This is My Friend


colette_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title This is My Friend
Synopsis After accepting Tamara's ability, Colette tries to glean more understanding of it. She doesn't quite get what she wants, but some progress is made.
Date September 13, 2008 (afternoon to evening)

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Morningside Heights

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 - true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events - most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone - non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.

The cross-town walk from Queens to Morningside heights takes most of the afternoon. Not simply because of the distance, but because of Colette's fascination with everything that catcher her eye. She carries about the journey from the cemetary with an upbeat and whimsical attitude; stopping on street corners to inspect a curious flyer plastered to a wall, peering down an alleyway to view a building that was struck by debris from the bomb while everything around it remained undamaged, perusing a roadside market. All the while holding up a rambling conversation with Tamara. Long gone is the reticent young girl who was stumbling over her words, now she was full of vivacious energy, often taking Tamara by the hand, trying to drag her from one spot to another. Colette occasionally will pause on the street, framing a scene with her fingers as if viewing them through an imaginary camera, even to the point of making a click sound with her mouth.

The topics she covers on her walk are as eccentric as she is, wandering from talking about her sister Nicole, to her decision to abandon the state-run orphanage, to spouting off facts about pidgeons when she spots a pair nesting in the eaves of a nearby building. She seems content to whip at breakneck speeds from topic to topic, making certain that Tamara is with her the whole while.

Cutting through the upper east side, Colette would muse about clothing she spots in the windows, reminiscing about the things she used to wear and own when she had things she could be proud of, things that belonged to her. She carries on about picking out clothes for Tamara, walking backwards down the sidewalk while wildly gesturing with her arms, pretending to take pictures of the girl with her hands, all in all acting as a girl her age should.

They cut through Central Park, where Colette stops to watch people coming and going in the light rain, discusses her time spent here, about the people she's met since she's been on her own. Finally meandering out of the park and through the upper west side, looking up at the highrises and expensive apartments, daydreaming about living at the top of a building so tall she could see all of New York, "the good and the bad", and "frame it so everyone else could see it too."

But this afternoon spent fantasizing about her life soon comes to an end-point, rising up in the gray skies like some disapproving parental figure, a looming cathedral of dark stone and sharp angles that casts a foreboding silhouette on the skyline. Colette regards it much in the she would a figure of authority — with respect tinted by resentment. As the two approach the church, Colette walks side by side with the older girl, a smile spread on her face so wide it threatens to split her cheeks.

Tamara is much more subdued than her companion. As they walk and Colette rambles, she is content to let the younger girl hold up the conversation, just as she allows Colette to lead. Her own comments are few, far between, and invariably cryptic. Open to interpretation at best. Yet her attitude is pleased, at least, if with a bit of a patient 'I really can't keep up with you, but that's okay' undertone. Some days, she's the one who rambles, so it's only fair. Where Colette greets the church with less-than-perfect cheer, Tamara gives its silhouette a smile. "Race you!" the precog declares, and charges forward down the empty road with all the abandon of a much younger child.

Colette is puzzled, looking down from where her eyes had settled on the roof of the church to see Tamara darting off towards the front doors, "H-Hey!" Colette scrunches up her nose and starts running as well, her backpack thumping up and down and her messenger bag smacking against her right side as she doesm "That's so not fair!" The sprint to the church proves to be a solid victory for Tamara, discovering that not only is Colette weighted down by her bags, but also the young girl is woefully out of shape. By the time she comes up towards the front steps, she's hunching over to catch her breath, looking up at Tamara with a crooked smile none the less. She seems happier than her older companion has ever seen.

"Y-you…" She pants for a moment, waving one hand flippantly up towards the girl, "Not fair." She breaks out into a breathless laugh, stumbling up that last step to lean her shoulder against one of the cold and damp stone walls. Tamara can see the lack of sleep playing in her features, the dark circles under her eyes. From how thin Colette is, she can see how poorly she's been keeping herself fed — not that she hasn't been eating, but she hasn't been eating well. That only serves to compound her non-athletic nature. Despite all of this, though, she just smiles broadly, "S'not fair…" She says again, laughing to herself, "Guess we're goin' in…" Her eyes dart over to Tamara, "Are, you okay with like… a lot of people? It's pretty busy, "She nods to the door, "You know, inside." The last thing she wants is to scare Tamara off.

Taking the steps two at a time, Tamara abruptly freezes on the last one, seeming to have just her toes on its edge and no more secure perch than that. Yet she doesn't more than wobble a bit. She looks over her shoulder at Colette, offering a crooked smile of her own in return. One more wry than anything else. "The mirror knows where it went," the older teen replies, in what seems to be intended as reassurance.

