Cherish the Time


colette_icon.gif felix_icon.gif judah_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Cherish the Time
Synopsis Nothing brings family together like birthdays. No matter how peculiar the family — or the birthday girl.
Date March 4, 2010

Le Rivage: Judah's Apartment

There's snow on the ground, but no more falling; no doubt a considerable relief to those who venture outside, where tree branches crack and fall under the weight of frozen water and the force of continued wind. It's the wind that really makes the day cold, dropping the feel of the air well below freezing — that, and the lack of direct sunlight. The city was a gray place even before it was painted with cloud-filtered light and the chill shroud of winter storm. That doesn't stop the kids from playing in the fresh-fallen snow, their whoops and shouts carrying for blocks; but it stops many businesses, busses, and the mail. At least for a little while.

The young woman who walks through the apartment door without any sort of self-announcement — to be fair, she does have a key — has definitely been outdoors a while, judging by the color in her cheeks and the wind-mussed tangle of long blonde hair. There's also more snow caught in the weave of Tamara's wine-red sweater than there should be, in the absence of current precipitation; probably she was in the company of those kids, just a short while ago. Snow coats her boots almost completely, and she has the presence of mind to take them off before continuing any farther into the room. This should be difficult, given that the girl is also juggling no fewer than three paper bags — albeit ones with handles — but she manages with a grace that would be remarkable… if Tamara were anyone else.

Looking down towards her own stockinged feet, Tamara wiggles her toes briefly, smiles at some inscrutable amusement, then turns to the apartment's interior.

Judah's in the kitchen, the expanse of his broad back and shoulders visible from the door even though his face is not. In one hand, he grips a butcher's knife and slivers through the fat attached to a raw lamb shank laid out on the wooden chopping block. The other holds the meat in place to prevent it from slipping as he works. Nearby, an open bottle of red wine reserved for cooking, though this isn't to say he wouldn't allow Colette to steal a glass for herself if she asked — she's eighteen now, and even though the legal drinking age in New York is twenty-one, there are some laws that are meant to be broken in the comfort of home.

When he was Colette's age, his parents let him drink at dinner. In this respect, at least, his methods of child-rearing aren't much different.

Olive oil, two large onions already peeled and chopped along with slivers of julienned carrots and fresh rosemary — it's all out on the counter in preparation for a dinner that's already underway. "Colette!" he barks without turning, calling out to one of the other rooms in the apartment. "Company!"

Let her be surprised.

More company. Look, Long John Silver is here with his cane and his limp to be the skeleton at the feast. Fel's in a dark gray overcoat, over his rumpled work suit, and he's just pulled off that fur hat. God only knows what wolf of the Urals gave his life to keep Ivanov's ears from freezing. He's got a paper grocery bag in his free hand, as he stumps along, looking dour. "Hey," he says to Tamara, gently, as he follows right behind her. "Long time no see, Pythia."

"Just a minute!" Comes froma cross the apartment in the direction of the bathroom. It's a muffled cry from beyond the door, before it swings open along with a mild gust of steam from the top. Hair damp and tousled Colette looks to have been fresh out of the shower, judging from the lack of makeup and general laziness in her attire of bare feet, sweatpants and a loose sweater. The moment she sees Tamara and Felix the narrow-framed girl just backpedals into the bathroom and slams the door shut again.

"B— Be right out!" Colette tries to sound cool and collected, despite the fact that she's feverishly searching for less grubby clothes in the hamper that at least smell clean and trying to remember where she'd stashed her eyeliner and a brush or somethinglook at her hair.

It's not every day Tamara stops by, and Colette's just vain enough to care what she looks like on those days.

It's a marked contrast with Tamara, who's miraculously dressed for the weather and hasn't bothered to try and untangle her hair. She hasn't even gotten it cut in — several months, at least. Looking over her shoulder to Felix, the girl smiles warmly. "Hello, flutterby," she returns in a faintly singsong manner. "Was it long?" Tamara continues more normally, even as she walks towards the coffee table. The bags are set, one at a time and with disproportionate delicacy, at its foot; they stand taller than its low surface, but they're more or less out of the way.

