A Friend


bf_cardinal_icon.gif bf_colette_icon.gif bf_tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title A Friend
Synopsis The aloof shadow gains two. He doesn't even take much persuading.
Date February 22, 2012

Bloomingdale Library, Upper West Side

The last vestiges of day fade from the heavens above, color gradually leaching from the clouds that paint the sky, the cool tones of impending night inexorably filling in their backdrop. Outside, streetlamps have just begun to flicker into life, vivid and distinctly orange as if making up for the sun's departure. The streets are packed in the way of rush hour traffic, everyone in a hurry to get home and hardly anyone actually making it anywhere. Inside, the lights have already been on all day, and unless one's right by a window, it's easy to overlook just how late the hour has become. The library has only gotten quieter, besides, as dinner and family responsibilities — or just the opportunity for family time — call the majority of its afternoon patrons away.

One who is not so summoned lingers in a less well-lit corner of the stacks, where the fluorescent panel overhead has given up its electric ghost and in the way of public institutions everywhere, no one has been in a great hurry to amend that detail. Dressed in black jeans and a winter-themed sweater, a satchel largely disregarded at her side, Tamara contemplates the shelf of books before her but without focused intent. Browsing, rather than seeking something specific; and as her fingers trail idly over the spines of shelved books, she doesn't seem to quite be finding anything that quite piques her interest — nothing that stands out as distinctive in her perspective. Her hand falls back to her side.

"If you were going to hang around, you could at least be helpful," Tamara says, in tone of teasing amusement rather than chiding, to… no one in particular? Leaning against the shelf behind her, she glances down towards the window that no longer contributes illumination to the stacks. "Did you have any suggestions?"

There’s several long seconds of silence from the shadow that’s being spoken to, perhaps spooked and considering flight, before finally a sibilant whisper stirs from the living darkness that is Richard Cardinal.

“I never used to be a big reader….” ..reader… “…but these days I’ve been reading a lot more over peoples’ shoulders. What sort of books do you like to read?” …genres

Darkness flows upwards like a reverse faucet, gathering itself upon a shelf across from the young woman in the form of a bird, opaque blackness throughout, head cocked slightly to look back to her.

Blue eyes follow the shadow's coalescence with complete lack of surprise, as if Tamara confers with living darkness on a daily basis. Sometimes, she very nearly might. What matters are two simple facts: there is no hazard in this shadow, and it can talk back. What more does one need?

"I didn't read, either," she confides in the shadow bird. "The kitty did that part, and asking all the books if she'd like them is just tiring," the young woman continues, more conversational than complaining, as she pulls a book at random off the shelf below the shadow and contemplates its cover momentarily. The moment passes, and the book is returned to its place; Tamara turns an inquiring gaze back upon animate darkness, tucking fingers in her pockets. "Your circle of books was much smaller. So what did you like?"

"Detective novels," is the voiceless whisper from the tenebrous avian, though it doesn't move its beak, "Mysteries, noir, spy novels… things with surprises…" …surprises… "Someone was reading all of the Dashiell Hammett books in the library recently, they were surprisingly good…" …good

The darkness cocks its 'head' to one side, then, inquiring, "How did you know I was here?" …a ghost… “Most people wouldn’t. Is it your ability?” …ability

"Hammett?" the blonde echoes, with a clear air of unfamiliarity. Canting her head in inadvertent echo of the bird, she seems for a moment to listen to nothing at all, before belatedly responding to the shadow's query. "The mirror was everything I knew, or close enough. You're a shadow with shadows, and that's just strange." She smiles cheerfully at her companion, clearly unconcerned about the how or why of that strangeness.

Pushing away from the shelf she's been leaning against, Tamara pads down towards the darkened window, clearly expecting the animate shadow to accompany her. "Hammett was down two rows. The Continental Op?" is only half a question.

The shadow does, if just out of curiousity - and perhaps a craving to actually speak with someone - flowing along the shelves in a tenebrous whisper of shape before perching again upon a shelf, near to the old detective novels.

"A good one," opins the whispering shadow of Richard Cardinal, "They're all collections— the originals were pulp stories in magazines— but the Op, I think he was one of the earliest noir detectives…" …detectives

"A lot of moral grey to them. Decisions to be made, with no real good answer. Usually he figures out a good answer anyway…" …anyway

Tamara walks down the row of shelves without looking at the books in question, finally halting before one and turning her attention to the shadowbird. "That's the nice thing about stories. The writer has all the decisions. It makes things simple. Real shadows are messy, except when they're really simple."

