Usual Things


nicole_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Usual Things
Synopsis Two not-quite-sisters share a casual evening.
Date March 28, 2018

Brooks Residence, Williamsburg

The first thing seen upon entering are the stairs on the left, a small nook at the front windows just to the right of the door, and a long continuous stretch of space that runs the length of the house, all of it floored with hardwood.

The nearest part of the room is the kitchen, defined by a central island with sink and an abundance of counter space. On one side is a white wall with tiles up half its height, top and bottom edging rows in midnight blue; against it lie white stove, white refrigerator, and low cabinets also painted white with midnight blue handles. The opposite wall is an expanse of bare brick half-hidden behind a large bank of cabinets and shelves that provides storage space. The cabinets, shelves, and countertops both on the island and bracketing the stove all feature wood of a natural light brown hue.

Immediately beyond is the dining area. Here one wall is again unfinished brick, on the opposite side as in the kitchen; the other is painted white. In the middle is an unusual octagonal table with a dark, wood-patterned formica surface, clearly dated by several decades; the chairs around it are eclectic, two aluminum patio chairs pretending to be cast iron and two wooden chairs that probably used to be part of a larger matched set. They all have matching blue-and-white cushions, at least.

At the very back of the space is the living room, elevated two steps above the rest of the floor. A lightweight rattan-wicker couch with green cushions lines one wall, with endtables on either side and a heavy walnut coffee table in front of it; two chairs face the opposite side of the table, and a set of shelves rests against the wall behind them. There are bright ceiling lights to illumine the space, but more often a dimmer endtable lamp is used. The entire rear wall consists of five floor-to-ceiling windows, providing an excellent view of the garden and patio beyond; the rightmost doubles as a door, opening onto stairs that lead into the garden.

Outside, the street is alternately lit in amber and striped with deepening shadow, building footprints stretched long by the lowering sun. A number of people bustle about on the sidewalk, most hastening home after the close of the day's work. Tasha isn't one of them; she'll be along later, her own particular workday stretching like the shadows do, ultimately continuing into enveloping night. Tamara finds no cause for concern in this; lawyers are busy people, it is a fact of life.

Besides, There are more immediate concerns for the seeress than the late return of a partner: this evening, Tamara finds herself playing hostess. She has already set out plates on the coffee table, glasses, snacks of the finger food persuasion — crackers, three types of cheese, sliced ham, fruit. The last thing is to fill a carafe with lemon-lime soda and set it in place.

Then she can go meet her guest at the door.

Nicole is right on time. By now she’s got the travel time to the home her sister shares with her partners down to a margin of error of a couple minutes. It’s exactly the sort of nitpicky thing she prides herself on.

Though, when the person you’re set to meet up with is precognitive, are you ever truly anything but on time? It’s a question Nicole’s asked herself once or twice, amused, and ultimately left unanswered to avoid the headache that comes with being unable to wrap her head around the concept of how foresight must work.

Faux leather-wrapped knuckles connect with the door three times in quick succession. Nicole tugs her gloves off after knocking and tucks them into her sleek black purse. When the door opens, she’s quick with a smile, a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. “Tamara! Lovely to see you as always. Thanks for having me over. It’s nice to have a night out.” Phillipa gets a night at her sister’s and Nicole gets to have conversation that doesn’t involve sing-song or rhyming words.

It's a question Tamara could answer, if asked, but the answer might not help anything. In any case, it goes unspoken, and the seer constrains herself to responding in kind to what is actually done. "Of course," she concludes at the end of the exchange, stepping aside to allow Nicole in, closing the door quietly behind her.

There are a thousand things Tamara could say: pleasantries, small talk. Most of them demand more effort than they're worth. "Tasha's at work," is what she settles for as she pads across the room on stocking feet. Gray socks, with bright blue flowers peeking out just below the hems of her pants; the pants are charcoal, the shirt above a more mellow shade of blue. The mirrored half of that statement goes unspoken: Colette's also at work.

That doesn't need to be said.

"Misty is…" padding up the stairs almost right on cue, ears pricked and tail waving, moving with intent but not unseemly haste to intercept the guest and receive her toll. "…glad for the company, too," Tamara concludes with a grin.

