Echoes of Fire

Participants:

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

Scene Title Echoes of Fire
Synopsis Felix drops by to announce his return, Colette comes home with dinner, Tamara says cryptic and scary things, and everything threatens to (but doesn't quite) shake to pieces.
Date November 16, 2008

Le Rivage: Judah's Apartment

The tenant of this small studio could probably afford a larger space on his budget but, judging from the unique style of his decor, seems like the type of person who would rather spend his money on other things. Several Ansel Adams prints in black and white are positioned strategically throughout the room, stark against the studio's walls which have been painted a light beige colour to lend the area just a hint of warmth. Through the use of furniture and built-in shelving units, the apartment has been divided into three distinct sections: one for cooking and eating, one for relaxing, and one for sleeping.

The kitchen is a barebones affair with outdated tile floors that contrast with the stainless steel appliances and glass backsplash. It also contains a tiny eat-in nook with a circular table, two matching chairs and a plain white tablecloth held in place by a potted jade plant at the center of the arrangement.

The living area consists of a dark leather couch, a matching armchair, a zen-style coffee table that sits a mere foot off the ground and — the centerpiece of the apartment — an entire wall of bookshelves that house several hundred different titles ranging from such classics as Crime and Punishment, Heart of Darkness and The Turn of the Screw to more modern titles like Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. More prominent, though, is the tenant's varied collection of nonfiction which includes works on forensic studies, criminal psychology, philosophy and even indoor botany. On the coffee table rests a copy of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, but why this particular title is on display is anyone's guess.

The bedroom area is separated from the rest of the studio by a low wall and a series of thick black curtains designed to block out the light streaming in from the apartments untreated bay windows. Even at night, the area is unusually bright thanks to the placement of a street lamp directly outside this street-level unit. The bed itself is a twin-sized platform dressed in crisp white sheets and a down comforter for warmth.

The bay windows open out to a small patio completely enclosed by wrought-iron bars designed to prevent and unwanted guests from visiting the premises when the tenant is out, and while this gives it the appearance of a prison, the effect is lessened somewhat by swaths of ivy and a meticulously-cared for succulent garden.


The light leaking through an overcast sky is slowly dimming, as the unseen sun slides down towards the western horizon. It's a cold day outside, which may have something to do with why Tamara has spent today lurking around Judah's apartment. Not just dropping in for a visit, but here all day. In with the sun, and out… well, not yet.

At present, the precog is seated on the floor of the living area, legs crosses, hands occupied with what was originally a set of Jenga blocks. 'Originally', as their current function is to serve as nothing more elegant than building blocks. The afternoon has been punctuated with the clatter of wood colliding with wood when her constructions collapse; fortunately, the carpet prevents them from making even more noise against the floor.

Oddly, compared with most of Tamara's forays into matters artistic, the current pattern-in-progress is identifiable as a stylized, three-dimensional spiral.

Fel's definitely used up one life. Which means he's three down, with six left, at most. And the Agent still looks like twenty miles of bad road — the right side of his face is battered and bruised, with little stitched wounds, considering that high speed introduction to a stone wall. He's limping as he comes down the hall and knocks lightly on Judah's door to a certain but uneven rhythm, like a conspirator asking to be let into a hideout.

As far as noises go, the sound of Jenga blocks clattering against each other ranks about a two on Judah's scale of annoyances. He doesn't seem to mind what Tamara is doing, though he keeps a close eye on her while she works, watching her from behind the lenses of his reading glasses as he sits on the couch with a copy of Kazuo Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go' in his lap. His broken leg rests across the coffee table, four bruised toes poking out from the bottom of the cast. At the knock on the door, he folds the book shut, using a length of black ribbon to mark his place, and leans forward to set it down next to a stale cup of coffee that he discarded several hours ago when he discovered it had become too cold to drink. "Tamara? Would you mind?"

The precog hops to her feet at about the time Judah draws breath, one stray rectangular block held loosely in her hand. She pads, barefoot, across the room — pausing once, halfway, to look over her shoulder at the blocks. Her gaze lifts to the window beyond, a quality of tension lurking beneath the set of her expression. Then the girl pulls her attention back to the task at hand, finishing the crossing of the room and opening the door for Felix. She doesn't stop to look at who's outside, offers no greeting, not even a welcoming smile. Tamara just opens the door to let him through, her attention still visibly distracted.

