Pancake Breakfast


colette_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif sibyl3_icon.gif tavisha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Pancake Breakfast
Synopsis Gillian calls Colette about a mutual acquaitance— no, friend.
Date July 10, 2017

Gillian's Townhome

The phone call last night had been short, half because the lack of bars meant it cut in and out. But Gillian managed to get enough said that it went through. Tasha would have her address if that had been garbled, so she knew that the other woman would know where to go— she had done her best to insist it was necessary.

The girl and the bird were both offered a place to stay, the guest room on the first floor which sometimes acted as storage. The goshawk was offered cat food and water, while the big ginger cat found himself locked in Gillian’s bedroom for the duration of the night. He scratched at the door a few times, demanding an exit, but found them ignoring him until he stopped and claimed half of the bed instead.

At the break of dawn, the author paced in the kitchen, in the hallway, looking out the door, opening it as soon as her guest got close enough. In her other arm was a tall mixing cup. She already made the first batch of pancakes and a young girl sat in the kitchen, eating them. The house smelled of vanilla and buttermilk.

“I’m glad you could make it,” she said immediately. “I’d hoped you wouldn’t be too busy.” She knew what the woman did, after all.

It has been a few years since Gillian had seen Colette Demsky, and time has sharpened some once soft and juvenile features. The last time they'd spoken, when the war had only just ended, wasn't for long. The woman standing in her doorway now is a sharply contrasted shadow to the girl she knew years ago. She's filled out, mostly with muscle, and carries herself with a considerable confidence.

As she's shown in, Colette takes a look around the house with blind eyes. “It's ok. I'm down here to bang on SESA’s door anyway. There's some— shit with Epstein I'm trying to help figure out.” She follows Gillian further into the house, taking fingers through her short, dark hair to get out a little of the rainwater.

As she comes into the kitchen, Colette’s eyes settle on the young teen eating and squints in momentary uncertainty. She sees the casual setting, that people are eating, and tries her best to act accordingly. “Hey,” she offers to Sybil noncommittally with a mild smile.

Colette shrugs off her far too large brown leather jacket — one cut for a man a foot taller than her with wider shoulders with old and cracked leather, especially at the shoulders and elbows — and drapes it over a chair. Beneath the jacket she's wearing a black tank top, dog tags dangle st her neck and bare arms are covered with tattoos. The most recent, a flight of birds escaping a forest, is still red and angry and protected by a thin plastic wrap.

Pulling out the chair, Colette settles down in it and adjusts the straps of her shoulder holster so her sidearm doesn't jam uncomfortably into her as she sits. Brows furrow, blind eyes regard the child in the room, and Colette looks back up to Gillian. “You look good,” comes with a faint smile. “This a Lighthouse adoption?” She nods in Sibyl’s direction.

“I like your tattoo,” Gillian responds first, focusing on the red tinged forest and the bloody birds flying out of it. That’s not what it’s supposed to look like, and not what it will soon enough, but for the moment, it looks like a red forest. The librarian turned author can’t help but find it somewhat amusing that when they first met she had been the one covered with tattoos. Old and new. Now Gillian only has a few, most not visible even under her loose house clothes. The yin/yang tribal tattoo on her wrist is the only one that Colette can see, as she goes back to whipping the batter free of lumps.

“I thought that too at first,” she admits at the question about the Lighthouse, looking into the kitchen where the young girl has her pancakes. She keeps her voice toned down, but— the girl said she knows things. She doesn’t trick herself into the assumption that the girl will be completely unaware of what they might say. “She’s actually why I called you. She showed up at my doorstep last night with a box— that contained a bird. A hawk of some kind.” She doesn’t know birds.

“Did… you remember Tavisha, right?” She spent most the night thinking about it, trying to remember the few times she spent with the girl she used to be.

Compliments on Colette’s tattoo are forgotten when an age-old name like that is involved. Blind eyes stare unfocused on the table top, then track up to Sibyl and her silent yet contented eating breakfast. Then, looking up to Gillian there's a slow shake of Colette’s head. “I— I haven't— ” she looks away, down to the table. “He died, right?”

