Look Before You Leap


kain2_icon.gif tess_icon.gif

Scene Title Look Before You Leap
Synopsis Tess doesn't, and the consequences are more than simply physical.
Date October 30, 2010

Dorchester Towers

"I'm sorry, but Mister Zarek has given explicit instructions that no one not on his invitation list is allowed up to the Penthouse without his say-so, and since he isn't home right now, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Deadbeat dads are the worst pains in the ass sometimes.

In the lobby of Dorchester Towers, under the watchful eye of security cameras, Tess Winslow stands boxed in by a pair of tall, broad-shouldered gentlemen in black suits. The pins on their lapels mark them as Dorchester Towers security, which makes sense since they hauled her out of the first floor halls after she knocked on five different doors looking for her father. It would seem, pretentiously enough, that Kain Zarek lives on the crown of Dorchester at the Penthouse level.

It also, perhaps expectedly, appears that he's not actually home at the moment. "If you would like to leave a message for Mister Zarek," comments the well-manicured desk clerk behind the front counter, a bank of security monitors just out of sight behind him. "Then I'd be more than happy to forward it along."

The way she's dressed probably doesn't help with Tess's 'warm' welcome from Dorchester security. Torn and faded jeans, leather jacket, leather fingerless gloves, black knit cap and a backpack. To a stranger's eye, she probably looks like a thief or conman.

Her hands settle on her hips as she glances between the two men. "Look, boys, I'm not one of his hussies, though I have no doubt that he's got bitches goin' in an' out at all hours. I mean, when even his friends say he's a womanizer, I'm gonna believe 'em. I'm his daughter. Same smile, see?" she says, grinning and pointing to said grin.

"Did you have a message for Mister Zarek?" The desk clerk asks again, this time a bit more forcefully with a raise of one brow. Both of the security men give Tess her space, but they don't stray very far, always just a lunge out of arm's reach should they need to forcibly eject her from the building. Whatever circumstances surround Tess' story, the man behind the counter — who's nametag identifies him as Kim — seems nonplussed both by Tess' demeanor and her sense of entitlement.

"If you don't have a message for Mister Zarek, I'm going to have to ask you to leave." Both of Kim's brows lift as he offers a pale-eyed look to Tess, head tilting crooked in an expectant stare.

"If I wanted to just leave a message I would've just called and left a message," Tess points out, rolling her eyes. "Geez. How does anyone live here. You guys are all snooty. Just 'cause a girl doesn't dress fancy'n talks like a Creole, you guys get all Pretty Woman on her."

"Look, just give, tell him his daughter's downstairs about to make a ruckus if he doesn't get his pain in the ass butt down here, alright? 'Cause I know you've got his number if he's really not up in his room." Seems she doubts that he's not actually at home.

"Miss," the man behind the desk strains in a visible attempt to be polite. "This has nothing to do with your attire and everything to do with your attitude. You were harassing residents of the building and were politely asked to stop. Mister Zarek isn't home at the moment, and I would advise against you causing any sort of trouble here or I will be forced to call the police."

Obviously looking frustrated with Tess, Kim lifts up one hand and rubs it across his forehead slowly. "Miss, if you are his daughter than you would have some other way of getting in touch with him. If you do, and he still hasn't gotten a hold of you, then there is a real possibility that he may not wish to speak to you."

"If you don't have a message you'd like to leave with him," Kim reiterates for what feels like the thousandth time already with Tess' nails-on-chalkboard personality, "I'd kindly like to ask you to leave."

"Hey, I didn't harass anyone. I just knocked on a few doors and asked 'em to point me to my dad's door," Tess says, shrugging. "You're prolly right about him not wantin' to talk to me, but that's just too bad. If he didn't wanna deal with a daughter then he shoulda suited up twenty years ago."

