colette_icon.gif judah_icon.gif

Scene Title Home
Synopsis Colette brings Judah home on her birthday, unaware that there is a surprise waiting for her back at the apartment.
Date October 30, 2008

Le Rivage

Le Rivage is a building constructed very much in the Art Deco style. Its lobby walls are quilts of slim wooden paneling, primarily a light tan but with several pieces of darker hue mixed in. The floor is similar in scheme, if with geometric designs in taupe and chocolate on the golden background rather than random bits of color. The wooden receptionist's desk almost blends into its surroundings, despite a glossy black top and the painting centered behind it. This complex offers a variety of apartments for people of moderate income, from studios to three-bedroom suites.

Headlights streak across the pavement in the dark of night, stopping only once under the dim orange glow of a streetlight. Across the adjacent sidewalk, three children run past, each of them dressed in decidedly more ghoulish attire than the next; one young man dressed in a one-piece jumpsuit with white bones painted across his body, a full mask resembling a cartoonish skull covering his face. He swings a plastic bucket shaped like a pumpkin back and forth, running to catch up with a young girl whose black cape flares out behind her as she runs, one hand holding down her witch's hat atop her head, disguised by the green mask she wears with a crooked nose. Lastly, a little red devil trails behind them all, flailing wildly for the two taller and older children to wait, struggling to keep his crimson mask with two tiny horns on his face. A little red velvet devil's tail waggling behind him as he runs.

The headlights of the car belong to a yellow taxi cab, idling in a parking space out front of the Le Rivage apartment complex, lights on in the windows as those three children rush up the front steps to the door to the apartments, barreling inside to plunder each and every apartment of its treasured candy goods.

"Okay, easy now!" The back door to the cab opens to the sidewalk, and a young girl dressed in a heavy suede jacket steps out, scarf tightly pulled around her neck, and the fur of her lined collar bristling up around her cheeks. "C'mon…" She smiles, warmly, into the cab, offering a hand to her passenger, cheeks red from the blustery cold of all hallow's eve.

One hand reaches out from inside the cab to gently seize Colette's while another closes around the side of the door as the remaining occupant pauses to steady himself. Judah Demsky is still getting used to this whole getting-around-with-a-broken-leg thing. "I'm fine," he reassures the teen in a hoarse voice as he pulls himself out of the cab and balances on his good foot and gestures, disoriented, toward the trunk of the cab. The driver, who's a lot more keen than most of his customers give him credit for, gets the message and with a nod of his bearded head goes to retrieve the detective's crutches from the very back of the vehicle.

"You're not fine, you're wobbly." Colette affirms, nodding her head as her cheeks puff out a little, nose wrinkling. She manages to wag one scolding finger in mock threat in front of Judah's nose before quickly circling around the back of the cab towards the driver. There's a bit of an awkward smile on her face as the trunk pops open and he ambles over to the back of the cab, bending down in to take the crutches out and hand them to Colette. The girl smiles, weakly, then quickly makes her way back to where Judah leans against the car, easing the cruches out towards him, one of her hands on the door of the car to steady it and keep it open. "But that's why you've got me." Her mis-matched eyes upturn to the detective, watching him for a quiet moment only broken by the laughter of a young boy dressed a batman dashing down the street with both arms out at his side.

"Halloween," Judah murmurs dryly, his gaze trailing after the boy in the cape and cowl, "another excellent reminder never to have children." He takes the crutches and positions them both under his arms, careful to make sure he has a firm grip before he shifts his weight forward and hops up onto the curb beside the cab. "Could you reach into my pocket and get my wallet for me?" he asks. "I should have enough cash to cover our fare." The only problem is he can't get to it.

Colette snorts out a laugh, gently poking Judah in the arm with two fingers, "You are a grumpypuss." She says lightly, a smile on her face as she slips over, leaning around and fishing through Judah's jacket pocket, lips pursing as she fumbles for the wallet, then lets out a mild sigh ans slips her arms around him, leaning up onto her toes to pluck it from his back pocket. Then girl settles back down on her heels, looking up through her jagged bangs to the detective. "You already got two anyways," she says with a crooked little smile, flipping open the wallet and holding it out towards Judah. "Three if you count Felix." Her nose wrinkles, and a laugh slips out as she leans in lightly against Judah's right side, mostly to give him something extra to lean against, partly because he's warm and it's freezing out.

