Owls Looking for Mice


cardinal_icon.gif judah_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Owls Looking for Mice
Synopsis Tamara leads Judah to a potential ally in the hunt for Humanis First.
Date September 16, 2009

Red Hook — A Corner Store

It's afterhours by practically anyone's definition. The sky is almost completely overcast, not that there are stars to see from any point in the city; even with Midtown a crater, even with the economy, the crises of housing and money and jobs, the mandated and enforced curfew, too much light pollutes the background of space. Up isn't somewhere Tamara needs to look anyway. The sybil has other concerns; avoiding patrols isn't among them either, despite the fact that there's a police officer… oh, not even five feet away. The day Judah Demsky poses a hazard to her is the day she won't be walking by his side.

She is, of course; an occasional scuff of sneakers against asphalt, dark jeans and darker shirt indistinct in the gloom between hazy orange streetlights, long and somewhat mussed blonde hair standing out rather more. Despite the fact that they're heading towards a crime scene, a murder scene, she is unhurried and unperturbed; it could be a fountain, restaurant, or even home for all the girl's casual air: listening when listening is called for, speaking up when appropriate — or when Judah is seriously considering one of those questions whose answer the sybil isn't prepared to give out. There's a few of those. The reason behind the thread of amusement that never quite disappears from her tone is one of them.

The yellow police tape is stretched across the doorway of the shop, fluttering faintly in the evening's wind where the edges haven't been fully secured. It's undisturbed save for the usual stretching that happened when the forensics people were pulling it up to duck under the previous evening. The door's closed, locked up. The owner's dead, the other employees know the place is shut down.

So there probably shouldn't be the faint silhouette through the window of someone inside the store, should there?

There definitely should not, and it's unfortunate for the individual that the silhouette belongs to because Detective Judah Demsky's first reaction is to go for his sidearm, pistol freed from its holster and safety thumbed off in one smooth motion. His other hand reaches out and brushes fingers against Tamara's shoulders, then moves close around her upper arm in a gentle but protective clasping gesture. "Wait," he says, coming to a halt on the civilian side of the tape, dark eyes seeking signs of forced entry around the door and the corner store's front windows.

He ducks a glance at the blonde, brows lowering into an expression of what is probably consternation but doesn't quite find a foothold on his face's stubbly features. "Something you're not telling me?" he asks in a quiet voice. Then, "Who's in there?"

She pauses, letting Judah catch hold of her, giving him that sidelong look and mischievously sly half-smile that says clearer than words yes, there's something I'm not telling. Even at this hour of night. Neither the silhouette nor the gun in the detective's hand perturb Tamara in the least. "Only an owl," she replies quietly, remaining in place; a continued concession to Judah's sensibilities, but she often does him that courtesy. It largely becomes notable on those occasions when she doesn't. "Looking for mice." Sensibility only goes so far; there isn't much of a delay before Tamara lifts her head and calls an amiable greeting to the person inside.

There's no signs of forced entry, at least on this side of the building; the door secure, the windows in place and unbroken, not even the scuff of a boot-print on the threshold. The shadow moves within the building, and then there's a call from Tamara, and it briefly vanishes from sight.

A faint sliver of darkness stirs beneath the door, as if light had been briefly interrupted, and then a hollow chuckle stirs outside the shop for a moment before that blockage of the light disappears. The door's lock clicks over a moment later, and the door is drawn open a crack, the bell above it clacking once against the side of itself. "Tamara," greets a casual voice from inside, just the faintest profile of the man's features visible for the moment, "Something I can help you with?"

Judah isn't sure what should surprise him more: the sheer number of friends and acquaintances Tamara has, or the plethora of places she appears to have them in. One brow hikes up at the sound of the voice, and though the grip on his pistol doesn't grow any less lax, he gradually releases his hold on the girl's arm. Only an owl looking for mice, she says, as though this was nothing. Only an owl.

"You could start by explaining why you're trespassing on a crime scene," he suggests, "unless you'd like to come out, first."

The girl giggles, softly, briefly. That smile has given way to an amused, affectionate grin; she flops gracelessly down to sit on the stairs, drawing her knees up and peering at Judah. She can't crane her head around far enough to look at the door, not without twisting the rest of her body — and she has to leave some room for them. "I'm good!" Tamara declares in answer to Cardinal's question, as any teenager might. Folds her hands over her knees and waits patiently for the men to figure out that they also are.

