Ghosts Of Families Past


colette_icon.gif felix2_icon.gif

Scene Title Ghosts of Families Past
Synopsis A night out to eat ends with Felix Ivanov and Colette Nichols reunited under unusual circumstances.
Date February 19, 2010

The Night Owl

Curfew has been hard on most every business in New York City. Mostly bars, but some restaurants too; the Night Owl is one of those establishments — once being a twenty-four hour diner — that has suffered considerable income losses. While police officers and emergency workers for a time managed to keep the business open its usual twenty-four hours a day, the recent months have seen the diner needing to trim down its hours to match curfew times.

After night has come to the city, just a few short moments after eight-thirty, the diner is mostly emptied of patrons. Seated at one booth near the span of windows at the front, Colette Nichols is the one remaining person slowly finishing her meal. Black hoodie unzipped and hair a mess, she's tentatively eating a recently arrived poached egg on corn beef hash and an english muffin topped with Hollandaise sauce; you just can't get something like that as good as you can at the Night Owl.

Most of her attention, however, is focused on the Macbook open on the table in front of her, and the steaming cup of coffee in one hand. A digital video recorder is plugged into the laptop, and she's quietly copying files from the recorder over onto the laptop, while browsing news outlets.

She's wholly unaware of the federal agent on his way to the diner. Otherwise, she might not even have been here.

The question is… well, hell, will she even recognize him when he does appear? Fel… it's been a long time, and a long, hard road from his last encounter with her. The Fed's got lines of strain graven in his face that weren't there before, skin taut over those harsh bones, and that funny shadowed quality to his stare. He's lean and worn and clad in a dark gray overcoat - it's been a long shift, and he's rubbing wearily at his eyes as he enters, glasses in one gloved hand.

Eye trouble aside, he orients on her like a spaniel coming to point for just a moment, and then makes his way to her booth and sits down across from her without a word. Like he's sure he was expected, and is welcome.

"Woah hey what the fuck buddy I— " Colette just stops the moment she makes eye contact with Felix. The girl seated across from Felix looks changed as much as he does, since that night they shared time together on the old leather couch at the Lighthouse. It's been over six months since they'd seen each other, and half a year is like a lifetime with a teenager. She just looks older, not in the way Felix does with age turning into something that more closely resembles living decomposition, but in the way a child matures into an adult. She's wearing makeup to hide the dark circles under her eyes in the trained way a housewife learns to, ten years too early.

"Ff… Felix?" Colette's voice sounds just as young though, and the hesitate tone she gives makes that rabbit-like fear in her eyes even more prominent, even if by merit of awkward illusion. She's tense, but it's more than that, more than tension and bordering into something psychologically snapped in the wrong direction. Green eyes— wait — she has green eyes. The girl was completely fucking blind the last time Felix saw her, and she'd always been blind in one. Despite herself, she looks to be doing better.

"What— " Suddenly Colette is looking around, waiting for the next shoe to drop, waiting for Judah to show up. "Whh— What're you doing here?" As if somehow this was her diner and there's a sign out front that says no Felix's allowed.

"Well, I thought I'd have dinner," Felix says, in a tone mild as milk. He puts his glasses on, shoves them up the narrow bridge of his nose with a gesture that is a thousand times more adorable when Hiro does it, and then eyes her over the top of them like a stern librarian. You will shush in here, missie.

The pallid gaze darts over her face, and despite the fond smile that follows, the eyes don't change. It's….sort of creepy, really. They're going to give away what he's been through until the day he dies. He picks up a menu, languidly, notes as he runs an eye down it, "You got your eyes fixed. How'd that happen?"

"A guy." Colette's never been this guarded around Felix, never been so secretive about her life and decades of working in his line of duty has trained Felix to feel that vibe of distrust coming from her, from the person who used to be that scared sixteen year old living at his apartment and taking care of his cats while he worked. She's changed so much in the last two years, But for that snappish comment, Colette looks to regret the words as soon as they come out of her mouth. Her brows furrow, eyes divert down to her food and suddenly that delicious late breakfast just doesn't look as appetizing.

"My sister's boss," which is evasive nomenclature for Daniel Linderman. She reaches up to fold down the laptop and close the lid, one hand quietly unplugging the USB cord from the recorder, "Why're you sitting in my booth?" Colette asks without making eye contact, and Felix can see that bristling edge of emotion running through her.

Felix had never met Colette when she was fresh out of the homeless shelter, he'd never met the street urchin, just Judah's young ward. This girl, the fear and evasiveness, is more like someone who's spent more time on the street than in a comfortable and safe home. Yet Judah hasn't mentioned anything about a falling out between the two of them either.