Colette's comment causes the ghost of a smile to twitch at the corner of Judah's mouth. "What about Damaris?" He takes the wallet, counts out their fare plus tip, using his thumb to ensure none of the bills are sticking together, and gives it to the driver. Although he leans on Colette, he tries not to put too much of his weight on her — cripple or not, he's still so much bigger than she is.

Only after the driver has climbed back into his cab and begun to pull away does the detective pocket his wallet and turn toward the front steps of the apartment complex, heaving what sounds like an exasperated sigh. Stairs. Why does it always have to be stairs?

"Forgot about grabbyhands…" Colette murmurs, slipping away from Judah to close the cab door after the driver's paid, keeping one hand on the detective's arm as they head up the front steps to the door of the apartment. "A lot's gone on since you got hurt, you know…" Her eyes divert back to Judah, fingers lightly squeezing against his forearm for a moment. "Felix, he's been really good. I mean, he's a total nerd…" her lips twist up into a smile, "But he's a sweet nerd. I think he's going to come by either tonight or tomorrow." Hustling away from Judah the girl pulls open the front door, leaning her back against it as she motions inside with a grin. "He talks about you a lot."

"Felix Ivanov is a good man," Judah agrees as he starts to take the front steps one at a time, dividing his attention between the crutches, the cement stairs in front of him, and what Colette is saying. It's trickier than it would be if he wasn't on Vicodin for his pain, but multitasking has always been a minor talent of his, and he makes it to the front doors without encountering any serious difficulty. "And a true friend. Remind me to thank him properly for looking your best interests while I was— incapacitated."

Once inside, Judah heads for the elevator, not quite brave (or suicidal) enough to tackle the adjacent stairwell just yet. Maybe in a few weeks. "Are you attempting to insinuate something?"

Keeping pace as she heads down the hall at Judah's side, Colette shifts her eyes up to the detective with a wry smile, "I'd never." Her tone is far more joking and light than the seriousness of her words would indicate. The girl pauses, leaning to the side as she watches where Judah is headed, and leans against him just a little, one arm wrapping around his enough to make it a bit more difficult to move his crutches. "Hey, mister forgetful." She lightly bites down on her lower lip, giving his arm a tug again as she motions down an adjacent hall. "No elevator for you, you're on the ground floor." Her index finger flicks in the direction of apartment 109, eyes darting from there and back quickly. "S'okay, when I got out of the hospital, I couldn't remember a lot either. S'funny how that happens, I think it was the medication n'stuff."

It takes another moment or two for Colette's words to really sink in, and when they do Judah looks down at her with an unreadable expression on his face. His eyes are dark and his brow is slightly furrowed, though there's nothing grave or even solemn about the stare he gives her. If anything, it's blank. "Right."

A little bit disconcerted and wanting to save face, he takes the lead again and begins moving toward 109, his journey punctuated by the sound of his crutches clicking against the hallway's outdated tile floor. "I know one thing I didn't forget," he says when he arrives at the door and attempts to fish his keys out of the pocket he instructed Colette to retrieve his wallet from earlier. "Bet you'd like to know what it is."

There's a mild sound of confusion in the back of Colette's throat as she follows along a little bit behind Judah, even though his speed is hampered by the crutches, she accommodates his want to be the one in the lead. "Uh, you remembered to pay your rent?" She grins, crookedly, her head tilting to the side enough that her bangs swish over her blind eye. "Well, I mean, I'd hope so anyway." Both of her brows raise, disappearing behind those choppy bangs as her nose wrinkles. Getting closer to the apartment, she skips ahead of Judah, eventually walking backwards with her hands tucked into her jacket pockets, boots scuffing with squeaks against the tile floor.

"Oh! I know!" Her smile grows, "You didn't forget to take your meds?" Her laugh turns a bit teasing, and her backpedaling stops just past the apartment door, one hand extended, fingers opening and closing quickly as her eyes dart to the door, and then back to Judah; gimme.