Reaching out, she plucks one specific book from the shelf, hesitates a moment, then teases free a second. Tucking them under her arm, the blonde turns a speculative look on her companion. "You could come read with us if you wanted." A flicker of cheerful smile. "You'd have to be quiet if you didn't want questions. But you could."

The shadow drifts along the shelves beside her, rippling over the books and their spines, occasionally lifting upwards from two dimensions to three as it arcs over a divider.

"I'd like that, if you don't mind…" …don't mind

A whispering, reverberating chuckle, "It's hard to read without fingers…" …fingers

Tamara reaches out and wiggles her fingers at the shadow, much as one might to a cat — though one of those things is much easier to pet than the other. "Of course I didn't mind," she assures.

"Come on, then, and I can show you home."

Dorchester Towers: Colette and Tamara's Apartment

The apartment is larger than might be expected for two people, certainly in as crowded a place as New York City. The living room is neat, but not unto the level of picture-in-a-magazine; it's a lived-in place that someone takes the time to at least keep in order. Sunlight strikes deep reds, greens, and golds from a patterned rug that covers most of the floor. There's a couch and two chairs arranged around a coffee table, suggesting that while Colette and Tamara live alone, they frequently have visitors.

There's a study or office off to one side of the main room, and a kitchen on the other. The study is defined first by its desk, and second by the two bookshelves which take up most of one wall. One features predominantly books that, if their titles are anything to go by, relate to Colette's studies. The other houses a seemingly haphazard collection of reading material, fiction and nonfiction, whimsical and practical alike arranged sometimes in clearly meaningful order and sometimes however came to hand. Those unfamiliar with the women would guess this shelf to be Tamara's space; in actuality, it's used by both.

“…no, no I'm not, I swear.” A cheerfully conversational voice filters through the shared home of Tamara Brooks and her wife Colette. The day has found the latter of that union pacing about the living room in socked feet, phone up to her ear and a smile spread across her face. “Kaylee’s coming over for dinner tomorrow night, anyway. You should come by!”

Threading an errant lock of dark hair around one finger as she walks, Colette’s pace is as though music is playing. There's a sway in her step, a bounce in her heel, and a flourish of white fabric from the breezy chalk-white dress and black cardigan that is clearly intended to be worn out later.

“Mnhmm. No, I know. I will when she gets home.” Smiling again, Colette turns to lean against one of the chairs by the coffee table. “I will! And I love you too, dad. Bye!”

A ghost has followed Tamara Brooks home.

A shadow tagging along within her own so as to remain unseen, only dimly discernable by being somehow darker than a normal shadow. At the sound of someone else’s voice in the home, Cardinal clams up for the moment; not speaking like he was before, back to pretending that he’s not actually there.

Tamara lets herself into the apartment without fanfare, door opening just enough to let herself and her passenger in, closing quietly again after. "You're making plans," Tamara remarks as she hangs her satchel on a coathook, as if this were news, and as if it sufficed for a greeting; for this duo, it does serve well enough.

The statement is an invitation rather than remonstrance, prompting rather than quelling, accompanied by a fond smile. Kicking off her shoes to reveal light blue socks, Tamara pads further into the room, joining Colette by the table. She summarily relives her wife of the phone, pressing a book into her hand in its place. The Continental Op. If nothing else, it fits in with the eclectic variety on their bookshelf.

Book in one hand and one arm around Tamara’s waist, Colette snares the seer with little trouble and presses a kiss to her temple. “Dinner plans,” she needlessly clarifies, “because it's nice to have something normal between bouts of interdimensional nonsss— ”

Colette’s words turn from chipper into slurred silence. Her mismatched eyes move from the cover of the book in her hand to something that doesn't mesh with the rest of the room. Her eyes unfocus, arm around Tamara tightens, and her voice has a quaver of tension in it that would be far higher if she didn't feel so safe.

“What… what is that?” Colette asks, her stare locked squarely on the ephemeral intruder into their abode. For all that Cardinal isn't light or truly shadow, the way his form manipulates light and darkness and creates ripples like a stone in water is plain for her to see, such as she does.

There’s no reaction for a few moments, and then the tenebrous shape parts itself from Tamara’s shadow as if a second light was shifting around her, separating away into its own anomalous entity.

“That makes two in one day… I’m going to get a complex…” …a complex

The shadow of Richard Cardinal spills up the nearest wall in a roughly human shape, as that sibilant whisper stirs, “Just a ghost. Nothing more. I was invited…” …invited… It’s hard to discern emotion from that strange voiceless voice, but it seems unsure all the same.

