A Bird and a Wire


colette_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif kapila_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title A Bird and a Wire
Synopsis Tasha contacts Wireless for help with her parental situation, which leads to a discussion with Eileen and Colette — that is less difficult than she anticipated.
Date May 8, 2010

The Lighthouse

Sometime in the afternoon, Tasha digs out her cell phone where it's been turned, power off, since it's clearly of very little use in the snow storm. The rest of the Lighthouse bundled up in front of the fire and television, she heads for an unoccupied room — in this case, the laundry room. Hopping up on top of the dryer, she crosses her legs Indian-style and pushes the on button, watching the cell phone glow as it powers up, until her wallpaper of a purple orchid shows on the display. There are no bars by the tiny antenna icon, but that is what she is intending to fix by this particular transaction.

Her fingers, in their striped gloves, press in the keys: W-I-R-E-L-E-S-S in the "To" line. For a moment, Tasha thinks, before typing in the subject field: «T. Oliver here. Father is looking for me, flyers in NYC with reward. Don't want him to come nosing and ruin Ferry's plans. Need to call to assure I am safe. Advise?»

She presses send, and watches, brow knit together, to see if it will go through or just come back "connection unavailable" like she expects.

Funny thing: nothing comes back. In silence, it seems like the message actually went through — lack of a celltower network or no.

The answer is long in coming, but there is an answer. «I think we can agree he is better kept away,» the statement comes; not needing to type her words, Wireless' grammar is precise. «Cell towers are down across NYC.» follows on the first message's heels. «Landlines are not much better. A call is likely to raise some suspicion.»

Chewing the thumbnail on the hand not holding the phone, Tasha reads the message and sighs. She has to work harder at her answer, punching it in with chilly fingers. The laundry room is cold. The 'he' makes Tasha wonder if Wireless knows who 'he' is — rather than just a generic father. Of course, if Wireless has seen the posters, the connection between the last name Renard to the last name of Lazzaro is certainly not a hard one to make — especially for someone who can hack into databases of birth and marriage records.

«What would you like me to do? I didn't intent for him to worry. I didn't think he would but now that he's done this I don't know what further steps he'd take to find me. I don't want to endanger anyone/any secrecy.»

«It's your mess,» Wireless answers bluntly, with no sympathy apparent in the plain text — but there isn't really censure, either, even if she isn't falling over herself to helpfully instruct Tasha in the right course of action. «I will help you do what you decide, but it is your responsibility to maintain those secrets.» Call it an object lesson — things happen, and then you deal. However you can.

Tasha's brows furrow more and then she leans back against the wall, staring at the ceiling for a moment. This was supposed to be a simple round trip. Drop off the kid, maybe have lunch with her mother, go out dancing with her best friend from high school, head back to Boston. She sighs and types: «Suspicious, I think he already is. I planned to talk to Ruskin but weather hasn't allowed. He has a satellite phone that will work - I can lie and say I'm on a landline or something that works. I just want him to call off the dogs, assure him I'm fine, make sure mother is ok too. Don't know how long this weather will last. If you don't think it's a good idea, I understand.» At least she doesn't add a sad emoticon.

«Can connect you to Ruskin if she has her phone about,» Wireless points out. However little she likes playing router, for something like this she's willing to do it. «Lie about a satphone,» the technopath continues; about using one, that is. «Landlines have fixed physical location; he will come looking wherever it is.» Implicitly: yeah, she'll run that call, too.

Tasha chews her thumbnail again, what little is left of it, before typing. «Thank you. I'm sorry for the mess. Go ahead and connect me to Ruskin, and then I can page again for the other call.» She rubs the back of her gloved hand against her eyes, leaning her head back against the wall again. Her heart pounds audibly in her chest, the only sound in the laundry room aside from her shallow breathing.

