The River Winding On


tamara_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title The River Winding On
Synopsis Seer and cyclist share a personal moment before going their separate ways — for now.
Date November 28, 2011

Olcott Park, Virginia, MN

Virginia, MN is a modest mountain town sited at a junction of highways about an hour and a half south of Kabetogama and the lakeside refuge currently serving as home… for some. Not far off the center of town is a large city park featuring a fountain, a bandstand, a greenhouse, and even a facility that once held monkeys and bear cubs, though that bit of historical trivia is lost on its current visitors. At its heart lies an eight-sided gazebo with blue floor, white railings and columns and benches, and a gray-shingled roof. It's here that Tamara and Ygraine have settled in to share a lunch that is probably none-too-healthy, given the fast-food restaurants that pop up in highway towns like mushrooms.

For her part, Tamara has chicken strips and french fries, along with a few decorative pieces of romaine lettuce that might be pretending to pass for half a salad in some manager's book. Throw some lettuce on there, it'll be healthy! Healthier when Tamara eats it, which for now she isn't; seated on a bench, facing the rail, she's watching a couple of kids half her age throw balls for their dog, mother sitting by in benign oversight.

Her own little red ball, appropriated from the cabin, sits in the backpack tucked away beside her feet, along with other useful things — some bought, some found. She's dressed to complement the backpack — low boots, sturdy jeans, long-sleeved shirt under a winterweight coat, blue scarf trailing out from its throat. The kind of thing one wears when going somewhere.

For Ygraine there’s an odd mixture of leisure and unreality in both public relaxation and in travelling while wearing normal clothing. Neither armed nor armoured, with no lycra and barely any leather in sight: just comfortably warm garb and a heavy Winter coat. The SUV borrowed from Graeme’s contacts in far-away Massachusetts rests safely in the periphery of her vision, while her conscious attention is split between the happy dog and its family, and the temporally untethered fae with whom she shares a bench.

The washed-out athlete has opted to join Tamara in indulgence for this meal, but remains too much of a health freak not to tackle her own limply unappetising excuse for a salad. Still, her helping of fried chicken is rather more appealing on grounds of both flavour and misbehaviour… and the frisson of breaking the strictures of the regime that once made up so significant a part of her life does help to provide at least a little distraction from what’s to come.

Tamara regards her companion sidelong, a distinctly contemplative glint in her eyes. Then she's on her feet, facing Ygraine, her free arm wrapping snugly around the Brit's shoulders. "It wasn't goodbye," she murmurs against black-dyed hair. A moment later, Tamara steps back, fingertips still resting lightly on Ygraine's nearer shoulder. Smiles at her, a crinkling of eyes more than anything. "Okay?"

“I really, truly hope not,” Ygraine agrees with a smile, having leant into that half-hug, and delivered a two-armed one of her own - albeit while holding back from using anywhere near her full strength, in spite of the urge to try to stop the fragile-seeming youngster from setting forth into peril once again.

One hand comes up to lightly touch the seer’s fingers on her shoulder. “It is remarkably easy to love you,” she fondly informs the blonde as she mirrors that slight smile. “Judah, me, and others - we’ll all risk our necks for you. But we do also hope that you’ll find some way to be safe, and happy. If there’s ever a chance for me to help with that again… feel free to ask. If I can provide you with a home or a haven, or a helping hand… whether it’s for an hour or a month, just let me know.”

There's a shift in Tamara's demeanor as Ygraine continues speaking — a slight tilt and turn of her head, a leaching of expression. A deficit of recognition that passes as quickly as it had appeared. The young woman turns, takes half a step forward, sets her lunch aside and leans her forearms on the gazebo rail, looking out upon empty distance.

Her expression now, in profile, is a peculiar mix of melancholy and bewildered as Tamara touches two fingers against the hollow of her own throat. But then that too is gone, dismissed by a shake of her head.

There are things she cannot answer… and things that she can. It's the latter that preempt her attention now, and the woman waiting for those answers.