Colette wasn't ever really sure what happened to Tavisha, not in the realist senses. “Wasn't he just— Gabriel?” There's a look that is leveled on Gillian, one awkward and uncertain. “He was Gabriel,” comes more reinforced, she was so sure of it.

But then, the pale-eyed slip of a girl is regarded a second time. Lips parted, eyes wide. Colette tries to puzzle out how old she is, her features, her— “Is this his daughter?

She’s somebody’s daughter, anyway. The resemblance between Sibyl and Gabriel Gray begins and ends at the dogged expression she wears and the accompanying set of her jaw as she cleanly cuts her stack of pancakes into twelve pieces that all share a central point, like the face of a clock.

Symmetry is logical. Symmetry makes sense, and she desperately needs something to because the rest of the world doesn’t anymore. She spent the night intermittently weeping herself into exhaustion, and tossing and turning in Gillian’s spare bed in search of a position to minimize the crushing pain in her chest.

So far, nothing has worked. Her tears are all spent, at least for now, and she pours with a heavy hand and watches the syrup saturate her pancakes like water sucked up by a sponge.

The hawk in question rests on a pillow on the seat beside her. He’s a man, she reasons, and so he should sit at the table like one, even if he’s only just beginning to stir from a long sleep.

“No,” she tells Colette succinctly, and without looking up from her plate. Her voice sounds raw.

The goshawk has, at least, graduated from flopping where he's put like an old shoe, to settling into a roosting curl on the pillow. Bedraggled and injured but still alive, against all probability, he begins to rouse again at the sound of voices. It's not a normal sort of rousing; the goshawk is mostly asleep, and within it, the struggling flame that holds everything that Tavisha is begins to rekindle and struggle to sense beyond darkness and distant echoes of sound.

In his shadowed state, he emits a simple, Me, into Colette's mind. Even after all these years, he still sounds like himself.

A wait what? Gillian blinks at the question, as if she doesn’t quite get it. It derails her for a moment as she shakes her head, looking back at the young girl and her simple, yet honest No. “No, it— He’s apparently not dead, but she’s not— she’s someone else.” She leaves out the Vanguard connection for the moment, perhaps worried that the woman’s Wolfhound job would get in the way, even if the girl’s dad happens to be dead. Wolfhound had been built to hunt down war criminals, and most of Vanguard qualified.

“I’m not sure how it happened, but he’s inside the bird. I can— feel a spark of energy inside him like I would you and others with abilities. I think he is the bird. A piece of him is in there, at least. Somehow.” She looks over at the goshawk, not privy to that telepathic speech, but she she nods to him.

A piece that might be the only thing they have left of the man they both used to have feelings for. Different kinds of feelings, but still. “He said he needed to warn you about something.”

Colette startles right out of her chair when she feels that psychic intrusion. It's such a quick movement that she toppled her chair over in the process, sending her coat rustling to the floor. Wide-eyes and tense, Colette looks at the hawk with a gaping expression, then GillIan with the same.

How— ” Colette’s voice hitches in the back of her throat. She steadies herself, feet apart and hands clenched at her sides. It takes a moment of breathing to get herself back under control. “Sorry,” she apologizes, looking to Sibyl and then GillIan. The question of how isn't as pressing once she's taken a moment to reassess what happened. What was said.

Taking a knee, Colette collects her coat and lifts the chair upright again, once more draping it over the back. She doesn't sit down this time, instead she starts to pace, brushing a hand over her mouth thoughtfully. “The bird is Tavisha,” she has to say it aloud. “The bi— Tavisha wants to warn me about something.” Again, a statement. She's clarifying how unreal her reality is.

“First,” Colette states, looking to the bird. “And, I— can't believe I'm asking this but. What did I teach you?” The question is one only the two of them know the answer to, as far as she remembers. It was so long ago. But she won't be satisfied until she knows for sure.

Sibyl turns her fork between her fingers, considering the sopping piece of pancake on the other end. She should eat regardless of whether or not she has an appetite, but ultimately sets the utensil back down on the edge of her plate with a gentle clink.

