Useful Things


vf_ruiz_icon2.gif bf_tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Useful Things
Synopsis After burning one bridge, Ruiz seeks advice from the person who gave him a new identity.
Date January 24, 2012

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. Sunlight strikes deep reds, greens, and golds from a patterned rug that covers most of the floor. There's a couch and two chairs arranged around a coffee table, suggesting that while Colette and Tamara live alone, they frequently have visitors.

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, if their titles are anything to go by, relate to Colette's studies. 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.

Tamara stands beside the smaller coffee table, fingertips just barely resting on its surface. A teapot on that table is the target of her gaze — classic white porcelain, decorated with dark blue butterflies on a backdrop of lighter blue flowers and leaves. The teacups beside it are just plain white, save for being delicately rimmed with blue.

It's not the teapot, truly, that holds her attention. That's claimed by the sense of resonance that lingers at the edge of her perception like the echoes of a bell, resounding within one's ears long after the sound itself has faded. Only in this case, the sound hasn't happened yet — just the first steps of a pattern yet to unfold, delicate as the earliest of leaves in spring, as dawnlight piercing misty rain. A moment no one else might notice, nor appreciate; the significance is purely personal.

Also, irrelevant to her coming guest. Shaking off her reverie, Tamara smiles to empty air, then makes her way around the table and in the direction of the door. For all that she's expecting company, the blonde is dressed quite informally, in a blue tanktop over floral-print leggings and lighter blue socks. Her hair's only a little unkempt. At least the smile her guest receives, when she opens the door, is entirely sincere.

"Come on in. There's tea if you wanted it."

The door opens so quickly after he raised his hand to knock that Ruiz is slightly taken aback, but then he recalls everything he’d already seen about this young woman. Someone who had helped make the packets they’d been handed, who had somehow known each and every person who came through before they even stepped foot on that rooftop. “Tea sounds good,” is what he says, though, sounding infinitely tired, but alive. Something he might not have been without a few days stay in the hospital.

Since the last time she’d seen him, he’d grown his stubble into the first hints of a short beard. It would not take long for it to grow out at all, most likely. “Did you know all of us that would arrive or did you have to throw away a couple packets?” he suddenly asks, curious as he moves to sit down at the table. He’d seen Edward Ray in action before, seen him plot out things, but even he had not guessed that Magnes and Elisabeth would be the ones to come through. No, he’d suspected someone else entirely, a woman they’d probably never know anything about.

His curiosity was not why he’d stopped in, though, following the address left in the packet.

The grimace Ruiz's question elicits is primarily bestowed upon the door as Tamara closes it quietly in his wake. "I'm not good with things that…" There's a breath's pause, a clear moment of concentration. "…that already happened," she says as she moves back into the room, sinking down onto the couch opposite Ruiz. It takes a moment before the role of hostess asserts itself and she pours tea into both of their cups.

"For what and how and why, you should ask the kitty. I could say…" Another pause, Tamara's hands stilling with the teapot held level, suspended just above the table's surface before being returned to rest. This time, she tips her head, gaze going distant and oddly dark; the silence hangs a little longer. "I could say there were others, could have but didn't." Blue eyes refocus on her visitor, and the teapot is lowered to the table with a faint thunk. "The shadows are many until all choices are made, and then there's just one left. Or maybe none," is added with a tinge of regret.

That question may not be his purpose, but the seer's willing to let him set the conversational pace.

Oh. Not good with the past. That alone made her very different than the man he’d known in the Hub who had used his ability to keep them alive. From what Ruiz understood, he took data from the past and used that as a method of predicting how things would continue from there, but this…

“So you just knew,” he murmurs against the hot rim of the teacup before he takes the first sip. Not too hot, and just the way he liked it, even. “It’s good.” A flavor he liked. She had narrowed that down rather well, from what he imagined could have been many choices.

“I’m not here to talk about the past— well— I suppose in a way I am, but more…” his shoulders slump. That tired look on his face seems even more so for a moment. He’s a man who doesn’t know what to do and there are so many questions he wants to ask. The one he does ask though, is, “Should I stay in New York?”

They had said they could go anywhere they wanted, and part of him wanted to stay, wanted to see his wife— or the woman who had been his wife in another world— but he also knew that they were told, in a way, to avoid who they were here. And who he was here was dead. Murdered, even.

Tamara picks up her cup, but only to hold it cradled between her hands. In that pause where the conversation itself seems to take a breath, to pause on metaphorical landing before forging ahead, she regards Ruiz across that cup, a hint of sympathetic smile tugging her lips sideways. That smile fades with the query her visitor chooses to pose, with the shift of subject from merely casual to personally significant.

A subdued, deep breath is the first and quietest response. "Should," the seer echoes, after. "For the good of who? You, him, them?" She shakes her head slowly, blonde hair drifting over her shoulders with the motion. Not an answer, but a rejection of the question.

"He looked for you," the sybil says instead; somewhere between breath and headshake and now her eyes have gone dark again, pupils dilated all out of reason for the illumination in the room. "The green dragon," she clarifies, regarding Ruiz with level, intent gaze.

"On what terms would you rather be found, if the dragon comes?"

He. There were few hes that he could think of that would look for him, and he didn’t think any of them fit the description of a green dragon.

Ruiz looks down into his own reflection in the teacup. While he can’t see details, he knows his brow is furrowed in thought as he ponders how best to answer. He’d wondered if he should have left for himself, for her. And he’d wondered very much how the other him had died.

“Will the green dragon kill me?” he asks, using her own metaphor, even if he doesn’t know who it could possibly mean. He wants to ask if the green dragon they speak of had killed the other him, but he stops himself because, as she said, she’s not good at things that had already happened.

