Tropical storms

Who: Ronnie
Where: not Hawaii, for starters
When: early evening onward

Ronnie knew better than to really puff herself up with pride. It hadn't even been a day, after all, and there were so many people she had no idea about yet. She wondered where Cheyenne was, who she was talking to, if their messages might overlap eventually. Ronnie hoped so, she wanted to know that the people she'd endured Hell with were weathering this as well as she was. That thought kept her from feeling too pleased with how well things had gone, relatively speaking.

Jesse was the root of that, of course. Without him talking to her for so much of the day, she'd probably be frayed and frazzled. But with the back-and-forth, with the banter about their shared past? She was maintaining. She felt as good as she thought she could in these circumstances, but Veronica knew it was still a fragile calm. A chime from any of her terminals could be a grim omen, carrying bad news her way. What if she was the messenger for someone else's tragedy? What if it became her responsibility to pass on some sort of terrible news to Dale or Tobias? Or Jesse? What if something was wrong with Camber?

In truth, Ronnie didn't know if she could tell him in that scenario. It would seem... poisoned, to her mind. The ex couldn't bear bad news about the current flame, not from where Ronnie sat. It would be suspect, even if she knew Jesse trusted her. So for reasons far beyond that childish and petty one, she hoped for safety for all of them. Let us weather this, we've all seen worse storms, she mused, turning in her chair to glance around her room. The paranoia and concern birthed a sudden nervous energy, and as much as she wanted to stay put and reply to Dale or Jesse, or soothe Tobias' concerns, she needed to move.

Slipping from her chair, Ronnie crossed her room to the old surfboard that sat in one corner beneath her loose burgundy shirt. She slipped it off the board, hugging it close and laughing in soft surprise. How, she couldn't know, but it even smelled right. Faint aromas of sandalwood lingered in the fabric, a reminder of her grandfather and the days he spent with Veronica and her father, guiding her through the first steps of tai chi. She draped the shirt over one shoulder, leaning the surfboard out and brushing her hands slowly along its' smooth edges and contours. It wasn't some cheap styrofoam or plastic composite, the kind she saw tourists with all through the years. It was hand-carved, worn with time, and as she flipped it over she laughed again.

The underside still bore three names, each more clear than the last. The first was her grandfather's, etched in with a fishing knife long before she'd ever even been imagined, and it was nearly gone with both the passage of years and the repetition of use. Her father's came next, black letters marked sharply in the wood with what was likely the same wood burner that Ronnie herself had used some twenty years later. Looking at the names, feeling the board in her grip, her heart ached to see the ocean again. She'd always dreamed of the day she would take this board out of her father's storage unit, load Jessie onto a plane, and return to Hawaii. Perhaps for good, perhaps not. In the past, that fantasy had always been a vacation only; there was one reason too many for her to imagine staying.

Now? Well, now she could see herself never returning, hiding on the endless beaches forever. But now, she'd hope that maybe she could find a way to bring her reason with her, too. Which was a fool's hope, of course, and she knew as much. Still, realizing it made her smile dim and fade away as she eased the surfboard back against the wall. Veronica shuffled away from it slowly, hands gripping the shirt draped over her shoulder as she walked the length of one wall in silent contemplation, dark eyes studying the pictures there.

It was a reverse time line, starting with washed out shots of her mother and father, herself as a child or infant. Her father's first day with his hotel, his wedding to her mother, the two of them posing together at a cafe'; the years rolled slowly backwards with every photo. She lingered on the last of the two of them, both parents looking younger than she was now for certain, blissfully happy as her mother pressed an exaggerated kiss to her dad's cheek. Had she ever seen her mother like that? Ronnie didn't think so, but she'd always felt like the woman who raised her had been different than the one her father fell in love with.

Her death had uprooted things, certainly. It had torn Ronnie away from her idyllic home, colored her father with permanent shades of sorrow, and shown her just how cold life could be when your home wasn't where the rest of the world went for vacation. Still... "Love you, momma. Watch over Jessie," she murmured, leaning in to kiss the youthful photo of both parents. She reached out to drift fingertips over the photo, dragging them down the line to a short procession of black and white pictures of her grandparents in a guise Ronnie had never known.

Her grandmother had passed on before she'd been born, making the woman in the photos a stranger, but Ronnie had always thought she had a feel for the woman. Her father had gotten his quiet humor from her, Ronnie'd decided. She always had a soft poise in the pictures, an unspoken gentility that Ronnie often wondered if she'd inherited. She got the idea from her grandfather, because the man in the photos wasn't the man she'd known. He was obviously far younger, but he seemed...lighter, as well. Unburdened, perhaps. The quiet figure in the background of her youth had seemed carved from teak, masked in inscrutable lines of age, blessed with unending patience.

Of course, from what she knew of the family history, there were reasons for that. Really, she could even point between two photos and tell the difference even without the dates inked in the corners. Somewhere in the metaphorical time that the blank wall between two pictures represented, war had happened. Internment camps had happened. And the laughing youth of her grandfather hadn't returned. That thought? Well, it frightened her. What would she see in photos of herself or Jesse before this nightmare and after? What would her daughter see and forever wonder about?

That was enough to make Veronica turn her back on the photos, arms curling around her stomach as she hugged herself lightly. "Don't," she muttered to herself, fighting against the return of hopelessness. She needed a message from someone, something to focus on. Paints. The idea was a godsend, and with a hopeful gasp Ronnie rushed to her dresser, dropping to her knees and yanking open the lowest drawer. Everything was, un surprisingly, just as she remembered it. There were her tubes and jars of paint, her collapsible easel, her rolls of fresh paper and her brushes. Really, it was everything she'd need to distract herself for hours or even days, barring the need to eat.

The only lingering question she had as she hauled out the easel and snapped its' legs into position was what exactly she should paint. She promised Jesse something, sure, but there were enough pieces of parchment that Ronnie thought maybe she'd need to whip up several pieces and just... hand them out. Or keep them. Whatever she did, creating them would buffer her mind for a while. Or it would if she could even decide on what to start on. Long minutes passed as Ronnie stared at blank whiteness, broken up only by adding another color to her pallette or mixing a new shade, but eventually? Inspiration struck.

She shed her tanktop easily, turning away from the easel to face her mirror. Ronnie wasn't too focused on her own appearance in the mirror, though, she was more intent on just how much skin she'd need for the idea that had suddenly blossomed. Dipping the tip of one brush into a dab of black paint, she couldn't help shivering as she traced its' tip up along the inside of her stomach and up past her ribs, just to the right of her navel. It was just a border, but it was also a good start towards reacclimating herself to the little tickles and shivers this gave her. Because messing up? Well, that was a pain when it happened.

But the border was there. It was a start, albeit a miniscule one. Carrying her pallette back to one of her computer chairs, Ronnie set the paints and brush aside, quickly slipping out of her sweatpants before she settled in. Maybe she'd get released before she finished this, who knew? It was a pretty large idea, but that was the point. Pass enough time and we'll be free, she told the faint reflection in her monitor, All of us. We've weathered worse storms. Seizing that thought as a theme, she tipped her brush with black again and raised her other arm, starting slow outlines of miniscule raindrops that would, in time, be part of something much more.