Confidential Assignment



Scene Title Confidential Assignment
Synopsis Colette enters the Manhattan Exclusion Zone on a special mission of great importance.
Date January 19, 2018

Against the slate gray sky of a rainy day, the boundary wall of the Manhattan Exclusion Zone looks like a part of the sky that fell to earth. The twenty foot thick wall of concrete and steel, rising two-hundred and fifty feet into the air, looks like a part of the sky that fell to earth. Streaks of rust mar the wall brown from upper walkways left unfinished. Blue tarps torn to shreds by high winds gutter and flap from their twisted remains. At this point on the wall, it abuts what was once the Queensboro Bridge, now a tower of stone from which dangles severed support cables and collapsed bridge lanes sunk into the East River. A fifty foot high and equally wide gate of rust-streaked steel marks what was once intended to be an entrance to the largest internment camp ever created on Earth. But it never came to be.

Manhattan is, and always will be, an island of broken promises and unfulfilled dreams.

Today, the perimeter around the gate is surrounded by sandbags and cement-lined shipping containers stacked three high. A makeshift guard outpost sits outside of the gate, where four Humvees are parked in a line. Eight national guard and one UN observer are positioned at this gate on a rotating shift. As a light, drizzling rain is falling down on the isle of Manhattan, it's nearly time for a shift change, when up ahead the sound of a boat motor is coming a few hours too early. It's easy enough to spot the motorboat crossing the East River and navigating the debris fields of the Queensboro Bridge's fallen span, and the insignias on the boat indicate it's the usual shift change, except there's not enough people inside.

When the boat docks, a Sargent is accompanying a woman in an olive-drab jacket up the pier and onto the crumbling remains of FDR Drive. Two guardsmen step away from their post and approach, spotters watching from a distance. Everything is protocol, but not for a shift change, it's a VIP. The two groups meet at the west side of FDR Drive, just before the gate house, in the light of portable flood lights hooked up to a distantly rumbling diesel generator.

"Wolfhound's coming in." The Sargent calls up to the guardsmen, who look at each other and then to the hooded woman on her approach. To ease the interaction, she pulls down the hood of her jacket, revealing dark hair and blind eyes. Colette Demsky taps a hand on the Sargent's shoulder and strides up to the guardsmen with long, booted steps.

"I need two hours in the Exclusion Zone." She carries herself with an air of authority and certainty, making sure that the Wolfhound patch on her shoulder is visible. Though she produces a government issued ID, with a flip of the leather folio.

The guards examine the ID, then make a face at one another and hand it back. "You're clear," one says, though it's obvious they want to ask her why she has to go into the Exclusion Zone, though neither of them work up the will to. Colette offers the two men an appreciative nod, then slips away from the Sargent and begins her trek toward the massive gate.

Manhattan Exclusion Zone

Grinding steel accompanies the gates of the Exclusion Zone's opening. These yawning walls of rusted steel spread wide enough to allow a single person to slip between their toothed seams. Yellow and black caution banding around the gates' edges warns passers by Do Not Stop Between The Gates. Do Not Extend Limbs Beyond This Line. On each gate, the corroded seal of the Department of Evolved Affairs lies in defaced dereliction. Spray paint partly scrubbed away by time implores, "Fuck Everything."

Beyond the gates, the ruins of Manhattan have claimed the entirety of the island. Not a single building is spared from an appearance of desolation and destruction. Rusted cars lay parked in the street where the end of the world began, seven years hence. Grass grows up between fissures in the concrete, life has found a way regardless of the world. Colette treads carefully between these demolished vehicles, boots crunching broken glass, striding around fallen billboards, evading sinkholes in the street where the ground has given way to yawning crevasses that were once subway tunnels. Birds scatter overhead, the ostensinble kinds and queens of the world's end. From here, it looks like the war never ended. The walls block out view of the Safe Zone beyond, and sight unseen it feels like Colette is the titular Omega Man, and the world around her has passed into emptiness.

It isn't just cars in the streets. Firebombed military transports with melted tires block intersections, rusted tanks demolished by carpet bombing lay half-buried by the ruins of collapsed buildings. The rain picks up some as she cuts across from Frankfort Street to Pearl, three blocks northwest from the gate. Rolling up her sleeve, Colette adjusts a watch on her wrist, checking a timer. Eight minutes elapsed, 27 minutes estimated to her destination. That gives her an hour to do what she needs, at most, before returning to the gate.

