colette3_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Three
Synopsis Colette and Tasha complete the calculus of their life together.
Date December 19, 2011

Bannerman's Castle

Sometimes it’s hard to sleep in Bannerman’s Castle. Other times the white noise of everyone’s lives makes it easier. For Tasha and Colette, sleep has become something done in shifts ever since Tamara returned. There’s not enough space anywhere in Bannerman’s for them all, and Tasha’s small quarters has become home to three now. Floors have become homes for blankets and bedrolls, pillows everywhere, and no personal space to speak of.

To get that space, to have a moment of time to reflect, the only opportunity is often work. Few jobs can be performed in the wee hours after midnight, when generators don’t run and electric lights are used sparingly. But down in the basement of Bannerman’s Castle, two hallways down from the holding cells, a modest sized storage room is outfitted with what amounts to a drafting table refurbished with parts of salvaged wood.

Layers of paper, plastic backing, ink, cellophane transfers, brushes, glue, and other supplies cover a paint-daubed shelf beside the table. Two oil-burning lanterns hang above the drafting table, and to the soft din of a tiny wind-up radio, Tasha Renard finds her space among tweezers, magnifying glasses, and a stack of demagnetized ID cards. The radio softly plays a familiar melody, one that fades in and out of static just enough to be noticable. But it’s white noise, it’s distraction, and it’s work that can keep her hands busy and her mind focused on something other than living under siege.

The music just barely obscures the brush of bare feet over concrete. The intruder creeping up on Tasha needs no light to guide her way, and Colette Nichols’ trap is sprung as a warm blanket is unexpectedly draped over Tasha’s shoulders and a cup of hot tea with a fresh spring of mint harvested from out on the island proper sweeps around through the air as if carried by a ghost.

“You’ve got this, like, cute furrow in your brow when you’re concentrating,” isn’t something ghosts say. But as Colette fades into view in Tasha’s periphery with a fond smile and tired eyes, it’s clear that Tasha isn’t the only one who can’t sleep. The tea — to be shared, no doubt — is proffered out by a less spectral hand, and Colette offers a white-eyed stare at the smaller girl. Though, with how dangerously thin she’d become during imprisonment, she gives off the illusion of being the smaller one now.

“Distractingly cute furrow.”

The fall of that blanket is felt a second before it touches her shoulders, the displaced air brushing against skin and fluttering Tasha’s dark hair. She jumps, slightly, but it’s with a smile, when she sees the tea and turns in time to see Colette appear seemingly out of thin air.

Tasha reaches up to rub the furrow as if she could erase it and makes a face. “Have you seen my dad’s? It’s like someone carved an eleven right between his brows. Let’s hope I take after my mother,” she says with a laugh — these days, it’s a fond laugh.

A fleeting one, too, as the worry for her parents — for her father especially — slides into her gut.

She doesn’t give it voice, but instead reaches for the tea to set it down on the desk, then reaches for Colette’s hand to pull her down onto her lap to share the chair. “Hi,” she says, brushing her lips against Colette’s. “Can’t sleep? I hope I didn’t wake you.”

Colette folds lightly into Tasha’s lap, one thin arm around her back under the blanket. She dismisses notion of what kept her up, even though it was her own mind. Instead, she just rests her head against Tasha’s and closes her eyes. “Your dad looks like someone carved a caricature of a stressed guy out of soapstone,” Colette playfully jabs with a crooked smile, then presses her cold nose to Tasha’s cheek.

“Had a lot on my mind,” Colette finally admits after a moment of hiding her feelings. She’d promised to be better about it, and the brief period of avoidance had already twisted a knot into her stomach. “I… woke up, saw you were gone and just… slipped out.” Words are breath against Tasha’s cheek, and Colette is a large distraction to her work in a small package.

“I…” Colette lifts her chin up, nose now finding its way to Tasha’s forehead, as if to inspect her for any surreptitiously engraved elevens. “How’re you doing?” Isn’t intended to sound concerned, but Colette is, and hadn’t realized how much until the words finally came out. “We never really —” she stumbles over her words, clears her throat, and moves her other arm just enough to steal a sip from the tea.

