Two Worlds


luis2_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Two Worlds
Synopsis Scientist and seer. Past and future. Bridging them is frustrating and difficult, the payoff indeterminate.
Date November 22, 2011

Jaiden's Lakeside Getaway, Kabetogama, MN

Tamara's third wakeful day in the middle of nowhere is a quiet one. Dressed in a green knit sweater, pants just one or two shades shy of true black, and definitively black wool socks with astonishingly blue dragonflies on them, she stands at the window of her room looking upon the wooded landscape outside. The red ball she intermittently bounces off the floor, not quite a predictable rhythm in the sounds made as it hits, has accompanied nearly everything she's done over the past two days — perhaps in some respect standing in for the paints that were her most persistent amusement in the ark.

The room is small, defined primarily by a twin bed at one end and a built-in dresser and small closet at the other. There's an endtable with a lamp beside the bed, and a chair beside that — one Ygraine at least has frequented over the past two weeks, but now standing empty. With the sky clear outside, the curtains have been drawn back; the window's on the wrong side of the house to receive direct sunlight, but that's no handicap when it comes to simply illuminating the room.

The ball is bounced off the floor once, twice — then held suspended, Tamara's hands pressed to either side, mildly deforming its curve. The seer turns her head, not quite glancing over her shoulder, profile silhouetted against the brightness outside. Smiles. "Come in!"

On the other side of the door, Doctor Jean-Martin Luis lowers his hand, knuckles just an inch away from the door's surface. He exhales a sigh, looks around and down at the floor as if there might be a stray clue lying around he could get. Instead, he gently pushes the door open and stiffly limps into the room. Luis is bedraggled looking, twelve days unshaven and already sporting a curly beard of mostly gray hair.

"Good…" Luis hesitates, looks askance to the window, then back. "Afternoon, I suppose." Then, more glibly, "Opiates, the common man's time machine." He doesn't walk far into Tamara's room, lingering in the doorway with one weathered hand on the frame. He seems thinner than the last time Tamara saw him, which is dangerous for such a short span of time and a man his age. He doesn't know what to say, and, he presumes she knows what he should. In a way, the silence is a test.

There's mirroring in their current states, as well as innate contrast. She young, inclined to present optimism or at least pleasantry; he aged, weighed down by altogether too many of life's burdens. Both with physiologic well-being strained by recent events, both still fragile in their own ways, both with shadowed awareness lurking beneath their demeanors — though much nearer the surface in one than the other.

"I suppose," Tamara echoes, perhaps agrees. She pivots to face Luis, her smile quirking to one side, amiable welcome giving way to an expression far more subtle in its nuances. Compassion. Sympathy. Apology. The seer crosses the distance the doctor did not, reaches up to rest her palm against his shoulder, the ends of her fingers folding over the curve. "There were…" She breathes out, almost a sigh. "…so few good words. None of them very good. What were words to a world?"

She comprehends that much, at least, reads the tenor and shape of Luis' preoccupations from all the things he could yet say even as their specifics filter past, drowned in the sea of maybe. Comprehends her own role in provoking those preoccupations, in destroying that mentioned world, albeit now only in the broadest of strokes. "Two worlds that barely touch," though, is an association shift, symbol spontaneously morphed into other meaning. "Not so many pieces in the mirror," Tamara continues quietly, taking one step back, another. Turning her upraised hand palm-up so that it becomes invitation, or perhaps offer. "But it gave what it could."

Luis seems silently grim in reflection of Tamara's unusual eloquence, eyes downturned to the hand at his shoulder. The juxtaposition of their relationship should bring some mirth to the old doctor, but none is found. Instead, he takes a step into the room and politely closes the door part way so as to give the illusion of privacy for their conversation where they stand.

"You were…" Luis' eyes sweep across the floor, as if his missing words might be down there. "Extraordinary, and terrifying in equal measure." When he looks up to Tamara, it's with an unsteady stare. "I'm not sure which is more overwhelming at this moment," he looks askance, at nothing in particular, but specifically not her.

"And I," Luis begins a personal assessment. "Was consumed by my hubris." He doesn't feel the need to explain that to her, not anymore now that he's come to understand — as best as anyone can — a small sample of what Tamara is actually capable of. He closes his eyes, inhales slow through his nose, and holds the breath.

Tamara lowers her hand as Luis enters, regarding him patiently as he works his way through words. There are no good ones here, either — not for her to latch onto, not for her to give in return. Extraordinary. Terrifying. Hubris. None of which offer the seer any clearer a path forward.