"The nice thing about working for the New York Police Department," Judah remarks mildly, "is that we look after our own. Our rent was taken care of as soon as one of the sergeants found out I was in the hospital. Insurance covers everything else." Colette's grabbing gesture earns her one arched eyebrow from Judah as he shifts the keys between his fingers, jangling them, and then offers her the entire set. He makes no comment about his medication. Instead, he waits in silence, curious to see if she's observant enough to pick out the right one.

She isn't.

The door is unlocked after several fumbling attempts to find the right key, each incorrect choice met with a growing frustration and a grumbling noise in the back of her throat, a sound akin to a kitten trying to growl like a dog. But once she finds it, the door is unlocked and quickly pushed open as the girl shuffles inside, leaning with her back against the door to hold it open, "Oh, really? Huh, that's awesome, I guess that kinda' figures though, you know, with how dangerous your line of work is and stuff." She blinks, then darts a bit in front of the door, quickly flipping the light switch on the opposite side so that the apartment isn't bathed in darkness as it was when she opened the door. With her back to the interior, the girl smiles warmly. "Tamara's been around a lot lately, I um, there's a lot I want to talk to you about when you're feeling better Judah." Her smile turns somewhat anxious, "But for now, don't worry 'bout any of that, right now just worry about gettin' better and back to work. Cause I know that's what you want most…"

That eyebrow arches even higher. "Are you sure you don't want to talk about it now?" Judah steps inside the apartment after Colette, squinting against the light when it flicks on. It's brighter in here than he remembers in being, but he suspects that has something to do with the drugs as well. "If you want something, the painkillers are more likely to let you have your way than I am." Maybe it's a joke, maybe it isn't — with Detective Demsky, it's hard to know for certain. He takes a seat on the couch, anxious to be off his feet again. He'd never admit it to Colette, or to anyone else for that matter, but tackling the front steps has left him with much less energy than he'd originally anticipated.

"No, no…" Shaking her head, Colette lets out a small, nervous sound as she waits for Judah to step inside, quietly closing the door behind him, followed by the rattling of the chain and the soft click of the deadbolt sliding into place. "I — It's not something I'd want you to have to really think about on meds, it's — it can wait." There's a nervous smile, one that fails to hide her anxiety over the matter, and one that is quickly discarded in favor of a different, but related subject.

"Tamara's been staying here a lot, lately." Her eyes shift to the side, peering towards the sofa on her way in, flicking on another light once she makes her way into the living room, kicking aside an errant par of shoes in the middle of the floor so as to not leave them in the path of a man on crutches. "Ever since we had to leave Felix's place…" She turns, slightly, looking back to Judah with a crooked smile. "You need anything? I mean, you know, food or something? I haven't really felt like cooking lately, but, um…"

When Colette eyes the kitchen, she makes a nervous sound, then proceeds to cautiously wander over, clicking the light on in there as well, scanning through the room as if worried she may find someone. Her behavior in general seems to be anxious, turning on every available light as she passes by, in order to brighten up the dark corners of the house. She's still a bit spooked by what happened to Felix.

It would be nice to have something in his stomach again — something that isn't hospital food — but eating can wait. Judah doesn't have much of an appetite as it is. "No," he says, shaking his head and resting his crutches across his knees as he leans back into the pillows and lets out a slow breath through his nostrils. "I can wait until tomorrow morning, but if you're hungry go ahead and order something. Pizza. Chinese. Whichever." It is, after all, her birthday — and even though he hasn't brought it up, he hasn't forgotten either. "Upper lefthand drawer. Rolodex. D, for delivery."

Colette's reply from the kitchen is a little muffled, still bordering on anxious, "I'm pretty keen on where the delivery info is now." Her voice grows a bit more clear as she circles out of the kitchen and back into the living room, coming to settle behind the sofa, leaning forward with her arms over the back, head tilted to one side next to where Judah sits, "I can wait." She echoes his words, watching the detective for a moment before taking a few steps to the side to stand behind him, ten very slowly wraps her arms around his shoulders, resting her chin on his shoulder as her eyes close and her head tilts down. The soft fabric of her suede jacket presses down against him from her rather meager hug, and she speaks in a soft, muffled voice into his shoulder, "Thank you."