She forgot honey, and her nose wrinkles at the discovery. She lets her stumble become a falter, and collects her thoughts, while secretly hoping Tasha fills the silence with something clever. Something obvious to solve her unvoiced concerns, the ones that make her draw her arm tighter around Tasha’s waist, protectively, and needfully.

“He does, right? I thought it might just be me,” Tasha says with a grin. It too is short-lived, fading when Colette’s words don’t quite come, knowing that there’s more to it than a bit of insomnia. She reaches up to push a lock of hair out of Colette’s face, tucking it behind one ear.

“I’m okay,” isn’t anything too clever, unfortunately. “I don’t feel very useful here, sometimes, you know?” She glances to the art supplies and forged cards she’s been making for people, should they be able to evacuate farther north. “This is about all I can do, and it doesn’t feel like enough, but…”

Her words trail off, and she shrugs, her arms finding their way back around Colette’s too-thin form. “It doesn’t matter. I came for you. I don’t have to be super useful. I’ll eat less so I don’t have much keep to earn.” There’s a grin at that, a slight joke.

Tasha’s own worries are pushed aside. “Do you want to talk about it?” Whatever’s on Colette’s mind, she means.

There’s a heaviness to Colette that belies her small frame, one that comes with a loosening of tension. She melts, after a fashion, against Tasha and fits just so with her legs draped over the other girl’s lap. They fit together in a way that makes these shared moments unusually comfortable, fingers that fit together nicely when hands are held, chins that rest effortlessly into the crook of a neck.

“You’re makin’ lives,” is Colette’s way of avoiding the topic, even if temporarily. She means the ID cards, though gives no indication of such. “S’not flashy or punchy, but you’re savin’ all these people.” Then, eyes opening partway, she regards Tasha with a vestigial look shadowed by the jagged fringe of her lashes. “Savin’ us, too. One’f these days.” Whenever they can get out of Pollepel.

But then, she’s danced around the heavier stuff long enough. “Tamara,” is practically exhaled. It’s clear it’s hard to talk about, the tangle of lives and hearts first encountered in the lobby of LeRivage what feels like a lifetime ago, but was so much more recent. Colette presses her hand to the small of Tasha’s back, fingertips tracing gentle paths, but also clinging as if afraid the invocation of the seer’s name might make Tasha disappear into smoke like her father.

“I love you,” Colette dithers, but nevertheless stays on point. “An’,” her brows furrow together, “you’n me are for keeps.” Her fingertips press more firmly at the younger woman’s back. “But…” Colette struggles with the words, never learned how to properly express her feelings. Nothing familial was ever about talking, it was only ever about secrets. She learned to push things down, not bring them up. It shows in the tension that returns to her, the stillness of her breathing.

“I love her too,” is Colette’s whisper; fearful, challenged, small. “When ” she tries to steady herself, ends up rambling. “I never thought I’d find anybody, not not like you, not like her. Not— not like anyone.” But she circles back, all startle and leap. “M’scared,” Colette finally admits, the raspiness in her voice smoothed off from when she first arrived. But though the physical injuries are healing, the deeper ones haven't.

Tasha’s learned to give Colette time to find the words, simply being there and open to listening, waiting out the starts and stops. She occupies that waiting time with small, soothing touches, fingers tracing Colette’s hairline, lips brushing Colette’s jaw. When it seems all the words have come, she’s quiet a moment, herself, but there’s no tension creeping into her muscles, no quickening of her heartbeat to suggest she’s upset.

“You can love both of us,” Tasha finally murmurs, the words lilting up as if it’s a question, maybe as directed at herself as it is at Colette. But then she nods, the gesture more felt than seen as she wraps Colette in a tighter hug.

“We’re for keeps,” she agrees, pressing her forehead against Colette’s. “And I love you. And I love her, too. And I don’t think you have to split your heart. I couldn’t make you do that. I wouldn’t want you to, and I wouldn’t want to ever take anything from her, either. If I’d known her, I might not’ve even…” But she didn’t. And they did. And she doesn’t regret it, so she just shakes her head.

She pulls back a little, her darker eyes seeking Colette’s, even if they can’t see her back. “I love you and that’s enough, Cole. And I believe that love is infinite and exponential. It isn’t pie. Giving her some doesn’t take away from me. Okay?”