Nicole’s smile broadens when the dog comes into view. She’s already slipped out of her shoes and started into the house after her hostess. She has no coat to hang, which isn’t unusual for the woman whose sister refers to her as a personal space heater.

“My favorite nibling,” Nicole jokes as she crouches down to beckon the dog over for scratches behind the ears. “I like your socks,” she compliments honestly. The fact that Tamara isn’t one for small talk is something she can and does appreciate. She may be an expert at the art, but…

“How are you all doing? Really.” Because Colette’s situation is… disruptive in impact. Nicole looks up from her kneeling position, too-bright eyes fixed on Tamara. Empathy without pity.

Tamara rests one hand on one of the dining room chairs, looking on fondly as Misty takes cheerful advantage of their guest in the way that dogs do. "Thank you," she replies to the comment on socks, as much for reason of politeness as for sincerity.

The smile that started with the dog turns crooked as Nicole continues, good-naturedly wry. "I'm fine," the seeress asserts; the statement is cheerfully delivered, because of course it surprises no one. Her demeanor sobers a moment later. "We're both well," she continues more seriously. "Tasha worries about food, mostly, and her work." Her tone implies that both worries are on some level unnecessary, but also inevitable, and understood in that light.

Misty turns her head just far enough to eye Tamara in the periphery of her view at mention of food. The woman smiles, but remains focused on her guest. "What about you?" A social question, that doesn't expect a purely social answer.

Nicole gives Misty a few more scratches before she pushes up to stand again. “Oh, you know… Worried to death about my little sister. Like almost always.” It’s basically Nicole’s baseline and has been since Colette was about ten years old. “But otherwise, things are good. Pippa’s doing well, and her sisters are attentive and Ben’s been great, so I guess I can’t complain too much.” It sounds like a social answer, but it’s also the honest one.

“I’m keeping my necessary distance,” she admits. “Which is hard. No one expects me to remain objective, which is a double edged sword.” But metal implements are a poor choice to wield against her, analogous or otherwise, so Nicole’s prepared to defend herself and her sister as necessary. With words more than actions these days, but words are best when it comes to cutting past red tape. And this mess is a lot of red tape.

“I’m glad you and Tasha are doing all right.” If Tasha didn’t have some worries about work and food, that would come as a shock. “You don’t worry about anything, do you, Misty?” She grins down at the dog.

Misty takes a step back as Nicole rises, recognizing the move for what it is. She remains attentive to the two humans, eternally optimistic in the way of dogs. Tamara, meanwhile, nods in response to her guest's words. "That is good," she affirms.

As Misty is addressed again, the dog mouths a soundless woof up at Nicole, tail-tip amiably dusting the air. "Not much," Tamara allows with a grin. "Misty has it eeeeasy."

A click of the seer's tongue draws the dog over to her, the two of them moving on over to the living room area. Misty promptly settles herself into what is clearly an accustomed space beside the windows, muzzle on her paws and ears pricked towards the two humans. Tamara pauses briefly beside the coffee table, then fills both glasses with the soda, setting them back beside their corresponding plates. The hostess then sets herself into a corner of the couch, leaving Nicole her choice of opposite corner or either of the chairs.

"Help yourself," she prompts, nodding towards the items on offer.

Nicole takes the opposite corner and her glass first for a sip. She enjoys fizzy drinks. Uncharitably, probably because she can imagine a cocktail. But this isn’t that kind of social call. Next order of business is to put a wedge of melon onto a slice of cheese onto a cracker and munch happily. Tamara always seems to know the kinds of comforts she needs, jokes about precognition aside. She assumes some amount of attentiveness over supernatural ability.

“I haven’t had to go to KC in a while,” she comments, not expecting her sister-in-law to keep up with her comings and goings. “Which is a mixed blessing. I always wonder when they’re going to figure out President Praeger is so competent that he doesn’t need me in my position.” It’s a bit of hyperbole, as she’s actually fairly confident in her position. And Cat Chesterfield would likely become insufferable if someone tried to remove Nicole from her position. Apparently the Ferry-adjacent connection is a desired one.

What about you? is asked silently with a lift of brows as she quietly chews.