If Judah was startled by the elevator before, there are no words to describe what he feels now. He turns his head, just so, and the stubble on his cheek brushes across her forehead. This is awkward, maybe not as awkward as it would have been a few months ago, but awkward just the same. He isn't used to being touched, least of all by Colette. "Mm," he murmurs, saying nothing — not because he has nothing to say, but because he's not sure he should say it. In the end, though, he finds the strength he needs and whispers, his voice rough, "I was trying to be subtle. Go look in the drawer, Colette."

Her arms give a bit of a flinch as his reaction, and the girl tilts her head to the side. There's a mildly confused sound rumbling in the back of her throat as very slowly she unwinds her arms from around him. Her eyes narrow, not out of any negative thought, but out of scrutiny and confusion, matched in the raise of the brow over her right eye. "In…" She blinks eyes wandering as she finally leans up and away from Judah, teeth pressing down over her lower lip before she glances back at the drawer.

Clearing her throat, her eyes dart back to Judah, and she starts to make her way from the couch, looking puzzled until she settles by the desk, one hand uncertainly reaching out for the drawer. She falters, though, looking back to Judah again, "Did I — " Her words catch in the back of her throat, and lips press together to form a thin line. There's a soft scraping sound as the drawer is rolled open, and the girl diverts her focus down inside.

The rolodex is there, like Judah said it would be, but it's been pushed to the back of the drawer in favor of a plain manila folder. Judah remains sitting on the couch and takes the opportunity to shift his crutches from his lap to the floor while Colette is occupied with the contents of his desk. Under normal circumstances, he might get up in arms about the teenager going through his things, so it's fortunate these aren't normal circumstances. For one thing, he told her to open the drawer. For another, the manila folder has a yellow post-it note attached to it — and on that post-it note is Colette's full name, hastily scribbled in permanent black marker in what looks like a man's handwriting.

Eyes immediately dart back to Judah, suspiciously, and then a hand quickly darts into the drawer pulling out the folder. "What's — " She hesitates, her blind eye squinting for a moment as she peers at the folder and then back to Judah, turning towards him. "Why do you have…" She can't quite finish any of her queries, and the curiosity itself is simply too much to resist, and still cold fingers quickly flip the thin folder open, her head tilting enough to the side for her bangs to slide away from her eyes, followed by her free hand tucking another errant lock behind one ear. Once peering inside of the folder, her brows furrow together almost immediately.

Inside the folder, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a bundle of paperwork held together with a single paperclip. At the top of every page are the letters 'NYSAS', which by themselves aren't very telling. The titles of the documents, on the other hand, piece together a much bigger picture:

LDSS-0570 Adoptive Placement Agreement
LDSS-0571 Medical Report of Prospective Adoptive Parent
LDSS-0857 Application to Adopt
LDSS-3912 Adoption Assistance Eligibility Checklist
LDSS-4291 Adoption Fee Disclosure Statement

Silence is all the paperwork is greeted with. Silence and a very subtle tremor in Colette's jaw as she looks down at the documents, flipping through them one by one until she can't quite get her hand to move any longer. The papers all give a slight noise once her hand starts trembling. And despite the stiff rigidity with which she composes herself, all of that posturing is for naught when her eyes start to water, and two tears both dribble down off of her eyelids and roll across her still cold cheeks. She swallows, and that very motion gives way to a strangled sound escaping from her closed mouth through her nose.

"Y-you…" It may have been a whisper, for as shaky and understated as her voice is when it's spoken. She swallows, again, the motion more reflexive than intentional this time and her neck grows more tense. Colette's lips pull back, evident now that she's restraining them with her teeth, but even that fails as her shoulders roll forward, fingers clutching the folder as she lets out one, very weak, and very ragged whimper that is followed by a sob.

The shiver the girl gives off causes the tears that rolled down her cheeks to drip off onto the top most document, and she sniffles loudly, trying to feign that composure she obviously doesn't have. "I — I thought you didn't — nobody's ever — " None of that comes out right, and the papers shift inside the folder as Colette's grasp on it falters. Not entirely though, just enough to let them move against one another. She catches the folder as it tips forward, closes it, and clutches both of her hands onto it as a smile creeps up across her face.