An amused glance towards the hallway and its closed door is the young woman's reaction to Colette's sudden panic, before Tamara flops down on the couch. Entirely the way one isn't supposed to, with her knees on the seat and her chin propped atop the nearest arm, blue eyes turned in Judah's direction. "What's it?" Possibly meaning whatever he's cooking.

"Rosemary braised lamb shanks with polenta and leek salad," is Judah's answer, his voice a rough baritone made velvet by warm notes of affection. He doesn't glance back over his shoulder at Tamara, but he can see her distorted reflection in the microwave at the end of the counter, and for now that's enough for him.

He slides flat of the knife through a folded paper towel to clean it off before starting on the next piece of meat. "Felix, could you heat up a few tablespoons of oil in that pot there? My hands are full."

"I brought one of those chocolate flourless things," Fel says, apparently carelessly. Though it's from some fancy bakery, apparently. Not just a supermarket. "For dessert." He shrugs out of his coat, hangs it up, and brings the cake to put it on the table, before moving to help Judah. Weirdly, as he pulls oil out of the pantry, his expression is wistful. "It was long, Tamara," he says, patiently, even as he pulls off his glasses with his other hand, tucks them into his shirtpocket.

The bathroom door comes open after Colette's protracted abesence and she looks slightly more put together than she did a moment ago. Staring out from the doorway, green eyes wander over to Felix, then towards Tamara in the kitchen with an anxious smile. One hand runs through her hair, trying to make it look a little bit more presentable despite not having found a brush or comb. Socked feet — admittedly a mismatched blue with a green and white striped one — scuff out over the hardwood floor. Her hands smooth down the front of a sweaterest tugged over an admittedly wrinkled button-down shirt that hasn't had the cuffs buttoned yet.

"Sss— So." Colette offers with a lipsided smile, hastily donned eyeliner adding a touch more presentability to her appearance. "What— what's the occasion?" Dark brows crease together as Colette makes her way out of the bathroom, completely forgetting to shut the light off or even so much as close the door.

"I— I can't remember the last time any of us sat down for dinner together." A look is offered to Felix, along with a crooked smile, and Colette is limping slowly towards where a simple wooden cane rests over the back of the sofa. Picking it up, she rests it with a thump down onto the floor; at least she and Felix match in their gimping states.

When the teen hobbles out from around the sofa, she's making her way towards the side Tamara is seated on, smiling nervously all the while. Pinstriped slacks should have had their cuffs rolled up, for all that her heels drag against them as she moves, before carefully and slowly bending down to settle on the sofa with the crutch as a brace. "Ss— seriously. Why— why are you cooking?" Colette asks of Judah as if the world had suddenly come to a screaming, fiery end and she wasn't told. "I— I haven't seen you cook in months…" Also why is Felix here, why does everyone seem happy, oh god did she walk through her shower into another world?

Tamara regards Colette from the edge of her vision, smiling — an enigmatic little expression that says wouldn't you like to know as much as hello. She pulls her feet in closer to make more room for Colette, not quite unnecessarily. "Just today," the seeress tells the younger girl, as if that were The Answer; from her perspective, perhaps it is. "Do you like leeks?" Blue eyes peer at the mismatched socks on Colette's feet, but it's the hems of her slacks that Tamara leans down to fuss with, rolling them up to a more acceptable, non-liable-to-trip level.

Then the girl bounds up and off the couch without any warning, seemingly unable or unwilling to stay still quite that long. She slides into the kitchen, stepping around the chef and his drafted assistant to open cupboards: dishes, and glasses, but not all at once — not even for Tamara. Of course, most people would carry a stack of four plates over to the table, rather than carting each one individually…

"Well, there's only one kind so it had to do," Tamara remarks meanwhile, possibly to Felix. "I could get the drinks." Possibly not to Felix.

There's a wardrobe in the British country that leads to the magical land of Narnia. It is possible that a shower exists in New York City that transports its occupants into a parallel universe where men like Emile Danko don't exist and the only thing Colette has to worry about is looking presentable while not fraying the bottoms of her pants.

Possible. But not likely.