It's thus her turn to look sidewise at the elder doctor, uncertainty filtering into her expression; then her gaze flicks away, going out the window. Her fingers dimple the ball, flex minutely in and out. A moment later, Tamara shakes her head as if to dismiss some thought, breathes out something not quite a sigh, and turns away from the window. Crossing the two steps to the bed, she hops up on it and pulls her feet up, draping her arms comfortably across her knees. "What would you want to find?" she addresses Luis at last.

"I used to think I knew the answer to that question," Luis mutters as he eases over to the bed himself, settling down stiffly onto the edge. He makes a small noise on sitting, wincing from the pain of his back injury. "Now…" Luis' stare is distantly focused on the floor. "I don't even know what good any of it was."

Turning to Tamara, in the way one might turn to God when at a church, Luis' expression takes on a searching quality. "Your mind may be the world's greatest enigma, and an answer to so many possibilities. But, there are some puzzles that either can't be solved," Luis looks away and back to the floor, "or shouldn't." One of his hands comes up, raking through his disheveled hair.

"What a child, I must seem like…" Luis bitterly muses, "moaning over my failures, heedless to the suffering I've caused others." His brows pinch together, eyes flick back to Tamara. "Caused you."

Tamara tilts her head slightly as Luis answers a question that isn't quite what she'd asked — but that happens. The important thing is that he's talking more, giving the seer something she can actually engage with. The 'what' of it is… relatively immaterial, overall.

Not so immaterial on the personal level, however, and so she pays the words close attention, picking out meaning, piecing together context. When Luis has finished speaking, Tamara straightens, dropping her legs so they hang off the bed. She reaches for the hand still in his lap, draws it out, folds her own around it. "People are people," the seer reminds him, the tenor of her words fitting for any priest in his chapel: Compassion. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

"People carry their ghosts," Tamara continues, tapping three fingers briefly against the doctor's chest. "Even when they didn't want them. Always looking at gone. It's not— " She stops, draws in a breath; at this range, even the modest degree to which her pupils dilate is easily discernible. "It is not where you have been," the sybil says, her enunciation slow, careful, precise; the effort Tamara puts into that handful of words, and those that proceed after, is greater than anything he witnessed from her in the Ark, though not nearly so much as she put forth at its fall. "Learn, yes. But —"

Her hand sweeps out at the room around them, at a greater distance beyond. "All the river still waiting. What shape will you take? What will you grow?" One word that, so emphasized, might imply more about the sybil's philosophy than all the reams of notes Dr. Sheridan ever made.

That same hand curls over her own cheek and temple, framing incipient headache. "A crossroad," Tamara continues more wearily, her posture softening as a measure of fatigue sets in. "But also time for thinking."

"Yes, a crossroads. Or," Luis faintly smiles. "Perhaps more of a fork. These are indeed the moments Frost wrote of, no doubt." Luis' hand has little strength to squeeze with, but he returns the gesture, of only because it seems impolite not to, not because he feels deserving of it.

"Part of me wonders what would have become of your copy, had Simon not delayed your appointment with Doctor Carpenter." Luis' expression sinks, brows deeply furrowed and eyes dark and side-cast. "So many forks…"

When Luis' state sweeps back to Tamara, he seems more uncertain of himself than he was a moment ago. "I do not know if these old bones have any growing left in them, Tamara." Luis's stare reflects his weariness. "But, how does one with your cognitive speciality translate the concepts of morality? After what I saw…" Luis shakes his head. "Perhaps we were not meant to know."

Tamara looks sidewise at Luis as he continues speaking, and smiles close-lipped, faintly amused, rueful. She shakes her head, then falls back to lay on the bed. Eyes closing, she drapes one arm across her face. Once, she could have told him a copy's fate; now, the rhetorical musing slides past without purchase. Morality earns him a peek of blue eyes from beneath the shadow of her forearm, but the contemplation is of one reserved, faced with a subject whose conversationality is dubious at best. "Two worlds," the seer muses, echoes. "Or maybe," she pronounces a moment later, "it was four."

"You're beginning to sound like another one of my patients," Luis quietly opines. "You met Mister Ruiz, yes?" He squints, uncertain of the details, then shakes his head and covers his face with one hand. "Perhaps this is more of an impasse," is his later resignation.

"I should have known," comes as Luis stiffly stands from the bed. "Known that it couldn't last…" His tired eyes search the room, as if only now truly seeing it and the rustic furnishing. "I suppose without your clairvoyant gift, I've no way to know the possible outcomes that lay myriad from this one moment." Then, with a reluctant smile he adds. "Maybe in that way, I am free?"

His eyes track from Tamara to the door, and Luis contemplates something that darkens his meager attempt at hopefulness. "I have two questions for you, Tamara, if you would see fit to answer them for me." He waits for her reply, head angling down and eyes squared on his feet.