She pauses, considering, then grins impishly. "I should totally make you call the cops so he can come bail my butt outta jail. Though he'd prolly leave me there. Hmm. But then there's always John or Quinn or Roderick," she muses. Then she brightens. "Nevermind! Just tell him Tess came by and to give me a call," she says before darting towards the door. She needs to get a good look at the outside. Lots of balconies could be good, though penthouses being on the top floor is an automatic bad.

Closing his eyes and lifting a hand to pinch at the bridge of his nose, Kim exhales a grumbling sound as Tess hustles for the door. The security men turn as if prepared to move to follow, but Kim's raised hand and shake of his head dissuades them from stopping her from leaving. They're kind of like big dogs in that respect, the moment something goes to run, their first instinct is to catch it. Thankfully, that more base instinct is curbed by someone with half a brain.

Pushing open the engraved glass doors and stepping out from the lobby onto the concrete front steps, Tess feels the unseasonably warm fall air blow across her cheeks once outside. Dorchester Towers is a massive building, thirty-three stories tall, and that she couldn't even see Kain's penthouse at the top is a pretty good indication of just how expansive the residence is.

Maybe coming here wasn't the best idea. Though Tess is also left to wonder, why did she come here?

The why is simple. Tess knows precisely why she's here, and why she keeps defending the man who said he didn't want her. He's family, and the only family she has left. And that must be why she stares up at the building, then grimaces. No way she could make it to the top, not without cheating like others can do. "Well mother fucker," she mumbles, hands settling on her hips.

But she is nothing if not stubborn, and so out comes her new cell phone. It may not be as satisfying as showing up on his doorstep, but since that's not going to happen, she calls 411, asks for the number for the Linderman building, and then asks to be put right through. One way or another, she's going to see Kain tonight!

A chirping series of beeps noisily report from over the side of the concrete stairs, down by the asphalt ramp that leads into the basement-level parking garage. It happens the moment that Tess dials Kain's number, even as the default voicemail message for his cell phone carrier echoes in her ear and the ringing down in the parking garage stops.

Just out of sight over the railing at the side of the stairs, Kain Zarek stands with his back to the concrete wall of the stairs, a cigarette pinched between his fingers and cell phone flipped open, one brow raised as he inspects the number that had called. Clearly having stepped outside of the parking garage for a smoke before heading into the building, Kain has unknowingly walked right in to Tess' unintentional trap.

Tess's head whips around towards the sound, and she eyes her phone, eyes the stairs, then her phone is closed, slid into her backpack, and she takes off for the stairs. She doesn't go down them like normal people, not at all, instead she vaults over the rail with the ease of practice. Hopefully she won't land on Kain, but if she does…Well, that's what happens when you leap before you look.

Though Tess wasn't ready for the twelve foot drop, or the sharp pain of spraining her ankle, she knows how to fall. She lands, her legs give out, and she rolls a little to lessen the impact elsewhere. It doesn't really help, but it's instinct. "Mother fucker!" she yells, curling up so she can grab her ankle. It takes a moment for Kain's voice to register, but eventually she glances up, and for once there's not a happy look on her face.

"Oh sure, I'm dandy, since I don't think my ankle's broken. And you know, this wouldn't have happened if you'd called me or been up in your room. No, wait. I'm gonna blame the snooty doorman person inside. They were gonna call the cops on me, yanno." She sits up, moving her ankle a little and wincing as it just hurts more. "Damn. I'm not gonna be able to run for a while," she says, sounding depressed about that fact, for at least a few seconds.

Glancing up at Kain, she cocks her head. "Don't suppose I could talk you into takin' me up to your place and givin' me some ice to put on my ankle, could ya? Maybe some drugs to take the edge off the pain?" she asks hopefully.

You know this still isn't the weirdest thing that has happened.

Pretty damn close though.

Staring at Tess as she rambles while clutching her ankle, Kain closes his eyes and lifts one hand up to his forehead, grumbling even louder as his hand sweeps down his mouth. "Yeah you go'n blame me for you jumpin' off'a staircase like a retard an' Ah'm gonna' invite you up t'mah apartment for sunshine an' lolipops." Flipping open his phone again, Kain's thumb makes three clicks.

