Catch Up, Slow Down


colette_icon.gif felix_icon.gif

Scene Title Catch Up, Slow Down
Synopsis Between responsibilities with Wolfhound, Colette and Felix discuss the past and the way it shapes the future.
Date May 26, 2018

West Downtown


Things have changed.

Somewhere in the margins of life, things changed. It’s hard to tell exactly where things deviated, but somewhere between the beginning and ending of a contemporary Civil War, the people in Felix Ivanov’s life transformed when he wasn’t looking. In truth, though, Colette Demsky had been changing long before the war started. The bright-eyed orphan pulled off the street by Judah Demsky would become a freedom fighter, not because she was radicalized by any one particular person; she was radicalized by the world.

The dimly-lit industrial dive bar in Rochester’s western downtown quarter isn’t the kind of place that Felix would expect his might-as-well-be niece to call home, and yet here she is. Broken Arches is about as rough as things come in Rochester, between its chain-link fence on the walls decor to the clientele of questionable morality. He’s seen these sights, these faces in different shades, but not usually on invitation.

Situated in a circular booth at the back of the bar, one marked with a sign that reads reserved, Colette Demsky isn’t the young woman he remembers her being. The tattoos, the tone of muscle over what was once a matchstick build, the confidence replacing childish insecurities. She’s carved herself out of stone and grown up in the middle of a war that never should have happened. But it did, and this is the world that’s left in its aftermath.

Raising a bottle of beer she’s gotten a head start on, Colette motions to Felix once she sees him come through the door. The sun just set no more than twenty minutes ago, and the bar is already filling up. The noise of music clashes against the din of conversation, bodies in close proximity, unfamiliar faces. It’s like she chose this place because it reminded her of the battlefield she left behind.

Things have changed, indeed. Tides come in and ebb, leaving wrack behind. He knows that feeling. Who’s left now who remembers who and what he was? She’s among the last he knows of - Liz is gone. Judah’s dead. Lee’s god knows where. There’s a version of Teodoro, though that bond was frayed before the war. He’s had a habit of leaving wreckage behind him, in terms of relationships.

He’s definitely lost that old brittle arrogance, that aura he used to carry of being at daggers drawn with the world at large. Wary, now, as he comes in, clad in that drab, mostly military surplus. Eyes darting, reflexively casing, assessing - who in here is armed and with what? Who’s drunk and who’s sober and who’s faking it? Once upon a time, this is the kind of place he might not have dared set foot in, not as a cop of any stripe. He may no longer hunt with the hounds in the old sense, but he’s far from comfortable coursing with the foxes. Even when he spots her, the smile doesn’t reach his eyes.

Fel deposits himself in the booth across from her, gives her an upnod, that little smile. “Hey, you,” he says, softly. “You sure know how to show a guy a good time.” Teasing her about the choice of locale, already.

“It’s Wolfhound’s favorite,” Colette admits as she scoots down the bench seat of the booth and around the circular table, making room for Felix. At the back of the bar the music is just quiet enough to have a sane conversation without needing to scream directly into each others’ ears. “I figured it was worth showing you, and… you know… it’d be a good place t’catch up.” Such as they are.

Colette takes a swig from her beer and sets it down on the table top. “You want anything?” There’s a vestigial shift of her eyes over toward the distant bar, then back to Felix. She has all of the relaxed posture of someone who belongs here, and if Wolfhound’s reputation precedes it — and there’s rarely been a case where that isn’t true — she may well actually belong here. The indigenous inhabitants of Rochester’s underbelly may have accepted them.

But will they him? Will he be able to adapt? Old habits die hard, and it’s been long and long since he was working undercover for Narco and Organized Crime, habituated to places like this. “Sure,” he says, lazily, settling back in the booth. “Whatever’s good. Beer if it is, vodka gimlet if not.” Not that either can’t be burned off in an instant, if he needs to be sober. The joy of a metabolism that can be jacked up at will. “I’m buying, at least after the first round.” he adds, after a beat, with a hint of that old stubborness in his voice. Daring her to dispute it.