Until the smile, Judah was worried he'd done something horrifically wrong. He relaxes, the tension in his neck and shoulders melting away as the tears spill down Colette's cheeks. He swallows, hard, and starts to rise from the couch as if to go to her, but finds his cast and the position of the coffee table to be an insurmountable obstacle. "Nothing's been finalized," he says as he sits back down, scowling at his leg, "but I've made my intentions clear to the state, and I meet their qualifications. As the situation stands, you're seventeen — you only have one more year until you're legally recognized as an adult and the system kicks you to the curb. I don't want that to have to happen."

With the folder set down, Colette rubs her hands over her face, trying to wipe her eyes clear as she sniffles out an awkward laugh. The girl looks up, smiling, and then briskly walks right over to where Judah is sitting, doing just as she did before, letting her arms be thrown around the detective's shoulders, but there's so much more energy behind it this time. She leans her head to the side, settling it against his, and just breaks down. She hides her face away at Judah's shoulder, fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt at his chest, arms shaking. She leans on the couch, enough so that her shaky legs don't have to struggle to hold her up any longer.

"All — " She chokes out sobbing laugh, so overwhelmed with emotions, "All've ever wanted s'to have a home…" Her fingers curl tighter, wrinkling the cloth between them. "S'why I was happy you're 'ome." Her words are mumbled into his shoulder, felt as warm breaths and the shaking of her jaw. "I missed you s'much, I — " She breaks down again, because for the first time in years, since she lost everything she's ever cared for in the world, she not only has a place to call home, but someone to call family.

Judah places one of his hands on the small of Colette's back and the other on the top of her head, cradling her like he might a small child. Fortunately, unlike a small child, he doesn't have to worry about dropping her. If this is what being a parent is about, he can do it — holding her and letting her spill her emotions all over the front of shirt isn't any harder than comforting a victim at a crime scene. The only difference is he's doing it in his own living room instead of somebody else's, and there isn't blood on the walls or yellow tape blocking off doors. "It's okay. I'm not going anywhere."

"You better not!" Colette finally squeaks out something sounding a bit more like her, lightly thumping her balled up hand against his chest. "Y-you know how worried I was when you got hurt?" She lifts her head up, eyes reddened and cheeks damp, "I — I was so scared, you — you're — " She swallows noisily, and just stays quiet for a moment, mis-matched eyes focused on Judah. The girl whimpers, softly, and then manages a smile as she leans in again, laying her head down on his shoulder. "You're a total jerk for that," her tone remains teasing, in that way she's prone to sound, "But… but this is… t-this is the best birthday present I — " She swallows again, arms curling up close to herself, "I didn't think anyone was going to remember." And a day early at that, with a gift of a life and a home. After a moment though, Colette smirks and lifts her head up from Judah's shoulder, hair partly in her eyes. "I promise," she begins, that smirk growing, "only to call you dad when it's most embarrassing." Her brows raise and head tilts to the side, a smirk turning into a full-on grin at the threat.

"Every time I set foot out in public. Got it." Judah removes his hand from the top of Colette's head and lets it fall back to his side. Hearing the word 'dad' leave the teen's lips is strange enough. He can't imagine how it will feel when she actually uses it to address him, though that isn't to say he's not interested in finding out. If he wasn't, his signature wouldn't be all over the New York State Adoption Service's paperwork. "You can talk to Tamara about it if you want," he murmurs, knowing she'll probably want to speak with Tamara anyway, "but don't say anything to Ivanov or Damaris yet. They don't need to know until it's official."

"Tamara already knows." Colette opines, reaching out to press one finger against Judah's nose, "You know how that is." There's a momentarily wary look in Colette's eyes, and she glances down to the sofa, then back up to Judah. "Um, about… about what I wanted to talk to you about, it…" Her brows furrow together, and she glances back at the folder on the desk. Her eyes wander, an uncertain sound in the back of her throat rises up, eventually giving way to words, "It can wait." There's a hesitation even in that affirmation, but for now there's no reason for her to take any further risks, not when for the first time in a long time, everything seems right. "Kay's gonna freak out, you know that, right? The teasing, Judah, it's going to be a thing of wonder."

October 30th: If You Had Been There
October 30th: Friendship Versus Survival Value
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