Brownies For Comfort


len_icon.gif tamsine_icon.gif

Scene Title Brownies For Comfort
Synopsis Tamsine and Len swap loss stories and begin to bond over brownies.
Date October 10, 2009

It's late on Saturday afternoon. Tamsine did some work at the bar and then some grocery shopping, her mind constantly on the happenings of the day before — on the slightly antagonistic but always polite officer Castalides, on the thug who tried to mug Tamsine, then tried to accuse her of kidnapping, to save his own ass. And the fact that the officer was going to let him fill out the paperwork, even though it was rather clear what happened. As she puts away skim milk and butter in the refrigerator, she notices a business card she's used once before.

Picking up the phone, she dials the number, waiting for the low southern drawl on the other side to pick up.

After ensuring that Minea Dahl's body has made it back to Fort Hero, after ensuring that it is in fact her, and she's not going to rise from the dead any time soon, Len Denton has demanded that her steps be traced for the previous two days. It was apparent that her death was caused by two gunshots to the chest, however that doesn't mean that's all to the story.

Roy Wilkins park was there he traced her to, so that was his first stop. There was evidence that points to the possibility that this may have been where she died. However, there will be some forensics testing required to make this proof. Her Blackberry was not very helpful. Minea herself told him earlier in the day that she was meeting with her informant, and Len knows who her usual informant is, however there was a voice mail from someone named Murdoch. That's where he was heading when he receives a call on his own PDA.

His voice is not the typical drawl that might be expected, as Len has had little to be cheerful about. His voice is cool as he speaks into the phone without checking who is on the other side first. "Denton."

The all-business tone in Len's voice makes Tamsine second-guess her calling. Sure, he was helpful to her when she asked in the past; sure, he was friendly. But maybe only because it's his job to be helpful and friendly to damsels in distress, which she was in both situations.

"Len. Mr. Denton," Tamsine says, her sweet voice a little uncertain as she says the name. "It's Tamsine Whitaker. I was just calling to ask a couple of questions, but if it's not convenient, it's no big deal." Her tone is sympathetic already, without even knowing what is wrong; simply because she feels she has interrupted him at what she is sure is some important work-related task.

Personal and professional at he same time, is the task at hand. He regrets right away his tone as he answered the phone. She is probably the nicest woman he has ever met that he wasn't related to in some way. He pulls over to the side of the road and puts the Jeep into Park.

"Sorry. It's.. been a rough twenty four hours, Ms. Whitaker, but I could use a little sidetracking. What is it I can do for you?" He at least attempts to put a little of his Len charm back into the conversation.

She bites her lower lip as she listens, moving to the sink to begin washing her apples as she speaks into the phone cradled between shoulder and ear. "It's okay. I didn't mean to interrupt you. And I'm sorry it's been rough. I just wanted your advice, but … is there anything I can do for you? I can cook a mean batch of brownies." She rinses the apples off one by one: Granny Smith, Pink Ladies, and Galas. "My problem isn't anything immediate. More just trying to arm myself with knowledge in case I get into trouble again."

Len has been working non-stop on this case since he discovered Dahl's body and his body is starting to catch up with him. He's not too far from where she lives. "I could.." there's a brief pause before he finishes his sentence, ".. stop by, if it's not too much of an imposition."

There's a part of him that feels a little guilty for being tired and needing a break, but there's another part of him that knows that if he doesn't stop for just a few minutes even, he's going to crash and burn. That will do no one any good. "A brownie actually sounds really nice right about now." It's more than anything else he's eaten for at least 24 hours.

The redhead smiles, picking up the towel to dry the apples, then placing them into a wooden bowl. "Not an imposition at all. You sound like you could use a break, whatever's wrong. I'll throw the brownies together now, and if you want anything other than skim milk to drink with them, you better grab some whole or 2 percent on the way over." The smile can actually be heard in her voice.

