The Right Questions


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Scene Title The Right Questions
Synopsis Helena and Teo both come to Tamara with questions — such topics as how do we get home, what do we have to do to make that happen, is Hiro really dead, is the world going to end, and what am I supposed to ask Gabriel Gray. Some of the answers are helpful. The others are meant well but maybe don't have the impact Tamara could wish.
Date April 30, 2019

Dorchester Towers: Colette and Tamara's Apartment

The apartment is larger than might be expected for two people, certainly in as crowded a place as New York City. The living room is neat, but not unto the level of picture-in-a-magazine; it's a lived-in place that someone takes the time to at least keep in order. A rug patterned in deep reds, greens, and golds covers most of the floor. There's two couches, three chairs, and two separate coffee tables — one smaller than the other — arranged in a way suggesting that, while Colette and Tamara live alone, they sometimes play host for rather more people.

There's a study or office off to one side of the main room, and a kitchen on the other. The study is defined first by its desk, and second by the two bookshelves which take up most of one wall. One features predominantly books that, judging by their titles, are useful in Colette's line of business. The other houses a seemingly haphazard collection of reading material, fiction and nonfiction, whimsical and practical alike arranged sometimes in clearly meaningful order and sometimes however came to hand. Those unfamiliar with the women would guess this shelf to be Tamara's space; in actuality, it's used by both.

The study is currently a bit more of a maze than usual; lengths of red string have been hung at eye-level — or at least Tamara's eye-level — across the room, knotted together in a pattern reminiscent of a branching tree.

A cloudy morning gave way to a sunny spring afternoon, the curtains thrown back from the windows to allow the full degree of warm light into the apartment. The atmosphere in the room, however, is a little more subdued than the cheery spring day; Tamara is waiting. She sits on one of the couches, a tray set on the table with clean glasses and a pitcher of iced tea; the role of hostess may or may not be called for, but she might as well be prepared for the possibility. Legs crossed at the ankle, hands folded in her lap, Tamara leans back in the corner of the couch and waits, watching… nothing?

After several moments go past, she gets up and moves towards the door.

The pretenses of sunglasses and and hat are thankfully no longer needed once Helena's inside the building, or at least once they get close enough to Tamara and Colette's apartment. "Wow, Tamara and Colette. Who'da thunk?" Helena's saying as they approach the door with easy cheer, despite the urgency of their mission in visiting the oracle.

"I dunno. I think abou… I dunno," Teodoro revises his statement with exaggeratedly blank-faced cheer, making him look younger than he is, and younger than he had behaved when Helena had first met the grave-faced plumber at PARIAH's disposal. He's wearing a peacoat, slacks, boots, all black in a way that is utilitarian and commonplace chic. That's kind of like being a ninja.

His broad wrist blinks into view in the corner of the atmokinetic's eye, briefly, snares the shades off her to examine. Lifts them up in front of his face, watches the door come nearer through the tinted lenses. He raises his fist to knock.

"I dunno. I think abou… I dunno," Teodoro revises his statement with exaggeratedly blank-faced cheer, making him look younger than he is, and younger than he had behaved when Helena had first met the grave-faced plumber at PARIAH's disposal. He's wearing a peacoat, slacks, boots, all black in a way that is utilitarian and commonplace chic. That's kind of like being a ninja.

His broad wrist blinks into view in the corner of the atmokinetic's eye, briefly, snares the shades off her to examine. Lifts them up in front of his face, watches the door come nearer through the tinted lenses. He raises his fist to knock.

Helena blinks a bit at the sudden rightness of color of the world after having looked through it with darkly colored glasses before she steps inside. "Hi, Tamara." Helena greets amicably, stepping past the threshold and into the woman's home. "So this is the Temple of Delphi." she says with a faint grin, remembering her highschool English reading.

It's difficult to say whether or not Teodoro had really expected his knuckles to meet the plane of wood, wry as his smile is when the seeress suddenly appears to greet them. His arm falls, and the sunglasses clasped in his other hand tilt away, leaving his line of sight to Tamara unobscured, both eyes crescent-shaped with a smile. "Buongiorno." He steps in after the other blonde, and immediately takes off his shoes, one boot shunted into a palm before the other.

When he straightens, shades are eased up onto the crown of Helena's head, tucked in behind her ears. He installs his hands in his pocket and shifts his gaze through the recesses of the home.

Looking past Teo to Helena, the precog smiles softly. "Not so much a temple," she demurs, "but you're welcome anyway. There's tea on the table." If they want it. Closing the door behind her guests, Tamara waits as they look around; though her waiting is not obvious, doesn't manifest in anxious hover. She walks over to the kitchen and fills a cup with water, tending to the houseplants in the windows; fails, in fact, to appear to be waiting at all.

