The Dying Swan


quinn3_icon.gif rue2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Dying Swan
Synopsis A therapeutic release begun years before evokes memories of happier days, and sets the stage for the beginning of the next act in the lives of two young women.
Date April 8, 2011

Bannerman's Castle: Dining Hall

The room converted into Bannerman's dining hall, although long and narrow, can accommodate up to one hundred people, but despite the amount of use that it sees, it isn't hooked up to the castle's electrical grid, which means that after dark it's lit up by gas lanterns strategically positioned on the wooden tables with bench-style seating that occupy the space. A giant hearth set into one of its walls provides the hall with additional light and warmth, as well as a place for the castle's residents to convene when it isn't in use during the hours when breakfast and dinner are being taken.

The walls themselves are bare stone with no decoration except for the four windows opposite the fireplace, and these are covered with heavy pieces of plain canvas cloth at night to prevent the light from leaking outside, where it might be visible from the shore or the air. During the day the canvas is pulled back to brighten the room and make the gas lanterns unnecessary, but on mornings and afternoons when the sky is overcast, there is very little to combat the gloom and so the fuel is burned anyway.

It's after midnight, which means Bannerman's Castle is quiet. At least until one passes by the dining hall, where soft music drifts from the doorway. A space has been cleared, chairs settled onto table surfaces to make more room without disrupting the setting of the hall terribly much. Nothing that won't be simple to put back into place.

The space is so that Rue Lancaster, dressed black shorts, a grey tank top and a baby pink shrug that matches a pair of legwarmers, can have room to move. Her ballet shoes have faded over the years, the silver fabric tattered at the toes and where the ribbons connect. It's a routine Quinn's seen Rue practise before.

She'll never be the Swan Queen, but it isn't for lack of effort. To the untrained onlooker, Rue's movements are beautiful, the flow of her long limbs, and precision of her turns. Just a few months ago, Samara would have been sitting nearby, invisibly, and trying to hide the kind of smile that conveys that's so precious, she thinks she's a ballerina. Ballet is something she will never make a career of, despite having a passion for it.

And Rue has plenty of passion right now. Quinn's seen her dance the finale to Swan Lake what seems like a hundred times. Every time she heard we're going with a different look, it meant a quiet night with a glass of wine and her pointe shoes. It used to mean soft conversation with her best friend, or her girlfriend. Assurance that she was the right choice, and by passing her over, it was their loss. The world's loss, not Rue's.

Now Quinnie has Elaine, and Samara has Brian, and a baby on the way. Who does Rue have to talk to when she feels this way? The music, coming from a darkened iPod that will surely be drained of its batteries by the end of the week, swells, and in the flicking light, Quinn can see the tears glinting in Rue's eyes. To be fair, they always do during this part. She stays up on her toes, arms moving in a pantomime of wings as she looks out to the invisible sorcerer, and then her equally intangible prince. She steps up onto a chair, prepared to jump.


Even the coldness of the castle's brick construction couldn't prevent Quinn from leaning there in the entry arch to the dining hall, watching silently as her ex-girlfriend dances. Even with the past rejects and talks following them, there's a lot of good memories that swell up upon seeing Rue dance as she does across the cold, stone floor. Enough to bring just a slight, fond smile to Quinn's lips, dulled only by knowing - or at least believing she knows - how the former model feels about her now. And by what she knows she's eventually going to have to tell the other woman.

Arms cross as she watches Rue, bundled up tight in her hoodie and eyes half lidded as the ballerina climbs up on to the chair. She has no intention of interrupting the "performance", she wouldn't no matter who it is, but particularly since it's Rue. Still, as the dance culminates and the begins to end, she can't help but clap softly, still smiling as she watches her move. Hope that doesn't startle her. Too much.

"You always look wonderful when you dance, you know that, right?"

It does cause Rue to startle, her balance shifting and sending the chair tipping to one side. The swan makes her leap, but rather than land gracefully on a pillow just out of view of the audience - or worse, in a graceless tangle of limbs on the cold, hard stone - she lands on her feet and catches the chair before it completely clatters to the floor. Then she catches her breath, staring at Quinn with wide eyes.

"Quinnie," she breathes out, "I didn't expect you… I didn't think I'd attract anyone." The dancer cranes her neck to see if there's more to her audience than she expected. There's relief when Rue sees it is just Quinnie. "Have I improved any?" she asks softly, wiping the emotional tears from her face, shedding the last few from her eyes in a rapid series of blinks.

"Sorry," is a similarly soft response, Quinn's arms falling to er side as she pushes off the wall and starts down towards Rue. "The music kinda echoes. Though I think it helps that I knew what it was when I heard it." And that she was already looking for Rue. She keeps moving towards the other woman, though her eyes never quite match Rue's.