Len doesn't voice an opinion of milk as he hangs up the phone after a short departing set of words and turns back onto the street and maneuvers his way towards the Whitaker home. As he pulls his Jeep up along side the sidewalk, he doesn't immediately get out of his Jeep. He takes a few reflective moments as he mulls over everything he knows about Minea and what she was working on, just to see if there's anything that makes sense. He knows there's more work to be done.

He pushes it all aside now as he opens the door and steps out onto the blacktop and walks towards the door. He takes in a deep breath, forces a smile to his face and reaches up and raps his knuckles against the door. Then he waits.

The kitchen now smells like chocolate — Tamsine's just finished mixing the batter, but hasn't poured it into the pan to bake yet. She heads to the door, wearing just cut-off shorts and a Bob Marley t-shirt, her hair loose around her face. She peeks through the peephole before opening the door to the giant cowboy. "Just about in time to lick the spoon. Good timing. I doubt it's coincidence," she says, holding the door open to him. "It's good to see you, Len." She surveys him for a moment, as if to try to determine just what is wrong by a glance. Alas, she's no empath or telepath.

It takes Len a moment to enter. Distracted from his distracted state by Tamsine's state of dress, he finds himself looking at her a little longer than might be polite before he lifts his gaze and clears his throat. The distraction is momentary, though he doesn't convey at a glance what might be wrong with him. What she does see is a man who has had no sleep for at least 24 hours, and has gone through various stages of grief.

He reaches up to run his hand over his unshaven face, giving off a slight scratching sound. Though his goatee is gone, the start of a full beard seems to be in the works from his lack of shaving. He steps inside, walking past her and into her house. It would be the first time he's actually been inside of her home so his eyes take a moment to get the lay of the land. Once a detective, always a detective as he looks for 'clues' about her that may be evident by how she has her home decorated. "Thanks, I appreciate the invitation."

It's a small apartment, the floor-level unit of a brownstone; wood flooring, chabby-chic decor that fits her bohemian aesthetic. The entry way allows him to see into the living room, the small dining room, and the kitchen all at once; a hallway reveals three doors — probably two bedrooms and a bathroom, along with a built-in linen closet on one wall. What might catch his eye most is the wall of photographs in the living room — all of a little girl, age ranging from infancy to early teens, with dark hair and dark eyes. There's something in the face structure that is reminiscent of Tamsine, but the darker coloring is not at all like the redhead's.

"Come on in," she says, pointing him into the kitchen. "You look like shit, and that's probably flattering you to be honest. What can I get you? The brownies are about to go in the oven, but you look like you could use something harder. I don't have much, but there's probably a bottle of wine or two kicking around."

Stepping further in, Len gives a weak chuckle as he nods. "I feel like it, to be honest. I've been on my feet for the past day or so and honestly, what I probably need is a day of uninterrupted sleep. Unfortunately, I don't think even if I had the chance, I could keep my eyes closed." After stepping in a few paces, he pauses and waits for her to close the door and lead the rest of the way inside. "Not much of a wine drinker, but I could probably handle a glass. Len reaches atop his head to remove his cowboy hat and he sets it down, not wanting to be rude by wearing it inside. It looks like he might be starting to say something else when he covers his mouth and yawns, blinking back some mist from his eyes. "I appreciate the gesture. You said you have some questions?"

Tamsine moves to a cupboard and stands on tiptoes to reach high into it, pulling out two bottles. "Me neither, to be honest. My family sort of ran a halfway house for drunks and addicts when I was a kid so I never really was too tempted to get wasted, having seen what it could do to people," she says, handing him the two bottles for him to choose: pinot noir or a cabernet sauvignon. "I don't even have wine glasses, so don't judge, 'kay?" she says with a smile, pulling two small tumblers from another cupboard. Finally she adds a churchkey to the mix.