That's puzzling. When did he become the enemy? Fel's gaze sharpens a little, and he squints at her. Definitely time for new glasses. "I thought we'd catch up. I'll cover your meal, if you're not already done," he says, a little uncertain. "I….it's been a while since we talked. Hell, since I saw Judah. Are you still around him at all?" Since 'with him' would sound entirely wrong. He splays a hand gone spidery in its thinness over the table top, plucks idly at the paper napkin, disarranges the much-worn flatware like a fidgety toddler. Someone hand him the kid's menu and the goddamn crayons.

Guilt paints an uncomfortable picture across Colette's face when Judah's name comes up. "Every… every so often. A night or so every week," her voice is a hushed one, and Colette swallows dryly as she looks down at her food. She hasn't had anything but beef jerky all day, and even then Leo kept stealing half of it from her. Reluctantly, she picks up her form and starts cutting through the egg, down through the corn-beef and then into the english muffin.

"I— I had a couple weeks back there where I didn't…" There's a rough sound in the back of Colette's throat. Bringing up one hand to her forehead, Colette settles the fork down with a clatter of metal on ceramic, and she just closes her eyes, breathing a deep sigh out. "Felix I— I shouldn't be talking to you like this…"

The way she swallows tightly, and the way Colette words is the same way some of Felix's informants "shouldn't be talking to him" in public. It's not the kind of associations he'd normally put to the young girl. "You— You should probably go. S'— S'better."

"I am not your enemy, Colette. No matter who I work for, or who you do," he says, and the muscles of his jaw have tightened, as he struggles for calm. "What is this about? What is it that I've done or you think I have that has you acting this way?" His voice is very low, as he struggles to maintain that casual facade. The waitress comes by, and he orders an orange juice, pancakes, bacon, and eggs. God love that speedster metabolism - he still looks as if a good wind might blow him over.

When Felix invites himself to start ordering food during the interrogation, Colette exhales a sigh and just starts picking at her food, at first not really comitting to eating and then taking on a more hungered approach, making it clear it might have been one of the first good meals she's had all day. "You're— It's not about you," she says with her mouth half full, "it's just— " Colette's green eyes lift up from her plate to Felix, brows furrowed and lips tensed.

"Ff— Felix I— " It takes a moment for her to regain composure, eyes shut and voice tight. "A— After you— you and Joseph— after what happened," she swallows noisily, fingers wrapped tight around her fork to project some of her tension. "Some bad— really bad things happened. I— I don't want to talk about it." Her brows furrow, eyes avert from the Fed and she just looks a little lost.

"I— I'm okay I just— it's better if you don't know. It… you're a cop," or a reasonably thin facsimilie thereof anyway, "you don't need to have this— this sort've stuff on your head. I— People trust me."

Trust her not to talk to cops?

This is going wonderfully.

There's a weird creaking noise coming from Felix. It startles him, but it doesn't stop it, not immediately. That would be laughter, and of a rather unpleasant sort. "I'm not asking you to betray whatever network you're working for. But….what, Colette? Stuff on my head? You have -no idea- what I'm carrying, and god willing, you never will."

Interpreting that in an entirely inappropriate way, Colette throws down her fork with a clatter against the egde of the plate. "Don't— fucking laugh at me." Colette bursts up from the bench seat like a little hormonal ball of frustration. "I don't have to put up with this shit and this interrogation and— " She swipes the recorder from the table, and from her side picks up a familiar old olive-drab courier bag she's had since he's known her. The camera gets tossed in, then the laptop slid inside.

"I'm not— not some fucking kid who doesn't know anything and can't take care of herself and— " She jams a hand down into her pocket, pulling out a crinkled ten dollar bill and slams it down on the table the way an overly emotional eighteen-year-old would. "Don't come in here and pretend you give a shit about me Felix, because I know who gives a shit about me, and it's a really small list."

He's on his feet, and it's fast. Too fast. She's upset him enough that that hyperadrenaline has kicked in, and there's one palm upraised to strike. "I'm not laughing at you, Colette. There's a phrase in English it took me a long time to understand. Gallows humor. These days, I get it. I'm not interrogating you, Colette. This was an attempt at a friendly catchup. When I interrogate anyone, they fucking know it, and it doesn't happen over coffee and donuts in a goddamn diner. I give a shit about you, that's why we are talking here, and I'm not trying to fucking pry into whatever damn fool idealistic crusade you're on. I don't know who you've been talking to about me, or what they've said, but I'm willing to bet you're wearing a pair of socks that I bought for you, back when. What'd you think I helped you for — I'm trying to get into your pants or Judah's? The hell, Colette, the hell…"

He trails off, lets his hand fall to the scratched formica of the table, utterly ignore the frightened stillness of the staff. All eyes on them - humans aren't supposed to be able to move like that, and by the waitress's expression, she's half-expecting him to leap up to the ceiling tiles and start crawling around and blaspheming.