Hana would nod, if she were present; does nod, actually, but the action is lost on the audience who is much too far away to perceive. She sends no reply to Tasha, only reaches out into the digital ether for a well-known number; the screen of the girl's phone flashes briefly, the words "Calling: Eileen Ruskin" scrolling across in a most mundane fashion.

After a brief call with Eileen, Tasha slips the phone into her flannel PJ bottoms and hops off the dryer to find Colette playing with some of the kids. After coercing Paul to take Colette's place in the competitive game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (Colette of course gobbling up the green marbles), Tasha pulls the other aside.

"Eileen's coming here," she whispers in the others ear, before knocking her own head against the other's with closed eyes. "I asked Wireless to help me connect to my dad but she seemed to want me to talk to Eileen first. She says she can do the other, too, but… well. We'll see what Eileen says." Tasha's obviously nervous, eyes fever bright and her thumb going to her teeth to chew again. She tugs the other by the hand to go wait in the front room.

Once there, she wraps her arms around her knees, watching the door with the wide eyes, cheeks pale despite the chilly air. "I feel like I'm gonna get expelled from school or something. Like I'm in the principal's office. Which I only ever was once, and it was for breaking a boy's nose in a fight," Tasha says with a nervous chuckle.

Quietly stepping across the cold hardwood floor in socked stride, Colette comes up to where Tasha's seated on the sofa near the door, settling down on the arm beside her, one leg crossed over the other and a hand resting down on Tasha's shoulder gently. "Hey, c'mon… don't worry about it, okay? Eileen's really fair 'bout stuff. I dunno what her like, parent situation is, but I mean… I never hear her talk about her dad or nothin'. I mean— " there's a pause, and Colette's green eyes widen a little, "oh man I wonder if Raith's her dad." There's an askance look towards the floor, teeth toying with her lower lip as she pulls one knee up to her chest, socked toes curling against the arm of the sofa.

"That'd be like— having Batman for your dad, or— James Bond or something." There's a look flicked over to Tasha, and Colette's brows furrow, lips creep up into a nervous smile and her head ducks slightly. "S— sorry. I'm not really helping, am I?"

It's fortunate that Eileen doesn't have superhuman hearing except on the rare occasions she carves silently through the night sky on owl's wings. She isn't privy to the conversation happening inside the Lighthouse as she climbs out of the Remnant's rusted 1961 Dodge pickup and announces her presence by slamming the door shut behind her with a sound like a rifle shot. Her slim shape, bundled in a heavy wool coat the colour of charcoal, is clearly visible through the frosted windows, and it's the Englishwoman's small size that makes her immediately recognizable rather than the more distinguishing features of her face.

When the door opens and she steps inside, fingers gloved in leather pull a pale gray cashmere scarf away from her nose and chapped mouth, lips red and raw. The weather has not been kind to her, but it's her own fault for being out so often in it.

"Those kids are his, right? The one that all the hubbub is about and then the one who's making this crazy weather? You think Eileen's his daughter too? That'd be crazy," Tasha replies to Colette, letting the other try to soothe her, though it's not working, clearly. When the truck rattles up and the door slams, Tasha jumps up, a nervous jackrabbit to greet Eileen.

She hurries to take coats or scarf or whatever Eileen wants to hand her, eyes wide in her face and looking younger than she is for all of her anxiety.

"Thanks for coming. I'm sorry to make you come out in the weather. You want some hot tea or something? Coffee? Cocoa?" The stress of the situation, not at all assuaged by Wireless's matter-of-fact textual replies, is evident in the jittery motions of the young Ferry woman who has also probably had too much coffee herself.

Colette's already up by the time Tasha's greeting Eileen at the door. "She drinks Earl Grey, I'll put some water on," Colette comments quietly, offering a look over her shoulder to Tasha, and then as she hesitates comes to stop and turns to face the two. "Why don't you both come on in the kitchen, we… we can talk while the water boils?" There's a somewhat nervous smile on Colette's lips, making perhaps an auspicious beginning to their conversation. Colette has a terrible poker-face, and when something has the potential to be tense or uncomfortable, she telegraphs that nervousness for everyone to see.