Felix's grin as he enters is lopsided, and somehow both piratical and apologetic at once, like nothing so much as a dog that's been caught thieving out of the pantry. "Demsky," he says, giving Tamara a gentle nod as he hobbles past her. "Evening. Not disturbing you, am I?" It's oddly deferential for him, especially in contrast to the glitter in his eyes.

Judah removes his reading glasses and tucks them into the front pocket of his shirt so he doesn't have to squint when Felix appears in the doorway. He's a little taken aback by the other man's rundown appearance, a frown creasing at both corners of his mouth, though he doesn't appear quite as surprised as he probably should be. Colette gave him the heads up that something might be wrong with Ivanov, and now here he is, looking like someone who took several blows with an aluminum baseball bat. "Evening," he returns, voice low. "Someone's a glutton for punishment. What happened?"

Closing the door behind Felix, Tamara makes her way back to her previous seat, leaving the men to their conversation. But the clatter of wood-on-wood is very long in returning. Long enough that perhaps it won't resume at all. The girl kneels on the floor beside the three-fourths-finished spiral, brow creasing as she looks down towards the block in her hands, slowly turning it over and over and over between her fingers. Until it stops turning at all.

"Any number of things, culminating with Peter Petrelli," Fel's actually using a cane, and he limps over to sit down in a chair uninvited, hissing in pain. "A former neighbor of mine, one Eileen Ruskin, is apparently in Sylar's pocket, in some way. I was coming down off a stakeout, had an accident, and she found me stunned. And was about to put paid to all my troubles when down from the sky swoops not Mighty Mouse, but a certain terrorist. Who was kindly disposed enough to smash me like a roach, but let me live. We hada little chat in an abandoned subway tunnel once I woke up. He's got a hard-on for Gray, too, apparently. To make things more fucked up - Ruskin's the bird controller, the one who helped in those killings earlier, when Damaris got captured. The ashen bodies - I'd almost think it was Sylar testing out some odd power, but I've seen the one who committed those killings, face to face. Assuming it wasn't Gray in disguise - apparently he's a shapeshifter, or an illusionist." The words tumble out, like a child trying frantically to make excuses to his father……and Fel is restless, unable to stay still. Apparently even a couple days without his meds is enough to swing the needle into the red.

Judah glances over at Tamara and the blocks, his gaze fixed on her fingers and the block she holds between them. There's something significant about this, about the unfinished pattern on the floor, but what that something is he doesn't know. Although he doesn't look directly at Felix as he speaks, there's no doubt he's listening to him; his shoulders tense and, if Felix listens carefully, he might detect a slight change in Judah's breathing as it gets lower and harder. "Colette sent me a text message last night," he says when he's sure that Felix's explanation for his injuries has reached its conclusion. "She knew about Petrelli, but when I called the office they told me you'd been accounted for." It's a lot of information for the detective to take in all at once, and his brain is still in the process of piecing each implication together. "Have you told anyone else about this?"

Suddenly restless, Tamara sets the block down without any care and clambers back up to her feet. She walks around the apartment, not unlike a cat might pace an enclosure — movement without destination, vain attempt to express a building tension. Both of the men seem to be of no more moment to the precog, at this time, than the furniture they're seated on; she makes no attempt to engage them. She does glance, repeatedly, to the street out the window as she paces, lips moving in an as-yet inaudible but visibly fractured murmur.

"Just our boss, and the task force," Fel says, reaching up to scratch at his scalp. "I don't have long, now. But….I want to ask Colette to help, if she and you're willing. If she can pretend to remain ignorant of Ruskin's ties…..she and Ruskin got along, when Colette lived with me. I'm hoping she can draw her out," he says, and then heaves himself up again, ungracefully. "And now I gotta get back to work. Call me," he says, almost curtly, before heading for the door.

Judah makes no move to stop Felix when he starts to leave, a stony silence settling over the apartment as soon as the door swings shut behind him and back into place with an abrupt click. He reaches up and pinches the bridge of his nose between his thumb and his index finger, eyes momentarily squeezed shut. He exhales, slow and pained, taking a few moments to scrape together some civility before he turns his attention back to Tamara and opens his eyes again. "What's wrong?"

Spoken to, Tamara's attention veers a little more into the present, her gaze turning towards but not quite reaching Judah. Though the angle is oblique, it's good enough to confirm what he likely already suspected — that the girl's eyes have gone dark, pupils dilated widely enough to virtually consume the blue.

"Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong," she says softly, picking up the word Judah spoke, building on it, each repeat in time with one of the teen's steps. "Everything. Everything. Take it back." She comes to a halt, looking out into the distance beyond the window's glass, her back to the door. "Take it back," the precog whispers, voice choked with unshed tears, one hand reaching out in vain entreaty. Not to Judah, but to empty, open air. Whatever it is she sees… Judah can change it no more than Tamara herself.

It's not long after Felix has departed that the sound of a key turning in the lock sends the door open with the crinkling of a paper bag. Surely, give the brief time between departure and arrival had to mean paths crossed — though perhaps not. "M'hooooome!" Colette's voice rings out through the house, clutching a large paper grocery bag to her chest. She stumbles through the door, pushing it open with her hip. The girl shifts her weight once inside, using her shoulder to nudge the door away, and then proceeds to push it shut the rest of the way with her foot. "Oh was it ever packed down on Canal Street tonight." The scent filling the air from the bag is distinct; Beef lo mein, pork fried rice, egg rolls, crab rangoons and beef teriyaki. Colette's been out shopping for dinner.

"I think I — Tamara!" Clearly she's oblivious to the tension in the room. That is, until she gives enough pause in her rambling to take notice of the expression on Judah's face, and watches Tamara's posture by the window. Her teeth bite down into her lower lip, and she hastily steps over towards the kitchenette, laying down the bag on the countertop. "Is… Is everything alright?" One hand moves up to rake fingers thorugh her black hair, pushing messy bangs away from her blinded eye self-consciously. "I — I brought Chinese food." As if that makes everything better.

Judah, unable to immediately rise from his seat on the couch, gives Colette a dark look. "She'll be all right," he assures the teen, though his voice suggests that even he isn't entirely sure, "but see if you can't get her to sit down. She's having one of her episodes." Less worried for Tamara and more worried about whatever it is she's seeing, he reaches for his crutches, using them to climb to his feet. Even though his mobility is much better now that he's out of the hospital and has had the chance to acclimate himself to this new way of getting around, he doesn't trust himself not to lose his balance and crush Tamara if he tried to embrace or comfort her. Colette's timing really couldn't have been better.

So cavalierly dismissed, in a sense — but Tamara doesn't notice, couldn't care less. Her attention is focused anywhere but in this room, tears trickling slowly down her cheeks.

History hinges on individual actions. Sometimes, it comes down to a single moment. The last straw; the point of no return. One event really could make the difference… perhaps not between such extremes as black and white, but between deepening twilight and lightening dawn.

"The last straw falls," Tamara whispers, softly, sadly. "And it burns. It burns." Before Colette can urge her to do anything, the precog sinks down to her knees, wrapping her arms around herself. She voices a soft, thready keen — one too weak to carry beyond the apartment's walls, but crystal clear within thir bounds.

It's a sound Judah has heard only once before.

Tamara is mourning.

The sight of Judah rising up on his crutches makes a momentarially frustrated and angry look flash across her face. It's hard to tell what spurred it on, but it's quick to fade as she focuses her attention on Tamara instead. She hesitates, just for a moment, fingers curling into her palms, and then instead of immediately rushing over, she starts to unbutton her jacket. The suede coat is draped over the back of the sofa, and Colette wanders over to Judah, looking up to the detective and then to Tamara silently. She smiles, faintly, and rests a hand on the middle of Judah's chest, "I'll see." She murmurs, and it's the best she can offer.

Turning her focus to Tamara, she watches the girl silk down to her knees and that motion immediately makes her start her way over to the window. Her approach is indirect, though, circling around behind Tamara and slowing down uncertainly as she gets closer. She too crouches, one hand laid, testingly, on the girl's shoulder. On that wrist glitters a familiar bracelet, familiar to Judah as being something he hasn't seen Colette without since her birthday - a green peridot flower on a crystal studded band. That hand squeezes Tamara's shoulder lightly, and Colette leans in closer behind the girl, resting against her lightly and letting her chin settle on the older girl's shoulder. Her free hand settles down on Tamara's side as Colette speaks in a hushed voice, words specifically for Tamara.