Tears dampen Tasha’s collar, warm in the way Colette’s cheeks are. They've known each other long enough that Tasha understand the contexts of Colette’s crying by how much she fights it. Angry has tremors, shaking, clipped sobs. Sad is deep, hiccuping, long and drawn out. Happy, that's this, starts silent and flush with warmth, then turns into a tightening embrace and whispered nothings against skin.

Colette’s fingers curl into Tasha’s shirt, her nose moves to press against the underside of the other girl’s jaw, finds a nook there and stays. “How are you like this?” She asks to the side of Tasha’s throat. It’s voiced in disbelief, but anchored in wonderment. Slowly, Colette sits up in Tasha’s lap and looks into her eyes as much as her unfocused stare allows.

Not saying anything, Colette twines her fingers with Tasha’s and guides her hand up to Colette’s bare shoulder beneath her loose hoodie. To scar tissue there, near her clavicle. It isn't new, and it's not a surprise. It is, however, a promise. Colette keeps one of her hands over Tasha’s atop that bullet scar, then leans down and presses their foreheads together.

“I will always,” Colette’s voice trembles, “be in that moment with you. Do— do you know —” she swallows, a flutter in her chest. “In the truck, in your lap, scared out of my mind. I was —” she's babbling again, crying, and brushing her free hand across Tasha’s cheek as she whispers those words out.

“Nothing's changed,” Colette roughly whispers, pushing Tasha’s nose aside with her own, teeth on lips, laughter bubbling up with emotional undertones. “Not a fucking thing since that day. I don't care how many bullets, don't care how scared I am,” there’s laughter and brief sobs between kisses. “We are for fucking ever,” is rasped out like a vow. “Never trusted someone so— never —” she laughs again, thing brushing over Tasha’s bottom lip.

“Who even are you?” Colette asks with her face contorted into a flushed look of love and embarrassment at how simply overwhelmed she is with feelings.

Tasha traces the scar tissue when Colette’s hand brings hers there, and she laughs, a soft, husky thing, as Colette’s tears draw her own. She sniffles and shakes her head.

“And I couldn’t believe you thought I knew what the hell I was doing,” she replies wryly. “You probably shouldn’t’ve, trusted me. I barely knew what side of a gun was up. Do you remember? We were like ‘one of those M-whatever rifles.’ Raith and Eileen probably wanted to leave us with a babysitter, let alone bring us on missions.”

She pushes the wayward strand of hair that’s snaked its way out from behind Colette’s ear back again. “We managed to get into our share of trouble. You were always the bright side to everything, though.” She tips her head up and tugs Colette down a little to brush her lips against hers, then noses her.

“For-ev-er,” Tasha repeats, intoning the word with the emphasis given to it in the movie the Sandlot, one they’d watched with the Lighthouse kids more times than they could count during the snowstorm. “I’m your partner,” she says to the question of who she is, suddenly deadpan. “Did you hit your head again? I thought we established this.”

“Just wonderin’ if you were some really amazing figment of my ‘magination,” Colette replied breathlessly, “or— if you'd mistaken me for somebody who ain't a complete wreck?” There's a bubble of laughter, and Colette slides both of her arms around Tasha’s neck. “‘Cause I don't know what I did t’deserve you’n her, but I wound up with y’both anyway.”

Swallowing between the sputtering last flutters of laughter and crying, Colette reaches up to run her fingers through Tasha’s hair, then curls them firmly between dark locks. “S’not about deservin’, not really.” Colette admits, smiling so broadly her infrequently seen dimples manifest. “It's about being.” Fingertips trace the back of Tasha’s neck.

“Bein’ the best for each other. S’what I'm gonna be. Once we get outta here,” Colette looks around. Maybe she means Pollepel, maybe she means the Ferrymen entirely. The latter seems harder to believe, with both of their fiery convictions. “M’gonna make us the best lives an’— an’ everyone’s gonna be jealous.”