Judah watches Tamara work in his peripheral vision as he finishes with the last of the shanks and sets them aside to be browned in the pot of hot oil he asked Felix to prepare. Peeling the bag of tomatoes sitting in the bottom of the vegetable crisper in the fridge is next on the agenda, and requires a much smaller, defter knife. It makes a thin sound as he pulls it from the chopping block. "Twenty today," he corrects Tamara.

Browning. Fel can do that. Albeit with his lips folded in in concentration. Cooking r hard. "Because I like eating," he explains to Colette, absentmindedly. It lacks his usual bite to it, though. "And I came over here to borrow a cup of sugar and got waylaid by a bakery fairy on the way." Felix is the bakery fairy, but let's not go there. "But it's been too long," he adds, looking away for just an instant to smile at her.

The smile that Colette offered Tamara at the adjusting of her pants legs brings a faint color across Colette's cheeks. The young girl opens her mouth as if to say something, starting to lean towards Tamara only to find the blonde up on her feet and moving again. Her cheeks puff out, nose wrinkles and brows furrow while she considers getting up again.

"This's like… I mean, m'not gonna' complain," even if it sounds like it, "b— because it's— it's kind've nice having a moment of like, normal. But— " Eyeing her cane, Colette gets a frustrated look on her face and picks it up again, leaning her weight forward and resting her weight on the cane as she shakily rises back up to her feet. There's a faintly exasperated hiss from the effort, those ribs of hers are still sore.

"I can— I can help." Colette defensively adds as she starts shuffling over towards the kitchen. "I— I'm not helpless, I can do stuff, I— " Green eyes wander to Tamara setting out the plates, she's already on the fourth one by the time Colette's made her way over. "Oh my— w— wait." Colette's eyes flick over to the bags, then back to Felix. "Felix! Is it your birthday!?" A large smile spreads across Colette's lips at that. She knows Judah's birthday, and why would Tamara bring gifts for her own birthday? That's ridiculous.

"Oh man why didn't any of you tell me that's so awesome! I— I would've gotten you something for your kitties!" A slightly youthful moment as she exclaims kitties to the air, teeth toying with her lower lip as she rests her hip against the dining room table, eyes flicking about the room over to where Jupiter is laying on the kitchen floor on his blanket near his bowl, eagerly sleeping in anticipation of his next favorite thing: eating.

Setting the last plate down on the table, Tamara looks over at Colette. Eyes her for a moment. Reaches out and plants one finger against her collarbones, just enough pressure to convey the sense of a push without actually pushing. No kitchen for you.

Still holding her hand there, the seeress glances back over her shoulder to grin at Judah. "If you say so!" she chants back cheerfully. "Sit. There was a glass with your name on it." A beat of silence. "Or at least pretend." Because Tamara isn't about to write it. Sliding back into the kitchen, she assembles four glasses on the counter; two are filled with water and carried out to the table — one planted in front of Colette's seat, the other not.

Once her hands are free, Tamara plucks up one of the brown paper bags — indistinguishable from the outside, they are, but there's no hesitation on her part about which to pick — and holds it out in Colette's direction. "The bag, too," the girl tells her with a soft smile.

Birthdays are something that Judah is good at remembering if only because his line of work requires a commitment to details. He knows Felix was born in November — if he thought long enough about the exact date, he'd be able to mark it on the calendar he does not keep. Tamara's was checked against her file roughly forty-eight hours ago, which has given the detective ample time to prepare for tonight and while he might not have laid out any presents of his own this evening, there's a cheesecake in the fridge that will compliment Felix's offering quite nicely.

There's also something in his pocket, but that will come later. For now, he doesn't quite have the heart to inform Colette she's mistaken and pauses to watch the girls interact in silence while the lamb shanks sizzle in the pot and fill the kitchen with their sweet aroma.

A little unsure of how to react after being nudged out of the kitchen. Colette, reaches out to confusedly take the paper bag offered to her in one hand, then opens her mouth to speak a word of query, only to hear Flight of the Valkyries chime out of his suit jacket pocket. She hesitates, especially when Felix plucks the cell phoen out of his pocket and flips it open, half of his attention still focused on the meal at hand that he's trying to help with. "Ivanov," Felix curtly addresses into the phone, before halting all other motions, flaring his nostrils and offering an askance look towards the stove. "What do you mean she interviewed Ruskin on her own?" Dark brows furrow, Felix's eyes widen and he storms right past Colette and out of the kitchen. "You know I wanted to be there for that, when did she get authorization for it?"

