Not Ever

Participants:

colette_icon.gif felix_icon.gif judah_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Ever
Synopsis Felix and Judah make a list of places where Kaydence's kidnappers might be keeping her, while Colette gets the wrong impression.
Date October 14, 2008

Le Rivage — Judah's Apartment


There are two words that immediately spring to mind when describing Judah: clean and efficient. One of the reasons he prefers living alone is so things in his apartment remain tidy, his belongings untouched by the hands of strangers — like a well-oiled machine, everything needs to be exactly in its place if his life is to run smoothly, and when things start to go wrong it's never more apparent than in his personal space. Maps lay strewn across the kitchen table, many of them marred by circular coffee stains and thick strokes of black ink from a felt-tip marker.

A bottle of over-the-counter sleeping aids sits forgotten in a brown paper bag nearby, the receipt stapled to its lip to prevent the contents from spilling out if tipped over. Judah will get to it eventually; for now, he's preoccupied with the arduous task of figuring out where Kay might be being kept. So far, he's narrowed it down to roughly one hundred locations, but even then he may as well be searching for a needle in haystack full of grass. Worse yet, he knows it, and the longer they go without word from her captor, the larger the elephant in the room becomes. She may already be dead.

"We're running out of options," he says hoarsely, not for the first time tonight. Everything is starting to blur together, and he can't remember if he and Felix have had this conversation before — or if he simply imagined it in his sleep-deprived state.

Felix looks positively grim, himself. He showed up in Judah's wake, a thin man in a sharply tailored gray suit, though he moves like someone twice his age, favoring his side. He's very pale, and drawn, and sweating despite having removed his suit jacket, more from pain than any real heat. There's a .45 riding in a shoulder holster which he has not removed, as if he'd forgotten he wears it. He's taken off his glasses and set them aside, and his hair is rumpled from him running his fingers through it. «We need…» he begins, before cutting himself off and looking embarrassed, beginning again in his accentless English, "We need to find a way to lure them out. To wave some sort of red flag. I mean, we don't have a deadline, right? We've done what we can to make it look as if we've called off the investigation, but really, they can't expect it to remain this way. Not in limbo," Tired enough to have lapsed into his native tongue, himself. "And there are so many no man's lands they can vanish into, especially if they dare the edge of the crater."

Across the room from the sofas, there's the sound of rattling and clicking from the apartment door. This sound is accompanied by a few muffled thumps, and then a click as the locks turn one-by-one, and the door to the hallway opens, and with it a widening crack of light spilling into the dimly-lit apartment. Most of the lights are off when the door opens, only the light above the table in the kitchen is on, mixing with the ambient illumination coming in from the bay windows, making contrasts of blue-hued and yellow light that meet somewhere around the sofas and now the light from the hall. Through the door, a slim silhouette moves into the apartment carrying a heavy paper grocery bag with the end of a loaf of french bread poking out of the top. The girl's short, black hair is in messy disarray, and the jingling sound of the keys she juggles is only highlighted by the gasp that escapes her when she looks into the apartment.

The paper bag falls right to the floor with a heavy thump and crash, followed by a sharp and brief report of keys hitting the hardwood. Boots thump loudly as the girl dashes across the entrance and straight towards the kitchen, leaving the front door wide open. She was practically charging for Judah, until she notices the stranger standing in the kitchen with him. She falters, stumbling to a stop just inside the kitchen, hands balled up into fists at her side.

Colette steps forward, looking away from Felix as she mumbles weakly to Judah in a frustrated whimper "You could've called." The girl clenches her hands, then looks down to the maps obliviously — She hadn't heard about Kaydence at all yet. Her voice is strained somewhere between a growl and a whimper, bangs hiding her eyes when she keeps her head downturned, but as the girl looks up to Judah, there's redness on the edges of her glassy eyes. "I — I was worried about you, y-you jerk." Passing her concern off as frustration, she lets out a strained huff and takes a step away from the detective, "I… I called you, you didn't pick up, a-and the people at the precinct — " Her face flushes a mortified shade of red, turning away from the kitchen entirely, looking back towards the bag she dropped at the door, embarrassed.