A stel back is taken, Colette's eyes wide, her throat clenches and the young girl's jaw sets. The reaction in her expression is a puzzling one, because there's no goodly reason why that should have brought her to tears. She's known Felix was fast, she's never been afraid of him, and even then it doesn't even look like fear in her eyes more so than something like guilt. But worse of all is how she simply doesn't give an answer. The girl just stares up at him blankly, chin trembling and those tears welling up and dribbling over down across her cheeks.

"Ju— " Her voice croaks, "Just leave me alone." She snaps out, and like some frightened girl's wish to just disappear… she does. Her body paints away like someone washing oil off a canvas with thinner. She ghosts, right in front of the diner staff, as if she were just some sort of phantom memory of a happier time in Felix's life.

He did buy her those socks too.

…and Fel's reaction is strange. Quick as a wink, but not preternaturally so, he snatches up a sugar packet from the table, rips it open, dumps it on his palm….and blows it at where she just disappeared. Like he's sending her a kiss on a cloud of crystals. It's far more pragmatic than that - did she just teleport, or pull some trick of the eye?

In a way it both reveals and doesn't reveal what she did, some of the sugar just disappears, and he can hear the scuff of shoes on the tile floor and more importantly the way they slap to the door of the diner, where the door chimes open with a ring of charming out of season holiday bells, footprints crunch in the snow on the sidewalk, and a muffled noise that sounds very similar to a girl trying hard not to cry sounds out in her wake.

She's actually made the novel mistake of going out where she could easily be followed thanks to the freshly falling snow from the sky. The question is, does Felix?

Of course he does. When can he ever not. Grayhound, plastic rabbit, nevermind that his ribs are straining, his heart racketing behind them like a bird trying to beat its way out of a cage. He slaps down the money for his dinner, the meal he won't eat, and heads out into the chill, shrugging his coat back into place.

"Stop following me!" Shouts the invisible girl leaving tracks in the snow away from the diner, "Ll— Leave me alone!" The words are hissed out, and for all that Felix can't see her, he can hear the emotion in her voice cutting through the cold night air. The city is still busy at this hour, traffic of people trying to get home before the curfew begins, headlights glowing bright and tail-lights shining red. She's following the sidewalk in front of the diner, boods treading backwards in an obvious indication that she's watching Felix as she backpedals.

"J— Just leave me alone! I don't want to talk, I— I just want people to leave me alone!" She's reached that age, where every trouble is emphasized and bolded and underlined and highlighted, but this is more than just that. Felix suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, he's suffered with it for numerous reasons which gives him an insider's edge on recognizing symptoms in others.

Like Colette. Someone did something to her, and she's rabbiting because of it.

"What happened, Colette?" His tone is coaxing, for all that he advances, shuffling step after shuffling step, like this is all the prelude to some strange dance. The Masochism Tango, perhaps. "C'mon, girl, I was ever you friend, that hasn't ended…."

"No! I— It's not you I— I just— " Backing up away from Felix, Colette just turns, running like she always has from things that hurt her; her family, her past, her mistakes. The snow falling down over the city streets land in thick flakes, some of them disappearing when they near Colette, light bent around her invisible form cloaking them too, but it can't hide her tracks, can't hide where she's going, and can't hide that emotional keening sound at the back of her throat much like a wounded animal.

Felix's hummingbird heartbeat only flicks once in the time it takes for her to stop down off of the curb down onto the street, make the first abortive sounds of some sort of demand that the agent back off, before headlights coming around from the street at the corner of the Night Owl brings Felix's world into sharp focus. A blue Dodge Neon comes to a sudden skidding halt when it smashes in to something it couldn't even see. A dent appears on the hood of the car, then the windshield shatters in a spiderwebbing followed by a strangled yelp.

Colette comes visible like streaking paint running down a canvas, all blurs of colors, her back squarely against the glass as she rolls sideways and lands on the opposite side of the car from Felix's point of view. The driver is in an absolute panic as he slams on the brakes, skids a little bit past where he hit her, and stares blankly out the shattered windshield trying to figure out what just happened.