Tiredly exhaling a sigh, Colette blows a lock of hair from her face, though follows Felix's motions with an askance stare. Ruskin catches her attention perhaps a little more pointedly than it should, and she's looking back to Judah after a moment, then nodding her head in resignation as she moves over to pull out a seat by the table, paper bag set down next to the glass of water as she carefully eases herself down into the seat with one hand shakily pressing weight onto her cane.

"No, no that's not what I said." Felix tersely spits out as he moves to the apartment door, turning around to offer Judah a flash of an apologetic look before swinging the door open and stepping out into the hall, "do I have to hold your hand for you to…" Felix's voice trails off as the door slams shut behind him.

Awkward silence lingers for a moment, and Jupiter quirks up one ear without opening his eyes at the sound of the door closing. "S— So…" Colette breathes out, eyeing the paper bag and reaching for it again, opening the top with a crinkle of the paper before glancing down inside. "What's all this about?"

Tamara gives a glance towards the stove; seems to judge that the meat will sit for a moment, or else that Judah has it well in hand. She looks back at Colette afterwards, brows drawing together in a thoughtful, faintly nonplussed frown. "Just open it!" she finally encourages, casting a smile at the younger girl. The seeress lifts a hand, one finger raised in a hold gesture — although not, probably, relating to the present. "Right back!" Tamara declares. Then it's back to the kitchen again, long enough to turn the meat and pour two more glasses to join those already on the table: one of tonic water and one of milk.

Although not in the usual spirit of presents, the contents of the paper bag aren't wrapped. Only one is visible directly, and that only in part — an amorphous pile of yarn that looks white until it's pulled out into the light, revealed to be a very pale shade of gray. Beneath it are gloves like enough that they can be called matching, although they really aren't; a bit darker, stiff with thermal padding. And a keychain, attached to an oval pod not much larger than a quarter, one end capped with the small dome of a clear LED.

"That's not for here," Tamara informs, without prompting.

Judah seems not to mind Felix's abrupt departure. He, after all, would be doing the same if he received a call on his mobile — which is why his phone has been turned off and left on his nightstand table along with his leather wallet and the keys to his car. He does not stray far from the kitchen after dealing with the tomatoes, and adds them to the pot at the appropriate time along with the sprigs of rosemary, chopped onions and fine orange strips of carrot along with a generous splash of wine. "Where's it for?"

Laying out the scarf on her lap, Colette's lips creep up into an awkwardly embarrased smile, a soft osund in the back of her throat coming as she immediately tries on the gloves, flexing her fingers open and closed in them, while playing with the keychain LED. Her brows furrow, head quirks to the side and she aims it down at the palm of her hand before very obviously not listening to Tamara and clicking it on. For the barest of moments it's a bright light before her finger comes off of the button, and Colette's lips creep up very curiously into a more mischevious smile.

She couldn't possibly imagine what Tamara truly intends for it.

"This is awesome, these are like— these things are so bright you can see 'em like a mile away!" A contented smile curls across her lips as the young girl's head bobs to the side with a swish of her bangs over one eye. "It looks white but it's actually a blue LED with a few phosphor layers coating that turns the light broad-spectrum, from high spectrum, though it's kind've inefficient because all of the light is forced through a Stokes shift when it comes thorugh the phosphor but it still produces over a thousand lumens!"

Looking up from her rambling, Colette's green eyes stare vacantly for a moment as she realizes that no one cares about anything she just said. Grimacing awkwardly, her eyes avert to the table, throat is clears and she murmurs an awkward, "Th— Thanks." But her brows furrow and eyes alight back to Tamara. "Whh— Why'd you get me these?"

Tamara cares enough to listen, smiling gently at the younger girl — indulgently, to be true, because she couldn't follow the light science even if she wanted to. It's not those words that matter. "For dark places," the seeress replies more quietly, answering both questions at once. Inasmuch as she's going to. "Don't lose it." The young woman sinks back down onto the couch, this time sitting more properly with her back in its corner and her feet at least touching the floor. Heavy brown paper crumples noisily as Tamara picks up another bag, folding her arms around its width, her chin set against the coarse edge of its brim. "For the white. Winter's teeth and wind's bitten edge." Never mind that it's March and spring is supposed to be starting soon.