Tamara lets the silence linger as long as it needs, as long as it takes Ruiz to consider the quandary set before him, the hypothetical that isn't as hypothetical as either of them might wish. She breathes in the herbal scent of the liquid in her cup, and finally takes a small sip of it. When Ruiz breaks that silence, she casts him a smile for sake of the question he didn't ask. This one's a quicker study than most.

Not a petitioner with easy questions, though. Dark eyes turn back to the cup in her hands, the cup that the seer turns idly around in her fingers, watching the surface of its contents shiver with the motion. "…Death is a final thing," she says at last. "The dragon likes useful things. Bodies usually aren't." She looks back up at Ruiz, expression somber. "Sometimes, though, he just eats useful things when they cause too many problems." For draconic definitions of 'problem'.

The green dragon likes useful things. Ruiz’s immediate thought is that he doesn’t want to be used again, especially by anyone who would eat things, though he wonders if that were a metaphor. He’d known one precog for a while, and she often spoke in crazy metaphors when she had been off her meds or after they’d worn off during the night. “I won’t be used,” he simply states, defiantly.

“Sounds like a guy I want to avoid, either way.” Sounds like a man who’d once used him, in fact. Only no one would call Kazimir a green dragon, he’s fairly sure. Her original question had been on what terms would he prefer to be found because it sounded like the dragon was coming for him whether he wanted it or not. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, I don’t want to be used to hurt anyone.” He’d done that enough in his life already.

He’d seen enough death for… more lifetimes than he could count. Most anyone from his world had. They had watched a majority of the world die.

“So how I want to be found is in a way that I can’t be used.”

The seer sets her cup down in silence, the liquid within still untouched. She then proceeds to contemplate her guest sielong, catching him in the periphery of her view, her pensive expression visible to him only in profile. After a long moment, silence hanging between them like an audience with bated breath, Tamara runs her hands over her face and up through her hair — then leans forward, elbows on her knees, chin on her hands, fixing Ruiz intently with eyes gone all pupil.

"He will chase you to the ends of the earth," the sybil says with quiet, grave surety. "Hungry dragon, jealous dragon. But it's not people he wants, cares about. He wants the curiosity that is you…" She tips her head, gaze going distant. "…the you that steps into darkness, where shadows stop and the mirror cannot see."

Tamara takes a deep breath, and her attention flicks back to Ruiz. "You, and not you. It's not people the dragon hoards, either. You can give it to him, walk away. Or give it to someone else, let him eat them instead. That's… not an easy road, but it can be taken." Sitting back, leaning into the couch, there's weariness now haunting the edges of her focused intensity, but she's not done yet. The sybil lifts one hand, palm up, fingers spread, consigning the last of Ruiz's less-than-ideal options to his consideration. "Or you can hide, run. For a while. The tiger would help with that," she allows, offhanded, "for as long as he could."

“Tigers and dragons,” Ruiz runs a hand through his hair, making it fluff slightly as it is naturally curly. “I wonder what you see me as,” he muses out loud, not expecting the answer to that comment to be given. It is something he’s curious about. Does she see him the same way that Eve had in her dreams when she used to rant and rave in the first years of the Hub?

“Any clue on where I could find the tiger? Or is he going to find me on his own?” He’s still not sure he won’t take the third option, try to run and hide if he can, but he might wait to see what she has to say about that. And at least if he runs and hides, he knows someone’s chasing him. That could possibly help him avoid it, couldn’t it?

He certainly hopes so.

Tamara gives Ruiz a faint smile, a hint of cheerful whimsy showing through the sybil's more somber mien. "They do go together," she remarks. But the layers of that symbolism are irrelevant to anyone but the seer herself, and she does not expound further.

Not, at least, on that score. "You are yourself," she assures Ruiz, "what you are, what you might be. It's the words that are small and boxed and different. Slippery, too; you try catching fish with your fingers." A beat, as she tucks stray hair behind her ears, then breathes out a quiet exhalation that marks yet another shift of conversational track.

A shift that is a bit delayed in coming, concentration shadowing Tamara's expression. There's a slight shake of her head as she begins speaking, as if whatever she had been trying to pin down… didn't. "The singer out of place, red queen on black and white board. Ask her about the crane, if that's the road you choose."

A singer out of place. There’s probably not a lot of people who fit that description, but he doesn’t immediately guess who it is. Ruiz assumes he’ll figure it out when the time was right. If he decided to go that direction at all. He needed to see if he’d burned down all his bridges, first. Taking a longer drink from the tea, one that comes off as a final drink, he moves to stand, putting the teacup down once he’s on his feet.

“Thank you.” For this, for that, for what he imagines her advice will help him decide in the future. At least he knew someone would be looking for him. It was more than he’d known when he walked through the door. Not the answers he expected, certainly, but an answer. “I’ll get going. The tea was good.” And the conversation was confusing.

“I’ll do my best to avoid that dragon.” Whether his best would be good enough is another matter altogether, probably.

Hostess though she may be, Tamara makes no move to rise as Ruiz does, shows no inclination to see him out the door. Instead, she tucks herself more firmly into the corner of the couch, nodding slowly in response to his statements. "You will," the seer affirms, regarding him levelly in the moment of slightly awkward silence that follows, and as Ruiz departs.

In the solitary silence left in his wake, Tamara contemplates the teapot still on the table, the untouched cup now well on its way to cool. "All the threads a tangle," she murmurs softly, for the benefit of no one but herself — and that, not much. "But sometimes all there is, is to try."

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