Supernatural ability and attentiveness are not mutually exclusive; one informs the other. As Nicole talks, Tamara takes a selection of things from the plate, eating a piece of ham without bothering to add cracker or cheese. Her ending question, unvoiced though it is, is met with a mildly nonplussed look.

It's obvious to the seer what the implied query is not. But socialization and open-ended questions being what they are, navigating what it is becomes something of a stickier proposition.

When Tamara's response is finally given, it's delivered diffidently, a thread of uncertainty underlying the game sincerity of the answer. "I'm not going to KC…" Half a breath's pause. "…mmmmaybe ever? Or not for more than a visit. If we're lucky."

Nicole laughs quietly. “That sounds like a good plan.” She does not get out enough with people who aren’t her co-workers. “Any fun visits planned? To places other than KC, obviously. I manage to have fun, but we know I’m the odd duck in this family.” She grins broadly and plucks up another piece of fruit. “Or any projects? Irons in the fire?” It’s not like Tamara doesn’t know how to keep busy.

Tamara eyes Nicole sidelong over a piece of melon, then pops it into her mouth and takes her time chewing, the better to figure out that reply, too. "I don't think we were going anywhere soon. Other than Yamagato," she allows. The gala, of course.

Well, Colette is. But that goes without saying.

Projects is met with a different flavor of sidelong look, the kind given to one who states the obvious. Yet the spoken answer strikes a contrast: "I'm on vacation. Kinda." Not really. But it's far easier to claim vacation than try to explain the what-ifs and wherefores involved on timescales most people think about occasionally and in the broadest of strokes, if at all.

"Other than what I'm asked for. Finding people. Locking doors. Usual things," the seer concludes, hooking fingers around her glass and taking a sip from it. "There's only so much people really want."

Tamara gestures with her glass in Nicole's direction. "What's your favorite project? That isn't Pippa."

“People want a lot of things,” Nicole tips her head to one side and lifts her glass halfway. “Mostly things they can’t have. Or shouldn’t.” She knows that well enough from personal experience. “Vacations are good, though.” Though she’s a workaholic and tends to have to be forced to take hers.

When asked about her favorite project, she opens her mouth to respond, then closes it again. Because she has to think of something that isn’t related to Pippa, honestly. She takes a sip of her soda and looks thoughtful for a moment.

“Learning to live on my own,” she finally decides. “I mean, I was on my own after Colette moved out, and I’m not alone with Pippa, but… I’ve been learning to live without unnecessary entanglements.”

Without someone she can convince herself she’s in love with, she means, in her euphemistic way. “I was never good at it. I was symbiotic. I’ve been working on that since Ben and I split up.” One apparently doesn’t unlearn a lifetime of behavior in just a few years.

Tamara shakes her head slightly at Nicole's initial words, but fails to speak further on the subject herself. Instead, she merely smiles at having made her guest stop and think. In the meantime, she assembles a construction of crackers and cheese on her plate, one that approximates a six-year-old's version of art more than it does regular people's finger food.

"It's good to stand on your own feet," the seer affirms, looking over at Nicole. "Not alone, just… enough. Balance can be hard, but at least you have someone to hold your hand." Those could just about be fortune-cookie statements; possibly are, somewhere where the fortune cookies are a cut above the norm.

Stacking a piece of melon atop a particular cracker-and-cheese pair, Tamara plucks the new-made trio out of her comestible creativity and eats it. "Do you want a dog?" has no evident relationship to anything, particularly given the very offhand manner of its asking. Blue eyes slant sideways towards Nicole. "No, not that dog."

Nicole laughs at the question, and because she’s pleased her answer seemed to suit. “You know, I hadn’t thought about it. But dogs are adaptable. They can go from home to home.” Meaning if she had a dog, it could accompany Pippa when she stays with her father or one of her sisters while Nicole has to leave town for work.

“Why? You know someone looking to offload some puppies, or…?” Nicole’s brows hike toward her hairline with polite, but genuine curiosity.

Picking up her glass, Tamara looks across it at Nicole. "Nooo…" She smiles, in the way that has more to do with eyes than lips. "Not yet."

They continue on the subject of dogs for a while: color, size, how silly some types can be. Light, casual conversation, free of any greater concerns whether personal or professional. The very thing for a purely social evening between family.

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