"Nonetheless, I feel like I should have brought an offering." the blonde says, eyeing the plants, but takes a seat at the table and helps herself to some tea. "I guess I'll get right down to it." she says. "The eight of us need to go back. Arthur Petrelli won't help us — in fact, if he has his way, he'll stop us from even trying. But we're going to, and if we are going to find out any way as to how we need someone with the right abilities. So we're trying to track down Kaito Nakamura."

They certainly are that. Not something Teodoro sees any need to elaborate on, so he walks over to the coffee table on quiet feet. "Grazie."

Taking the pitcher, he fills three cups and takes one of them for himself, offers another out to Helena. Their hostess appears to have her hands full, physically and metaphorically, with the horticulture at hand, so he doesn't interfere with that for now. "I have other questions," he notes. Doesn't add, But you already know that. He motions out with his cup at Helena, before bringing it to his mouth. "For after."

"Maybe you did" is Tamara's cryptic reply. Emptying the glass, she doesn't address Helena's concerns immediately, but slips into the kitchen again; returns with a refilled glass and a small shoulderbag. The sybil tucks herself back into the couch corner, glass on the table and the bag dropped to the floor before her. Blue eyes flick to Teo, and Tamara nods; she looks to Helena, gaze sharp and piercing. "What, precisely, are you asking of me?" she prompts the younger woman.

Helena lets out a breath. "It was Peter's suggestion that you might be able to somehow see where we might find him, or even if we can find him. Further, if you've any insight as to whether we might succeed in going back." The next few words are said calmly, but it's clear she had to prepare herself to be so. "Peter said he'll try to send us back, with Gillian's help to boost him. She's already said she'd do it, but Kaito, or someone with his ability, can determine the best way to go about it, the circumstances necessary for success."

The sybil looks away from Helena; runs her hand back through her hair; draws in a deep breath. "If I look that far," she states, "Teo won't be able to ask his." But that isn't the answer; just an observation. There are other approaches. "There are fewer places for you to go now," Tamara continues, dark eyes turned towards one of the side walls. "Sometimes you disappear. I don't know where that goes. Maybe it's where you want." Maybe it isn't.

"Kaito." It's an echo, her voice hanging on the syllables of the name, testing their form, the definitions of the sounds. "There's no new threads to come in. Not between here and there. No Kaito here. Which isn't the same as none at all," Tamara adds, dark eyes falling upon Helena. They seem to look through her rather than at her. "Reaching out is the first step on the final road, but the answer isn't hidden behind the father." The seer's attention shifts to Teo. "Tell her that."

"Peter said Hiro was killed by Arthur's men." Helena points out in faint confusion. "Is that not true?"

"I'll tell her," Teo answers, lowering his head a fraction of a degree. The humor's gone from his face now, his forehead lined with thought and eyebrows low enough to drop shadows into the pallid circles of his irises.

It might bother him, the possibility his question might be obstructed by full inquest into the other. He wouldn't say anything even if he did. Ten years in, Helena's tactical concerns continue to take precedence over his, even if the lives of six billion seem to ride on both in equal measure. He closes and opens his eyes, draws another long mouthful of tea down his throat. Its warmth is comforting.

"Or Kimiko?" he inquires, after a beat.

Dark eyes, their irises swallowed entirely by expanded pupil, return to Helena, set in an expression of noncomprehension. Tamara looks at the other woman; looks past her. She draws her arms in against her torso, a peculiarly defensive gesture. "I don't know what you're asking." The sybil's words are soft, bare levels above a whisper; reluctant. She does know, however, how the question might be rephrased; and so a second murmur. "Do I have to look?"

Helena considers a moment, and then quietly, "I'll withdraw the question." She makes a gesture indicating the cedes to Teo's inquiry. Her expression is troubled, like she can't really determine if this is helpful or not. Or if she's even asking the right questions.

"Questions about the past don't sit too good with Tamara," Teo says, picking that soupcon of information out of a rather ham-handed grasp of the precog's known habits. "It doesn't look like Hiro's still coming anywhere in the relevant future, though, or she would've caught an association pretty quick when you mentioned him." The curl of his finger tightens around the porcelain of the cup, his knuckles glaring anemic white for an instant before he lays the ware down on the coffee table.

His attention swivels at Helena and he spares a moment's reassurance or clarification, needed or otherwise. "Looks like Hana's on the right track. Kaito may not be around, but she'll find something you need."

Which leaves his own line of questioning, the mad train that it is. Teo runs the back of his hand down his jaw, feels the scratch of stubble on the pull of healthy skin and worn, brown calluses. His mouth finds a thin line, before relaxing the way one might in the face of the implacably inevitable. "After Helena and the others disappear," he says, "do our threads continue? Yours, Colette's, mine? Does the little blue ball keep spinning?"

Turning to Teo, the sybil tips her head to one side; the lack of immediate response indicates a much more favorable query. She's thinking about it, turning the question over in her mind, comparing it against what she perceives. "Why wouldn't it?" Tamara finally retorts, her tone faintly mystified. The seer's lips curve in a gentle smile. "You're worried because you can't see. It's okay. Out of sight is only out of mind."