"A crime scene? Huh." A pause, from behind the door, as the face turns away from the two-inch opening of the door's edge, "I guess that explains why the service in here sucks so bad tonight. Shit. I really needed one've those Java Monsters."

That said, Cardinal turns back to look out the door's slight opening, "Who's your friend?"

As Tamara peers up at Judah, Judah peers down at Tamara, the corner of his mouth twitching with irritation. It's in his neck and shoulders, too, all the way down through his torso — a kind of nervous energy that leaves him feeling raw and cagey, pent up frustration bubbling hot in his blood. If Cardinal is an owl, what does that make him?

Tempting though it is to wait and see what sort of cryptic answer Tamara might offer in response to the other man's question, he takes the initiative and ducks under the tape, moving toward the door in a series of brisk, powerful strides that carry him past the teen and up the steps in the time it takes him to introduce himself. "Judah Demsky," he says curtly. "NYPD."

This is usually the part where the cuffs come out, but Tamara is smiling, laughing. If she brought him here to make an arrest, then she almost certainly wouldn't be. "I'm not going to ask you again."

Tamara hides her irritation better; comes with seeing too much, the almost-assurance of the course that will follow — and the distractions that gnaw on the edges of her focus, the life of the city a constant undercurrent in her sight, hearing, the breaths drawn in one after the next. She knows when Judah isn't looking, when she can indulge a glance towards the faintly orange-frosted dark sky. Her feet swing from side to side over the lower stairs; she lets the others do their own answering, since she knows they will.

There comes a silent pause from the man in the building for a few moments, before he concludes that the seeress isn't going to answer any more than her companion already has. Then the door's drawn the rest of the way open with a light push, and Cardinal turns to step back along inside, inviting casually, "Come on in, then, officer… any word on Detective O'Shea's condition, by the way? Some of my friends are rather worried about her. Don't worry, I'm not touching anything, I don't want CSI fingering me for this…"

"No," Judah agrees, "you don't seem like the type." That is to say: Evolved. Or at least that's what the detective assumes based on what he's seen so far — or not seen, as the case may be. He steps inside the store's dim interior, linoleum squeaking under his leather loafers as he gives his surroundings a cursory inspection and attempts to discern if anything has been moved since the last time he was here. Cardinal's inquiry about Cassidy earns him a sharp look, punctuated by the sound of Judah's pistol sliding back into its holster. "What are you? Some sort of private investigator?"

Once Judah's through the door, Tamara hops up and slips in after, steps incongruously quiet with the speed of her motion. Doesn't bother studying the room, although one brightly-wrapped package is regarded from perhaps half an inch away; she doesn't touch — her hands are folded carefully behind her back to prevent just that event, although it's her nose that is more likely to break the unwritten rule — but it definitely gets breathed on. The seeress' regard is somehow both intense and idle, the deep scrutiny of a peculiar thing that she knows is doomed to remain an insignificant curiosity. She turns away, flashes a grin at the two men.

"Something like that."

"Something like—"

As the precognitive echoes the words at the exact same time Cardinal's speaking, he hesitates, then smirks over in the direction of the girl. "Stop that," he mutters, turning to step around behind the counter, hands folding at the small of his back as he looks over the register where the bill with those racist markings was left behind, "I provide certain cops and feds with information now and again… thought I'd come and see if the sonuvabitch that visited this place left behind any clues your boys missed."

The scrutiny that Judah regards Cardinal with intensifies before it fades — a candle flickering violently before being snuffed out — though there's a sort of wariness that continues lingering in the air between them afterward like smoke. He watches Tamara in his peripheral, making a silent note to bring her by Nam Phuong in SoHo on the way home, and then glances back at Cardinal, eyeing him as he speaks. "Good luck," he says. "We've gone through here with a fine-toothed comb more times than I can count to. Dusting for fingerprints hasn't done any good, either. Won't. Not with the amount of traffic this place saw before the murder. Too many people coming in and out."

Cardinal's smirking rebuke slides off the girl's cheerful expression; leaves no change in its wake. Tamara brings her hands around to stuff them in her pockets, wanders aimlessly through the store, a cat investigating the nooks and crannies of an unfamiliar place; except with less actual interest. "Hollowed out," the sybil observes. "The shell left behind by tides. Not even a pretty one."