Tamara laughs at Colette's consternation, and at Cardinal's too, cheerful and bright and unfettered. She wraps an arm around the brunette's shoulders and squeezes briefly. "A friend," the seer supplies with guileless nonchalance. "He comes with the book," she adds — then pauses, head tipping thoughtfully. "Or maybe for. Words," is dismissive of the effort needed to pin down that explanation.

Most everything that needs to be said, has, anyway.

The reassurance of friend comes with a relaxing of briefly tightening grip around Tamara’s waist. Colette slips away from her side, eyeing the book in hand and the shadow’s direction. “It's uh… pretty safe in here. You don't have to… hide?” She isn't really sure what she's looking at, but whatever it is isn't the full length and breadth of a person.

“I'm Colette, by the way…” She motions with the book and sets it down on the coffee table, half expecting it to just lift up in invisible hands. Briefly, she regards Tamara out of the corner of her eyes, then back to the latch of tenebrous gloom in the shape of a man with some expectancy.

“This is me not hiding…” …hiding

A whispering little chuckle mingles with that strange whisper, “Nothing more than what you see. Sorry. I don’t… talk to people very much. I’m…” …Cardinal?

That faint echo of his name is questioning, almost. It’s easy to lose one’s identity when you don’t use it very often. “Cardinal.” Yes, that sounds right. The shape on the wall becomes a little more solid, its shape somewhat more defined, though not perfectly.

Tamara takes herself out of the living room and into the kitchen while photokinetic and shadowmorph regard one another. This is followed by sounds of cupboard and then box opening, crinkling plastic, the microwave opened and closed and started up. It isn't until the blonde has stuck her head back through the doorway that the last auditory puzzle piece reveals itself: an initially isolated patter of sound that soon multiplies. Popcorn.

"Owls like to stay in the shadows," she remarks, whatever that's meant to convey. It seems directed mostly at Colette. "That's why they have good ears." Then the seer is gone into the other room again, other sounds hinting at the retrieval of a bowl and probably glasses, too.

There's a brief look from Colette to the doorway Tamara poked her head out of, then to the shadow on the wall. “Right. Uh, well this owl isn't quite what he seems, I think.” Moving over to the chair she’d circled earlier, Colette takes a seat and crosses one leg over the other at the knee. Her brows scrunch up, head tilts to the side, and she considers Cardinal in a way that someone might a particularly abstract piece of art: searching for the meaning.

“I still can't figure out what it is you are. It's like…” Colette narrows her eyes. “You're not really the shadow there, but whatever it is you are is obscuring light in three dimensions. It's…” she draws in a breath and rubs one hand at the bridge of her nose. “I really should've studied this stuff more.”

The staccato rhythm of popcorn in the adjacent room affords a good white noise between the moment of silence. Colette, moving away from the topic of how seems more interested in the why now. “So, how long’ve you known Tamara? Or are you new to how this,” she motions around herself, “all works?”

The shadow lifts itself from the wall into that third dimension in the shape of an abyss-black owl, wings spreading but not flapping as it drifts over to the coffee table, landing upon the top of the book that Tamara had set there.

“If it makes you feel better,” comes that sibilant whisper, “I don’t understand any of the physics behind how I work either…” …either

Its ‘head’ turns towards the kitchen, then back to Colette without eyes to see. “We just met. She found me at the library. I read over peoples’ shoulders,” he admits, “It passes the time, and I don’t have fingers to turn pages with anymore…” …anymore…

Running water. The momentary silence between powering-off of the microwave and opening of its door. The sharp tearing sound of a bag being opened, and the quieter susurrus of exploded kernels being poured out into more convenient container. All expected ambiance, given the context.

What might be expected, but doesn't follow, is Tamara interjecting into the ongoing conversation. It seems the seer is content to occupy herself with the business in the kitchen for now.

There’s a crook of one corner of Colette’s mouth, belatedly, to something the shadow said. “She found me on a park bench, feeling sorry for myself.” Mismatched eyes flick over to the kitchen doorway. “She has a way of coming into your life when you need her most,” and with that she turns her hand around and shows off a crooked-looking diamond and silver band to Cardinal. “For me, she decided to stay.”

Lowering her hands down into her lap, Colette wrings her fingers together. “But you… are you stuck?” Those mismatched eyes alight back to Cardinal again. “I mean, if this was your ability and you got trapped in it… I might be able to help you. I’m uh,” she raises a hand, conjuring a purple and blue butterfly that looks like animated neon finger paint over her hand. “Light and stuff’s what I do. Maybe I can…” she dismisses the butterfly and twists her hands, “fold you back right-side out?” For Colette, there’s always the assumption that someone Tamara brings around is a puzzle to solve, someone who needs something. She isn’t always right.