Pearl Street is in ruins, the entire river-facing rows of buildings are leveled flat by carpet bombing from the war's final days. If the news reports were to be believed — and Colette sees no reason to doubt them based on this appearance — there's still tens of thousands of bodies left unrecovered here. The Exclusion Zone isn't just a hazard, it's a tomb. Some of them are self-evident, bones picked clean by scavengers laying open in the street, others slouched in vehicles riddled with bullet holes. It will take years, if not decades, to fully assess the losses here. Businesses are ruins, even though that are still standing are little more than shells of steel and stone gutted by fire. Everything has a soot-blackened texture, rust permeates through every surface of metal, and craters replace intersections, sink holes where streets should be.

Colette hooks northwest again, moving down the remains of Wall Street where columns of tanks rest in rusted memorial to a conflict bygone. Empty canisters of negation gas are crumpled in the street, mixed with broken concrete debris, glass, and scraps of windblown paper. The occasional bird, perched on the bent barrel of a tank torn apart by physical force, watches eagerly. The stock exchange is simply gone, a tumbled-down heap of stone and debris with twisted metal girders jutting up like rotten teeth from a broken jaw. Cars are overturned nearby, shell casings stand out like brass stars against the darker fire-blackened concrete.

When Colette hits the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, the spires of Trinity Church loom large overhead. She's never been much of a believer, but God's house is the only one standing for a block in every direction. If she ever sees Joseph again, maybe she'll share that bit of poetry; that even in the aftermath of tragedy, His house remains. She crosses that street, crosses Broadway and makes her way into the shadow of that cathedral, one she saw from an apartment window during the best years of her life. She isn't far now.

But fires burn inside of the church; small ones, not big enough to be seen from the walls. Dark shapes move beyond the blown out windows, and ragged coughs emanate up from open doors surrounded by the broken remains of scavenged furniture, trash barrels, and shopping carts. Colette furrows her brows, body shimmering like a heat mirage before she fades out of sight entirely. She doesn't understand why anyone would choose to live in the Exclusion Zone, doesn't have the heart to find out why. Or the time.

Rector Street runs past Trinity Church, and the cars locked bumper to bumper here are fused with the road. Fire burned them all into ashen husks, and the skeletal corpses melted into the vinyl fabric of their seats are frozen in a memory of violence. Rats scurry past, disappear into the darkness and dryness away from the rain. Soon, Rector Street meets with a multi-lane freeway that too is congested with overturned and demolished cars. While the Metropolitan College of New York still stands, its upper floors are collapsed down onto its middle ones. The tail of a derelict helicopter, long since crashed, hangs out of an opening in the wall. The picked-over corpses of two US airmen lay on the sidewalk below it, and Colette carefully treads around their remains.

Across three lanes of traffic frozen in time, Colette finds the fire-damaged but still intact remains of a multi-story apartment complex. She moves to the side of the building, following a perimeter of sandbags and abandoned vehicles, finding an old black fire escape that hangs off the side of the building precariously. Colette tugs the metal and it creaks and groans, squinting, she leaves the twisted metal behind and angles for a door beside an overturned dumpster riddled with bullet holes. Two bodies are barely visible in the dark of the dumpster's interior, arms wrapped around one-another. Colette's throat tightens. That could've been her.

The ground floor doors simply don't exist anymore, they're long blown off their hinges and laying in dust and debris. Rear stairs ar eintact, at least halfway up to where she needs to go. Plaster and dry paper crunches underfoot along with shell casings and broken glass. It's a crunching cadence of most walking in the Exclusion Zone. Three floors up and the stairway is collapsed in on itself. Colette exhales a tired sigh, sweeping back her hair from her face as she shimmers back into view. Backtracking, Colette stops at a pair of elevator doors with a few bullet holes punched into their face, dark stains streaked down the aluminum surface.

Within the darkness of the elevator shaft, a grinding sound of metal on metal accompanies the doors being forced open. Colette stands in the dimly filtered daylight in the corridor, looking up and down into the empty shaft. Cables dangle in the middle, debris below from where an elevator dropped. Exhaling another sigh, Colette takes one step back, then three steps forward and leaps out to grab the cables. Muscles in her arms tense, leather of gloves finds purchase on the braided metal cables. With a grunt of effort, she hauls herself up, locks her feet on the bottom of the cabling, and begins climbing.