"I'll um, I'll— " Colette points off over her shoulder with a thumb, then awkwardly widens her smile before turning on socked toes and pads off towards the kitchen, head shaking in realization of her own cumbersome conversational nature.

Eileen chooses not to part with her scarf or her coat, a sure sign that she doesn't intend on staying any longer than the meeting requires, but she does pause to remove her gloves and tuck them into her pocket, revealing angular fingers, long and pink, slight swelling around their bent joints. The silver rings Colette might remember her wearing during the summer months are conspicuously absent.

"Please," she says even as Colette is retreating into the kitchen, though her attention isn't on the young woman's back. It's on Tasha, who she offers a faint smile that barely curls at the corners of her mouth. "I take it this couldn't have waited."

Worrying her thumbnail between her lips for a moment, Tasha seems to remember it's a bad habit and drops her hand guiltily before digging into her pocket and coming up with the crumpled ball of paper. She uncrumples it again, smoothing it against her legs as Colette had earlier, as she follows the others into the kitchen.

"My dad's put these up all over the city, apparently," she murmurs, eyes down. "We — Colette and me — we were going to come tell you before the snow got so bad, before I was 'missing,'" her nose wrinkles as she nods to the paper. "But um. My … it says my name's Tasha Renard. But it's really Tasha Renard-Lazzaro." She lets the weight of the name sink in a moment before her eyes come up, earnest and soft. "I didn't expect to … I thought I'd just drop off the kid and go back. I didn't think I'd be crossing paths at all with him and he doesn't know anything about me being in Ferry. I hadn't even talked to him since … since Christmas, I think."

Eileen's question earns a look over Colette's shoulder by the sink, the sound of running water and banging pipes drowning out the disquieted noise in the back of her throat. She watches the two walking into the kitchen, brows furrowed and eyes lingering more on Tasha's reactions than Eileen's approach. When the faucet turns off, Colette is lifting a tea kettle over to the stove, settling it down on one of the burners with a metallic clank.

"The longer this waited, the worse it looks. We've… kind've sat on this for a while now, and um— " Colette's brows furrow, offering a hesitant look to Tasha, then back to Eileen, "if we waited any longer it just— it'd look bad. Besides it… this is something that I think is going to come up sooner or later, especially with what I've found out from Cat too. I mean— you can probably understand why this is like… you know, serious."

After offering a look to Tasha quietly, Colette turns towards the stove, squinting at it when all the burner does is make clicking noises and refuse to light. Huffing out a sigh, she grabs the box of matches from the counter nearby, strikes one matck and tucks it beneath the kettle, followed by a woosh of the gas and a quiet blue flame.

"I ran into Cat a week or uh, maybe two ago. I gave her the video I recorded of the coffin things, we talked a bit and… I asked her advice on like, I dunno, I was trying to feel out what the Ferry know about Ll— about Tasha's dad. Cat told me he'd fed her some information, I dunno about what. Then I got to thinking about what Jonas said, about the bald guy saving him and Tien at the Armory. I um, I got a picture of Tasha's dad on my phone, showed it to Jonas, and he said that was the dude who saved him from those white-suit guys."

Colette's teeth toy with her lower lip, green eyes divert to the floor, then lift back up to settle on Eileen. "She's— Tasha's worried. About— you know— people?"

Whatever Eileen was expecting, it wasn't this. She settles into one of the chairs at the kitchen table, a glance spared to the poster smoothed between Tasha's hand and the curve of her thigh, and then flicks her eyes across to the stove where Colette coaxes the water to boiling. The tips of her fingers twitch, instinctively drawn to the battered pack of cigarettes nestled against her breast on the inside of her silk-lined coat, but she stops herself before her hand can leave the table.

