Happy Here


colette_icon.gif judah_icon.gif

Scene Title Happy Here
Synopsis Judah fails at empathizing, so he enlists a veteran of the force to do it for him.
Date November 28, 2008

Le Rivage — Judah's Apartment

For a while it seemed like the ice rain that's been plaguing the city would let up, and for a little while the sun threatened to break free of those heavy clouds that loom above the city. But this sudden change of weather hasn't left, and the cold, driving rain has remained to send the city into a treacherous and frozen weekend just after the holidays.

It's even harder to deal with the weather for Colette Nichols. Just when she is starting to get her confidence back about the outside world, she finds herself trapped in by Mother Nature. Maybe it's a sign, to stay indoors, where it's warm, where it's safe. It's a "warning" that she's taken to heart, but as some form of compromise to what Grace had instructed her, Colette's taken the initiative to at least try to slip out of her hermit-like ways.

She's been standing outside of the door of Apartment 109 for five minutes, staring down the hall towards the stairs and the elevator with an "Out of Order" sign on it, hoping to get a glimpse of someone to talk to, a friend separated by only a few flights of stairs, but one who is hardly ever around at the same time Colette is. Her thin shoulders slouch, forehead lightly bumping against the door with a soft thump, followed by a tired sigh and the rattling jingle of her keys.

One lock, then another clicks and slides in the door, and without being able to find her British friend, she opens her way into the apartment with shuffling steps and head hung. She's trying to put aside fears and step out of the security Judah's apartment brings, but doing so has proved to be harder and harder every day. Her small, hooded form is silhouetted by the hall lights in the doorway as she steps in, throwing her keys onto the small table by the door with a clattering sound.

The sound of metal clanking against wood draws a startled grunt from the kitchen, though the noise is a little too gruff and a little too deep to belong to Demsky. Another fact to consider: the lights are off, and there are very few reasons Colette's adoptive-father-to-be would be rummaging around the cabinets under the sink in the dark. Judging by the pale glow seeping out from under the bedroom door, coupled with the faint beat of Gnarls Barkley playing somewhere in the background, the apartment still has power — and someone is home. Whether or not that someone is Judah? More difficult to say. On the one hand, his memory has been something of a sieve ever since he was discharged from the hospital. On the other, house-guests aren't something even he's likely to overlook.

Before Colette has an opportunity to respond to the grunt, it's followed by a series of clicking and jangling noises that sound suspiciously like nails being drummed against tile, if the fingers attached to them possessed some house keys of their own.

The sound itself causes the hairs on the back of Colette's neck to stand up. Her mis-matched eyes dart to the kitchen, at first not able to discern it to be anything other than a surly grunt from Judah, until she starts to take in the other sounds around the apartment. "J-Judah?" Colette takes a few steps into the apartment, her boots scuffing lightly on the floor as she fumbles around in the dark, "J-Judah this…" She glances to the glow coming out from beneath the bathroom door, "T-this isn't funny."

Shakily, she feels along the wall by the door, trying to let her already hampered vision adjust to the single shaft of light spilling in from the hall. There's no desire to close that door and shut her in with the strange noises. Her free hand feels around the door casing, finally having to turn to look and make out the outline of switches on the wall with her good eye instead of her blind periphery. Then, with a flick of one finger, she turns the lights on.

Squinting against the sudden tide of light is a face with a long nose, big brown eyes and a pair of tall ears that sit erect on the top of its head. The fur around the dog's muzzle is beginning to go gray, but that doesn't make the curl of its lip or the flash of its teeth any less intimidating. It doesn't budge from its position in the middle of the kitchen, one long leg stretched behind it as it guards two matching bowls of food left on the floor by the sink.

The dog blinks a few times as its eyes adjust to the light, then gives Colette an uncertain look, assessing her in the stony way that older animals do. The conclusion it arrives at must be fairly innocuous, because — with a snort — it swings its head back around and returns its attention to the water bowl, tentatively sniffing along the metal rim.

There's a few huffing and puffing breaths from Colette as she tries to put words together, but it all just comes out as nonsensical jibberish and hot air. The girl blinks, as if presuming that opening and closing her eyes would mean that the dog won't be there, but it's still there. That deferential stare it gives, and the way it merely disregards her and turns back to the bowl of water causes her to slump back in disbelief. There's food bowls and a water bowl set out, it's supposed to be here.