Two floors up, the doors are partway open. Enough that Colette can swing in at them, grabbing on to the edges of the door frame, forcing them open the rest of the way as she precariously balances over a six story drop to twisted metal below. Some Wolfhound missions are worth great risks, and to Colette this one might be her most critical yet.

Colette stumbles out into the hall, brushing rust off of her palms. She looks back to the elevator shaft, curses under her breath, then looks at the number of the first door: 1007. Breathing in deeply, Colette exhales a shaky sigh and starts creeping down the corridor. Wallpaper peels from the walls, light fixtures are blown and the plaster covering the ceiling is split and fallen away to the floor. Once lustrous tile is cracked, stained in places, covered in dust over the rest. Some of it, years ago, may have been radioactive. After this long, though, the risk is minimal.

The door marked 1009 is kicked in, broken nearly in half and laying on the floor of a nearly decade-abandoned apartment. As she looks in through the doorway, at disturbed furniture, at the windows on the opposite end of the spacious main room, at the view of the church beyond, her chest tightens and a chill passes down her spine. She swallows, noisily, and reaches up to wipe at the corners of her eyes with one finger. Stepping through the threshhold of the doorway is hard. Because it means stepping into the past.

Patient silence is not something Colette Nichols is often known for. There's an unstated reason why the silence between words is often bridged by an awkward fidget or a nervous shift, but that past is better left unspoken. Though she can't abide the quiet because of it, can't abide just having the sound of her own thoughts to keep her company. That's likely why it's so surprising to find her in silence, staring upward at the white painted ceiling above Judah Demsky's leather sofa.

Admittedly Colette isn't alone in the truest sense, because the cordless phone held up to one ear indicates that someone has provoked this silent patience on her part. Legs up and crossed at the ankles with feet resting on the coffee table, if she slouched back against the couch any harder she might as well be laying down.

Her sigh is a consolation to the silence, something to fill the void the empty apartment gives during those scant few hours between daytime and evening when she's come home but Judah hasn't returned from work yet.

"Oh!" Colette exclaims, sititng up straight and uncrossing her ankles, "Hello? Yes, yes I'm still here." There's a nervous tension to her voice as she hurriedly leans forward to pick up a marker and a notepad, pulling the cap off with her teeth and resting the yellow legal pad in her lap before she begins to write.

"Mnhmm," she mumbles with the cap clenched between her teeth, scribbling on the pad, taking the dictation of whomever is on that other line. "Amn— " it's hard to talk with a marker cap between your teeth, so she turns, flicks it with a motion of her tongue down onto the sofa and tries that one more time. "And how much is the security deposit?" Both dark brows lift at the question, and Colette nods her head slowly, scribbling down another line of information. "Awesome— awesome, when— " She hesitates, nods to no one that can see her, "Oh, okay yeah that— I can do that. When do you think I cam come and take a look at it?"

Outside, the skies are clear but the air is frigid, cold enough to make the space by the sliding doors near the couch cold enough to warrant keeping a blanket around. Colette has not had the foresight, she's too focused on this project of her own. "Fantastic, thanks. I'll— wh— oh, yeah, of course. Right, I'll give you a call when I want to, okay? Thanks so much." There's a dip of her head down, a sheepish smile and a nervous brush of her thumb over the end call button, followed briefly thereafter by a self-indulgent hiss of excitement.

Now she just needs to figure out how to afford any of this.

Fortunately for Colette, foresight is someone else's province.

The younger girl's distraction is considerable, and Tamara takes advantage of it to slip in on stocking feet, a conspiratorial gesture for Jupiter's silence possibly having little actual effect; he doesn't always bother to lumber out of his nest and come greet her, especially when the seeress obviously has some other errand at hand. Which she does.

It's her hands that float a blanket over the whole of the couch, including the phone and the youth unfortunate enough to be sitting there, square in the middle of its destination. Dark brown wool, chocolate-colored, with a pattern picked out in the tan-gold of summer-dried grass; not a perfectly soft blanket, its weave a bit too coarse for that, but thick and warm all the same.

Colette wasn't planning on writing anything else, hopefully; it's rather too dark now.