"There are people who might think it won't, otherwise." Helena asks. She looks uncomfortable, and feels like she's missed something important, or somehow failed in this leg of the quest. There will be no rescuing Zelda, or something.

Zelda will be rescued. Only not now, not quite yet. Teodoro's mouth goes crooked into a grin, finally, oddly reassured despite the vast vicissitudes of interpretation that Tamara's words leave. She isn't worried. Sometimes, she gets worried. If she isn't, that's a good sign, if not necessarily of anything that the rest of the people who populate this timeline would be happy to greet.

"The other precogs are having trouble seeing," he corroborates gently, smoothing one lapel with a hand. "Their friends are getting scared." Theirs. Yours. He tacitly excludes himself from a category. If not of friends, then those who fear the black canvasses and what they hail.

Tamara looks up at Teo, blue seeping back into her eyes as she anchors herself more securely to the present. The seeress leans forward and catches the glass of water in hand, taking a deep drink; then it is restored to the table. She climbs to her feet and starts towards the office. "Come here." Tamara herself ducks under the web of strings, gesturing for Helena and Teo to stand opposite her, just before the branches begin.

Helena rises obediently, following Tamara, but still silent. She seems a bit frustrated, but not at the seer, only at herself.

A long hand drops onto Helena's shoulder, and Teo follows her and the other blonde woman, both, on a silent cadence of unshod feet. He enters through the door. Stands and stares at the splay of suspended strings, either impressed by the myriad or merely happy that he doesn't have to fold himself into quarters to get in underneath them.

Looking across the strings at her visitors, Tamara lifts a hand to the first knot. "You stand here," she explains. She gestures to her right, their left; the single strand of red string. "You know — what doesn't change. Fixed, absolute, certain; you stand on the shore and look into the water, trying to see fish beneath the ripples." Her eyes rest on Teo; her smile is a lopsided quirk of lips. "You ask to bind the ocean in a raindrop so you can see all sides. So that it's certain, concrete, finite; you know the beginning and the end and the middle. You live in certainty and you want to see certainty.

"But it isn't." A gesture to her left, their right; the strands that branch, and split, and separate again, a simplified piece of monochrome fractal. "The harder you look for meaning in chaos, the less you can see. I wonder that they find any meaning at all, when they try to fit the river into a little box," Tamara concludes.

Helena blinks, jerking to attention. She's never been able to understand Tamara terribly well, or…at all. "Edward Ray said you can't change the course of the river, not really. Maybe redirect it for a time." But all of this doesn't really get her questions answered. They'll find someone who can do what they need to be done. That's about as close of a reassurance that Helena can get, and that seems to be the best she can hope for. She looks to Teo, hoping that if there's anything left unrevealed, he can uncover it. She's lost.

"Edward Ray may not appreciate that subtle changes can still be important and catastrophic in their long-term effects. Twenty yards to the left, and the village isn't flooded. Three to the right, and you could build a dam to power half of Los Angeles."

Teo's eyes are narrow. Not at Tamara, but at the profusion of strings, of theoretical futures and selected possibilities out of a no less than infinite array. He steps sideways, making progress down his right, to where the threads split and divide and separate, time's progress fractalized. She'd told him once to look ahead. Ironically, even as they venture to send people backward in time, they do just that.

"Kaito's dead," he remarks, finally. For Helena's benefit: it's the one solid, practical fact shared thus far. "Searching for him is going to turn up something you need. Could be anything, given the nature of his ability. Probability prediction. Stands to reason, he and Edward Ray would be playing cat-and-mouse long after either of them are gone from this fucking world."

Tamara smiles wryly at Helena, and shrugs her shoulders. "We all have boxes that limit what we see. Only the river could say, and it doesn't speak." Her gaze turns to Teo, watching him study the branching threads, the tapestry pulled apart and unwoven. His statements elicit a smile; not as bright and cheerful as most such expressions the sybil bestows, but an indication that he has the correct idea nonetheless. She ducks beneath the strings again, moves out towards the main room. "There are others who want your time," the seeress remarks. "Unless you have more to ask, you should probably go see them."

Helena seems doubtful of that. Not her time - Teo's, perhaps. Except she still has her meeting with Gabriel. Then, "What are the right questions to ask Gabriel Gray?" she blurts out suddenly Hey, it's in the form of a question, right? A little guidance never hurt.

Lifting an eyebrow, Teo glances across the top of a long string that had taken his particular interest. Looks at Helena first, then at Tamara. "Give him my regards," he offers, lightly. He steps back, tacitly agreeing to take his leave.

Tamara gives Helena a long look; quiet for a time, before she draws a deep breath and replies. "Ask him about change." Her gaze shifts to Teo, lingers there a moment; the sybil steps up to the Italian, pressing a brief, chaste kiss against his cheek. "Goodbye, Teo." She steps away again; crosses the main room, leaving water and plants and visitors behind and retreating into the bedroom.

The question-and-answer session has now concluded.

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