As she begins to edge away from the door, Colette hesitates and turns back, carefully and quietly pressing the door shut, clicking both locks and sliding the chain across in a rhythm of paranoid security. Her eyes divert back to the dog again as she starts to make her way into the living room, peering off into the kitchenette where the animal has occupied itself. They always say pets and their masters share a certain likeness and attitude, and with this dog's mannerisms it might as well be Judah.

"H-Hey there…" She finally manages in that hesitant, anxious way you address a strange and unfamiliar animal. Quickly, she starts to do a check around the apartment, trying to figure out if Judah's home, or she's somehow been saddled with a dog while he vanishes off to who-knows-where. "You ah…" Her eyes dip down to the collar, the source of the jingling sound earlier, "Guess you do have a name, huh?"

The tags on the collar are the dog's vaccination records and license only. If it has a name, it doesn't bear it on its neck. The bedroom door creaks open and Judah, drawn out by Colette's voice, appears in the doorway. He's still wearing his jacket, one crutch under his arm, so he can't have been home for very long. He runs one calloused hand over his jaw, elbow propped against the doorframe as he leans into it for support. The other crutch is nowhere to be seen, but it's a safe bet that it's somewhere in the bedroom, discarded for the time being.

"This isn't exactly the way I envisioned this happening," he says, a little bluntly, "Jupiter's a Belgian Malinois. We'll be fostering him for awhile."

Attention drawn to the dog, it's only Judah's voice that catches Colette's attention, and she was distracted enough that the very sound causes her to startle just a little, whirling around to look over to Judah after a muffled squeak escapes her lips. Colette's eyes widen as she listens, head tilting to the side with a swish of her bangs covering her blinded eye. "Jupiter?" She turns, teeth tugging at her lower lip as her eyes settle on the dog, then back to Judah with a bit of a wry smile. She still doesn't look good, even if she smiles, having traded her malnourished waifish look for something more sleep-deprived.

"Kay was so right." Her mis-matched eyes drift up and down Judah, settling on the crutch reluctantly. "You can't help taking in strays, can you?" Even if she's teasing, there's a gentleness about it. The young girl circles around the sofa, settling down on the arm as she lifts up one foot, starting to unlace her scuffed boots. She's quiet for a little while, thinking, considering, "You…" Her eyes flit back over to Judah, "I never would've pictured you for, you know, a dog person." Her nose wrinkles slightly, "Then again, I can't see you having a bunch of cats like Felix either." One boot comes off, sliding off of her foot to thunk loudly on the hardwood floor. Colette curls and uncurls one green socked foot, ten starts to work on the other boot.

"So, like," She looks back over to the old dog, "How long's he gonna be here? I mean, like, a while like me and Tamara?" Meaning indefinitely, "Or a while like when Felix was looking after me?" One brow raises, and she probably isn't insinuating until a serial killer comes after the dog, but it is Colette; Maybe she is.

"He's not a stray." Whatever the reason, Judah sounds particularly compelled to point this out. "He's a retired bomb dog. Seven, so his nose doesn't work as well as it used to. I'm doing this as a favour to the precinct, until they can find him a home that's sensitive to his unique— needs. Not everyone's equipped to adopt a service animal." That Colette's been having a hard time leaving the apartment by herself might have something to do with it as well, but Judah isn't going to say anything to that effect — he has an ulterior motive, and it's written all over his face. "And I'm not," he clarifies, "a dog person." Or a cat person. Or an anything furry person, really. "As a matter of fact, until I get a call telling me otherwise, he's your responsibility."

"Bomb dog, woah so like, he used to sniff out explosives and stuff? That's awesome!" In the back of her mind, somewhere, Colette is wondering if animals can have the same powers as Evolved, and begins for a moment to fantasize about the notion of having a super dog. That particular flight of fancy, however, is shot dead the moment the word "responsibility" slips out of Judah's lips.


