No More Ink Stains


judah_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title No More Ink Stains
Synopsis Tamara interrupts Judah at work that's run far too late for his own good.
Date October 14, 2010

Le Rivage: Judah's Apartment

Blog posts. Newspaper articles. Editorials. Glossy magazine clippings with worn edges. Detective Judah Demsky has exactly two files like this. The first contains all the information ever released — and some information that wasn't — on the murder of his younger sister, dating all the way back to 1992. The second is labeled: FLASH.

It's not his purview, this. But when one of the two most important people in your life has proven to you, time and time again, that visions of the future aren't just based in superstition, you sit up and take notice when an entire city is afflicted by the same phenonemon, you sit up and take notice. As Judah has. Bent over his desk, his face in his large, callused hand, lamplight makes the dark circles under even darker eyes stand out as he reviews, for the thousandth time, a study on precognitive dreaming taken from a scientific journal published a little less than a year ago.

It's late. He doesn't know how late, not exactly — his discarded watch sits on the edge of his desk, face pointed away — but the sky outside is dark, he hasn't heard from Colette in days, and with every day that brings them all closer to the eighth of November, worry makes him sicker.

Late enough for the room to be quiet, particularly with the dogs in Colette's keeping; and yet the intrusion upon Judah's private study passes without overt announcement, no more than the gathering feeling of someone watching. Someone here. It is an intimately familiar feeling to the detective, and, in the context of this apartment, translates into only one explanation.

It's been days since he's seen her, too, but that's not unusual; neither is the fact that she seems to have brought home with her dark circles the twin of Judah's, shoulder-length blonde hair in dire need of brushing, and rain-spotted jeans that'll probably become dirt-spotted when the water dries — home, for Tamara, has always been the place she can rest and recuperate. It's clear she had an umbrella, at some point; the downpour outside didn't have a chance to soak shirt or hair. Just as clearly, it's somewhere else now… probably wherever the teen left her shoes.

Stocking feet pad around the desk so their owner can stand beside Judah's chair, wrinkling her nose as she peers down at documents she probably doesn't comprehend. "I think you should let them sleep," Tamara asserts, lifting her gaze to the detective. "It's not good to keep them up all night."

She always did pay more attention to everyone else's well-being.

Judah reaches up to smooth the tangles from Tamara's hair, his touch tentative and gentle, knowing that his fingers might hurt her if he moves too quickly or without care. It doesn't work quite as well as a brush, but it frees a few of the less stubborn strands and allows him to tuck them behind her ear. "I will," he promises, and there's sincerity in the gravel of his voice, which is so low the young woman may have to strain to hear it.

His other hand splays fingers across the text, and he folds the journal closed, a yellow post-it note slid between the pages and pressed firm to keep his place. Not that he needs it. He's read the study so many times that he could probably recite it all from memory if he wanted to.

Which he doesn't. What he wants is to gather Tamara in a loose embrace, and he does, one arm looped around her waist as he pulls her into him.

The girl ducks her head slightly as he finger-combs her hair, tolerantly still for it. She smiles at his pledge, slow and delighted. "Good." Because that means his attention is wholly hers — though it always is Tamara's for the asking, a privilege she never abuses even if sometimes it's only invoked for sake of comfort and company.

This seems to be one of those nights, as she leans into Judah's shoulder, sliding her arms around his torso in return. Tamara stands there for a long time, silent save for the muted susurration of her breathing, relaxed and apparently unconcerned. "We should watch a movie," she finally says, as much offer as declaration; not the kind of context where she'll fuss if he demurs. The movie is the unimportant part. "No more papercuts…" She catches his hand, turning it over to regard darkened fingerpads in the lamplight. "…and ink stains."

She'll feel him smile rather than see it, his head turned against her middle, face buried in the soft fabric of her abdomen. His expression is rueful at best and full of grim humour at worst. "What movie?" Judah asks, his voice muffled, and he might stay like that if exhaustion had a firmer hold on him than it does. With the patience of a large dog tolerating a smaller one as it yanks on its ear with sharp puppy teeth, he allows her to do what she will to his hand, and it occurs to him that this comparison isn't accurate.