The confused squeak that comes from beneath the blanket is a wholly distracted one. The dark cloth flows up and down with the squirming beneath it, until finally pale fingers reach the edge and pull it down over now considerably messied dark hair. Colette's eyes are wide, staring pointedly in the opposite direction of the source of this most inappropriately timed gift, and only upon realizing that her attack came from behind does she whip around, turning onto her knees to lean over the back of the sofa, green eyes wide and accusing as she spots Tamara standing there behind the sofa. Somewhere in that motion, the legal pad slid off of her lap and the marker falls between the cushions of the sofa.

"You!" Colette practically squeals, slim arms reaching out over the back of the couch to wrap around Tamara's shoulders, and Colette leans precariously over the sofa's back, dark hair swept down to cover one eye with ragged bangs, cold nose rather immediately placed against Tamara's cheek, brushing up and beneath her eye before finding her temple where a kiss is placed. "When did you even— "

On second thought, the when, why and how doesn't even matter. All that matters is the moment, and Colette isn't about to waste any more of it wondering how she does what she does. Instead she just locks her hands behind Tamara's back and leans back towards the sofa, dragging the only slightly older girl towards the back of the couch and then just pulling her weight to drag her bodily over the back of the sofa. It seems Colette's ribs have healed up well.

Tamara smiles at Colette's confusion, blue eyes gleaming; grins, broadly, as she finally figures out which way to look and realizes the cause of her momentary misfortune. The seeress braces her hands against the back of the couch rather than returning the younger girl's embrace; this lack might matter, except for what Colette, in her impulsiveness, does next. Rather than fall over the back of the sofa in an ungainly sprawl, Tamara uses this contact to lever her lower half over, and as a brace against the drag of Colette's weight.

Shaking her own too-long hair out of her face, Tamara folds her feet beneath her and huffs softly at the younger girl, no particular force to the wordless chide. Deft fingers fix the untidy mess that is Colette's hair, simultaneously ignoring her own; she can see, that's good enough. "Too cold for this, kitty," she remarks, pulling an edge of the crumpled blanket back up and folding it around the other girl's shoulder. "Snow wasn't a friend. Maybe when it fell."

Of course, she herself was outside not so long ago; Tamara's hands are still gloved, for all that scarf and coat are nowhere in sight; there's a bit of snow melting from where it's caked on the hems of her jeans, and darkened damp nearly up to her knees, suggesting she was recently slogging through somewhere not well-plowed. Not completely buried — but not cleared, either.

Blankets are to be shared, is what the gesture of Colette's arms pulling that blanket away from herself to invite Tamara in against her before it's wrapped back around the both of them. Melting snow is cold on Colette's bare calves where her jeans bunch of from her squirming. It's warmer now, here, beneath the blanket with two people. "Warmer now," Colette offers with a touch of her nose to Tamara's temple, eyes serenely shut, notepad all but forgotten.

Sitting on the arm of the sofa, Colette holds her face in one hand. Tears have wet the dusty leather of her gloves, and she exhales a ragged sob before curling hands into a fist and resting nose against knuckles. A few more hiccuped cries of emotion escape her, painful and overwhelming, so much so that flecks of light dance around her hands and up her shoulders, fireflies of outburst and sparks of heated emotion. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Colette pushes off of the sofa's arm and moves across the living room.

She traces a hand on the back of the sofa, moving toward an old, ratty armchair opposite of it. Her neck tenses, jaw trembling, and eyes wrenching shut as though that could shut out the memories. It doesn't, and it can't. She can smell it in the air, a fragrance, entirely born of her own nostalgia for a happier time.

He smells like freshwater and soap with ribbons of aloe woven through it rather than the wet reek of his leather jacket hung up by the door or the faint hint of cigarette smoke that sometimes follows him home even though he kicked his nicotine habit a few months ago, but the underlying scent of his body and its natural oils are something that even a shower can't wash away, and the heat of her shape fit snugly against his only brings it out more, enveloping her in the aromas she's come to associate with security and the kind of familial love that doesn't come from a sibling.

"I'm sorry…" is whispered against Judah's chest, and it's not the first time she's had to apologize to her father, but this still feels different. "…m'never going to hide this from you," she whispers with a press of her nose against his collarbone, "never again. Just— please— trust me." It's not easy to admit being wrong, not easy to admit being scared, and never easy to tell the truth when it hurts so much.