Of course he’s positioned himself where he can get the best view of those coming and going. She’d better get some booze down him - might calm down that not-quite-jumpiness. Though was he ever not a nervy bastard? Even in sleep, he’s never still, twitching like a dog chasing dream squirrels.

Motioning to the bar, Colette traces a finger in the air and at first seems like she's trying to get someone’s attention, but then over at the bar Felix catches her handwriting appearing in the air like neon fingerpainting. Another over here, followed by a squiggly arrow pointing back at her table. Not needing to hide anymore has given Colette more comfort in using the ability she was born with.

“S’fucking weird having you around,” Colette says with a look over to Felix after making her note to the bar. “When I lost track of you during the war I just… figured that was it.” She'd said as much before, that if she didn't go looking then he could be Schroedinger’s Ivanov, neither alive nor dead. “But now it's like… getting a part of my life back, y’know?”

She kicks up her beer again, taking a swig from it and picking at the corner of the label. “So, are you living at the Bunker full-time or do you have a place somewhere else? What're you doing between assignments? I can't imagine you're like… sitting still.” He was never the type.

That gesture’s enough to make him smile - not all the lines in his face are of weariness, at least.. What a strange new world it is, for the Evolved. Such a far cry from the desperate secrecy of the USSR. A tentative peace, if one he’s so reluctant to trust.

Schrodinger’s MIA - his philosophy was similar. There are many whose fates he’s deliberately not tracked down, lives whose state he has no idea of, because it’s easier to imagine them alive and well somewhere else than face the reality. “Yeah, I know,” he agrees. “I was just in Florida, healing, taking care of my parents and my grandfather. Didn’t really talk to anyone from New York. Not for years.”

As for what he’s doing now… “I’m living in the Bunker now, yeah. No reason not to.” No family, no kids, no pets, and not even enough stuff to fill the one spartan room he does have in the base. Fel spreads long hands. “Just… training. Getting used to the gear. Looking around Rochester.” And…not making an especial effort to bond with his colleagues, as yet. Too old, too tired, perhaps.

Felix’s responses leave Colette thoughtfully silent as she stares into the mouth of her bottle, swirling the bottom end around idly. When she looks back over to him, there’s a ghost of a smile that flits across her lips. “I know this might seem counter-intuitive, but…” Colette slouches back against the bar seat, “last time I was in the Safe Zone, I heard that the mayor’s working on getting the NYPD reinstated. Looks like it might happen next year.” She looks down to the beer sets it down on the table. “I… haven’t told anyone this yet,” which is an unspoken covenant of silence, “but… depending on how all this shakes out, I’ve been considering trying to — I don’t know. Follow in dad’s footsteps.”

Making a noise in the back of her throat, Colette looks to the side, then back to Felix. “I love being in Wolfhound, and I love the opportunities Hana’s given me, but… sometimes I wonder how sustainable this lifestyle is. I’ve got two partners to think about, I’ve… I don’t know if I can keep throwing myself at the world and seeing if I keep bounce off.” Finally taking another swig of her beer, Colette looks over at Felix. “But… I’m also not sure if I’m even cut out for the badge. I fucked up because I can’t listen to orders. But like, if I’m not getting my ass shot off for Wolfhound, and I’m not a cop…” There’s a moment of silence, and Colette isn’t sure how to finish the sentence.

“I dunno. Anyway,” Blind eyes flick up to Felix. “You’d be an amazing cop. If you ever get tired of the bullets. I’m lucky t’still have you, after how fucking horrible the war was. I’m afraid… one of these days, one of us is gonna run out of luck.”

For a long moment, his expression is the stunned incredulity one’d expect of someone who really did get that goddamn pony for Christmas. The alicorn pony with the sparkly mane and tail and glitter wings, even. Lips parted, eyes wide, breath stopped.

Then he comes back to himself, shaking it off, and fixing her with a thoughtful eye. “You’re plenty clever enough to make a great cop. Being a cop, it’s not like being a soldier or a mercenary - it’s not so much about following orders. Not at all.” A brilliant grin, the rime of that old arrogance - buried, but not gone, it seems - if not untempered with humor. He knows how he sounds. “I was an amazing cop before I was Bureau, before I knew you. That’s how I knew Judah - we were partners for a time.” A beat, and he adds, “I’ve even got pictures to prove it. Show ya sometime, if you want.”