"You choose; they all taste the same to me. Like someone left the grape juice out too long." She returns to the mixing bowl and tilts it over a pan, letting the sticky batter fill the square. "Questions. Yeah. I sort of had a run-in with Officer Castalides again. I was … well, about to be mugged, so I teleported into the police station… everything's okay now, but he started trying to say I 'kidnapped' him with my power. And I wanted to know if something like that could actually stick. You know, in this… political climate."

Len glances at both of the bottles of wine with a soft shrug. He isn't much of a wine drinker, but he could definitely use something to take his edge off. He reaches for the closest one and a tumbler and fills it about halfway. "You got mugged? Are you okay? Did you get hurt?" Even as she already stated as such. "Do you have a name?" Len can make sure whoever mugged her lives an interesting life from this point forward.

"Sounds like a move of self defense to me, actually. I doubt it'd get past a judge, if you want my honest opinion. Did someone tell you that you could be charged for kidnapping or was this guy just trying to get you to cut him loose?"

"He said it was Stevie Jenkins or something but I really don't think it was. Neither of us pressed charges. The most I would have gotten was assault, and that's a joke. He didn't actually touch me — just asked me for my purse, I ported, he followed, and we ended up in the police department lobby." She shows him her arm, a blotchy pink here and there on the wrist. "Ran into Castalides carrying a buncha coffee and doughnuts," she says with a grimace. She turns to put the brownies in the oven, then punches the timer for the allotted 15 minutes.

"He said at first that he had come from somewhere else in the department, then changed his story that I was being mugged by some other guy and grabbed him on my way to the police station, teleporting us both. Said he could charge me for kidnapping, and Castalides was going to let him fill out the paperwork. I said I'd drop the charges and left." She sighs and leans on the counter. "So, like I said, it wasn't anything I meant to interrupt your work for… but you do look like you could use a break." Her dark eyes narrow a little as she looks up at him. "You can't beat whoever it is you're after if you aren't eating and sleeping," she says softly, not knowing what it is that is keeping him up.

She has no idea how true of a statement that last was. He fully intends on finding who took the life of one of his agents and make them pay, one way or the other.

Len takes a drink from the tumbler and nods. "Someone that works for me was killed in the line of duty." At least he thinks it was in the line of duty. Honestly, they are always in the line of duty. "I've been investigating non-stop since yesterday when I found her." It actually feels good to get that off his chest. He turns his head for a moment as he feels the sting of emotions trying to bubble to the surface. "I'm not so certain I could sleep even if I wanted to."

Like a gnat being swatted by a giant's hand, Tamsine's worries about the happenings at the police station are obliterated. They are nothing, of no importance. "Oh, my God, Len, I'm so sorry," she says, reaching forward to put her hand on his — the white fingers are stained with chocolate and are a bit sticky. Her eyes well up with tears for this person she doesn't even know. "I'm so sorry," she repeats, because really, what can you say when someone has lost someone important to them? Nothing makes it better. Nothing brings the dead back to life. "I'd say let me know if there's anything I can do, but … I know there isn't. I know nothing can help, not really. But … you know. We say these things and mean them, even when we can't do anything to help." There is an earnestness in her words that says she knows too well what it's like to be on the other end.

Len's hand flips over and his fingers interlace with hers as she looks to bring him some sort of comfort. "Don't underestimate yourself. Just being.. away from it for a moment, it helps. I could easily find myself obessing over it. I need to be reeled in now and then. Grounded." All that occured with Juliet is left behind as he doesn't even process that stuff for Tamsine. That's his own personal business and far easier to deal with than a dead agent. "You're a good woman." Far too good to be hanging around the likes of him, which is something that he doesn't say outloud. He likes to think he's a 'mostly' moral person, but he knows he bends a few of the Lord's commandments now and again, if not outright break them. "Thank you for inviting me here. I think it's something I needed to do." The stickiness of the brownie batter doesn't bother him, as he's not actually been home to shower in over 24 hours, so it just adds to the collective amount of dirt already layered on his body. Her fingers feel so tiny against his own, and soft. It's been a while since he held the hand of a woman.