In his eyes, there is nothing puppylike about Tamara, and there hasn't been for a long time. He curls his fingers around hers, lifts his dark, balding head and moves as if to rise from his seat. Does not ask her if she's eaten. There's a soggy carton of leftover chop-suey in the fridge that he plans on claiming. Sharing if she shows any interest. He has more than one set of bowls, forks, spoons.

Sometimes, she can be like a puppy; some days, she and Misty are two of a kind, at least in demeanor and manner. But no matter appearances, it is never all Tamara is. Not even now, as she lets Judah go, giving him room to slip out of their embrace and make his way towards the kitchen: there's a moment's reluctance when she has to actually release his fingers.

A passing moment, after which she too departs the desk, except in the other direction. There's a portion of his movie collection that doesn't reflect Judah's tastes; random and haphazard in selection, they speak to Tamara's whimsy, and it's one of these the girl withdraws. She almost skips into the kitchen to present him with her choice. "This one." Titled, for those who consider that meaningful, The City of Ember.

There's a glance at the DVD's cover that lingers longer than it probably ought — apt choice, Tamara — before Judah pops open the fridge and retrieves the carton of chop-suey, sitting lonely on the topmost shelf. Apart from a half-empty bottle of milk dangerously close to its expiration date, a box of cheap eggs from the corner store and a few condiments he enjoys drowning his take-out in, the fridge itself is mostly empty. More often than not, Judah takes his breakfasts at the Nite Owl and his dinner where he can get it. Skips lunch, unless he's counting the nicotine gum he's taken to chewing, and while this isn't the first time he's tried to quit smoking — and succeeded, at least for a time — he expects it to be his last.

"Bill Murray," he observes quietly. "Remind me to rent you Caddyshack."

Tamara squints down at the DVD cover as Judah does, a faintly puzzled sort of look that is transferred to the man himself as he speaks. She doesn't say she will, as most people would; the mandate slides off, not quite meaningful, not quite held. It may reappear later, whenever 'next time' is — or it may not. Returning her study to the movie's casing, the girl idly turns it over, fingertips brushing over the dense lines of text on the back. "The lights went out, but the sun's still there." She looks up to Judah, head canted; she can talk about the movie, because they've both seen it before, even if Tamara doesn't exactly remember it that way. "She sees the sun come up, too." A smile, then, one a little wistful beneath the warmth; somewhere along the way, the words stopped being just about the movie. Or did they? "I promise."

"Do you?" is not an earnest question. It only sounds weary and tired. Judah decides not to bring down one of the bowls from the cupboards, and simply settles for a fork drawn from the appropriate drawer, carton lid unfolded so he can pluck at its contents. Carrots. Ground beef. Something a sallow green that he suspects is probably a pea.

There's an old song stuck in his head, something about the sun coming up tomorrow, but he brushes it aside with a faintly curled lip and a brief flash of his teeth as he shuts the fridge behind him, turns, and places the carton on the counter with his elbows supporting the majority of his weight. "Because I think we're in for a very long night."

Blue eyes flick to the window, as if assuring that it is night outside. Then they study Judah sidelong. "We are," the girl replies, and if it isn't quiet, the whispered hush of foreboding, the words aren't playfully light either. Picking up the DVD from where it rests on the counter, she nods towards his carton of delivered Chinese. "And I didn't want to spend it anywhere else," has less to do with double meanings, as Tamara leads the way into the living room.

Judah follows, and he leaves the carton the counter, his appetite either lost or outweighed by his desire to hold Tamara on the couch — and that's difficult to do with a fork between his fingers and food in his lap. He has no words to offer her, only his warmth, shelter from the creeping cold outside, and the rhythmic sound of his even breathing.

Once settled into the sofa, he presses a chaste kiss to the top of her head and rests his chin there, gaze drawn to the same window Tamara had glimpsed out only a few moments ago. Living in this world has only gotten harder in the time he's known her, but learning to love— and loving

That's so much easier than it used to be.

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