Judah glances at Colette, sidelong, in his usual, seemingly disinterested sort of way. He's never been good at reading other people, not even when their emotions are laid bare like Colette's are right now, but he's not so socially inept he doesn't realize she's upset. What he doesn't understand is that it's partially his fault. "I didn't think it was important," he says in apology. Then, "You dropped your bag."

The detective's dark eyes shift back to Felix and he nods, once. "If they were based out of Midtown, we'd be seeing a lot more murders in Manhattan — assuming they like hunting close to home. If they don't, and they're trying to distance themselves from their hidey-hole, we need to be casting our net out further. What about Staten Island?"

Colette gets first an owl-eyed stare of surprise, from Felix, and then a closer looking over. He's not making any particular secret of his scrutiny, but it's not a leer. Far from it — almost disturbingly clinical. And then he swings his gaze back to Judah, and his expression is almost patient. "I take it this is your ward?" he prompts, gently. Like Jude's Bruce Wayne, and this is a Robin. His lip curls at the mention of Staten Island. "God, I hope not," he says, with evident disgust. "We don't…..do we have evidence of either transport, or an evolved ability that would let them move quickly? Because we honestly can't even guess at the range, if the latter's the case." He pinches the bridge of his nose, looking pained, and eases himself back into one of the kitchen chairs.

Colette hesitates as he moves away, just long enough to hopefully hear a supportive phrase, or an apology, something to reaffirm that she isn't out of her mind for worrying about Demsky. But when none of that comes, and she's only patently reminded about how she dropped the bag by the door, the young girl hangs her head, shuffling over to the door. With her back turned, she crouches down to pick up the groceries that spilled out of the bag — Mostly canned goods, a loaf of french bread, and some oranges in a plastic bag. She swallows nervously, hands shaking as she straightens the bag and puts everything back in. Her eyes wander to the keys, scooping them up with one hand before picking up the paper bag and making her way quietly into the kitchen. The young girl watches the pair at the table, setting the paper bag down on the countertop by the stove, jaw set and tense.

With one quiet motion, she lays her keys down beside the bag, then walks over to the sofa without saying a word, crouching down to pick up her messenger bag, slinging the faded army-green accessory over her shoulder, glancing back at the open door, then back to the table in the kitchen, teeth lightly pressing down on her lower lip contemplatively.

"We don't know how many of them there are," Judah points out, "and even if there isn't a teleporter among them, the time it takes to get from here to there is negligible. A couple hours — less if you know someone with a private boat." The question about his ward causes him to pause, lift his head and square his shoulders. "Colette?" he murmurs. "Yeah. She's the one — the girl I told you about." There's something of an ominous tone in Judah's voice, but this is entirely out of the ordinary. "Colette, this is Felix Ivanov. He's an old friend of Detective Damaris and myself."

Okay, put on the good cop face. Fel actually smiles at her, though it's a crooked, rather sidelong expression, and rises to offer her a hand. "I used to be NYPD, and then I quit, joined the FBI. Certain people," He slants a look at Judah, "Have never let me live it down. Colette, pleased to meet you," he says, gently. "Man, did you not tell her what you were up to?" He actually presumes to scold Judah a little, shaking his head, before looking back down to the map. "We don't have enough man power to search like we need to. Nevermind that you could now hide the North Vietnamese Army in Central Park, let alone one cop and a couple of serial killers. I….dug up what I could on Santiago. Not much there. His Bureau records say very little."

The girl stiffens when attention is directed to her, a distinct "hand in the cookie jar" expression on her face as her mis-matched eyes grow somewhat wide. She looks over to Felix as he starts to talk to her, a sour and defiant cast coming to her features. She shakes her head, overbrown bangs falling to cover her blinded eye as she walks to the door, "Yeah, whatever." The young girl spits out, leaving both the groceries and her keys on the countertop. Her boots thump across the hardwood floor, stepping out the front door while one hand trails behind her to grab the doorknob, slamming it shut loudly behind herself.

