallowing anxiously, Terri slowly shakes her head. "Scott survived, but we heard he got arrested at the Hangar by the army. Everyone who isn't here probably is hitting up the evacuation point in Brooklyn. Most people here couldn't make it out there once they closed off the Queensboro bridge…" Looking over her shoulder, Terri considers the tunnel behind herself, and Nicole's retreating figure.

"Is she going t'be alright?"

It's a good question.

In her haste to catch up to Colette, Nicole follows her younger sister around the bend of the tunnel, and where she emerges feels like she just stepped through a door into Narnia. Oil lanterns hang from wooden scaffolding erected to make temporary shelters underground, blue canvas curtains dividing up living spaces along the rail tracks like a vagabond's tent city.

Up a flight of steps that Colette is hustling up is the subway platform where — prior to the bomb — subway passengers would have waited for the trains to come. Here, work benches, tables and more lamps are arranged. People wrapped in blankets and huddled together for warmth in the chilly tunnels watch Nicole with stranger's eyes. Children with cuts and scrapes being tended to by rag-tag field medics.

Nicole circles around a concrete dividing wall where Colette had turned, coming into view of a fish tank painted on the other side of the dividing wall. Dozens and dozens of different fish are painted in a faux fishtank background, some crudely done, others more elaborately so.

Colette has slouched down on the paint-spattered canvas tarp laid out on the floor in front of the mural, sitting between stacks of paint cans, pulling her knees up to her chest and sucking in a sharp, whimpering breath as her hands cover her face and she breaks down crying.

She isn't the only person down here crying either.

Nicole is too drained to properly take in her surroundings. It all feels surreal, in addition to entirely alien. When she catches up to her sister, she drops down onto the floor next to her - though collapses would be the more accurate description of the way she folds down to sit next to Colette.

"I'm sorry," Nicole murmurs into Colette's hair, wrapping her arms tightly around her shoulders, pulling her close and holding her tightly. "I'm sorry. I should never have yelled at you like that. I shouldn't have said those things. It's in the past. I shouldn't… have burdened you with my demons. I'm so sorry."

"Oh, my God," Tasha says, turning pale beneath her mask of dirt and soot and blood. She swallows hard. She shakes her head and shrugs a shoulder, an ambiguous answer of no and I don't know at once, but no yes. Yes is about the only answer she is sure isn't in the stars right now.

"Tamara was … Tam was hurt. Colette found her," Tasha lies, brows contorting as she looks up at the taller woman. "We were surrounded by burning buildings and … and we had to leave her. Or else she would die for sure. I d-don't know. I don't… did we do the right thing?" she asks, realizing Terri can't answer that for her. Tasha left her mother to chase down Tamara — and she has no idea how either of those two women are. As for the other most important person in her life…

"We'll get through it," she finally answers, though she's not sure how. "I'm gonna go clean up so I'm not a walking petri dish and I'll help Neil and Robin."

"I ain't so sure…" Terri says with waning optimism, "but I'll sooner taking pulling through till morning and take it from there." Scratching the back of her neck, Terri motions in a nod to the young man who'd been working the entrance with her, eliciting him to crawl back into cover behind the rubble pile. Then, with an askance look over her shoulder to Tasha, the older woman just watches the young brunette as she steps out of the way to let her pass in silence.

Deeper in Grand Central, further away from Tasha, Colette has no words of forgiveness for Nicole. That, though, isn't unusual. The Nichols sisters never accept apologies, they just give them. Too many tried and true family traditions in their house are unhealthy, too many traditions dysfunctional. It's made the sisters who they are, and also taken its toll out on the people around them.

It will be a long time yet before Colette lets that pain subside, before she lets the hurt go away and tries to put herself back on a proper course again. It'll be a week before she's ready to talk.

Even longer until she's done blaming herself.

Present Day

"Tasha," comes breathily from Colette as she looks away from the brunette in the doorway, tongue sliding across her lips nervously. Seated on the old, wooden bench nearby to the punching bag, Colette tries to cover one bloodied set of knuckles with another, mismatched eyes looking everywhere but at the one person she is ashamed to have found herself in this condition,

Nicole, Robin, Neil— anyone. Tasha she puts on a pedestal, when she's in her right mind. Tasha she tries to protect from all her own personal pain, the kind she would rather inflict on herself.

This is unfortunate timing.

There is reason, though. It had taken days since Tasha handed it over, but on the bench beside Colette is the envelope Tamara had left with her. A chain now dangles around Colette's neck, bearing Tamara's half of their shared puzzle rings, glinting dully in the dim light.

It was as much a goodbye, as it was a don't worry.