Tamara drops her arm back as the doctor continues, looking at him more directly. His question about Ruiz is met with even greater uncertainty on her part, the nonplussed blankness that is a total lack of recognition. She does not answer aloud, though, as an answer is unneeded; he already knows everything she could say.

Once he's risen, the young woman props herself up on an elbow, studying him as he studies the room. She echoes his smile with rueful acknowledgment, some sense of affirmation, some sense of demurral. "Shadows or ghosts, everyone carried something."

She watches him shift again, regarding the half-closed door, regarding his own two feet. "Only two?" the seer asks, just a touch of playfulness lifting the words. Tamara pushes herself up to perch on the edge of the bed again, resting her chin on folded hands, gaze pointed not directly at Luis, but rather just past him such that she sees him more in the edge of her vision. "Which," she prompts, "carried the most weight for you?"

Luis' expression shifts for a moment, the subtlety of something making sense expressed in a tightening of his features. He looks over his shoulder to Tamara, winces from the motion and grimaces at his back injury.

Depending on the answer to one of his questions, the remainder don't matter. Not to an atheist with no punishment or reward believed to be waiting, not to Tamara who lets shadows of the dead slip into the river. Her answer about Ruiz confirmed his suspicions, and now Luis lives in that same moment of the future that she does. "Are they planning to kill me?"

The seer tips her head as Luis makes his decision, waits for the words to catch up with her awareness of that choice. Uses that breath of time to weigh the question, parse its potential answers — not that there's many, and most of them constructs of words, not probability. She casts those aside.

"No," Tamara replies, an answer simple and straight to the point.

The silence that comes shows Luis' surprise. He had braced himself for what felt like the inevitable punishment for his crimes — perceived or otherwise. He looks away, back to the door, then to Tamara with an uncertainty that causes his expression to seem distant and glassy.

"In all your myriad streams, however it is that you truly see the world and its potential possibilities…" Luis looks to his left, unfocused. Then, as he squares his stare back up at Tamara he wonders aloud. "What is your plan for me?"

He hopes against hope that there is one. Because otherwise he's adrift.

Tamara had hoped for the other question. It wasn't an easy one, either, but it would have been easier.

The seer casts a sidewise glance at Luis, then looks away to the window; draws in a slow, deep breath and lets it flow slowly, audibly back out. After a moment, she drops off the bed again, crossing the few steps to the window and regarding the uncultivated outdoors; her right hand rests lightly against the glass. Her left closes firmly on the disregarded ball, knuckles prominent but not quite bleaching towards white.

She does not want to answer this question. Cannot answer it in half measures; that lesson was learned, even if Tamara no longer remembers the specific circumstance that imparted it.

And she cannot afford to leave it unanswered, not now.

Tamara leans her head against the glass, barely feeling the coolness that leaches through it from outside, that sinks into her skin. Closes her eyes, her posture tensing against something not in the room. And reaches, not outwardly but deep within, for the sharp-edged fragments of metaphorical glass that represent everything the young woman once was and could be.

Time ticks past, a count of seconds that stretches long. At last Tamara straightens, turning to face Luis with sybil's eyes, with obvious strain in her features and a telltale damp streak marking one cheek.

"You have options," she says quietly, wearily, refuting the notion of a plan being mandated upon him. "You have to want them… to mean anything." Tamara drifts towards the bed, releases the ball to plop quietly onto its covering blanket, leans her hands on its footboard as though the support is a lifeline.

It kind of is.

"You want… forgiveness? Amends?" Her eyes drift closed, her head drooping. "He will help… find a road, if you do. Building better." She falls quiet, resting, breathing. Presses a hand to her nose before it can begin to bleed; that matters, here. "Not easy. Things that matter… mostly aren't."

Tamara draws in another breath, exhales slowly, the creases in her expression etching deeper. "I would like… if you did. They would. Others less." A twitch of her shoulders that might have been meant as a shrug. "Your choice. No one else… can walk for you."

The response mystifies Luis. In the months that Tamara spent as an ostensible ward of the Institute, he never truly saw her ability at work. Not the way he did in the reactor, not the way he does here. Now, presented with this display of clarity, Luis finds himself both understanding and searching.

His eyes divert from her for a moment, a dark look of troubled and stormy thoughts. "I see now why Mr. Cardinal wanted you at the ark so badly." When Luis looks back, he swallows audibly and takes the bitter taste of those words with him. His jaw sets, fingers rub together. Gears turn.

"This was most insightful," Luis offers in a hushed voice, briefly regarding Tamara again before considering the door. "But I feel I have exhausted not only my time, but you as well. You should… get some rest."

Luis smiles, a spastic and small little thing made of rueful self-doubt and nerves. "I suppose I have a road trip to plan."

Metaphorical and otherwise.

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