Carefully curling up against Judah, Colette rests her head against him and her cheek against his chest, "I asked them… if I could bring you in," Colette whispers the words out, "they said yes. I… I want you to." But there comes a time for everyone when they have to stop running from what they are and where they've been, and come face to face with the reality that there's worse things than just being scared, being wrong, being hurt.

It's being those things, and being alone.

Curled up in the chair, Colette is red-faced and sobbing, arms wrapped around herself. A keening noise escapes from the back of her throat, eyes wrenched shut and fingers curled into the fabric of her own jacket. She hiccups back breaths, tries to get herself under control, but only winds up curling into a tighter ball, as though if she were to curl any tighter she'd be able to shrink back into the form of a child and say all the things to him she'd never gotten the chance to before he died.

Her mournful crying echoes down the haunted halls of LeRivage Apartments, from one abandoned home to the next, through blown out windows and toppled doors. This place is sick with memories, so much more than she'd even remembered when she first set out. Sucking back a wet sob, Colette futily wipes at her face with her sleeve, exhales shuddering breaths and feels a painful tightness in her chest. When she finally finds the strength to put her feet on the floor, her knees feel weak. But she leaves the chair behind, and slips thorugh a kicked open door into a ransacked bedroom.

Clothes now too small for her lay scattered and threadbare on the floor. Posters of things that no longe rmatter line the walls. The bed has no mattress, blankets, gone, but no one took the hardwood frame. She rests a hand against the headboard, wetting her lips with her tongue and digging fingernails into the enamel.

It's late, and Colette Nichols should be sleeping, but here she is.

Moonlight spills pale thorugh high basement windows, casting shadows dark and long across the otherwise lightless clinic below the Gun Hill apartments. It's peaceful down here, where the light doesn't touch and where only two heartbeats can disturb the silence. This isn't the first night that Colette has snuck out of bed in the middle of the night to come down here, to sit at the bedside of a young woman she can't quite pin her true feelings for down on.

Seated in the folding chair beside her bed, Colette sits slouched forward, her forearms resting across flannel-clad knees, hands cradling an MP3 player between them, headphones snaking up to her ears, hidden behind the choppy black locks of her short hair. She doesn't need the moonlight to see Tamara's serene expression and the way she silently breathes in and out.

The tinny noise of the headphones is subtly audible from a few feet away from Colette, the volume cranked high enough to drown out her own thoughts, because it's easier to listen to someone else's when they're put to a catchy beat. The song has an emotional resonance to Colette, something she remembers listening to on the radio when Nicole moved away from home and Colette was too stubborn to say goodbye to her, because she didn't want her sister to leave.

She didn't see her for years after the fact, and that Colette never got to say goodbye until Nicole came to take her away from her family left a weight in her heart that's never really been lifted. It's that fear of never being able to say goodbye that has Colette sitting here, staring at the back of her eyelids even as she unconsciously watches the room.

It's late, and Colette Nichols should be sleeping, but she's here because she's afraid.

Serenity is inevitably a thing ephemeral in nature.

The first crack in her facade of peace is a twisting of Tamara's expression, brows drawing down, eyelids scrunching more tightly closed. She licks her lips, her breathing short and harried; it would be audible if not for the volume of music presently piped through Colette's headphones. Curling up on her side into a remarkably small ball, the girl buries her head beneath her arms, as one might do when trying to block out sound; as a result of all this, the light blanket draped over her becomes abruptly textured by a chaotic array of hills and folds.

It's impossible, like this, to see whether her eyes are actually open by the end… but it seems that Tamara has finally awakened.

Earbud headphones are tugged from Colette when their short cords come taut as her mp3 player falls from her hands. Mismatched eyes snap open from something she saw before they did, and when she sees with her eyes what was felt by her ability, Colette's heart and breathing both seem to skip a beat in unison. She startles at the clatter of the iPod down on the floor, opens her mouth with the intention of calling for someone. No sound comes from Colette's parted lips, not unless the squeak she makes counts.

Uncertain in the way she is around an unfamiliar wild animal, Colette reaches out hesitantly towards Tamara, then stops entirely. Her head jerks to the side, looking over her shoulder into the dark of the clinic beyond this room, then back to where Tamara lays on her side. Swallowing noisily, she creeps over to the bed, settling down on the side just as she had when Sable was the one occupying that chair.

Leaning across the bed, the springs groan in protest beneath Colette. She reaches out, settling a hand carefully on Tamara's shoulder, then squeezes. She knows how this goes, knows how the waking moments can be and knows that more than anything touch is the anchor that keeps Tamara tethered in one place and one time.