Judah turns down the heat and leaves the pot on the stove to gently simmer, winding his way around the edge of the counter to join the gathering. Doesn't sit. Opts to remain standing instead, glass of tonic water taken up in one hand while the other slides into the pocket of his slacks and curls callused fingers around something inside. They've probably teased Colette enough. "It's your birthday," he reminds Tamara. "You're supposed to be the one receiving gifts, not giving them."

"I should be a rent a cop," Felix announces, bitterly, as he comes back in from the hall. There's that combative sneer on his lips, as he returns, stuffing his phone into his pocket. Though once he's shut the door behind himself, he pauses, closes his eyes and visibly centers himself, and takes a deep breath. Like the scent of cooking and the aura of domesticity will soothe him. Calgon, take me away.

Unfortunately, while it doses that, it also causes a pang of loss, so he's a little more somber, as he heads back into the kitchen.

"Yeah," Colette absently states as she turns her keychain LED around in one hand, "it's your b— " Green eyes go up to Judah, dart to Tamara, then just widen. Silence falls over Colette as her lips part to make a question, a faint sound comes out and Colette moves way too quick to get up from the kitchen table. She lets out a tiny yelpm brings a hand down to her back and leans against the table, then hisses sharply and grabs her cane and rests one hand on it. "It's— it's— "

Eyes wide, Colette looks back and forth from Tamara to Judah. "How— how'd you know her birthday!? Wh— why didn't anyone tell me?" There's a rather undeserving frantic pace to the way she hobbles across the floor towards the sofa where Tamara's seated. "I— I would've— I'm so sorry I— " But she's holding a keychain and wearing gloves and the scarf fell to the floor and Felix and Judah are here together and everyone seems happy and everything is upside down.

Breathing in sharply, Colette takes a slow exhalation and looks simply puzzled and a little disappointed in herself, gloved fingers curling around the keychain as she looks to Tamara, brows raised.

Twenty, today.

Judah's words rattle in her head, and Colette finally knows the true divergence of their ages. Tamara's birthday is in March, she's twenty. What else does Judah know? Dark brows still up in her hairline, Colette wets her lips and moves over to settle on the sofa beside Tamara, awkwardly silent, simply not knowing what else to say.

Tilting her head, Tamara gazes steadily up at Judah. Quiet, a small and lopsided smile slowly tugging at her lips. "So you say," she allows. "But I can." And therefore, she does.

The second bag is held out to Judah; her voice is raised to the last of their atypical, unconventional in every way little family unit. "Felix." A summons, gentle as it is; the kitchen will wait. The third is for him, of course, more paper noisy in the girl's grasp as she scoops it up on her way off the couch again. Not far, this time; not more than to stand, where at least she can hand the bag to Felix.

She looks over to Colette as the younger girl hobbles over, offering a gently resigned smile. "Ssh," Tamara murmurs, freeing her left hand to brush a slightly admonishing fingertip against Colette's cheek. "It is what it is. Cherish the time." A moment's brief pause. "Remember?" A question, rather than an instruction; not remember, in truth, but a request: remember for me.

Judah sets the tonic water back down rather than attempt to juggle it with the bag and its contents, which turn out to be a thick black sweater and dark-coloured gloves. He rubs the weave between his fingers, admiring its texture and make. Thickness, too. That Tamara is giving them winter clothes at what should be the onset of spring has not escaped his notice, though he refrains from allowing any discomfort to seep into his expression as the now-empty bag joins the discarded tonic water on the table and he roughly pulls the sweater over his head and angles his arms into the sleeves.

It would be easier if he wasn't wearing a dress shirt beneath, but as Tamara says: it is what it is.

"It's a very merry unbirthday, to me, to me," Felix sings, suddenly. And he can actually sing, which is… utterly weird. "Statistics prove that you've one birthday one birthday every year but there are 364 un birthdays that is why we are all gathered here…" Where in God's name did he learn that song? From his gift, he pulls out a dark blue scarf, with amber brown edging, which he ceremoniously drapes around his neck like a prayer shawl. And then he pulls out a box labelled "Apples to Apples". Felix gets… a board game.