"I don't…" It's hard for her to see the girl like this, "I'm not sure what you're seeing, but I — " Her eyes close, and the hand on Tamara's side moves, wrapping around her waist to pull the girl back gently into a hug. "I'm here, in the now. It's not as bad here…" She swallows, anxiously, "If you want to join us." She struggles to make strides to understand the girl who can't be understood. For now, this is the best she can muster.

That sound drains all the colour from Judah's face, leaving him pale and ashen. He says nothing, staring at Colette and Tamara as one tries to soothe the other, his hands gripping his crutches so tight that his knuckles go completely white. He may have heard this keening wail only once before, but to this day he'd recognize it anywhere. There are few things that scare — really scare — Detective Demsky.

This is one of them.

As before, Tamara's presence here — the fact that she hasn't at any point earlier today chivvied either Judah or Colette out the door — suggests that the apartment itself is safe. Either that, or everything's doomed anyway.

At Colette's embrace, the precog allows herself to be drawn into it, vocalization tapering off into a silence broken by occasional sniffles. She's still weeping, but the tears go unheeded by Tamara herself. "Fading, falling. The sun sets."

She closes her eyes, tongue flicking briefly over her lips. "Lost, so much lost." Everything that might have been, chopped off at the root by that one action, vanishing as less than smoke dispersed through the air. "The sky burns. Fire. Fire feeds. Destroys. More and more and more. They're all so angry," Tamara adds, voice suddenly hushed, small. "So afraid. No going back. I don't want it. Don't want it." Her hands come up, and she clings to Colette, finally reacting to something here. Somewhat. "I'm scared," the precog admits, softly, softly. "So much fire."

It's enough to rattle Colette when the normally implaccable Tamara is brought to tears, but it's even more so when the words she rambles are so terrifyingly real. The girl leans back, settling from her crouch to just sit on the floor, wrapping both arms around Tamara now; one around her waist and the other across her shoulders, curling the arm up to rest her fingers in the girl's hair, stroking lightly across the side of her head. "T-Tamara it — it'll be okay…" They're whispering, placating lies. The kinds parents tell children during divorces, or when a child has a terminal illness. It'll all be okay.

Her head turns, moving from Tamara's shoulder to look up at Judah, eyes wide and fearful, and the older girl can feel Colette trembling in the embrace. Blinking glistening eyes, Colette can't even seem to fathom what Tamara must be seeing to have that reaction, her mouth coming open to speak, but no words come out. She's absolutely lost; frightened, and without an idea of where to go.

Swallowing, loudly, Colette turns her focus back to Tamara, letting her cheek settle against the older girl's as she speaks in a soft, hushed tone of voice again. "What — " God she doesn't want to know. "What's burning?" She truly doesn't want to know.

She doesn't want to know. And as Tamara looks at Colette with those too-dark eyes, she recognizes this. Plus, there's the question of which what… and that's complicated. She lifts one hand to press her fingers against the younger girl's cheek, expression doing as much to decline answering the question as a shake of her head could. The older teen looks up at Judah, the tear-tracks on her cheeks glistening in the indoor lighting. "Don't… It's just echoes." It's not an explanation of her recent past actions; rather, her tone suggests an important message. Almost a direction. Don't do anything hasty, perhaps. "It really is."

The word echoes draws a blank look from Colette, as much as her attention can be roused from the hand on her cheek. She swallows, softly, looking up to Judah with a vacant stare, one brow tensed and twitching for a moment before her countenance turns more from frightened to quizzical, trying to piece out the meaning of a familiar word used in unfamiliar context. It's like learning a whole new language with a very whimsical teacher.

"I um…" What can she say to the things that have happened. What can she do to make right something in any possible number of futures that could have been so terrifying. Colette settles on doing nothing that she wouldn't ordinarily do. Her arms draw Tamara in close again, just squeezing her gently and letting her mouth come to rest on the older girl's shoulder, eyes falling partly closed. She's quiet, for the moment. There's so many things she wants to ask, but right now she just needs to let Tamara settle, and to not struggle against the light touch being afforded to her.

Judah has learned his lesson about being hasty, and has a battered body along with crippling injuries to show for it. He offers Tamara a small nod, silent, and moves from the window to the kitchen, hobbling as he goes. Whether or not either of the girls have much of an appetite anymore, the food Colette brought home is going to get cold sooner rather than later — and Chinese, at least in his humble opinion, tastes best if it doesn't have to be reheated.