As much as a wild, windblown kite can be tethered at any rate.

The contact with Tamara's shoulder brings little in the way of reaction, more in the way of information — tactile information, the quality of the tension in her muscles, the trembling shiver that comes and goes. She whispers, murmurs indistinct in their context, seemingly without direction or intent; the voice they're spoken in is small, quiet, thick from recent sleep.

Her hands slide down, catching in the blanket beside her chin, twisting into it with white-knuckled grip. Tamara's eyes are open. They're also entirely unfocused, irises swallowed by dilated pupil, looking straight ahead without seeing anything. Her tongue flicks out over her lips, a brief pause in here whispers.

Jaw trembling, brows furrowed, Colette's hand moves to lift up and brush shaky fingers thorugh Tamara's wavy blonde hair, only now really paying attention to the difference the shorter hair makes with her. Crawling across the bed, Colette shakes her head slowly, pleadingly, a tear drips down off the tip of her nose and lands down somewhere on the blankets, and Colette leans forward and slides one arm down beneath Tamara's neck so she can lift her up even as she's settling down on her side.

In the end, she's cradling Tamara against her shoulder, the fingers of one hand lost in the back of Tamara's hair and her other arm wound around the seer's waist. That Colette lets out one guilty sob is expected, and she affords herself that one moment of emotional discord as her embrace comes tighter around the seer.

A cold nose finds its way into the hair at the side of Tamara's head above her ear, far warmer breath blowing out beneath it. "I'm here…" sounds conflicted, as if she's saying it as much for her own benefit as she is Tamara's. There is so much conflict in her heart right now that it feels like it's going to tear her apart.

"It's okay, I'm here," Colette whispers tearfully into Tamara's hair, her arms trembling as she holds the blonde close to herself, nose brushing from side to side against her head, that subtle affection would be familiar to someone who remembers it, and Colette's too afraid to know if Tamara remembers it in her own unique backwards way; remembers that it happens in the future.

Is that even possible?

Colette doesn't know.

Sitting on the wooden frame, Colette looks at a broken picture frame containing an old photograph. She and Tamara are sitting on the edge of the bed with arms around each other's waists. They're smiling, and judging from how young they both look Judah was likely taking the picture. Colette peels it out of the frame, tucking it into a pocket in her jacket. Then, lifting up from the bed, she walks over to an old dresser, its drawers all pulled out. Broken glass litters the floor underfoot, tangles of old mouldering and rotten clothes.

Above and behind the dresser, a corkboard still sits hangs on the wall. One by one, she plucks photographs from it, leaving the pushpins behind. At the corner of the corkboard is a dried pink rose caked in dust and cobwebs. Colette plucks it from between the thumbtacks holding it in place. Carefully, she plucks the dust and cobwebs from the petals, and tears well up in her eyes when she remembers where it came from. Her heart aches, face colors red, and there's a flutter in her stomach.

Colette loiters in LeRivage's lobby, the afternoon's cloudy light spilling thorugh the front doors of the tenement building in muted quality. Seated cross-legged on a chocolate brown sofa near the unoccupied reception desk, the dark-haired teen has — for the first day since being injured — forsaken her sling, trying to return some semblance of mobility to her right arm. In her lap, a dog-eared old softcover book is open. Colette's read through this book too many times now since she bought it almost two years ago now, but the red-covered copy of House of Leaves isn't so much for her own enjoyment right now as it is intended to be a gift.

Beside her on the sofa's leather seat, Colette's cell phone sits silently, reminding her of the time that the old analogue clock on the wall here no longer accurately tells. It's not surprising that the girl she's waiting for here is late, but with the weather as bad as it is, Colette's not about to split hairs on schedules.

Flipping through the book, Colette pauses as she finds a place marker that had slid down inside who knows how long ago. The faded receipt of a Chinese takeout order, August 27, 2008 is printed at the top of the receipt. Colette's dark brows furrow, teeth toy at her lower lip and green eyes wander away from the book in her lap…

With no doorman at the door, Tasha slips in, bundled in a bright yellow plaid coat and a bright green scarf, all in all in a sort of sixties "Mod" vibe now that she's had a chance to clean up. The clothes are new, thanks to her mother who took her shopping when discovering that the girl's clothes were still in Boston but for a small backpack's worth. Brown eyes fall on Colette and she hurries forward.