Shortly after Colette reaches the stairs, the door opens, a woman stopping on its threshold with a surprised squawk. She hadn't expected to almost collide with Tamara. "Oh, excuse me!" She looks at Colette. Looks at Tamara. Looks more closely. "Well, now, aren't you a sight!" Surprise and recognition quickly transforms into a well-meaning chide. "Does anyone ever feed you, little lady?" It can't be said that Tamara eats well, either. The woman, Amelia by name, waves them both inside. "Come on in out of the wet, girls; we can at least get you dried off."

Colette jumps a bit at the sound of a voice, her eyes had begun to wander the path back from the church distractedly. When that familiar tone snags her back to reality, her eyes blink and she looks up to the woman with a gentle, if not somewhat nervous, smile. "Oh, ah, y-yeah, thanks…" Despite her good nature, Colette seems remarkably uncomfortable as she moves over to where Tamara stands, then walks in ahead of her, offering the older girl a hand — despite all that she carries. The hand seems almost more for Colette's reassurance than anything else, there is an anxiousness about her here, something unsettled. "We, ah, were out…" Her brow furrows, looking at the floor as she walks in, as if that is what is expected of her.

"This is…" Consideration comes to her words, "This is my friend, Tamara." Finally Colette looks up the older woman, as if to gauge her response to the introduction. Whether or not the familiarity Amelia showed was to Tamara or herself, she's blindly unaware. Then, after a moment, unnecessary humility washes over her, "Y'don't need to make a fuss, I can just — you know — take care of things myself. M'sure you've got a lot to do." The way Colette carries herself speaks volumes of her interactions with adults, a visible fear and wariness, like a dog struck one too many times that now "knows its place."

Tamara catches the outstretched hand, offering Colette a smile. She follows the younger girl in, shaking her head at her — whether Colette notices or not. With her free hand, she pokes the other teen's shoulder. Not hard, but it's something of a chide nonetheless. A reminder. Don't be sorry. Amelia gets a bright, if brief, smile before Tamara starts leading the way down the hall.

"Nonsense," said woman replies briskly, brushing away Colette's humble protests as she might a cobweb. Swish; gone. "Nothing on this earth is so important I can't make time for you." Amelia watches Tam go by with a surprised look, which she then transfers to Colette. "Tamara, is it? It's good to have a name to go with the face." And she follows in the wake of the girls, allowing the door to swing closed behind. "Would you like me to carry one of those for you, honey?" Amelia offers to Colette.

The poke from Tamara immediately draws Colette's attention, looking over with a momentarially puzzled expression. Though as it dawn on her how suffocated she's acting, her lips twist into an awkward smile, "Sorry" she mouths before looking up to Amelia as she talks. Her eyes follow the older woman, and at her offer, Colette fretfully looks down to the bag at her side. "Oh — um," She puts on a thankful smile, "N-no it's alright. Just clothes in the big one, I've lugged it this far right? What's a little more?" One brow raises at her own rhetoric, and she looks over to Tamara. There's something in her expression — a question she wants to ask — but her silence is indicative of the nature of it.

"So, wait," She changes gears in her head, going with something more innocuous, "Have you been here before?" She looks back and forth from Amelia to Tam, "I mean, I know you're like, all over the place." She squeezes Tamara's hand once, "Never seen you so excited to be somewhere before." Colette's awkwardness and nervousness fades slowly, thanks in part to Tamara's presence and reassurance. There seems to be, despite everything about her nature that would be contrary, a grounding effect Tamara has on the other wayward girl. Something that keeps Colette focused and stable, clearly something that gives her reason to not stare at her feet in self-induced shame.

Wanting isn't asking, and Tamara lets the unspoken slide. The question that is spoken, however, earns Colette a wince. "The colors are pretty. Glowing like butterflies in the sunlight." Statements which are neither here nor there, and — judging from her expression — look to frustrate Tamara almost as much as the people who hear them. But she holds out a hand to a stained-glass shadow — unfortunately not so bright as it would be if the day weren't rainy — and wiggles her fingers in the colored light, before they pass it by entirely.

"If you're sure," is Amelia's response to Colette, words that can't figure out whether they belong on the 'regretful disagreement' or 'approval' side of the line. It's good the girl keeps hold of her things, the way this city is — but it goes against the grain to leave her carrying it by herself. "She comes through sometimes," the woman replies, when Tamara fails to address the query. "Blows in with the storm-winds, more often than not. She's a hard one to forget." A sad smile, as she watches the precog make her way down the hall. Words are considered, and ultimately tossed aside. "I'm glad you girls found each other," is what Amelia settles for saying.