"I know." Tamara turns back to assure Ygraine, her smile now more muted than before — though not any less sincere for it. "You were always helpful." She regards the other woman for a moment, seeming to weigh something… then slides a finger under the neckline of her coat, hooking a chain hidden there. A longer chain, holding a pair of interlocking rings.

"But the river went on. The mirror had other places to be, while you were here. Only for a little while, though."

Melancholy in response to mention of Judah and of love… A touching of jewellery that Ygraine now knows well, having spent so long caring for its owner while she was helplessly unresponsive…

Regret and guilt sweep over Ygraine’s face, to then be (mostly) displaced by sympathy. She shifts position, lightly resting a hand on Tamara’s back.

“I am sorry,” she says quietly. Both a general truth, with regard to so much of her own life and Tamara’s, and a present truth for the other two members of the strange little family Ygraine had lived so close to, a lifetime ago in Le Rivage.

What Tamara knows or suspects, she does not push to find out. Judah Demsky was, after all, one half of an all-too-effective piece of bait dangled before Ygraine, to push her to set up the Ferry for a fall. That the trap cost herself and Liz what remained of their mundane lives just seemed to be collateral damage. That the endeavour found neither Judah nor Scott strikes the Briton as a far greater loss. And one that she has long feared was terminal.

Still, she had hoped that for Tamara to have once been loved was to always be loved: that she could forever see as present those who cared for her.

Lashes lower over too-bright eyes, and she fights the urge to swallow lest it be audible to her companion. “Thank you. For sharing this time with me. For letting me help.”

Frankly, she has precious little idea what she really is to her… friend, surrogate sister/daughter, saviour… but the importance of trust is one of the few foundation stones holding up what remains of her world. And however much faith she invests in Tamara, being chosen as the caretaker for the seer’s 12-day slumber is an act of faith she had never thought she would receive in return.

“Just make sure to bounce a ball at me again in future, okay?” The smile on her lips is as heart-felt and genuine as the break in her voice.

What the woman does not ask, the seer does not answer; it's a conversation she feels markedly less than equipped to hold, and one that provides little benefit for either of them. Instead, Tamara tucks the chain back under her shirt, then leans in to wrap her arms around Ygraine, folding her head against a shoulder.

"Thank you," she murmurs, soft voice not quite muffled by the jacket her cheek presses to. "For everything." Words that apply backwards, that apply forwards; their weight is perceived differently by each of the women, and yet no less strongly for that.

Tamara smiles as Ygraine continues, affection tempered with a faded reflection of sorrow. "Of course," she assures, reaching out to clasp the other woman's hands between her own. "As long as you were there to catch it."

Though she lacks the time-filled seer’s talent for it, Ygraine is becoming increasingly accustomed to viewing the mirror - whatever small portion of it she can glimpse through the fractures in her own mind - as filtering past and future as well as present. Just as her expression of regret encompassed more than the here and now, she presumes that the gratitude Tamara returns is similarly extended throughout their shared timelines.

However long and however numerous they might be.

The hug is warmly returned, all the more so for being harder to carry into one’s futures than are words. Gloved fingers brush momentarily against tousled blonde hair, before distance is regained and both her hands are snared between Tamara’s own.

Her smile is brittle but intense, eyes shimmering as she tries to meet and steadily hold Tamara’s gaze. “Thank you,” she murmurs again, grateful for what she takes as a second affirmation that they each survive long enough for at least one more meeting.

“I’ll catch it as often as I can,” she says hoarsely, trying to suppress thoughts of a bloodied Tamara collapsing into her arms while in the corpse-strewn chamber behind them a tortured victim hurtles towards the destruction of a corrupted dream of Eden.

Instead, she attempts to bring to mind - and to cling to - a red ball bouncing on a sunlit table, laughter and freshly-prepared food. To make herself believe that that can be their shared present again. Even just one more time.