Colette didn't come up with an immediate response for Tamara's question, due to distracted fascination with Judah and Felix's gifts— and also the simple fact that Felix has clearly lost his mind and is never, ever getting it back; It has divorced him, filed a restraining order, and left the state. Grimace turning into a smile, Colette shakes her head and closes her eyes, managing to breathe out a laugh before looking up to Tamara. The teen's hand comes up to feel at her cheek where Tamara had lightly touched it, then she just nods once.

"I'll… I'll remember," Colette affirms, a weary smile crossing her lips. It's hard, having to remember everything, but perhaps that's why Tamara had gotten her the recorder. Amusingly, a thought springs to Colette's mind as her teeth toy with her lower lip and eyes avert to her lap. Tamara deserves something, and now Colette thinks she knows exactly what to do.

"Hh— " Come on now, use your words, "Happy birthday," she emphasizes with brows lifted and smile smaller, more earnest and heartfelt. "I— I'm really… really glad all of us could get together like this for it. I— " Colette shakes her head, swallowing noisily and just looks down to her lap, teeth holding her lower lip in place, trying to to make it so bleedingly obvious she's so happy she's gotten all emotional.

Tamara smiles at Colette, pressing her lips briefly against the younger girl's dark hair. Then she steps away, retrieving the lost smoke-gray scarf and folding it around her own shoulders. A mischievous smile is given to Felix; very merry, indeed. The expression sobers as the girl comes around to Judah, no less affection in her regard for all that its levity is much reduced. She looks up at him for a long moment, in his new black sweater; doesn't need to tell him it's also meant for other places, other times, colder weather, and lets the words die before they become more than a passing possibility.

"I know," the sybil states softly in their place.

Judah's fingers dip back into his pocket, come back out again with a dangling necklace that consists of a pleated gold chain, brass leaf charm and an attached teardrop of baby blue quartz that matches Tamara's eyes. Leah's had been brown, of course, but he's hoping that it will look as good on Tamara as it did on his baby sister.

He takes the young woman's hand in his, no longer a teenager, and presses it into her palm before forcibly closing the delicate weave of her fingers around it so they form a tight fist.

Fel is most definitely damaged. Who wouldn't be? He pulls a little box out of his pocket, and proffers it to Tamara, in turn. He looks at Colette, and says, mock sternly, "No crying. There is no crying in baseball."

Everyone else got her something. Colette slouches back against the sofa, nodding her head slowly with brows furrowed. She'd mostly watched the exchange between Judah and Tamara, and Felix now mostly makes her look away. There's a certain anxiety in her features, nervousness that comes from the constant need to feel like she's accepted, or doing the right thing. That paranoia of making a mistake that drives everyone off — despite practically doing that all by herself on more than one occasion — worries at her.

Breathing in deeply, she looks back towards Tamara, smile returning when she considers the way Judah and her have interacted, the way Felix has a gift for her, the way the whole family — strange as it is — has reunited, even for a little while. She may not have a gift for Tamara, but she can appreciate the present of family all on her own. She'll just have to deliver her something late.

Tamara closes her other hand over Judah's, nodding to him briefly. There's a solemnity in the way she clasps the chain about her neck, blue drop nestling against her collarbones, settling just beside and below the glinting leaves. Not so much when she turns to Felix, freed hands accepting the box from him. The box, inevitably, winds up on the table next to the glasses and Judah's empty paper bag; half-on her own dinner plate too, for that matter, but if that were a problem she wouldn't have let it land there. The gloves are a slightly darker shade of blue, slip easily onto her hands before being wrapped in the scarf the girl pulls down from about her own shoulders.

"Thank you," she says, smiling up at them. Tamara backsteps to the couch, sitting down with an abruptness that seems like nothing so much as tripping into it — but given that she manages to quite deliberately drop the scarf across Colette's head on the way into her seat, not to mention sit rather than sprawl, there's no way it could've been accidental. "Don't lose that, either."

And: "Happy birthday."

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