Colette eyes Tamara, completely not getting it at first, but when she sees the light from the stained-glass windows, a smile creeps up on her lips, and gives Tamara's hand anothe rgentle squeeze, "I gotcha!" She exclaims, perhaps a bit too proudly. When her focus shifts back to Ameila, Colette seems pensive, teeth toying with her lower lip in a thoughtful manner while her eyes drift to the side. Something Amelia says, though, immediately resonates with Colette as she follows her, "Impossible to forget." Her tone of voice is rather filled with assurance in that, "I'm glad too, really." She looks back to Tamara, then back to Amelia. "Um, I ah… can…" She swallows her pride, "Do you think we could get um, you know," Her eyes wander, "Something to eat? I gotta change into something dry, but… L-lunch would be good." Lunch near sunset, it gave a good indication of both Colette's schedule and her eating habits.

The conversation no longer stops at her, and so Tamara leaves the other two to it. She leads the way around a corner and down another hall, as if she's been here before — and yet the girl doesn't walk at a consistent pace, but slows to look and touch… more like someone who's never seen the interior of a cathedral before. Meeting Colette's glance, she offers the younger teen a smile, but doesn't attempt to speak.

"Of course!" Amelia replies without a moment's hesitation. Even if she makes a quiet tsking sound at the mention of it being lunch. "It's not a soup day, but that just means you won't have to share the hall." She steps around the girls, smiling at them both in passing. "I'll go see what's out. You just get yourselves dried off and settle in." And the woman continues down the hall at the brisk pace that seems to characterize her every action.

Watching Tamara's actions, the curious way she admires the construction of the cathedral, Colette seems to keep comments to herself in a manner that suggests not wanting to. Her teeth draw her lower lip between them, and when Amelia agrees to Colette's request in such a matronly manner, the young girl's attention switches to her. "Thank you," She says in a quiet, humble voice. It's not out of any sense of disappointment in herself or obligation, but honest thanks. There's a different tone in her voice when she feels put-upon. As Amelia departs, Colette looks back to Tamara, walking a bit closer to her as she does.

"How does it work?" There's a serious look in Colette's eyes, a gentle squeeze of the hand she's held, still led by Tamara, trusting her to know exactly where to go. "You know, your thing." She has no idea of what to call it, nor does she understand it. It seems to be a measure of coping, to ask, to try to better grasp the ephemeral nature of the girl.

Quiet as Amelia moves off, Tamara pauses beside a carved pillar. The fingers of her free hand brush over the decorations, not quite touching them. "Even the rocks have shadows. Especially when they aren't really rocks. Weights in the river. They don't move." Stepping away from the column, she continues down the hall. Her free hand rubs over her eyes, back over tangled blonde hair. And the teen looks sidelong to Colette, expression weary. "Don't see. Reflections, shadows, light on the water. Always changing. Just… rocks." It's almost a sigh; Tamara sounds, if anything, a bit envious of their good fortune.

Colette's brow tenses, her head tilting to one side, tongue pushing against the inside of her cheek as she follows Tamara with her eyes, trying to puzzle out the explanation. It doesn't paint a look of sense on Colette's face, and she shakes her head in confusion, "I… guess I should have figured as much?" She smiles, despite herself. "I don't really understand, but," Her smile turns a bit more earnest, "From the sound of it you seem used to that."

Colette keeps her voice down, doing her best not to draw attention to something it's evident that her friend doesn't want broadcast for all to see, for good reasons. "I'm sorry if I, um, ask too many questions. I just…" She keeps up pace with Tamara, not seeming to mind the meandering nature of their journey through the old building. "I'm trying." Her smile punctuates what Tamara already knows, had always known; Colette's predisposition, and her desire to change it in light of recent discoveries. "If… if I ask too much, you know…" Her teeth toy with her lower lip anxiously, "Let me know. I promise'll shut up."

In response, the older teen shakes her head slowly. "It wasn't. But sometimes the pieces were too sharp. Light and crystal, scattered on the edges. They're very pretty," Tamara comments ingenuously. "All the rainbows in the colors." She skips forward and turns to face Colette, catching her other hand as well. Walking backwards, now, but that's no hazard for her. "They didn't always come with rain. It's a funny name. You couldn't tie them in bows." A moment later, Tamara releases Colette's hands, pressing her palms over her eyes. Still walking, in the brief silence. "I'm sorry," she says quietly.