"It was wonderful as ever." The honest truth, too. "Looked better than I remember it, at least. Not that it was bad then, mind you." A hesitant smile, and then Quinn looks off to the side. A part of her wants to step forward, wipe away the last few tears herself, but she finds herself much too wary of sending mixed signals. "Still a shame you never got the part," that she ever saw. And then a kind of unsettling silence falls around them, until finally Quinn lets out a bit of a quiet sigh. "I'm sorry."

"Thank you." Rue scoops up her iPod, which has gone silent now that the last track has stopped playing. She shuts the thing off to conserve power, then tucks it into the small pocket built into the back of her tank top, meant to thread headphones through. "I hope it didn't bother anyone." Her cheeks flush faintly, making her freckles stand out. "I just… love Swan Lake the best. The story's so beautiful, you know."

She trails off into awkwardness, letting her hair down from its ponytail and shaking it out if only to have something to do with her hands. "I sometimes wonder if I should have focused on ballet instead, like Sami did. I mean, at least it's a skill. My face doesn't seem to be getting me where I wanted it to," Rue laments. But then, she gives a small smile that reaches her eyes and makes her face seem brighter. "Mister Raith seems to think I have the face for intelligence." And she doesn't mean brains, or smarts. The art of gathering information. "He says it's better than getting shot at. I'm inclined to agree. But… I don't think I mind getting shot at now."

There's an immediate wince. "I mean, I do. But it's a good cause, I mean?" Rue's hands come up to rest against either side of her face, embarrassed by her inability to find the right words to convey her jumbled thoughts. "What I mean is… I don't mind fighting for these people, if it's what I have to do. If it's what needs to be done to keep other people safe. Like Samara, and her baby. Or you, and… And 'Lainey." 'Lainey. That's a new one, but not unexpected coming from Rue. It was only a matter of time before there was a nickname attributed to Elaine. At least it isn't bitchface. Though maybe it's secretly 'Lainey Bitchface. …Hopefully not.

"Why would it bother anyone?" Quinn sounds genuinely surprised by this though. "Hell, with how little there is t' do around here sometimes, I bet some people would love t' watch you dance. Particularly Swan Lake. I mean, unless you start takin' cues from Black Swan. That might make people worry."

The grin that Quinn cracks at that doesn't last, giving away to raised eyebrows and a look of surprise. "Ballet's nice, but I think you looked great as a model. I still think you should look int' somethin' with your hair done like this, it looks really good." And that should say a lot - Rue knows Quinn always loved her hair. And probably red hair in general, if Ygraine's dyed hair and Elaine are anything to judge by. But it's the intelligence comment that catches her by surprise, and after the earlier reaction to her half joke, she manages to keep another one down at that.

"Intelligence? Like… spyin' an' stuff? February Lancaster, 007, hmm?" Okay, she can't keep that joke down, and is already taking a half step back to avoid being smacked for using the other woman's full name. "That's… not somethin' I would've ever expected. But… Raith was just teachin' me how t' shoot what I think was an assault rifle, so… I guess things change?" There's a bit of a shrug. A nervous one, really. "Sucks it comes t' that, me learnin' how t' shoot. You havin' t' start that kid of stuff.

The mention of Elaine, gets Quinn to wince as well, a hand reaching back to scratch the back of her head. That's before- "Wait, baby? I- was with her an' Tasha the other day, I had no idea…" She fidgets a bit. "That was why I got involved in all of this to begin with. T' protect the people I care about. So.. I think that sounds like a real good cause an' reason, m'self."

"Yeah, I'm gonna be an auntie. Sort of. In the whole… not in blood, but in bond sort of way?" Rue shrugs. "I think she's moving too fast," she admits with a sigh, "but I suppose that's what happens when you've been a ghost for four years. You seize the day. S'pose that's what she's doing."

The girl who talks to spirits feels very alone suddenly, despite how happy she is for her best friend. "I'm sorry if I was… inappropriate back there, when we were talking with Lynette." Rue sets herself down onto the chair she had been standing on earlier, staring down at her dance shoes as though examining them critically. "I don't know why I assumed… I mean, of course. Girl like you doesn't actually stay single for long, right? I guess I thought the thing with you and 'Lainey was kind of a… fling? Like it wasn't serious?" She makes a disgusted little scoffing sound in the back of her throat. "I don't know. I'm stupid."

"Yeah, I… know somethin' about seizing the day." If Rue only knew. Which still manages to cause Quinn to feel a pang of guilt, her gaze finally moving to look directly at Rue, even as she look. A hand reaches out, hesitantly seeking her model's shoulder."You're not stupid, an' you were fine. Trust me, some people make much worse comments at me when they know I'm not single." She smiles a bit, though it doesn't really last. "You're wrong, though. I… was more or less single after we broke up until last year. The last year has been… I don't even know how t' describe it. Crazy, an' I don't… really mean that in a good way either. I haven't enjoyed a large part of it."