As that offer is made, as that display of light is shown off, the shadowy owl briefly spaghettifies as it recoils from her a half-foot, swirling back together into that somewhat-coherent shape again afterwards, although the edges still fade, drift, ripple. “No!” No!

The echo of voice is clearer, sharper, before it spills into panicked whispering, “No, I did this to myself, this is for… the best, I assure you,” Cardinal insists, “I… appreciate the offer, but no. This is safer.” …for everyone

There’s silence from him for a moment, and then he tries to get over that awkwardness, “She wasn’t surprised by me at all. Most people are…” …most people

"Told you so," Tamara pronounces as she emerges from the kitchen, large bowl balanced in the crook of one arm, a glass of water in each hand. Pausing beside Colette, she proffers the bowl through implicit fact of its presence. "No poking the owl."

"What was, is," she tells the shadow as she moves over towards the couch. "That's not surprising. But the mirror was a long ways from most people," Tamara allows, sitting down and placing one glass on the table. The other, she takes a drink from.

The pronouncement of safer, the seer fails to overtly weigh in on, either for or against.

Taking the bowl of popcorn in hand, Colette slides up from her chair in this game of musical snacks, and settles in beside Tamara on the couch. “Sounds like a really… uh, it sounds like a bold thing to do?” Colette notes with a furrow of her brows, nervously looking over at Tamara for a moment before snatching a handful of popcorn to idly snack on as she talks. “I’m not poking,” she adds quieter to the woman at her side.

“It’s better this way,” Cardinal affirms, although he doesn’t seem inclined to explain why, exactly. The shadow-owl’s attention returns to the seer as she comes back, and in that thready whisper he observes, “You use tenses rather… curiously, Tamara…” …Tamara

A pause, “Oh. A precognitive?” …the future

Leaning in against Colette, Tamara plants a brief kiss on her cheek. "No," she agrees, "you weren't." She reaches across the brunette for her own handful of popcorn, but pauses in the process of sitting back to cast a sidelong glance towards the shadow, lips tugging back in a faint smile. "That's me," she affirms cheerily, raising her glass slightly in a touche gesture before setting it on the table.

She proceeds to munch through her handful of popcorn before dusting off her hands, then leaning forward and scooping up the book from the table. "You should do some of the voices," Tamara suggests, with implicit change of subject. She peers sidelong towards Colette. "What do you think?"

Sensing the purpose of the shift in topic, Colette settles a gentle look on Tamara and leans forward to rest the popcorn on the table. Her mismatched eyes scan the cover of the book, then settle over on the shadow lingering nearby. “Or we could uh,” one of her eyes narrows, and a Colette carefully begins to sculpt the likeness of a fedora-wearing detective out of vibrantly colored light in the air. “Sort of like a shadow play?” She snorts at the missed opportunity for that to be wordplay.

Just as quickly as it was manifested, the detective dissipates into gentle motes of light, and she brushes off her hands just over the edge of the couch. “C’mon, come uh… slither? On over here, and you can read over our shoulders. I think she has a good point, you could be like a narrator in a movie. Just a voice, reading along.” In most other people’s lives, this might be the weirdest thing they’ve experienced. But for Colette, a man trapped in his own shadow reading detective novels in their living room, is just another day of the week.

“I knew she was trouble from the moment she walked into my office,” comes the low, noir whisper - smoky, in a way - even as the owl flows into ribbons of shadow, drifting in a lazy arc through the air and settling to perch in avian form once again behind them, “Legs up to here and a dangerous look in her eyes…” A whispering echo of laughter. “I can try…” …try

It’s more interaction than the shadow has had with anyone for years.

As Colette settles back, Tamara snags another handful of popcorn, then herself leans back in with clear intent to not move for a while, feet tucked up on the cushion beside her. The shadow lofting overhead elicits a grin from the blonde, and a declaration of definite approval: "Do! You had a good voice for it."

The shadow doesn't read much; the seer doesn't read at all. And while she listens attentively as this story unfolds in tag-team fashion, when it comes down to it, it isn't really for sake of story that Tamara values these moments. For her, the spoken words soon drown as all things do in the interminable deluge of time — it's the personal connection that matters, the care and feeding of relationships intimate and platonic alike that ripples forward, carried by memories other than her own.

Most of all in this particular instance, what matters is the transformation of statement into prophecy and thence into reality: a friend, indeed.

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