Colette's other boot falls loudly to the wood floor, and she reflexively curls and uncurls a purple socked foot, her eyes fixated on Judah with her mouth slightly agape. "W-wait — " She hops down from the arm of the sofa, socked feet striking the floor with a more muffled thump, "I — I've never taken care of a dog before!" Colette hastily circles around the coffee table, shooting fleeting glances back and forth from Jupiter to Judah, "I — I've never even taken care of a goldfish!" Her eyes grow wide, "I — I had a neopet in middle school and it died." Her shoulder curl forward, huffing loudly as she motions towards Jupiter, "W-what — How do I — w-what am I supposed to — " She isn't exactly saying no, after all, she did always want a puppy, even if she'll never admit it. This just skips a few developmental steps.

"It's not hard," Judah assures Colette, gesturing to a brown paper on the kitchen counter. "The vet has him on a special diet, all pre-measured. You feed him twice a day, once in the morning, once in the evening. Take him out for a walk when you get up, and then again when you make your trip to the market. There's some plastic gloves and a scoop in the bag — you're a smart girl, you figure out the rest." But just in case there are any lingering doubts, he limps over to the bag himself and pulls out a medium-sized paperback book, which he offers to Colette, arm outstretched. "Dog Whisperer," he says, "Cesar Millan. It came highly recommended by the sales representative at Barnes and Noble. Even it turns out to be complete crap, it'll give you something to do until I can figure out how the hell I'm going to home school you. He has meds, too, but we can go over that another time."

Colette's eyes wander the kitchenette as Judah talks, though the mention of a scoop causes her nose to wrinkle in dismay. When he begins to limp into the kitchen, she's quick to follow after, sticking close to his side until the book is held out at her. She looks down at it for a moment, her brows furrowing together, then cautiously reaches out to take it from his hand with both of hers, as if by the very acceptance of the book she's agreeing to take care of the animal. "W-wait…" She starts to piece things together, "I — I mean, it — the weather's been bad lately, so — I haven't — I mean, been going out…" She glances down to Jupiter, looking to him laying on his belly on the tile floor, his muzzle resting partly on his paws, dark eyes upturned to the sound of her voice. It's as though he's trying to look pathetic for her, even if that isn't the case. She gets the hint, Judah's that is.

Looking up to Judah, Colette manages a faint smile, "I — I was going to look at… at the High School, h-honest, I just…" Her eyes flit over to the television — turned off — then back to Judah. "Everything happens for a reason, right?" There's a faint smile that creeps up on her lips, it's the best she can do given the situation. "You… you want me to take care of him, so… so I stop hiding in here, I know." She turns away, wringing the book between her hands. "M'not stupid." Her eyes downcast to the floor, then to her mis-matched socks. "Judah?" She doesn't move for a moment, only after some silence do her eyes drift towards the target of her question, "C-can I ask you something?"

Although Judah doesn't follow Colette's gaze, he visibly tenses when she looks over toward the television. He doesn't need the reminder. It's probably safe to say she won't be attending public school anytime soon. "I want you to take care of him," he says, "because I think it will be good for you. For me, too." With a dog hanging around — K-9, no less — Judah will feel more comfortable about leaving Colette to her own devices whenever they're apart. "It's hard, I know. I can't begin to imagine what you went through, how what happened must have made you feel. To be honest, I don't even like thinking about it. If you need more time, that's fine. No one's rushing you." Except maybe Jupiter, who has suddenly taken a keen interest in one of Colette's boots. He noses it gently, grumbling under his breath as he uses his paw to tip it over so he can stick his muzzle inside. "What is it?" Judah's question isn't directed to the dog, however. It's aimed squarely at Colette.

With Jupiter on her blind periphery, the boot inspection goes unseen, but Colette's good eye is so solely focused on the cover of the book as a focal point to stare at, that she may not have noticed it otherwise. Judah's lack of a no to her question gives her pause, and her consideration takes an awkwardly long period punctuated only by silence. "If — " Her brows furrow together, "If you could… If you didn't need those crutches anymore," her fingers curl against the softcover, "If you could have all of that, whatever's wrong with you t-that's keeping you out of work — If you could have that fixed…" She looks away, from the book and Judah's general direction. "But I had to do something… something we both would regret…" Teeth lightly tug over her lower lip as she thinks, for just a moment, about ending it right there. But her hesitation lingers too long without a decision, and she just keeps talking, "Would you want it?" She looks up to her guardian, the only real family she has at all, once those words have come out of her. It's not an innocent hypothetical, she's too bad a liar to play it as such.