But that's a tangent unrelated to what she has on her mind for a moment, exhaling slowly as she looks down at the other woman. "Elaine an' I've been through… a lot t'gether. An' we've been t'gether in some way or another for a couple months short of a year…" Which, if Rue does the math, matches up almost with as long as Ygraine had said they'd been dating when they met. Quinn probably could've phrased that better.

Quinn's words are met with silence at first, Rue mulling it all over before thinking about responding. "You were the first person to really understand what I was going through after the bomb. After I got out of the hospital and started trying to put my life back together." She keeps her eyes on floor, unable to bring her attention up just yet. "That was crazy. It's never really not been crazy since then… But you're right, it's been worse lately. For anybody who's got their eyes open and gives a damn, I think."

Rue finally lifts her head and peers up at Quinn. "Does she love you?" she asks.

The hand on Rue's shoulder squeezes. "I still understand. I…" Her eyes close for a moment. "That… fight we had really opened my eyes t' a lot of things I didn't realise before. An' I'm still sorry. You know. About everything." It might seem like a bit of a tangent, but it does have a point. "What you said was part of the reason that… I made the decision to leave Ygraine. Among a lot a' other things. But you were right, it wasn't fair t' Elaine."

A pause, and Quinn takes a deep breath. "She does. Enough…" Quinn fidgets, noticeably, her hand lifting off of Rue's shoulder. "Some… things happened recently, that really threw us for a loop, an' with how things are, we're kinda takin' that seize the day attitude too." She gives that a minute to sit, before she looks nervously off to the side. "We're kinda… engaged. You're the… third? person that knows." A beat. "Please don't hate me…"

"Enough. What does that mean, enough?" It feels like the follow-up should be didn't I love you enough, or worse, don't I love you enough, but Rue holds it inside. "Never mind. Asked and answered, I suppose." She shakes her head, holding up a hand to stall any answer Quinn may have been about to give. It's the rest of her confession that leaves her feeling sick to her stomach.

"You're… getting married?" Quinn knows one of Rue's fake smiles when she sees it, but the fact that she's made the attempt speaks volumes. "I'm not going to have to fight Sable so I can be your Best Woman, am I? I know she'll look better in it, but I'll still wear a tux just for you." Suggesting that her dedication should not be questioned.

Quinn opens her moth, ready to clarify that she had stopped short of saying she does, enough to marry me. But the hand goes up and she stifles herself with a sound of protest rising up from in her throat. That's not a good sign to her, and it has her looking down at the ground sadly.

"Y- Yeah. Not… for a year, though." Because that makes it better, somehow. She looks up in time to see the smile, which would be great! …if it wasn't obviously such a fake smile, which just makes Quinn's heart sink a little more. "I think not," she replies, eyes looking back down again. She refrains from saying because she'll probably be Elaine's. "Why would I ever put you in a tux, though? You're too pretty for a tux, Rue." Is that okay to say? You know, after admitting you're getting married? She rolls her shoulders uncomfortably at that thought, looking off towards the wall. "I just… I thought I should be honest with you about it. Instead of you hearin' it from someone else once we decide t' start tellin' people…"

Too pretty draws a quiet exhale from Rue, the audible cue that she's had her breath taken away. She stands so quickly that her head is swimming, but in some ways that makes what she does better. Easier.

What Rue does is capture Quinn's face in her hands and crush a kiss to her lips, pressing close and desperately. All that passion from her earlier performance re-emerging now. For the one who inspired it.

The way Rue stands up, it makes Quinn flinch. She's expecting to get yelled at, or slapped, or Rue to just get fed up and storm off, like last time. And really, Quinn wouldn't have blamed her at all for any of those.

What does happen catches her so off-guard she doesn't even react to at first, she's a bit too stunned. But when it settles in that there's lip upon hers, again, she doesn't really process whose, hands moving to the taller woman's shoulders - much like Elaine, in some ways - as she pulls herself up. And it's another moment into that kiss that the realisation hits her, and her eyes open.


But in those precious moments, Rue takes advantage. Burying her fingers in Quinn's hair, while her eyes close tightly and her lips part, tongue darting experimentally against the Irishwoman's lips. Seeking access. It's a bit clumsy, but Rue's always been that way when it comes to locking lips. For her, it's never been about precision or perfection, but always about the emotion behind it. And there is plenty to be had.

Quinn doesn't seem to be fighting any of it, even once realisation hits her. She's not really sure how to. A part of her isn't sure she wants to, given what she's gotten used to over the last year. There's a bit of a sigh and her shoulders relax, her lips parting almost instinctively, before she stiffens a bit. Fingers grip the fabric on the taller woman's shoulders, bunching it between her fingers as she slowly tries to pull back, one hand shaking a bit.