"It's easy to get lost in it," she says quietly. The refrigerator behind her has more evidence of a child that doesn't seem to have ever come up in conversation — a report card from last year (but nothing newer) held in place by a magnet photo frame of the same little girl at what looks to be some school function. "Don't let it. Let it give you focus for your work, on finding the person who did it, for sure, but don't let it change you, don't let it make you do things you wouldn't otherwise. I've been there, and I'm still trying to find my way back to me." A tear slides down her cheek.

Len has noticed the pictures, but hasn't seen the teen running around the place. It's the words and the pictures that finally make sense as to what she's saying. "I'm sorry." He should have looked into her when he had the chance, but she seemed so down to earth and nice that he would have no clue that she had endured a tragedy of her own. He doesn't release her fingers, but leads her towards the fridge and plucks a picture from underneath a magnet and gives it a good glance. "How long has it been?" he asks, his voice is soft, almost a whisper.

Tamsine smiles sadly. "Seven months on Wednesday," she says, wiping her face with her free hand, leaving a smudge of chocolate on the cheek. "She died on March 14." The date should probably register as the day of the "36" suicides, though Tamsine doesn't offer any further explanation. "She was 14. She's just 13 there, in that picture," she adds with a nod toward the photo of the dark haired, dark eyed girl.

He wasn't in New York yet, when 'The 36' incident occurred, however it was major news all across the country. The first of its kind that garnered so much national attention. He would look into it later to see how far the investigation got. He place the photo back onto the fridge and slides the magnet back over it to hold it in place. He turns to look at her, though when he does a soft smile cross his lips. He reaches up and uses his thumb to brush away some of the chocolate from her face. He starts to say something when the timer begins to sound off, indicating that the brownies have finished. "Saved by the brownie, it seems." he offers the small token of lightness to the more serious conversation.

Another tear spills free over the auburn lashes to splash across his thumb as he wipes away Tamsine's smudge. She jumps when the timer sounds, then laughs, cheeks coloring at being surprised. She steps away, turning toward the oven. Pulling on an oven mitt, she opens the oven door and pulls the brownies out. The sweet smell of chocolate permeates the bittersweet moment. "Do you need something more substantial to eat? I'm guessing you haven't eaten, either. I have some leftover stew in the refrigerator," she offers, turning toward Len.

"That would be great." Len accepts the invite for food. "Do you mind if I sit down?" he motions towards the living room as he watches her pull the brownies from the oven. The chocolatey smell whiffs through the room and he then realizes just how hungry he is as his stomach gives a small growl. He picks up his tumbler of wine and finishes it off, then walks over to the sink and pours himself some tap water, rinsing out the tumbler before filling it again with water to drink now.

"Nope, go make yourself comfortable and I'll make you some stew," Tamsine says with a smile. "I think you deserve to have someone look after you for at least a short amount of time." She opens the refrigerator to get him a bottle of water, labeled with Whitaker's Organic and Whole Foods, and tosses it to him. "Tap water in New York? You really are sleep deprived. It's addling your brains."

Len catches the bottle of water and chuckles. "The tap water where I live isn't so bad." He unscrews the cap and takes a swallow and nods. "But, this is better. Thanks." He walks over and finds himself a seat to sit in and sets the bottle of water on the stand next to it. He leans his head back and it isn't long before his eyes close and a soft snoring sound comes from between his lips as exhaustion finally sets in.

After Tamsine re-heats a bowl of stew and cuts a couple of large slices of French bread to go with it, she brings a tray in to find Len sleeping on her sofa. She smiles and brings the food back into the kitchen. She will re-heat the food again when he wakes up, but for now, she lets him rest. She busies herself with quietly washing the mixing bowl and spatula from the brownies, then reads the newspaper while letting Len find his much needed sleep.

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