"Yeah this's Kain Zarek, Ah'm outside Dorchester Towers by th' parking garage entrance. Girl just gone an' jumped over the side of a stair railing, think she might've broken her ankle. Think y'all could send somebody out here t'look at her?" One of Kain's dark brows lifts slowly, watching Tess laying on the cold asphalt.

"Yeah, a'right, Ah'll stick 'round." A brush of Kain's thumb ends the call and there's a huff of breath as he tucks the phoen back into his jeans, then reaches upt o pluck his cigarette from his lips. "You have got t'be dumber than a sack a' hammers…"

Shaking her head, Tess pushes herself up to her good foor, and limps/hops over to him, jabbing a finger at his chest, though since she's standing on one foot, it lacks any sort of power. "Look. Like it or not, you're my dad. I'm not goin' anywhere. If you didn't want a kid, you should've put a glove on your best buddy twenty years ago. And I get that me showin' up with a big surprise. Tough. You're my dad and the only family I got left, and dammit, I'm not givin' up on you."

A bit more hopping, so she can lean against the wall, then slide down to sit with her injured leg stretched out. "Not dumb either. I do parkour all the time. The drop was just further than I expected it to be. Woulda been fine if it hadn't ended on a slope. An' you know what? It's gettin' really hard to defend you to people when you won't even talk to me. I'm not askin' for hugs'n puppies. Just some of your time."

She glances up at Kain, studying him for a moment. "It's pretty bad when your friends spend more time with me than you do, yanno? And I don't blame you for my ankle. Told ya, I blame the guy inside. He was seriously gonna call the cops on me. And I prolly would've had to call John to bail me out, 'cause I don't think you would've."

Now Kain looks angry, before he was just amused and a little surprised. That has rather swiftly shifted to upset. "Boy y'sure know how t'charm a fella'." Blue eyes narrow as Kain offers a crooked look to Tess. "You don't know word one about who Ah' am an' what Ah' choose t'do or not do. Ah' don' know what you were expectin', poppin' inta' mah life even after Ah' told y'a didn't want nothin' t'do with ya. You ain't a goddamned kid, Ah' don't owe you nothin'. Ah' don't want nothin' t'do with you."

Pressing his tongue against the inside of his cheek, Kain rankles his nose and exhales a snort. "Ah' take it back, y'ain't dumb because that'd imply that y'ain't got a choice in the matter. Dumb people'r born that way, you know better but y'still do dumb shit. A'guess that just makes you an idiot."

Pinching his cigarette between his fingers, Kain takes one last drag then throws it down onto the asphalt with a puff of smoke and embers when it lands. "You're aggrivatin' an' y'got the personality of sandpaper. Th' only reason anybody tolerates yer dumb ass is because they think it'll be a mighty fine joke on ol' Kain. Well y'know what, here's the punchline."

Kain throws up both of his hands and takes a step back away from Tess. "Nobody's laughin'. So fuck off an' go bother someone else who'll pay attention t'you. Ah'd sooner get a dog that pees in mah shoes than deal with yer ass."

Once again Tess pushes to her feet, and now she looks angry. "No, I don't know shit about who you are, because you spend every second that I'm around you tellin' me how much you don't want me. Fine. You don't want me. I'm sure it'll come as a shock to you that sex makes babies, and you sure seemed to want that!"

With one hand on the wall to help maintain her balance, Tess moves back from him with short steps. "Why don't you want anythin' to do with me? Why do you want me gone enough to offer me a fat stack of cash? And why, if everyone's just toleratin' me to play a joke on you, is everyone tellin' me that so much as touchin' me innocently, like a dance at a party, would have you killin' them?" she asks softly.