It would be nice to be able to get around without a crutch. It would be even nicer to be able to function without pain medication. That said, there's something about Colette's tone and the way she phrases her question that causes Judah to pause, one brow quirked at a suspicious angle while he works on articulating his answer in his head. What he eventually decides on, however, is succinct, and doesn't require much elaboration. "No," he says. "I have enough regrets as it is. Just because I can't walk straight doesn't mean I can't work, doesn't mean I can't keep doing what I do. I'm alive. I should be happy with that."

Colette's eyes stay locked on Judah for a long while, and the girl looks down to the floor in marked silence. She nods once, slowly, and murmurs, "Then… Then I'm sorry." She swallows awkwardly and keeps her eyes focused on the floor. "I didn't tell you. I — I didn't want you to be upset, or — or mad at me, I — I wanted to do something for you, be — because I'm such a selfish brat." The book flexes between her hands, the cover bending slightly as she makes the softcover "pop" from twisting it at the right angle.

"There… there was this girl, and — and she could heal people, because she healed Trent w-when he got poisoned by this… I — S-she didn't want to help because you were a cop, b-but — I just — I told her I'd turn her in to the Registering people i-if she didn't help…" Hands trembling, Colette's regret all comes spilling out at once. One too many kind acts from Judah, and one too many selfish acts from Colette causing this to all burble up at once in an incoherent mess. "S-she ran away a-and, and I think she's hiding, l-like, I — I ruined her life, b-because all I wanted to do was help." She curls her arms around herself, holding the copy of Dog Whisperer to her chest, eyes glassy now, reflecting the lights in the kitchenette clearly. "M'sorry. I — I just wanted to help you."

"I'd have had a hard time explaining my miraculous recovery to my superiors," Judah says, keeping his voice low and his tone level, "so thank you, for making the prudent decision." It's hard not to be angry, but even harder to keep it from showing. Any ire he might've unleashed on the girl is cut abruptly short, however, as two pieces of a mental puzzle he's been working on click together. His mind drifts back to the news, back to the papers, back to the story about little Belinda Chu. "Colette," he murmurs, "I'm not asking you to implicate your friend." If Colette can even call Abby her friend. "But if you could tell me who she is, I'd be very appreciative. Just to check up on her, to make sure she's all right. I won't turn her name over to Homeland Security, and I'll keep any sniffing around strictly off the record."

The lack of anger makes Colette nervous, and the questions only further that. She looks up, swallowing awkwardly again as she blinks away those few tears that were threatening her fragile stability. But it's Judah, and he's asking her to help, he's asking her to help him with something. She doesn't necessarily want to supply the information, but on the same token there's this desire for approval, the desire to be accepted, the pat on the head and good job she's always wanted.

"H-her…" Colette's eyes wander the floor, then look back up to Judah, and she shakes her head slowly. "She's not my friend." Her jaw gives a small tremble, and she imagines the approval, imagines the appreciation and gratitude. But then she just feigns a smile, her brows knitting together as she whimpers out, "I — I never learned her name." There's some mistakes she won't make twice, and some regrets that cut Colette deeply enough, that she'd forsake one of the many things she wants to make up for. "I'm sorry."

There's little use pressuring Colette for more when she's made it clear she doesn't have anything else to give — or, if she does, isn't willing to part with it. Irksome as it is, Judah is patient. He can wait. "It isn't your fault." Not if she can't remember. There's definitely a hint of an accusation there, however slight, should Colette be listening for it. He pushes the paper bag across the counter, toward her. "You and Jupiter should get acquainted," he suggests, changing the subject and angling his head toward the cordless phone in the other room. "I have to call his old partner and let her know the big guy is settling in okay. Don't be shy. He likes women."

There's something unsettling about that, even if just for a moment. Colette looks over to the bag, then down to Jupiter with a faint smile. There was that nice stray down at the park, the one who later found her and Tamara near the cemetery — Maybe a dog won't be so bad. "Judah?" Colette glances up from Jupiter, "Um — There is one thing, I — Maybe you could look into for me?" The young girl moves a few steps away, setting the book down on the countertop in the kitchen, then crouches down carefully at Jupiter's side, one hand held out. "There was this girl, she… she couldn't be much older than me…"

At first her hand is held out flat, then remembering something that was drilled into her head when she was younger, her fingers curl closed into a fist which she offers down to the old dog. "She used to live at the same apartment complex Felix an' I did, back in Queens?" She looks up and back to Felix over her shoulder, through stray locks of black hair hanging down in front of her eyes. "Her name's Eileen Ruskin, she… She's married, I think." Her nose wrinkles, "Anyway, um, that day I sent you the text message? She was theo ne who gave me that… I dunno, whatever it was, that Felix was in trouble? I — " Her eyes wander, "She was all bruised and stuff. I — I think her husband like…" Her voice drops, lower and quieter, "I think he hits her."