The Lighthouse, along with the Dispensary's attic if for entirely different reasons, is one of the few places she does not, will not smoke. What she does instead is lower her eyes to the tips of her fingers as she rubs them together as if testing the hardened skin on their pads for sensitivity to touch. "Who else already knows?"

The youngest among the three has backed herself into a corner where one plane of counter top meets the other, watching with worried eyes as Eileen inspects the flier. She shakes her head at the question. "I haven't told anyone. Boston Ferry didn't know who he was. Colette's the only person I've told, but I think Wireless knows, from something he said earlier when I called to ask him to help me call so he — my dad — wouldn't come looking for me. Wireless said he'll connect me later so I can assure him I'm okay and maybe get him not to send out whatever resources he can get to find me. I'm not going to give an address and Wireless'll make sure there's no trace. I —" her voice cracks a little and she looks down at her feet in Ugg boots.

"I'll leave if you think I need to, to keep everyone here safe. I didn't know he's mixed in with Ferry at all. I didn't… I didn't expect to be asked to help or stay or any of that, or I would have…" Would have done something differently, though she's not sure what.

"You don't need to leave," Colette affirms sharply, perhaps a little too quickly as well, letting her youthful brashness show. She tenses after the fact, backing towards the stove and bumping into it, giving a look back at the appliance, then twists her attention over to Eileen. "Cat knows," Colette offers quietly, "and um— " there's a look to Tasha, a bit of a brow-furrowing grimace offered, "and Liz, um— God I don't remember her last name. Blonde Liz? She was one of Conrad's friends, the one that um got— got attacked by Humanis First? She's the one who got me a photograph of Tasha's dad, but she promised not to tell anybody about it." And that seems good enough for Colette.

Clearing her throat, Colette looks over her shoulder to the kettle, then back to Eileen. There's a tension in her expression, a marked nervousness that comes when something is personally at stake. Given that this isn't her father anyone's talking about, it's not quite as evident why she's getting so uppity. The silence following is heavy with expectance.

"I don't see the relationship you have with your father interfering with your responsibility to the Ferry," Eileen says, "and as long as you feel the same way—" Green eyes lift from her fingers. Her hand falls away. "There's no reason for you to go anywhere."

In the short time Tasha has known Eileen, every judgment she's passed in the younger woman's presence has ended with stony silence in place of further elaboration or attempts at justification, but there's something about this particular situation that makes it an exception. "We don't choose where we come from or who our parents are. How it shapes us, what we allow it to affect— These are things you have some control over."

The worry and tension on Tasha's face is almost visibly erased by Eileen's words. Her eyes lift, the tears that linger on long lashes there are blinked away, and she sighs, letting out a long-held breath she hadn't known she was holding.

Her hand reaches to touch Colette's arm lightly, then slides down to the hand below, fingers interlacing. "Thank you… I should have told you once… once I knew, but things just kept happening," she murmurs. The fact that Colette told two people either doesn't bother her or she's choosing not to address that, happy as she is. The only problem is that a conversation with her parents still looms above her.

"So it's okay to contact them — to let them know I'm okay? I won't tell where I am, or anything that would suggest I'm with Ferry," Tasha murmurs, apparently not ready to be that honest with her father just yet. Or ever.

"I think she should be honest," Colette interjects, green eyes offering an apologetic look to Tasha before she approaches the table to stand near Eileen. "I mean, I— I know how things were with my dad, I know how I had to fight to get the Ferry to accept the vetting process. People— people don't know Tasha's father well enough, but he did save Tien and Jonas, and that's got to be worth something, right?" Colette's lips downturn into a frown, green eyes diverting to Tasha, then back to Eileen. There's a bit of emotional projection going on.

"Having somebody like him helping us could be huge. I mean— if he's telling Cat stuff, if he's talking to Brennan, and helping us at the Armory there's— he can't be bad right?" Probably not the most delicate way to phrase it, but the most Colette way.

