The First Step


colette_icon.gif greg_icon.gif

Scene Title The First Step
Synopsis Colette Demsky seeks out help with a matter of critical importance.
Date February 28, 2018

Red Hook

Admitting when you're wrong is one of the hardest things for a person to do.

Under the cool glow of a rainy day's morning light, Colette Demsky has been given time enough to contemplate that. A pair of twenty foot tall windows framed by gauzy white curtains rest to her right, flanking an old whitewashed hearth adorned with old family photographs. The leather armchair she slouches back into is large and low-backed, but makes her look like a small child due to its boxy dimensions. She feels like a child, right now, feels like someone who is put apart and about to be scolded. Intellectually, she knows that isn't the case. Emotionally, it's a different story.

The tall, white-haired man who settles down into the seat across from her in an argyle sweater and a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows is radiates the attitude of a cinematic college professor, with his glasses low on the bridge of his nose and spiral-bound notebook clutched in one hand with a brand new red pen. "Miss Demsky, sorry about the wait, I had to take that call." Greg Farkas makes Colette uncomfortable, though. Not in his demeanor or in his appearance, but in the subconscious way law-enforcement officers still do. The way guilt makes people react.

"S'olright," Colette mumbles, shifting her shoulders umcomfortably, having only unzipped her leather jacket but not comitted herself to taking it off and getting comfortable. Greg doesn't push the issue, just watches her with a brief smile before mirroring her posture and slouching back into his chair. "Um, I'll be…" she trails off, one hand coming up to fidget with the dangling zipper of her coat. "I dunno if this is going to work."

Greg sets his pen down atop his notebook, leaves them both in his lap, and folds his hands in front of himself with chin resting on folded knuckles. "Well, that's what we're here for. To see if therapy is the right choice for you… to see if we're a good match for one another, and hopefully to get you whatever it is you feel you need." That last bit comes with a motion out to Colette; inviting.

She's silent for a moment in return, blind eyes focused to the glow of light coming in from the windows, to the way raindrops streak down the glass. Greg's office is spacious in the way she'd always imagined the wealthy lived, though Greg doesn't seem accustomed to the space. There's not quite enough furniture, no sense for the room's space. Everything is close together, as if Greg is just a little uncomfortable in his own skin too. That's, marginally, relieving.

"Why…" Greg picks up his notebook and sets it on a table beside his chair by a glass of water. "Don't we start with getting to know one-another a bit. You told me over the phone you work for Wolfhound, and that's a pretty exceptional story right there. How'd you get started in that?"

The question draws Colette's attention back to Greg, and her posture shifts to the side, one elbow down on the padded arm of the chair and her chin against her palm. "I was… twenty years old. The civil war'd been going on for six months'r so. I was staying in a safehouse in Canada with my partners, we were going to wait out the conflict. My uh…" Colette looks to the hearth. "An old Ferrymen acquaintance showed up one day, not for me just— he was on business. I heard him talking about the war, about everything. I… got kinda' angry. At myself, the world?" Closing her eyes, Colette brushes the hand from chin to mouth and back again. "I told my partners I wanted to leave with him, t'help."

In the pause that seems to indiciate Colette's reached the end of that part of the story, Gren shifts his weight in his chair with a few subtle creaks of leather, crossing one leg over the other. "Your partners?" He tucks that away for later. "How did they take that?" Colette's brows furrow at the question.

"They…" Silence hangs for a few moments as Colette tries to figure out how to answer it. "Were both worried for me, in their own way. One'f em," she wrinkles her nose, "Tasha," she strains to be more open, not avoid naming names. It defeats the purpose of this. "She'd just recovered from a brain injury. I was… helping her. I should've stayed." Colette presses her lips together, tightly, looks down at her lap.

Greg sees the tension, eases back. "It sounds like you're lucky to have them both. Are you all still together?" Quietly, he reaches for his notebook and pen, flipping it open and making a quick note before letting it lay back down in his lap again. Colette nods, exhaling a slow breath through her nose as she does.

"Yeah. Yeah I'm… lucky t'have them. They mean the fucking world t'me, and…" Blind eyes opening, Colette stays focused on the windows rather than Greg. "I just feel like I fucked things up, by going off t'fight. I'm just so fucking angry and— " Colette cuts herself off, shakes her head, shifts uncomfortably in her seat. Greg, looks at his notebook, then back to Colette.

"I think everyone's still a little angry," Greg normalizes the emotion, offering Colette a sympathetic smile. "There's a lot to be angry about still. You're SLC-Expressive, the war was personal for you in a lot of ways. You mentioned the Ferrymen, and I've heard enough on television and read enough books to know that you must have seen a lot for a young woman." Looking to the same windows Colette is, Greg asks "Is that where the anger comes from?"