"Yer' obnoxious, an' Ah' don' like you." Kain honestly and flatly answers, "Yer a brat, an no amount'v tellin' me how Ah' should feel about you's gonna' make me care one bit about some bitchy kid Ah' ain't never met who wants her daddy. You don' need me. Ah' wanted t'give y'money 'cause Ah' felt bad fer knockin' yet mom up…" Stepping around his hobbled daughter, Kain reaches down to the front of his weathered, brown leather jacket and zips up the front as he walks past her. "People think they know me, 'cause it makes 'em happy. Whatever, more power to'm. Maybe if you weren't such a bitch Ah'd give a shit 'bout you, but yer a self-entitled whiny brat an' Ah' don't care if y'think you aren't any've those things," Kain adds abruptly, turning around to point a finger at Tess.

"Stay outta' mah life an' live yet goddamned own. But you best watch that shit mouth'a yours, or one day someone's gonna put a boot in it. But Ah'm sure you got some comeback already on how maybe that'll happen or maybe it won't matter or who the fuck cares. You're a smartass, good fer you. Now don't come 'round here no more, or Ah'll have th' cops drag yer ass out."

Shaking her head slowly, Tess continues to speak quietly. "I never said how you should feel about me, Kain. But, no matter what you think, I do need you. All my life I've had mom. Even when she was workin' all night and I was stuck in the dressin' room. Or when she was strung out on some drug or another to cope. Or when she was in the hospital dyin', I always had her, in one form or another. And now I don't have anyone. No grandparents. No aunts or uncles. Just you."

She leans more heavily against the wall, and with the pain of the ankle and his words, she looks younger than her twenty years. "I don't expect anything from you. I really don't. It's just…really freakin' scary to be all alone when you've never been entirely alone in your life.”

She straightens again, to start limping out towards the street. "I don't want your money, or your guilt. I don't expect you to love me. I just want you to spend some time to get to know me. Want, not expect. When circumstances don't start off our meetings as fucked up.”

"Well, let ol' daddy Kain give you your first life lesson." Kain explains as he turns around, reaching inside of his jacket for his metal cigarette case. "Life ain't fair, an' y'don't get what y'want. You don' have me, y'don't have nobody. Life sucks, people die, an' there ain't nothin' that nobody can do 'bout it." Flipping the cigarette case open, he stares at the hobbled girl, brows furrowed as he tucks the stick between his lips, then snaps the case shut and slides it inside of his jacket.

"Don't like you, don't care t'get t'know you 'cause yet attitude'd make me wanna' throw you outta' goddamned window." When Kain's hand comes out of his jacket again, it's holding a chromed lighter than he snaps open, creating a spark and flame that burns over the unlit end of his cigarette. "Truth is, darlin', Ah' wanted you outta' th' city 'cause yer annoyin'." The lighter flicks shut with a click, and Kain exhales a breath of smoke out his nose.

As the lighter slies back inside his breast pocket, Kain's brows furrow and he pinches the cigarette there out, letting hot smoke waft out from between his lips. "We ain't family, won't never be. Now go on an' live without needin' t'lean on people, 'cause the first thing Ah' learned as a lil' boy… is that people ain't reliable."

Returning the cigarette to his lips, Kain turns his back on Tess and starts walking up the concrete ramp, leaving her for the eventual arrival of the ambulance.

Except Tess doesn't seem inclined to wait around for an ambulance. Letting her father tend to her is one thing. Letting strangers do it is another. Especially since she couldn't pay for the hospital visit even if she wanted to. "Circumstances are annoyin'. Not me," she whispers as he walks off, before she shakes her head and starts to limb up the ramp towards the street, to start down the sidewalk, heading back to her little room in the Speakeasy.

It's almost four miles from Dorchester Towers to the Speakeasy Hotel and Casino. Four miles on a sprained ankle, four miles to think about her conversation. Kain doesn't want anything to do with her, she doesn't have anyone else to rely on, and now she's limping away from a fall entirely of her own doing from leaping before she looked.

Kinda' sums up her life, really. Maybe one day, that'll be the epitaph on her tombstone:

Here Lies Tess Winslow — Leapt Before She Looked.

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