As Tamara speaks, Colette's expression shifts from mildly confused, to completely lost, and then eventually to blissful ignorance as she listens to the poetic manner in which the older girl speaks. When she turns, breaking into a skip, Colette quirks her head in a surprised motion, but as her other hand is taken she only begins to smile broadly, shifting her shoulder quickly to settle the strap of her messenger bag more fully over it. Her attention, now, solely on Tamara and less the cathedral.

"You… you really have a way of putting things that makes me feel kind've… slow." Her lips curl up into a grin, "But, it's pretty, I mean… the way you talk. Even if I don't understand it most of the time, it's like…" She wrinkles her nose, "You should write it down, it's like some kind've poetry! I'm sure people have written weirder stuff and passed it off as art." He smile turns a bit wry and she seems, despite what almost seems like a language barrier, to be enjoying the conversation; One-sided as it is to her. Then, though, one brow raises over her blind eye, "Sorry… for?"

The teen shakes her head again at the mention of writing. A little more forcefully. But she doesn't make a verbal reply. One moment passes, replaced by another. Her hands drop to her sides, as Tamara turns to face forward again, moving back into her previous place at Colette's side. The question is met with a sidelong glance. A puzzled look. After sufficient time for thought, for attempted recollection, it is met with another headshake. Slow motion, and a thin, rueful smile. "I don't know." She seems as accustomed to that as to being met with non-comprehension.

Rolling her eyes in mock distress, Colette cracks a smile, "Well fine, maybe I could write it then? You can talk about all the stuff that you do, about colors and lights and reflections on water and all that." She waves one hand, wiggling her fingers as if to represent the sparkling play of light on water, "And I could be your, uh," She falters, searching for a less mundane word, but fails. "Your uh, writer-person." She cracks a smile, struggling to settle that messenger beg on her shoulder again. "Ugh, that's the one thing I hate about this place. It takes forever to get anywhere because it's like, so huge."

The change in subject is met with a slow smile, as the conversation steers away from difficult questions. "You could." The offer is met with a contented sort of shrug — it makes no difference to Tamara, one way or the other, but she has neither cause nor desire to object. Blue eyes lift to the hall before them, and the smile broadens. "Forever was a long time. Even rocks don't go so far." A reassuring glance. "It wasn't so much. Here." Another corner, and they come into sight of their destination — though there's still a short corridor left to traverse.

Colette cracks a smile, "I guess the simpler comments are met with easier answers." She tilts her head, brushing a lock of hair away from her good eye, "It'll be nice to get into something dry." After that comment, she looks down the hall, eyeing their destination. It may have been a function hall at some point in the past, now it has more of the look of crowded evacuation shelter, the kind seen during large storms. Rows and rows of cots are lined up side by side along the room, beneath vaulted ceilings. Each bed features a small portable curtain rack on wheels around it, similar to privacy curtains in hospitals, giving a modicum semblance of enclosure in an otherwise shared living space for many displaced people. While the population here has thinned over the recent months, there's still enough transients who simply have nowhere else to go to keep it from feeling spacious, despite the hall's great size.

"It's not so bad, here," Colette muses on watching their destination coming up, "I mean, it's better than the state-home…" Her brows furrow at that, nose wrinkling up into a distasteful expression before evening out again. "So, wait, where do you stay?" She eyes Tamara, once more trying to rake that damp lock of hair from over her good eye. "I mean, you have to have somewhere you call home, right?"

Simple is usually good. Tamara picks out Colette's allotted space without so much as a moment's hesitation, much less any questions. She just walks over to it, flopping down unceremoniously to sit with her back against the wall. A glance to the left. A glance to the right. Then she looks up at the other girl. "I like it here," the teen declares. Apparently, here is where she's staying. Home… the lack of answer is probably answer enough. It'll serve for now, at least.

Watching Tamara find the place she's been settled into for the last few weeks without so much as an indication from her, Colette seems puzzled, momentarially so anyway. "Wow," She cracks an honest smile, pushing aside the curtain as she steps in, watching the way Tamara settles down and leans against the wall. "I mean, I wasn't even heading here and you just — " She shakes her head with a look of marvel in her eyes, "I… I never knew, you know…" She grows quiet, setting her backpack down on top of her cot, unzipping it to rifle through the clothing haphazardly stuffed inside. "I thought you all were dangerous," There's still a disassociation in her manner of speaking. They, them, you people, a common but unfortunate way of thinking.