When she opens her mouth again to try and further push the point, there's a slowly rising whistle of the kettle coming to a boil, whining over her aborted words until it reaches a full shriek and Colette's slinking back from the table, turning towards the stove.

"If he's in contact with Chesterfield and Brennan, that's enough for now." Eileen doesn't have to speak very loudly to be heard over the kettle, and even though this isn't the first time she's discussed sensitive information inside the Lighthouse's walls, the fact remains that there are dozens of tiny ears connected to tiny mouths that don't know better than to repeat everything they hear. She keeps her voice low.

"There are people in the network who are going to view Tasha's relationship with Lazzaro as a different kind of opportunity," she tells Colette. "For her safety and his, I don't want this going any further than it already has."

To Tasha, she lifts her chin in a diminutive imitation of a nod. "Do what you need to."

Tasha's brow furrows a little at the words opportunity and safety. She hadn't thought of her safety or her father's being at risk — at least, not any more than any other Ferry associate's. Everything they do bears an element of risk, of course. She nods, eyes narrowing at the flyers. "Unfortunately others may've seen those, but at least his name's not on them. I guess if anyone mentions them — just say it's handled. And it will be. I'll call him … soon." Once she can muster up the courage again.

She moves to the cupboard to find a mug to hand to Colette, her eyes soft for the other girl as she offers a slight smile. Colette was right, in this at least — that Eileen would not be angry. That she would listen and not judge.

"It's probably not the time right now…" Colette finally interjects, up on her toes and fishing for the tin of tea bags in the high cupboard, "I don't— I don't, um, know if you got the bulletin I sent out about the shipment thing?" There's a metal clatter in the cupboard, and Colette's soon to settle down on her heels, holding a small metal tin in her hands, head turning to the side as she regards Eileen, pawing open the metal lid and feeling for the bags, assorted in rows. She feels them out by memory, knowing them by the shape of the labels quicker than sight, thanks to having learned the layout of much of the Lighthouse while blind.

"Our week at the Lighthouse is up, but I think we're going to stay out here a little while longer until the weather gives. But…" Colette lays a teabag down in Tasha's mug — peppermint — then takes another teabag out, dangling by the tag pinched between her fingers as she rummages for a mug. "Magnes and Sable both have my vote of approval. They're— they're beyond helpful. Magnes needs someone to make sure he's listening when orders are given out, but… but I think he can do this."

Colette sets down the mug, an old, chipped thing depicting a barn owl with a cap on its head and a diploma in one hand that reads Stay in School, Kids in colorful red and yellow lettering. She pours steaming hot water in, thoughtfully quiet as she does, then takes Tasha's mug and repeats the process.

"You're staying, too, right?" Colette phrases that exactly the way Judah does when she stops by and doesn't intend on staying long, "because I was going to cook dinner now that Gillian's back," Colette comes walking back to the table with the dark cup of tea; no sugar or cream, she pays attention.

When the mug's set down in front of the older brunette, Colette's green eyes lift up to meet Eileen's grayer shade. "I don't know what else you've got to do, but if it's not more important than a nice, hot meal… you're welcome t'stay. I'm a pretty good cook."

It's the least she can do for Eileen, for putting Tasha's mind at ease.

There's food on the stove back at the Dispensary, too, but when Eileen thinks about what else is waiting for her back home — a cold, empty bed with rumpled blankets and tension in the frostbitten air where she wishes there was none — she unfastens the topmost button of her coat to show a sliver of the sweater she wears layered beneath. Raith won't expect her back for a few hours, and she last looked in on Jenny just before she left; her chances of being missed are so slim that the time it takes for her to dismiss them spans the course of one breath.

"I'll stay for dinner," she concedes, "but I need to be on the road again before it gets dark." There's another conversation that she's overdue to have. Whether or not she's able to find the courage Tasha did is debatable. "We can talk to the others about your new recruits after this storm has blown over. I'm not quite ready to give Varlane access to the other safehouses.

"Maybe something will change my mind before the thaw."

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