Oh, god. Fel is caught - horror will do that to you, blur reflexes on the sharp edge of superhuman. So he's a hair late getting to her. There is no heroic rescue, with both of them left panting and incredulous on the other side of the street. The fully visible Felix Ivanov takes the bumper right in the leg, and just goes down - to the driver, the first apparition is followed instantly by a horrified man slamming both of his hands down on the hood as if he could stop him by main force, who vanishes - apparently under the front bumper. Even as the driver swings the door open, he's scrambling crabwise over the slushy asphalt to Colette, lips parted in horror.

"Holy shit! Holy shit!" The driver's voice is louder than the honking of traffic, "Oh— Oh my fucking God— I— Oh my god I didn't even— Oh my God oh fuck oh god." He's panicking, a young man in his mid-twenties, just //staring over the hood of his car. Colette's down on the ground on her side in the snow, on the snowy street beside the car. She's breathing in sharp breaths, just sort've laying there in what is clearly shock. There's no blood, which would stand out hsarply in the snow, just the whimpering sounds of fear and hurt, because she did just crash into that guy's car and smash his windshield.

"Oh my god, Oh my god I didn't even— Oh my fucking god I didn't even see— Oh my god are you okay? Jesus Christ, oh my Jesus Christ fuck!" There's just a litany of stuttering curses from the driver as he circles around the car, not even thinking to pick up his phone and dial 911.

Eyes wrenched shut and mouth open in an exasperated expression of pain, Colette just lays on her side, her courier bag still on her shoulder despite the collision, the bulk of it laying behind her with the strap tucked beneath. She doesn't want to move, doesn't know if she can, doesn't know if she should.

Felix, for his heroic endeavors, has felt worse in his time, which is a good measure of the lethality of the accident. His leg aches but less so than it has in previous mutiliations of his continually battered body. Torn ligaments, lots of bruising, and maybe the need for a cane for a few weeks— he's suffered worse— he probably will suffer worse in the future, but this was a marginal milestone on the batterings of Felix Ivanov.

Remarkably, Colette seems to have come away from the hit without hitting her head. When he reaches her, the girl still has tiny pieces of safety glass in her hoodie and on her shoulder, little bits glittering in the snow around her. When her eyes open, there's tears rolling down the bridge of her nose and into the snow at the side of her head.

On the plus side, she's not running anywhere now.

"Call 911, you stupid fuck," Felix says, being entirely unjust. It's not the driver's fault, by any stretch of his imagination. He more or less flings himself down beside her, since he can't adequately kneel, at the moment, some bizarre genuflection that has him snarling curses in his native tongue. His hands are already roving, trying to determine the extent of her injuries. "«Oh god, you little fool, you could've died. I never meant to scare you.»" It helps not at all that he's forgotten to, oh, use English , even as he lays a shaking hand on her chest to feel for her heartbeat, the other laid along her cheek.

Were it any easier to feel her heartbeat Felix would be holding it in one hand. Colette's adrenaline is likely what's keeping her from feeling the bruised ribs that's making breathing difficult at the moment, the adrenaline is likely what's keeping her from feeling just how bad her back hurts, or realizing just how goddamned lucky she is. Were it not that the car had already been slowing down for the intersection, or that she's turned with the hit, she'd probably be in a broken heap right now; sometimes guardian angel or no.

Still in disbelief, the driver's running to his car to get to his phone, hurriedly dialing 911. He paces back and forth at the side of his car, and Colette moves a hand to reach out shakily, trembling fingers winding around Felix's hand that's feeling for a heartbeat, squeezing gently, even as a twang of pain causes her eyes to wrench shut and mouth to open from the sensation of pain at her sides and back.

"H— Hello? Oh my God y— yeah I— I'm at the corner of West 26th and 8th in Chelsea, I just— I just hit somebody with my car. Jesus— Jesus Christ I need an ambulance." Snow crunches around the front of the car, and the driver's getting out to look down at Colette and Felix. Another car has pulled over onto the sidewalk, a distant voice calling out to see if everything's alright.

"Y— Yeah I— Holy shit yeah they're okay I think? I dunno it was at— I was pulling up to the stop sign and I was fucking with my radio and— oh my God they just came outta nowhere oh my God." While Felix listens to the driver on the phone, Colette dryly swallows and squeezes his hand again, her eyes tightly shut once more as her jaw works open and closed, she's not talking— she might well just be better off not.

For the time being, at least, Felix has a captive audience, and Colette Nichols-Demsky just took a very necessary backhand across the face from reality to shock her back to her senses.

The snow doesn't stop falling, coming down in thick flakes that cling to the teen's dark sweater, show bright against her hair. She holds Felix's hand, tightly, and just maybe doesn't suddenly want to be so alone anymore.

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