Judah looks from Felix, to the door, and then back again. "That's normal, right? Teenagers—" He stops as a thought abruptly occurs to him, turning his blood to ice. It's impossible for anyone except a telepath to follow what he's thinking, but it can't be very nice. The expression on his face darkens while his eyes grow bright with an emotion that isn't often seen in them. Fear.

"Colette!" he roars, voice carrying through the door and out into the hall, muffled though it may be. "Colette Nichols!"

One cop gets that look in his face, it plays on reflexes in the others. The way flocks of birds all turn in unison in the evening sky. "Moodiness—," Fel begins, and is up out of his chair in an instant, only to wince and half-crumple as it strains his stitches. "What is it, Demsky?" he hisses, already half-way to the door, quite prepared to pursue.

She's only halfway down the hall when Judah comes bursting through the door, she certainly wasn't in any haste to get away. It's entirely likely Colette was taking her time in the explicit hopes that this exact thing might well happen, but who can truly be certain how a teenage girl's mind works? She freezes the moment she heard Judah call out her full name, tugging her messenger bag around in front of herself, shoulders rolling forward. Then, after a moment of simmering, she wheels around and throws her arms down to her side, the bag swaying away from her on the strap. "What? What do you want!?" Her voice carries down the hall, "I'm just — " One red-sleeved arm raises up, wiping across her eyes, "I'm going out for a walk, just leave me alone!" Then, to dig, "It's not like you care anyway! Just — Just go back to… to whatever the hell it is you're doing!" She turns around with a stomp of one of her feet on the carpeted hall and a ragged huff.

On his way out the door, Judah mutters something to Felix. He's not thinking straight, so it's probably no surprise that his speech is a little slurred and difficult to decipher, but the words "fucking pigeons" are made out easily enough. "Probably watching the whole goddamned place—" In his haste to locate and rescue Kaydence, he'd forgotten about the safety of the other two young women under his wing. Where do the kidnappers draw the line?

As soon as he's caught up to Colette, he summons his strength, hooking his arm around her waist and pulling her up against his chest before he slings her over his shoulder and starts trekking back to the apartment. "No. Walks. Not ever."
Oh, shit. By the way Fel's gone white, the bird problem hadn't occurred to him. "That's the way we reach them," he says, suddenly. "What're you willing to bet that if we put a message up on a rooftop, we could communicate with them. If they've got the eyes of even some of the birds in New York….," He looks positively ill, at the idea. "What we're doing," he explains to Colette, even as Judah hauls her back, "Is trying to figure out where a criminal has taken a kidnapped police officer."

Colette turns to look over her shoulder as she hears footsteps thumping down the hall after her, and she lets out a soft, muffled squeak of surprise, freezing up when Judah pulls her over to his chest, and then flips her around over his shoulder. Much contrary to what the situation should be, the girl doesn't scream, doesn't put up a fit, she doesn't even so much as struggle. She just pulls her arms close to herself, partially upside-down as she is, hands covering her face. Felix only notices this somewhat reflexive position once Judah starts hauling her back towards him, her fingers tucked into her hair, lightly holding on to dark locks. She either didn't hear the agent, or she isn't responding. She's quiet, remarkably quiet. Her messenger bag rests on the floor of the hall where it had fallen off of her shoulder when she was picked up.

The bag might very well remain there. Judah has what's important to him, everything else be damned. Firmly, but gently, he places Colette down on the couch and kneels down in front of her, his hands resting on her knees just in case she changes her mind and decides to rabbit. "It's Kaydence," he elaborates for the teen's benefit on the off chance that she is listening to them. "I need you to stay here. Where it's safe. No going outside, no looking for Tamara, no looking out the window."

Felix brings the bag, though he's hobbling as he gently closes the door behind him. Should Colette glance past Judah, he'll be hovering in the doorway between kitchen and living room, listening. He's oddly still, angular face betraying nothing, though his gaze flickers to the windows now and again. Hello, paranoia.