That smile bubbles back up. “You can be like,” she eyes some of the ID cards. “Beatrice Delongue, a former fashion designer from California, and…” her brows raise, “I'm your secretary, Pearl, from a little town in Idaho…” she slouches against Tasha, cracking a smile. “An’ Tamara can be —”
Colette’s nose wrinkles. “Ok she's really bad at pretending stuff…” is a gross misjudgment on Colette’s part, but in some cases ignorance is bliss.

Her assessment trails off into muffled laughter between kisses. “We’ll have a house, with a garden. I miss my garden,” comes like a revelation. “And cats? Are you a cat person? I mean I already have a dog so— dogs?” The uptick of her voice implies it can be anything. She believes they can be anything, and it will be perfect so long as they're together.

Happy Colette is something Tasha wasn’t sure she’d see again, even though she knew — willed herself to believe it so strongly it was a given — she’d see Colette again. The laughing and bubbly chatting draws a sudden onslaught of tears to Tasha’s eyes, and she suddenly wraps her arms more tightly around the other woman that she’s allowed herself to do, for fear of hurting still-healing wounds.

“You’re what’s best for me, always,” she whispers into Colette’s hair. “Beatrice and Pearl? I don’t think your imagination is quite strong enough to come up with me, so deal with it, I’m real,” she says, trying to keep up with Colette’s levity.

She sniffles once, glad for the moment that Colette can’t see her red, teary eyes, though obviously she can’t hide entirely. “Cats are nice. Dogs, too. Maybe ferrets? We can name them Beatrice and Pearl and one for Tamara, too. Tamara can be…” she thinks for a moment, before settling on “Macy. She’s a stock broker.”

More serious, she touches Colette’s cheek. “Wherever we go, we’ll be what’s right and good for each other. And of course you can have a garden. Just don’t let me touch it, I have a black thumb.”

Tasha holds up her hand — the punchline is mostly for herself. Her fingertips are black from the ink she’s been working with, but Colette can’t see it. “You’ll have to trust me on that.”

“Oh my god you nerd,” Colette breathes out the words in feigned shock, finding her laughter without the need for tears between. For a moment she's quiet, watching Tasha with unseeing eyes, and she realizes in that moment that there might be something resembling a normal life for them one day. No matter how unlikely.

She leans in, pressing a tender kiss to the middle of Tasha’s forehead before stealing her tea again and taking another sip. Mint will always remind her of this night, will find its way into everything in some fashion. She savors the bitterness now, no need for the honey to sweeten it. It tastes like tonight feels, and that's better than any sweetener can do.

“A family,” Colette offers as she cradled the mug of tea in two hands. She likes the sound of the word. Likes the way the idea of it replaces the hurt and the fear in the back of her mind. Even the tender scars, their discomfort is blunted in the here and now.

Then, eyes shifting to the side she remarks, “I think you're onto something though. We… really should get Tamara into like, the stock market or something.” One brow raises and she looks back to Tasha with a lopsided smile. “You were a millionaire,” she offers in playful, tender mocking. “Right?”

The forgotten tea is reached for by Tasha, who doesn’t seem to mind the lack of honey — she drinks her coffee black these days, when there’s coffee to be hand. She laughs at the mimicry of Tamara and shakes her head. “Brilliant. Why didn’t we think of that forever ago?” she asks. “We could be retired in, I don’t know, Aruba or somewhere.”

She sets the tea back in Colette’s hands, wrapping her hands back around the mug since she seems to need that warmth, before settling back into the comfortable cuddle. “A family,” she echoes, her chin finding the spot it fits so well on Colette’s shoulder. “You, me, Tamara, the dog, three ferrets, and a thousand light butterflies, and maybe a cat.”

The cat’s still an uncertainty.

Tasha sighs with contentment, and it feels it’s the release of a breath she’s been holding for a long time. “Love you, Cole.”

Colette, too, unwinds as if from the position of a long-tense coil. She closes her eyes again, leans against the warmth of Tasha’s chest, and for the first time in a long time — longer than the Institute, longer than New York — feels like herself. Feels safe and comfortable in her own skin.

“I love you too,” Colette whispers into Tasha’s shoulder, unable to restrain her smile. “Thanks for… believing in me. Us.” She nudges the smaller girl with her chin, then settles her cheek against Tasha’s shoulder.

“Thanks for finding me.”

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