Then she finds a stronger smile, even as a tear slips free of her lashes to trace a path of sharpened cold down her cheek. “I’m proud of you. And honoured to know you. And so very, deeply grateful that you look after us. Take care of yourself, too, okay? And… I look forward to seeing you again.”

Goodbye, she doesn’t say. Since this time, at least, she already knows that it wasn’t.

No goodbye comes from the seer, either. Only affectionate warmth, as the traces of her former sorrow fade away along with the moments that had caused them. In contrast to Ygraine, Tamara's gaze is steady, her expression unwavering and untouched by tears. But then, from her perspective, the Brit is being left in a pretty comfortable, safe situation… and the seer feels no need to be concerned for herself.

Tamara does not offer compliments, praise, blessings, even platitudes in return; only that constant, resolute presence and the promises already given, both implicit and explicit. Nor does she appear in any way discomfited by either Ygraine's words or the depth of emotion displayed; they are gifts consistent with the tenor of the interwoven roads yet before them, and so far as the seer is concerned her friend has every right to do as she sees fit.

In the silence that follows, Tamara tips her head, eyes darkening slightly as she reads that tenor, the texture and color and sense of possibilities stretching ahead. She does not reach for when or where or how, recognizing them to be so distant as to yield only at cost, but an impression lingers, one worth sharing. Releasing Ygraine's hands, she reaches up, touching fingertips lightly to the angle of the woman's jaw.

"I think," Tamara says far more lightly, a hint of wry amusement curving her lips, "you wanted to look at braids."

Ygraine blinks, before a surprised laugh slips free. She holds still, not wanting to break the contact in spite of the instinctive temptation to turn her head and try to look at her own hair. “Braids in the plural, hmm? Interesting. I’ve often worn it in a braid in the past - it makes it a lot easier to tuck down the back of a bike jacket - but experimenting with more styles, rather than simply focusing on how to pretend that this much hair is practical, could be a lot of fun. And I can’t remember when I last thought about trying more than one braid at once….”

Refocusing upon Tamara rather than a blurred mix of memory and imagined future possibilities, she smiles again. “Would you like to try braiding, yourself?” Again, she avoids pinning down specifics about whose hair might be braided by whom, giving the blonde as much freedom in interpreting the query as she can.

Tamara grins as Ygraine speaks, cheerful, amused. And as the woman finishes, she also laughs, light, brief, playful. The kind of laugh that hints at you're so off-base… but also exactly as intended. Catching Ygraine's hands in her own once more, Tamara interlaces their fingers together, figuratively sidesteps the question. "Braids," she echoes, leaning in to brush a quick kiss against Ygraine's cheek. "Think about it!"

Then, with that parting shot, the seer steps back. Releases Ygraine's hands. Turns and collects her things — backpack slung over shoulders, lunch long since gone cold scooped up in her hands. Walks away, purposeful but without haste.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, she doesn't look back.

Ygraine blinks, then laughs… blushing a little as she inwardly chides herself for letting herself slip out of the habit of reading Tamara’s words on multiple levels. After all, the blonde hadn’t touched her hair when speaking of braids.

Raising a hand in farewell, she muses briefly upon complex patterns in flowing water - or larger ones, across a landscape. Then, with a flash of amusement at the irony, she hauls herself back to the present moment so that she can focus upon Tamara.

A deep breath, then she lifts her voice: clear and tuneful in the snow-draped quiet, but of the ‘amateur chorister’ level rather than being on a par with the assorted professional singers she knows. Still, it suits the bittersweet lilt of her chosen tune - a slight tweak of something from where she grew up, that she thinks that even the seer might not have heard in many of her possible futures.

Forever you’ll be eyes of blue,
In the circle of your youth.
Picking every blade of truth
Down our future roads.

Her token of gratitude offered up, she sighs quietly, wiping at her eyes with cold-gloved hands, then finds a wistful smile as she tucks into the last of her lunch, watching Tamara disappear from view.

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