When Colette is deposited down on the sofa, her eyes are focused down on her lap where her hands immediately come to fold. Her shoulders are curled forward, hands hidden in the sleeves of her red hoodie. The young girl flinches ever so slightly when Judah rests his hands on her knees, a tiny and clearly restrained noise chirping in the back of her throat as she swallows tensely. She nods, in silence, her behavior much the same way that she recoiled her hand from a touch across the diner table the second time she and Judah ever met. A facet that is lost on him in his current state of sleep deprivation.

"T-Ta…" Her voice comes out shakily, eyes watering much as they have been since she got back, but for wholly different reasons. "T-Tamara… She…" Her back presses into the sofa, as if trying to lean away from Judah, like she was for some reason afraid to speak up with him so close now, like she isn't supposed to. "Tamara's been gone… for days." Her voice is meek and tiny, a tone never used around Judah, even her method of speech is entirely different, mumbling and insecure. "Over a week." Then, almost immediately, "I won't go out." It's said hastily, reassuringly, fearfully.

She's scared. Good. "I will look for Tamara," Judah promises, leaning forward until his forehead lightly bumps against Colette's. It isn't a gesture of affection as much as it is a sign he really, really needs to take a break from his search and sleep. If he can't even stay upright, he's not going to be able to find Kaydence, let alone take her back by force should persuasion fail. "Don't worry about her. If she doesn't want to be found, she won't. She's fine." She has to be. Judah's in no condition to even consider the alternative — if something were to happen to Tamara or Colette after what's already happened to Kaydence, he'd probably break.

He's already starting to draw back when he notices something is amiss with Colette, and this time he does apologize, mumbling a guttural "sorry" under his breath as he removes his hands from her legs. "I didn't mean to." Yell? Frighten her? Probably both.

Felix's gaze flickers between Judah and Colette's faces. There's no sign of recognition at that name, nor does he ask at the moment. No real reaction at all, though Judah gets a fractional squint, as if Fel's pondering just sapping him and summarily dragging him to his bedroom to be forced to sleep. He rubs at his own eyes, wearily.

Colette ever so slightly turns her head away when Judah's comes down to rest against hers, even for that moment. She's the picture of awkward and uncomfortable, eyes closing as she breathes in a slow breath to try and calm down, try and get focused again. She knows better than to think what she is. After a few moments of sitting there with her eyes shut, Colette brings her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs as she stares through her choppy bangs over to Judah when he pulls away. Her brows furrow, and she sniffles lightly, finally starting to come around from the shock she was in. "Is… Is Kay… "

The girl's voice is small, but not fearful any longer, but she doesn't finish that sentence. She finally sees the weariness in Judah, and sees how broken he looks. Her head ducks down, mouth resting on the backs of her knees as her eyes close partway, now it was her turn to say it. "Sorry." She mumbles against her jeans, finally realizing just how selfish and childish she was being, and it hits her hard to see the detective like this.

"We don't know," is all Judah can tell Colette about Kaydence, at least for now. He seems to accept her apology as he rises to his feet, grasping the arm of the couch for support. It takes him a few more seconds to get his train of thought back on the rails, but when he does he appears just a little more alert than he did a few moments ago. "Right," he mutters, "the birds. What sort of message did you have in mind? 'Fuck you, give us Damaris back or we'll bust a cap in your ass' probably won't fit on the roof."

"I'm half tempted to say yes," Felix says, dryly. "Let's face it. We are literally looking for a needle in a haystack. They can't possibly believe we'll hold off investigating them, Damaris or no. This is stalling for something else," He shakes his head, propping himself against the doorframe again. "Fuck. Talk about paranoia. I'm gonna end up shooting every pigeon I see. Hell, that might work, if one of them's protective of birds. Though I don't know how we'd put that information out. 'Is your neighbor capable of doing a Tarzan of the Jungle schtick with the pigeons in the park? Call the FBI!'" He pulls a face. And then he pauses, "I still don't know why they let me live. They killed the bluesuits, and Santiago let me see his face. I can ID him. Same for his little Renfield."