That question causes Colette to deflate, exhaling a sigh and sinking back deeper into her chair. "No," she offers in a small voice, and when she crosses her arms over her midsection, Greg scribbles something small in his notebook, but he doesn't press the issue. He just makes a noise of acknowledgement in the back of his throat and hopes she fills the silence with more. His hopes are rewarded.

"I'm… kinda' fucked up," Colette admits in a small voice. "That's why I wanted t'come here. Becaue, like… I've got a lot'f shit that's bleeding into my life, and m'worried that I'm gonna fuck things up for my family if I don't get my shit under control." Greg makes another quick note and closes his notebook, folding his hands on top of his lap.

"Well, you took the first step — the hardest step — by calling me and admitting that you needed help." Greg offers a hesitant smile to that, one that grows as he continues. "Most people have a hard time admitting that they would benefit from therapy. There's a… defensiveness? They think that going to therapy means something's wrong with them, which isn't actually the case."

Recrossing his legs, Greg folds his hands in his lap again. "Nothing's wrong with you, Colette. We're all the product of our experiences, and sometimes we just need help putting those experiences into context and understanding why we do the things we do, and come to learn how to control them." Greg's eyes wander to the side, and then move back to Colette. "Just like I imagine you had to learn how to control you ability to earn that MIL designation on your ID card."

One corner of Colette's mouth threatens a smile at that analogy, and Colette takes in a deep breath and nods slowly. She reaches up, scrubbing a hand at her cheek, and then briefly brushes a thumb beneath one of her eyes to sweep away the first hint of a tear. "Yeah. I guess you're right…" Averting her eyes to her lap, Colette's shoulders slouch a little. "M'just scared." Greg raises a brow, and Colette knows he wants her to elaborate. "Scared of losing my partners, driving them away by… being reckless. By not listening t'them."

Greg's expression softens, and his sigh is a patient and empathetic one. "Colette," he leans forward in his chair, forearms draped across his knee. "It sounds like your partners care for you, they've stuck with you over the years, and… you're here." He motions to the room. "You're taking the right steps, and I'm going to do everything I can to help you work through what it is you're dealing with."

Colette looks up to Greg, then down to her lap and nods. The gesture is small, awkwardly so, and when she looks back up again the edges of her eyes are red with emotion. "Thanks," she croaks out in a small voice, sweeping a thumb below one of her eyes again. Greg motions with his chin to the box of tissues beside Colette's chair, and she awkwardly pulls one out and dabs at her eyes, then balls it up in her hand.

"So… so what d'we do? How's this work?" Colette asks after settling herself. Greg clasps his hands together, still sitting forward, and lifts his shoulders up into a casual shrug.

"We've already started," Greg admits with a lopsided and easy smile, which elicits a shake of Colette's head and a flutter of her lips into a grimace that quickly turns into an emotional smile as tears starts to dribble down from her eyelids and roll across her cheeks. She swallows loudly, bringing up that tissue to dab at her eyes as she nods.

Threading a lock of hair behind one ear, Colette looks to the windows. She's quietly composing her thoughts, and Greg leans back in his chair in that time, openin ghis notebook again and making another small note. When Colette finally speaks again, it's with a somewhat less heavy heart. "I'm angry about Richard Nichols." The name brings a prickle of bile to the back of her throat, twists her stomach into knots and unsteadies her jaw.

Greg can see the shift in Colette's expression, in the tone of her voice, in the clipped enunciation of his name. Treading carefully, Greg asks, "Who is he to you?" The question elicits more tears, ones hastily — angrily — wiped away. She doesn't want to shed any more tears thanks to him. Her eyes alight to the ceiling, lips press together hard, and her hands shake.

"My biological father," Colette breathes the words out, with bitterness and resentment. Greg watches Colette carefully, then lifts a hand to smooth down from nose to mouth as he considers the approach to this topic. It takes a moment, one that he lets her confront her emotions in, but ultimately he considers a tactic.

"I can tell there's a lot to unpack there," Greg carefully negotiates the emotional minefield of distancing terminology. "I think that might be something we want to approach once we're more comfortable with each other, rather than jump in feet first. But, you said biological father. You've talked a lot about family, and I'd like to understand your current dynamic better before we really start digging in to the root cause of some of the things you feel are impacting your life negatively."

The clinical temrinology helps disentangle Colette from mention of a horrible man's otherwise unspoken name. "Tell me about the family you have now, about what they mean to you, and we'll work back from there." Colette dries her eyes again at the swell of emotions dipping back down again, and she swallows audibly and looks down to her lap, fingers plucking at the tissue between her hands.

"I live with my two partners, Tamara and Tasha, here in the Safe Zone…" Colette's brows furrow together, fingers tearing pieces of tissue away from itself. "Tasha's an attorney, Tamara runs a private consulting business. We've known each other for…" She has to think about that.