A breathless, incredulous smile at the prospect before him. The NYPD again. “I loved being a cop, though I don’t regret being FBI, not at all.” He takes a slug of his drink, doesn’t seem to regard it - amped up, that metabolism burns through booze like it’s jet fuel. “Being a cop is tough in a different way from Wolfhound. This…” An expansive gesture of one thin hand takes in the bar, “Let’s be fucking blunt. This is suicide on the installment plan. I’m here because I can’t stand the thought of working directly for the federal government, and I’m an asshole who likes fighting and violence. I’m out of luck, Colette. I’ve died and nearly died how many times?”

He shrugs. “You’ve got your ladies to live for. If the chance comes up, take it. You’re way smarter than many a boot who made it through academy. And god only knows what kind of Wild West shit a newly re-formed NYPD would be in for. Hell, if I’m offered the option, I’ll go.” A slouch back in his seat, making the booth’s vinyl sigh in protest. She’s definitely lit a fire under him.

“Can't teach an old greyhound new tricks,” Colette opines with a wry smile, “so just do the old tricks really well.” She takes another sip of her beer, less awkwardly than before, though something Felix had said rings true enough to her.

“This life,” Colette motions to the bar much as Felix had, “you’re right. It's a slow death sentence. We've been lucky since the war ended, we haven't lost a single fucking person. But every time we drop into a live fire zone, every time we crawl up the Institute’s ass and shoot our guns, there's an incrementally higher chance it's the last time.” Looking down to her bottle, Colette starts stripping more of the label off again. “Tasha worries about me. She has nightmares when I'm not home. It makes… justifying this harder.”

Sighing, Colette looks over at Felix. “I think part of me assumed the world after the war would've been worse. That we'd still be on the run, hiding, surviving by sleeping in sewers and old train stations. But here we are…” the bar, gestured to again, “out of all the closets. The superhuman and otherwise. We won, but…” Colette’s brows furrow together. “But I can't turn off.”

It’s a testament to his affection for her that there’s no biting retort to that. No pity, either, but understanding….definitely. He reaches out to still her hand with his own, gently. Worn and callused, with minuscule flutters of muscle in the heel and the palm, as if his ability could never be fully shut down.

He swallows once, and says, barely loud enough to be heard under the noise of the bar, “I lost the man I loved more than anyone because I couldn’t, as you put it, turn off. He didn’t die, not then, anyhow. But he left me and checked right the fuck out of my life because he saw me throwing myself against the world, like you said, and bouncing off. Every time
I got hurt. Every time I ended up in the hospital. He had to cut me down from where Humanis First’d tried to lynch me, and did succeed in crippling me. Don’t be an idiot like I was. Don’t end up like I am now, Colette. Come up with an exit plan - whether or not the NYPD comes back, there are things you can do that don’t involve that kind of daily risk.”

Fel withdraws, finishes that drink with a quick swallow, and eyes the bar. As if changing the subject, he wonders, “…..just how drunk should we get? I’m thinking we get pretty drunk, whaddaya say?”

There’s visible emotion in Colette’s eyes after Felix is done. Tears blinked away, a stubborn one brushed aside by a motion of her thumb in an attempt to preserve her eyeliner. There’s a smile though, rosy-cheeked and youthful in the way she used to smile when she was his ward, when they were first family. Colette turns her hand around in Felix’s, squeezing his fingers and looking down to the mostly empty bottle of her beer, its label stripped off in sizable chunks left to curl on the table.

“Yeah,” Colette agrees to nothing and everything all in the same, a tightness still evident in her voice. Blind eyes turn up to Felix, her hand not moving from its grip on his. “I don’t have plans tomorrow,” she says in a half-lie, she’s headed back to the Safe Zone, but that’s something she can do with a hangover.

“I’m thinking,” she moves her hand from Felix’s, stretching out her arms as far apart as they can go, “this drunk.”

It wasn’t an exaggeration.

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