"The tides always leave a mark, though," Cardinal replies quietly, "And there's always echoes. I'd give my right hand for a psychometrist— it'd be a better deal than the last thing I traded it for." Whatever that means. He leans back, gloved hand coming up to rub against the nape of his neck, "Fuck. They couldn't be amateurs, no, they need to have that black-ops asshole teaching them operation procedure…"

"Ex-military would be my guess," says Judah, with a pointed look over his shoulder at the sabotaged security camera in one of the store's upper corners, its little red light no longer blinking, frayed bits of wire sticking out into view. "Maybe CIA. This isn't exactly the work of a Timothy McVeigh, though." His eyes move from the camera to one of the refrigeration units toward the back of the store. "Abdul wasn't open about his ability, but he was registered. We've known that Humanis has moles in the department for a long time. I'd like to propose to the commissioner that we raise the clearance levels and restrict access to the database until we've got a handle on this. Doubt it'll go over well."

Tamara glances across the counter at Cardinal, a slight tilt to her head, expression having slipped away from her face. "Only if you're far enough away to see it." The girl stops in her wandering, blue gaze drifting to Judah. It's not so dark he can't read her expression; he knows most of them quite well. This is the one where her lips are closed not for sake of youthful mischief, but from the sybil's unavoidable, unwanted knowledge of what might be. She could find answers, if he asked questions; but could and will are completely different things.

"If they wouldn't do it when one of your crooked co-workers accessed the database to kidnap Abigail Beauchamp," Cardinal observes with a sharp glance over his shoulder, one brow arching at the detective, "I doubt they'll do it for this." That said, he gives his head a shake, hand falling back down to his side as he turns to look over the shelves, chewing briefly on his lower lip, "Oh, their leader's definately ex-military. I could get you his file, but it wouldn't be admissable at all as any sort've evidence, I'm afraid."

"Emile Danko, I've heard." Judah's gaze eventually winds its way back through the store and settles on Tamara's face, studying the curve of her mouth and the unique set of her eyebrows. "Daubrey and Ivanov filled me in a few weeks ago, before Humanis took him. Assuming he's still alive—" He cuts himself short, then, lips thinning into a flat line that mimics Tamara's mouth. He could ask, couldn't he? "This is different than Beauchamp case," he tells Cardinal instead. "A man is dead and a federal agent is missing. There's more at stake than just a pretty little blonde." No offense, Tamara is what his expression conveys in the long moments that follow.

His silence is ultimately broken by the hoarse sound of his voice, strange and alien to his own ears — he isn't entirely sure he's going to ask until he feels his lips moving again, almost of their own accord. "Do you know where he is? Felix?"

No offense is taken, if she even hears a meaning in Judah's words, recognizes that the description also applies to herself. Pretty is an abstract with many potential interpretations, and it's not like Tamara pays attention to her own hair on any usual basis.

She does pay attention to the question caught behind teeth and tension, heard even while unspoken; the one not caught firmly enough to stay unspoken.

Most questions the sybil cannot or will not answer are deflected, one way or another; with regret, with gentle rebuke, with the bewilderment of confused symbolism. It's rare for her to avert her gaze, lips pulled into a thin and somber line. For faint light to reflect from the arch of her cheekbone in a way it didn't just before, beneath eyelids as closed as closed can be.

Silence, but not so long as to make the answer automatic; in time, moments, dark eyes lift to Judah's. "Not past the chrysalis." Quiet words; angular, tense, strained; never soft, but bitter with knowledge's burden and choice.

And then there's none to meet his gaze, the seeress bolted out the open door.

As the query's asked, Cardinal's own gaze slides over to the young woman that it was asked off, lingering there with the subtle weight of consideration in the moments that follow the detective's words. She starts to speak, and he straightens a little— and then she's gone, bolting out the door, and his head falls to shake, a grimace twisting to his lips.

"I'm glad I'm not her," is all he says, stepping out from behind the counter and moving towards the restrooms just in case there is something that was missed.

Judah is, too, but he doesn't voice this sentiment. All he has time for is a low, "Make sure you lock up before you're done," directed at Cardinal on his way out. He needs the rest of his breath to fuel his body for the chase. Although he's not nearly as young or as limber as he used to be, never mind the injury he received last year when he and Felix confronted Amato Salucci in the ruins of the Sea View Hospital on Staten Island, he clears the stairs in two long, loping strides and leaps over the crime tape rather than waste time ducking under it.

Leather loafers connect with the cement curb and he's off running, hot on the teen's heels. Not that he'll catch, of course.

You can't catch a seer like Tamara unless the seer wants to be caught.

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