He reaches up into the cupboards and pulls down three plates, each one stacked neatly on top of the other, and sets them down on the counter while he scrounges around in a nearby drawer for a set of clean forks. "I won't," he promises.

Dark eyes follow Judah's progress around the room. Tamara nods, just slightly, at his promise. The hand on Colette's face drops to her shoulder, a gentle pressure holding her in place. Just in case.

FWOOM.

Cupboards rattle, glasses and plates clinking against one another as the entire building seems to tremble under the influence of some vast force. An ephemeral earthquake, perhaps — except it's not the way of earthquakes to be accompanied by an audible wave of sound. And then the shaking feeling is gone, just as suddenly as it came, leaving a surprisingly eerie stillness in its wake.

It is nothing short of absolute panic that Colette responds with, the way a frightened animal scrambles to hide from lightning. The loud sound, and the shaking, it's exactly what her nightmares of the bomb are like. Colette immediately shrieks, struggling to get away from the windows, wildly pushing herself back, only to find the weight of Tamara leaning on her and the touch to her shoulder keeping her in place. That brief, momentary recoiling ends in a panicked scream as she wraps both of her arms around Tamara and curls into a small ball, trembling and hyperventilating as her shoulders shake and heave, fingers curl into cloth, and whimpering sound of fear rattle her body.

The young girl curls up into the fetal position, almost around Tamara, hiding her face in the girl's chest, sobbing uncontrolably as she lets out frightened murmurs while the house briefly rumbles. The stillness that comes, that eerie and haunting silence in the wake does little to still the girl's fear, and she breathes in and out rapid and terrified breaths as her hands slide down to cover her face. Her whole body tenses, and she lets out one strangled sob in reaction to the subconscious memory of that night.

In the stillness that follows, there comes no sound from the kitchen. Not immediately. After a few moments have passed, however, the sound of broken glass crunching under Judah's shoe echoes through the apartment, and the man emerges into the living room, unharmed. He's a little rattled, but who wouldn't be, following something like that? He retrieves his discarded crutch and, hurriedly, moves across the apartment, making his way toward the door. Halfway there, the cellphone in his back pocket goes off, filling the room with the familiar tune of 'Night on Bald Mountain'. Perhaps surprisingly, he lets it go to voicemail. "Stay here," he says, his hand closing around the door handle, then yanking it open. "Tamara, take care of her."

Stay there. Hah. Tamara keeps that hand on Colette's shoulder, but the precog herself rises — moisture still glittering on her cheeks, too-dark gaze focused intently on Judah, but an all-too-familiar tension in her expression suggesting that isn't going to hold too much longer. "You. Promised." Two words, very precisely enunciated, tone level and edged. "It can wait."

First it's Judah's movement around the apartment, crutch-step-crutch that causes Colette to lets out a weak and whimpering sound. She swallows loudly, but doesn't move away from her one bastion of support and stability to try and work through the difficult to explain terror that washed over her. It's only when Tamara rises that she struggles, fingers clinging for a moment into the girl's shirt before slowly unwinding as her arm falls down to her side. She looks up, tear-filled eyes opening, and then pushes herself up with one arm, bracelet glittering in the light of the apartment as she turns her head to the door. She opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes one. Her head tilts down, then up again as she tries to speak once more. Her lips press together after only silence slips free.

Shakily, she crawls forward on her hands and knees, letting one hand rise up to settle on the hand Tamara leaves on her shoulder. Finally, when Colette tries to speak again, the croaking words that escape the terrified girl are pitiful and pleading, "Dad…" Maybe she's calling for Judah, maybe some distant memory from her early childhood when she respected and needed her father. But right now, she can barely form words, let alone understand them. This is just like the bomb, and she lost everything then.

Tamara's words stop Judah in his tracks. There's a brief moment of hesitation as he lingers on the threshold, torn between the darkness of the apartment and the faint glow of the light in the hall outside seen from beneath the door. It's hard to say what makes him take his hand off the handle, but he does, slowly turning to face the girls as his arm drops limply back to his side, fingers curling into a tight fist.

He isn't going anywhere.


This scene occurred concurrently with The Sword of Rebellion.


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November 16th: Spies Like Us
Previously in this storyline…
New Terrorist in Town

Next in this storyline…
The Sword of Rebellion

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November 16th: The Sword of Rebellion
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