"Hey," she says, her voice a little breathless from tramping through the snow from the subway station — even a short walk is hard work in cold weather and thick snow. "Sorry I'm late. Though no one in their right mind is out," which puts her not in her right mind, of course, "it's slow as hell to get anywhere. Plus on the way here the traffic was all jammed 'cause of those damn penguins crossing the road. Some old man was trying to herd them so they wouldn't get hurt. It was cute." She flops on the seat next to Colette, smiling as she sees the other has no sling around her arm.

One gloved hand moves into her pocket to touch the white rosebud Tasha found peeking out of one of her boots when she got dressed. She isn't sure how and it certainly isn't like her mother to leave her a flower — in a boot of all places. She tilts her head curiously at Colette. "I didn't tell you where my mom lives, did I?"

"N— No you didn't…" It's a distracted answer, and Colette closes her book, trying to play it off as that having been what distracted her. Spotting the scarf, Colette's eyes widen a touch and a sheepish smile crosses her lips, shoulders hunching up. "I… was gonna' get you one," the teen notes, motioning with her nose to Tasha's scarf with a lopsided smile. For all the bright color Tasha's dressed in, Colette seems so much more drab, which is strange given how colorful her ability is. A black peacoat, brick red turtleneck sweater worn beneath, the charcoal gray of a woolen scarf and dark jeans marked with white threading down the sides all seems very uniform in color and texture. It does make the green of her eyes seem to pop out, though.

"How'd um," Colette's dark brows furrow, one thumb brushing over a dog-eared corner of the book at her lap, flip-flicking it back and forth, "how'd everything with your folks go?" It's something of a touchy subject, undoubredly, and when Colette's dark brows lift up it shows her hesitation to approach the subject.

The smaller of the two teens glances down at the book on Colette's lap as well, more for something to look at while she answers the questions. Her hand goes to her throat and the scarf, and she smiles. "You don't have to replace my scarf, silly. I mean, you saved my life, you nut," she murmurs first, tugging her own a little looser now that the air is no longer painful to breathe in. "My mom made me go buy new clothes. Luckily the black coat she couldn't tell what was on it, but she could tell it was … you know. Dirty." Bloodstained. Tasha did wash it and the rest of her clothes. She'll keep the black coat for other Ferry missions in the snow that might end up with someone getting bloody.

At the question regarding her parents, Tasha's eyes drop, and one shoulder rises and falls in a telltale shrug. "My mom was great. My dad … you know. The usual. Don't smoke, don't swear, why'd you drop out of school. I let him think it was about … you know. Boy stuff." She makes a grimace.

"And I asked about Ferry, tried to play it like I heard something about it in Boston involving his department, but he kinda… just… no." Tasha shakes her head, closing out the conversation on that topic, and switching to another awkward one, pulling the white rose from her pocket and handing it to Colette.

"This was with my stuff this morning… I thought… maybe somehow… not that I think you're a stalker or anything…" Her brown eyes get wide.

No, Colette's not the stalker.

Empty as the lobby is, no one's there to give away her approach except Tasha — and by the time her awareness has caught up with her eyes, Tamara has crossed her field of view, closed the distance to stand behind the couch. The girl is barefoot, dressed in washed-out jeans and a white shirt decorated with vining yellow flowers and one orange butterfly; her long blonde hair is loose and probably hasn't been brushed since whenever Tamara got up this morning. The conspiratorial finger at her lips, the cheerful curve of her grin, don't quite ameliorate the shadows under her eyes; it's a little debatable whether the seeress slept much last night, or maybe even for several nights before.

Tasha doesn't have much of a window in which to give away Tamara's approach, and Colette even less of one to react, before her fingers press against the dark hair of her target's left temple; she deftly slides something to perch behind Colette's right ear. A brief burble of quiet laughter and her familiar voice are enough to identify the ambusher: "Surprise."

Colette's rose is pink.

Though crumpled under fallen dressers, Colette retrieves a still-intact notebook full of sketches, notes, and memories from the floor. Dusting it off, she leafs it open to a page marked by a decade-old Chinese takeout menu. Though her nose and eyes are reddened from crying, she's smiling as she brushes her fingertips over it. She blinks tears out of her eyes, then slaps the book closed.

Mission accomplished.

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