Dark brows furrowed, Tasha steps forward out of the doorway and moves to the bench, picking up one of Colette's bloody hands and lightly brushing her thumb near the split knuckles, though not across the wounds themselves, and then the other, repeating the gentle gesture. She stares at them for a moment, then lifts one hand to her lips, lightly kissing the back.

Her eyes lift to Colette's and she stares into the mismatched eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I'm sorry I didn't … I didn't fix it better." Her voice quavers a little, even as she tries to be strong for Colette.

One hand lifts to touch the necklace at Colette's throat, and her face crumples. "I'm sorry," she whispers again. "I should have protected you better."

Guilt is painted across Colette's face at the brush of Tasha's lips to her split knuckles. Jaw trembling, she looks up to the brunette as if that one gesture made all the difference. Colette is so used to people who push her back, when she tries to rebel she is used to being yelled at, scolded, or pushed away. But instead, Tasha applies what Colette is so unused to: Sincerity.

Fat tears dribble down Colette's cheeks as her eyes close and she slides off the bench to weakly stand. Thin arms slide around Tasha's shoulders and draw her into a ferociously tight embrace, lips pressed to her cheek and through her hair, "I'm sorry." Nichols girls don't accept apologies, they just give them.

Burying her nose in Tasha's hair, Colette holds the brunette tightly, "I'm— I'm s— so sorry." Tasha should be with her mother, and Colette is the reason she's not. Colette is the reason they weren't together, the reason why Joanna was alone in a filthy parking garage, why in Colette mind she may have died alone wishing her daughter was there.

All of this was Colette's fault, right down to Tamara's capture.

"Pl— Please don't blame yourself," she pleads against Tasha's cheek, her breath unevenly escaping her lips as she exhales a shuddering sigh, fingers curling in Tasha's shirt painfully as her knuckles flex.

Tasha reaches up to wipe Colette's tears and leans her head against the other girl's, her chocolate-hued locks falling across the darker head of Colette. "Shhh. Shhh. Don't apologize to me," she whispers, perhaps a touch hypocritically, since she was apologizing a moment ago. "We can't … we can't second guess everything we did. If we didn't do this, if we did this instead — we probably would somehow still end up here, somehow, I don't know why or how, but Tamara seemed to know we would."

It's advice she should be giving herself, and in a way she is by telling it to Colette. They take turns saying what they both need to hear. "She'll be okay somehow, I know she will. We've gotten others out, we'll get her out too," she adds, wrapping her arms around Colette and hugging her tightly. As for those she's worried about — Tasha hasn't said anything, keeping those worries and those burdens to herself — Colette has enough to bear.

Breath is sucked in thorugh a stuffy noise with a sniffle, and for all that she's wanted to be strong these last few days, hanging her arms around Tasha and finally letting go with a good cry is what she's needed to do since she broke down in the car. Tasha's right, about everything, and the sound of Colette's restrained sobs help reinforce that much.

Sliding one hand into the back of Tasha's hair, Colette holds her closely, tightly, desperately. It had been a joke between them, that Colette sometimes held on as if afraid Tasha would disappear. In light of recent events, Colette may actually believe that to be true in some way. Tamara's abduction is weighing heavily on her, not just out of guilt for leaving her behind, but for having been responsible for her even being there.

The cold metal of Tamara's ring left behind glides across Colette's throat, a chilly reminder of what she's lost.

"We'll be okay," Tasha whispers again, crying into Colette's hair and then pulling the taller girl into her lap, wrapping her arms around her. "We'll be okay. We're here. We'll get through this — whatever happens, okay? I'm here for you, whatever you need, okay? We'll be okay."

The words repeat, like a broken record, Tasha's voice soft and stuttering once in a while when her own sobs make her breath hitch. She can't really promise any of it, but she does, because it's what needs to be said and needs to be heard just to even have a semblance of hope, of seeing their loved ones again. "I love you," is added, because she knows that those three words can't be heard enough.

It isn't going to be easy, from here on out, surviving in the Ferrymen and in the world that the riots of November 8th created. Everyone's lives have been impacted in some way, great and small. The Nichols' sisters are only just now discovering how different theirs are going to become, with the crumbling of their old lives and an untested new frontier ahead of them.

Tears can be for today, but Colette's resolution to begin tomorrow as a different day will come with its own personal hardships, her own personal demons to exercise, and the beginning of a mission in her life to bring back the girl she cares so much for.

"I love you too," is whispered hoarsely into Tasha's hair with a press of lips gently after the confirmation. Colette's mind wabders to a more fretful possibility, a more troubling task that she has not ventured to resolve. The journey to rescue Tamara and find her own personal peace in life begins with one very difficult step upcoming.

She has to tell Judah.

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