Watching Colette withdraw, Tamara tips her head to one side. "Benches are for sharing," she observes, settling herself comfortably on one side. Even with the bag, she takes up half of the bench, no more — and allowing some space for separation into the measurement. Colette may decide to stay over in her corner, but it won't be for lack of space to expand into.

The bag is soon placed on the concrete, next to Tamara's feet. Brown paper rustles as she unfolds the top, digging around inside. Three of the classic white cardboard Chinese food containers come out — the kind that aren't quite as prevalent as they used to be — and are set square between the girls, close enough to Colette that it seems an unspoken invitation to share. The silverware — stainless steel, actually, but real metal and not plastic — wrapped in a green cloth napkin is not so subtle a clue; not when Tamara extracts a second set for herself.

"Nine…" The number seems almost unreal to Colette.

The stranger among them sits, bundled in a snow parka and scarf, her hands in black and white striped gloves between her knees as if trying to keep them warm and her knees from shaking with the cold as well — it's colder here than in Boston. That's the only coherent thought in her head before Eileen asks for their opinions on the task at hand. Tasha lets the others speak first, since she's the new kid in town, but she nods a little in agreement with Raith, then turns to look at Abby and nods as well.

"Is there a way we can hit both to make the most of our one shot? Have one team hit the vaccination van and the church while another stops one of the trucks en route to the hospital? Because he's right," she jabs a black-striped finger at Raith, not retaining the names if they'd been introduced, "they'll beef up security and also change the schedule to something more random once we hit one of the trucks. If we can hit two at the same time, we'd get more vaccines."

"…and seven years, respectively." Colette's never considered just how long they'd been together, how much of that was in the span of time during and after the war, and how much they'd endured in the short span of time before the war and the world's change. It gives her perspective.

Greg makes a small noise in the back of his throat and takes a few brief notes. "That's not an insignificant amount of time," he notes, "you must have been quite young when you found each other. Usually relationships started when people are in their teens tend to fall apart as the participants mature and discover who they are. It's a testament to the three of you that you've managed to stay together as long as you have," and his head tilts to the side, "especially considering the multi-faceted nature of your relationship."

Colette rolls the now tattered tissue in her hand between forefingers and thumb, twisting it into a frayed little rope of paper. "I'm lucky," she reiterates, keeping her eyes focused in her lap. Greg nods in agreement, trying to emphasize the positive beats she hits. "My sister Nicole lives in the city too, with my neice Pippa. She's like a fucking anchor for me. Nicole, I mean. Pippa's great but she's six, so… only so much emotional support she can provide."

Greg smiles at that, making a note of the family size. "Your sister, Nicole, are you two close?"

The tug of blankets, a rustle of cloth, the creak of zippers and the jingle of buckles; Heavy jeans hit the hardwood floor with a click of a belt buckle, and Colette draws the thick comforter up over her pale shoulders, sliding in close to her sister as she feels that arm around her waist. Warmth from the cold that is setting in to the now heatless apartment brings Colette tightly to her sister's side. Her nose presses against the older woman's throat, fingers press against her back, and bare legs brush together until her fidgeting ceases and she settles down in Nicole's arms.

The question has Colette slouching back into her seat, a hand comin gup to her mouth again and jaw working side to side. The furrow of her brows is an awkward one, and blind eyes cast to the side. "Yeah," she mumbles, "we— survived our parents together." One hand comes up and sweeps at her brow, face flush with an awkward hint of red.

“When did you get so wise?” Nicole asks in a voice made ragged at the edges by the outburst of emotion. “Huh?” Finally, she presses a kiss to Colette’s mouth. Brief. Sisterly. Like it’s supposed to be. “I love you, ‘Letty. Never forget that, okay? More than anything in this life, I love you.”

"Our childhoods screwed us both up," Colette admits with a slow shake of her head. "But, we… we're better. We've come a long way." Blind eyes track back to the tissue in her hand, the color slowly fading from her cheeks and neck. "She's like me, in almost every way. She always said we're twins, I just decided to stay in bed longer." Her lips tremble with emotion at that.

Greg takes several notes, looking briefly up to Colette as he does, and then sets his pen down in his book. Now that she's started talking, Greg can see that Colette is a floodgate of experiences and emotion, things just bubbling to the surface. He folds his hands, patiently, and waits for her to steady from that last explanation.

"Colette," the firm call of her name brings blind eyes to Greg. "I think this is going to be a good fit for you. I know it's early on, but I'm comfortable saying that I believe I can help you work through the things you've experienced, and find a balance in your life." Then, spreading his hands he asks. "How do you feel?"

The question has layers of possible answers from Colette's perspective, but ultimately the one that matters is the gut reaction. How does she feel in the moment, how does that makes her view the future.

"Good," Colette mumbles at first. Then, more firmly.

"I feel good."

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