It's a complete misrepresentation of facts, based around the lies Munin had given Colette when they first met, but she draws conclusions as she sees them. "She… I saw her, she's living in this old abandoned building down near um, like a few blocks east from Canal Street?" She raises one dark brow, "S'got graffiti all over it, I get off from the bus all the time there. Um, my mom used to… you know, my dad was an asshole." Colette's eyes drift away, shoulders roll forward, "I… I know what it looks like, and — And that looked like it. M-maybe you, I know the address there, m-maybe you could… send someone over? Just — She said he'd never hit her but, m-my mom and sister used to say the same thing." Her eyes close, "I used to say the same thing."

"I'll talk to Felix." What else can Judah promise her? Ivanov has more resources at his disposal than he does, and unlike Judah he's capable of following up quickly and efficiently. If Ruskin and Felix already have a working relationship like Colette's story suggests? All the better. "If I can't get ahold of him tomorrow morning, I'll ask Kaydence to check it out." He has a pretty good idea of the area, and Kaydence should too — there are only so many abandoned properties matching the description that Colette has provided. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people squatting in them. Even if this 'Eileen Ruskin' is living there, there's no guarantee they'll be able to track her down, though these are things that are best left unsaid. Let the teen have a little hope.

Jupiter sticks his muzzle out, the very tip of his cold, wet nose pressing against Colette's knuckles and he snuffles and snorts, committing her scent to memory. He might not be wagging his tail, but his body language isn't exactly aggressive either.

Colette manages a faint smile as she listens to Judah, letting her hand moves out across the top of Jupiter's head as she returns her focus to him, "Thanks…" Her eyes wander the dog inquisitively, reaching down to his collar to check at the tags, then up to scratch lightly at his cheek, then up around behind his ear. "Old and gruff," Colette nods her head slightly, then tilts her head back to peer over at Judah with her eyes half-lidded, "Even similar names." She cracks a bit of a smile, more honest than earlier. "Thanks." It's an abrupt thank-you, and for something most people her age would be begrudging over — responsibility. "I… I know this isn't easy for you, the whole, you know — parent thing." Letting one finger trace up the back of Jupiter's ear, Colette straightens and stands, "You're — You're not too bad at it. For what it's worth." It's the most she can give, to her, the girl isn't used to having anything like a parent worth caring about.

"I… I guess I'll take him out for a walk tomorrow." She turns her focus back down to the dog one last time, "I should go look for Tamara anyway." Not that she can be found unless she wants to be, but sometimes it's the committing to look that brings her out of hiding. "I haven't seen her since…" She glances at the television, then away, "There's something I want to ask her anyway." Colette turns, looking back to Judah, a few quiet steps clear the distance between the two. She stares up at him, the height difference almost comical between the pair. "I may not seem it all the time, and… I — I might not know how to show it, but…" Her lips quirk to one side, then form into a smile. "I'm happy here." A pause, brief and thoughtful, "Because of you."

Judah reaches out, placing his hand on the top of Colette's head. He doesn't ruffle her hair or use his fingers to tuck a few of the choppier chunks behind one of her ears. Instead, he simply holds it there, saying nothing for almost a full ten seconds before he lets it drop back down to his side. He's said more to her in the past five minutes than he has in almost a whole week; most of the time, Judah prefers to let things go unspoken, and what he's thinking right now is no exception. By the time he gets around to saying, "You're welcome," he's already on his way back to the bedroom, crutch scuffing against the hardwood floor underfoot as he goes. Jupiter remains where he is, letting out a short snort when the bedroom door clicks shut behind the detective, looking up at Colette with big brown eyes that are dark with something that could almost be mirth.



November 28th: Muster

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 28th: Not A Stripper
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