Looking at what she has in the backpack, Colette lets out a strained sigh, "Man, I hope it warms up soon." She throws down a thin and small shirt onto the cot, along with a pair of folded, black pants. Finally unshouldering her messenger bag, she lays that out on the bed as well, then turns to draw the curtains closed. "Maybe I should see if I can get some more warm stuff, it's not going to be summer for much longer." Unzipping her damp hoodie, Colette tosses that aside, talking as she sits down at the foot of the bed, her back to Tamara as she — somewhat nervously — begins changing out of her cold and wet clothes. "It's…" She talks, to keep herself from feeling more awkward than she already is. "I mean, I used to have so much to choose from, and now it's just what I could scrounge up from the state home, most of it doesn't even fit right." Her dark red t-shirt is peeled off, thrown to one side, revealing her pale and bare back, marred by a line of three somewhat deep scars, two in the shape of circles on her right shoulderblade, the other a long and straight groove that crosses the width of her back by her waist.

"Sis used to let me borrow her clothes all the time…" She says with a distant tone of voice, thoughtful and reminiscent, "Always go ther hand-me-downs," She reaches over, holding the red shirt up to her chest as she pulls the dry clothing over to herself, glancing over at Tamara for a moment before turning her back on the girl again. As she pulls the thin, dark green sleeveless t-shirt. "We used to argue about who borrowed who's clothes…" She leans forward, unlacing her boots, one by one kicking them off to the floor with heavy clunks to reveal mis-matched socks. "Arguments." Colette says with a self-chastising tone of voice, shaking her head.

While Colette rambles, Tamara is quiet. Food isn't a driving force for her. Neither is the damp of her clothes; not so long as she's in a warm and dry place such as this. It'll resolve before it poses a hazard to her health, at least this time. And her capacity for conversation that is meaningful in any sense has been nearly maxed out. So the older teen merely listens. In the end, she closes her eyes, venturing only one remark. "Everyone was."

Looking over her shoulder as she leans back to work out of her soaked jeans, Colette eyes Tamara for a moment, noticing the way she's relaxed against the wall. Her oddly worded comment draws only momentary attention from the younger girl, "You look tired," She says quietly, grabbing the black khakis she had taken out of her backpack, slinging them over by one leg as she slides one leg in at a time, pulling them up with a contented sigh. "Here," She says quietly, standing now that she's changed into more comfortable clothing, "Lemmie clear this off." She tugs her backpack by one strap, letting it fall to the floor unceremoniously, followed by more carefully moving her messenger bag, putting it on the floor, then urging it under the bed with one socked foot. "Come lay down…" She steps over to Tamara, offering both of her hands, "At least for a little while. I'll go eat, bring something back for you, and you can relax while I'm gone." There's an uncertainty in her expression as to whether the offer extended will be accepted. "It's… the least I can do."

One blue eye cracks open at Colette's offer, peering up at the younger girl. After a moment, she nods, just once, reaching out to take the offered hands. "Can do that," Tamara agrees, sitting down on the edge of the cot. She gives Colette a small, crooked smile, seeming content to stay where she is for the moment.

Watching Tamara as she helps her up, Colette affords the older girl a smile, "I don't know what it is you see, and I'm not going to ask you to try an explain it," Her eyes drift to the floor once Tamara settles down on the bed. "But whatever it is," She walks over and bends down, standing up her boots to allow herself to step into them, working her heels from side to side to get her foot in comfortable. "I'm happy that you saw it…" She grows thoughtful and silent, crouching to lace up each calf-high boot before tugging her pant legs down over them. "You relax, and let me take care of you for once, even if you don't really need me to." She straightens, walking over to the curtain before pulling it back. She's about to step out, then hesitates, looking over her shoulder to the cot again, "If you're gone when I come back… I'll understand." Though from the sound of it, it's clear she hopes that's not the case, "But I want you to know," Her lips creep up into a smile, "I'll come looking for you." With that, she steps out and closes the curtain, willing for the moment to seperate herself from the only friend she has. Because now, Colette feels, there's less space between them, even if they're apart.

There's a time and a place for all things. A time to leave; a time to linger. So, when Colette returns, Tamara will still be here. Curled up on half of the cot, sound asleep — to all outward appearances, dreaming — and apparently not interested in waking back up any time soon. If she isn't truly as vulnerable as sleep makes her seem, that reality isn't one Colette is in position to grasp quite yet, much less internalize; and if Tamara is willing to manipulate that relative naivete, it's only to encourage and strengthen their fledgling friendship. It isn't until much later, when Colette's turn to sleep comes around, that Tamara will disappear again. But she does leave, in her place and for Colette to find, a yellow rose clipped from the cathedral's gardens, a late bloom just now beginning to open.

I hardly even know where to begin...

September 13th: Point of No Return
September 13th: Jagged Little Pill
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