Back? Colette's mis-matched eyes track Judah as he moves across the room, that word alone having snagged her attention rather quickly. Her one good eye tracks Judah as far as it can until she finally has to turn her head and commit to some overt movement. Her cheek comes to rest against the backs of her knees, legs still curled up to her chest. Then the topic of conversation starts to turn darker, more serious, and the girl's eyes just grow wider and wider. She lets out a faint, murmuring sound and finally lets her legs slide down over the edge of the sofa. Her eyes dart around the room, and she searches for her bag. The girl scrambles towards it, boots thumping across the floor. She flips the front flap open, then pulls out a small piece of cardstock from the back. It is turned around in her fingers a couple of times, and she looks back to Judah again, teeth pressing down on her lower lip. "J-Judah?" The girl quietly tries to get his attention, hands tucking away within her red sleeves again.

"I don't know, Ivanov. Could be they just like messing with us. Could be this is just one small piece of a much bigger puzzle." Judah watches Colette move from her couch to her bag, his brow furrowed as he speaks. "That they let you live doesn't exactly fit their M.O. Most of the victims have been Evolved according to the autopsy reports and the interviews we've conducted with friends and family — either they didn't have time to do you properly, or they don't know what you are."

When Colette calls to him, he takes a single step toward her before he remembers himself and decides to give her the extra personal space. He won't get any closer unless she invites him to. "What is it?"

"Registered Evolved?" Fel persists. He's observing Colette, too, but obliquely, as if she were the sort of animal who might startle if looked at directly. "Probably….I don't know. Likely the former. Santiago's henchman knew what I am. Or it's simply that they thought the knifewound would be enough," Which it nearly was, really. He heads for one of the free seats, and lowers himself down. "Demsky. You should sleep soon," he admonishes, steepling his fingers before himself, as he slouches a little. "Before you pass out."

The girl hesitates for a moment, then holds out a business card that reads, "Bright and Reinhold Private Investigations." She cracks and anxious smile, looking down to the card, then urges it towards Judah, "Um, I… I just, I…" She's almost too nervous to speak, her half-blind stare lingering on the other man in the room. "H-He um, he's that guy? Y-you know, the one from the park you knew?" The young girl looks back down to the card again, making an expression that seems to imply she thinks her own idea is a little silly. "I… I'm sorry I just, wanted…" Her hand lowers down to her side, head shaking. "S'wanted to help… I mean," All the talk of knife-wounds and death, serial killings and registered evolved, it's got Colette a little spooked, and she's trying to cope.

Judah reaches out and graciously accepts the card from Colette. Brett Reinhold. Now why didn't he think of that? "Thank you." He then passes the card to Felix, moving toward the paper bag on the kitchen table. The other man is right, of course. If he doesn't sleep now, he probably will pass out. "I'd appreciate it," he says, giving the bag a little rattle, "if you'd stick around for a few more hours. Give Reinhold a call, leave him a message if he isn't there. I'll be dead to the world in about twenty minutes."

Felix's gaze flickers to the card, then to Judah, then to Colette. The question is implicit, but clear. Or rather, both of them. You know this guy? And I'm here specifically to make sure she doesn't bolt? "Of course," he says, graciously, with almost sphinxish smile, though what's amusing isn't clear. "What precisely shall I say to him?"

Judah steadily holds Felix's gaze. It's a 'yes' on both counts. "Tell him that we have a job for him, and that it would be in everyone's best interest to keep it off the record. I'll pay him out of my pocket if it comes to that." He disappears behind the divider that separates the sleeping area from the rest of the apartment. A few moments later, the telltale rustling of clothes can be heard as he changes into his night clothes — a pair of old sweatpants and a sleeveless shirt. He must have a glass of water on the nightstand to wash the pills down with, because he doesn't immediately reemerge.

"Will do," Fel says, with that same imperturbable calm. "Sleep well," he adds, with a faint touch of irony to his tone, before returning to the kitchen and picking up the phone. Not without a reflexive and wary glance at the window, lest there be avian spies watching.


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October 14th: The Best Suggestion
Previously in this storyline…
St. Luke Blues

Next in this storyline…

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October 14th: Simon and Sissy-Poo
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