One, two, three kisses bridge the widening gap between the two women, Rue more reluctant to part (obviously) than Quinnie. When they do, she doesn't quite relinquish her hold on her, but she does disentangle her fingers from Quinn's dark hair. "Please come back to me. Please. 'Lainey's so pretty, she won't have any trouble finding anyone else. Please, please, Quinnie. I love you." To her credit, Rue doesn't cry. Not a single tear. Though her voice quavers like she might be about to. "I'll be so good to you. I promise."

Quinn never intended to back all the way away, her hands still on Rue's shoulders as she looks up at Rue with just the saddest face she can muster. And while Rue doesn't have a single tear, Quinn does. Because she feels absolutely horrible about the words that come next. To her, there's no other answer, despite maybe a small part of her wishing otherwise.

"I- I'm sorry," She chokes out quietly, shaking her head. "I- I can't, Rue. I know you'd be good to me. I really do, you always were. But… I love Elaine. I- we're engaged. A- and…" And really, she doesn't know what to say next. "I'll always care for you Rue, but I just… I love her. So much…"

Rue blames herself. If she weren't so focused on Samara back then. If she hadn't have picked that fight. If she didn't call Quinnie a bitch. "Don't… Don't cry. No- Not over me. I've done enough crying for both of us." Rue brushes her thumbs over Quinn's cheekbones, wiping away her tears. "It's… it's okay. If I were her, I'd… I'd be pretty pissed if you dumped me for some crazy ex-girlfriend. It's better this way."

She smiles. "You're a better person for this, Quinnie."

"You're not crazy," Quinn murmurs, and even she's a little surprised when she steps back forward, hands moving down as she hugs Rue. "An' I'm sorry I ever thought anythin' like that. I just… I don't want you t' hate me. I was really scared you did, after that fight. I… never really wanted us t' drift apart, you know? I may not love you like I used to… but I still care about you, Rue. So, I'm sorry. I really, really am." There's still a few tears coming down her cheek, but almost as if at Rue's request, she's more or less stopped crying.

A cold, hard knot forms in the pit of Rue's stomach. All she hears is I don't love you, even if that really isn't what Quinn said at all. Regardless, it may be what she needed to hear. She wraps her arms around the shorter woman in return, the hug affectionate.

She lets it linger for several moments before she leans back, hands still around her shoulders, lips still a darker shade of pink from kissing tugging upward at the corners. "Would you like to watch me dance some more? I think I have a bit more energy to work out. And… it'd be kind of nice to have you as my audience of one again. Like old times."

Quinn lets a bit of a small smile form at the corner of her mouth. "Am I allowed t' say, only if you'll share a dance with me afterwards?" she asks quietly. What? Quinn likes to dance. Not ballet, though. Like waltzes and stuff. She even knows how to lead! "Because, I mean… that's at least better than sittin' around my room the rest of the night." Not quite like old times, but maybe that kiss brought up a little something Quinn needs to work out too.

"Yeah, okay," Rue grants with some of that sparkle returning to her bright blue eyes. "But some day, I'm going to make you learn how to do the lifts. Then you'll have to dance the part of Rothbart with me. Don't worry, it isn't terribly difficult." Shhh. "You can probably learn it all from YouTube."

Quinn gets a poke in the nose and then is guided to sit down in the chair Rue previously occupied. "Do you think you can make a spotlight for me? This piece is always more impressive that way." Her iPod is tugged out of her pocket again, working her way through her music library to get the proper track queued up.

"I'm more liable t' hurt myself than someone else if I'm liftin' them up, Rue." There's a reason Quinn never really learned any of those ballet moves in the past, even though she could thinks she could have been suited for it if she ever really wanted to be. She plops down in the seat, looking up at Rue - she knows how clumsy Quinn is. "But I'll give it a shot. If you're going t' be 007, you've gotta stay limber. Guess I could help with that." She smiles a bit wider, leaning back. "Plus, you know, it'll help when 007 gets the girl."

There's a bit of a wink, Quinn visibly relaxing in the seat as her hands raise. She's not very good at dimming the light in an area, but rather than producing her own light as she normally does, she uses the light in the area, forming fingers into a cylinder shape - and down from the ceiling comes that spot light, the rest of the room darkening just a bit as it's ambient light is reshaped for the display.

But there's just enough to make the smile on Quinn's face visible.

There's a hesitation that's banished once the lights seem to dim, and the spot's on her. Rue smiles brightly and finally finds the composition she's looking for. The dance she's about to perform isn't a part of Swan Lake, but has served as an influence since its creation. Setting the iPod back on the table again, the dancer turns her back to her audience as she gets up on her toes, arms stretched out to either side like wings. Then the music begins.

Another perfect piece. Because it's meant to be heartbreaking.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License