Epstein might make her stomach a few bites. Something droll about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. Vague threats regarding her health that aren’t really threats at all.

Epstein isn’t here.

The girl rests her arms on the table and her head on her arms. She’s finished pretending that she isn’t listening to conversation right in front of her. “Stranger things have happened,” she reminds Colette, and maybe there’s something familiar about her cadence when she says it. Or maybe Colette is just missing the vanished Wolfhound tactician, too.


He feels hunger without emptiness, dim memories of eating and drinking under a haze in which his intelligence checked out of the moment, removed from his vessel tearing, swallowing, gulping, and doing all of these things like it hurts. It's been a while, since he rested in his own shape like a little prison. Embodying long bones and shivering feathers had always kept him tethered.

He's sick of feeling tethered.

How to spin the light. I remembered it.

“How is something we both want the answer to,” Gillian admits to the poor confused Colette as she makes her way back into the kitchen with the mixed up batter to begin making another stack of pancakes. After all, Colette my want some, once she finishes asking the bird questions.

And the girl’s right. Stranger things have happened. Her daughter from an alternate future is only five years younger than her. She would have been born two years from now— yeah. Stranger things than even a man trapped in a bird. To help facilitate them, she reaches out with her ability and pushes just a little bit into that tiny spark of power that rests within the goshawk. She might not be able to heal, but she can help him use less of his own energy to do things. It could help.

“Not hungry?” the chef asks the young girl. “You should eat some anyway. You need to keep your strength up.”

Epstein may not be here, but he sent her to someone who goes into mom-mode occasionally.

How Gillian can be calm and making breakfast at a time line this is a mystery to Colette. She braces herself, one hand coming up to her mouth, eyes taking on a glassy and red-trimmed quality. “T’visha,” she says in a somewhat mumbled cadence more familiar to those who knew her as a child.

As she lowers her hand from her mouth, Colette slowly steps over to the hawk, reaches out toward it and then curls her fingers against her palm. She remembers herself, remembers the warning. Blind eyes flick to Sibyl, to her food, and then back to the bird again. “What?” She asks, sharply. “What do you need to warn me about?”

Colette hard learned recently that Greeks once read omens and portents in the flying patterns of birds. In her attempt to better understand Tamara she'd exhausted every avenue of research. The prophets of old, seeking oracular divination from birds.

It's almost poetic it's happening now.

It’s exciting, too. Sibyl politely pushes the plate of pancakes across the table to Gillian with the heel of her hand. I’m sorry, she mouths rather than apologize aloud and interrupt the conversation between bird and Wolfhound operative.

This Colette Demsky maybe isn’t what she was expecting when Epstein spoke of her. That’s exciting as well, if for entirely different reasons.

Approach gets the hawk's attention, bright golden eyes snapping open to cock a look up at Colette, full of ferocity and suspicion — but really, that's just what birds of prey look like. There's a rustle of feathers, and the goshawk gathers its strength and hops up onto the back of the chair, loose feathers flying, landing clumsy by claws digging into smooth wood to balance. There's a damp, injured patch just beneath where the wing connects to body, feathers streaked like fur, and it holds itself gingerly.

Big client.

Still to Colette alone. This is, after all, what he came here for (even if here is not what he'd had in mind). For Erling. Uses birds to find people. Watch people. Uses me to watch people. Watching you, for the big client. His head tilts again. S, E, S, A. Because your friend is missing. Taken.

It all comes to him a little jumbled, more so now that he has to convey this. His beak taps wood, and when his head ducks up again, he's watching Gillian. She'd been, before, a hazy dream, but from here he can see her better. Even if she's changed her hair.

It seems she really is just taking this whole thing in stride, cause starts to melt butter on the pan to grease it, swirling it around a little so that it coats the surface evenly. All the while, Gillian’s watching the conversation she only has half of. And all of it is the part she already knew. She also doesn’t push Sibyl further on the food, though it’s likely she’ll be eating what’s on the plate at some point—

After all that happened over the last few years, she avoids throwing away food. Which of course means that Colette will be getting pancakes whether she wants them or not.

She keeps casting glances back at them, as she starts to make the first pancake, pouring the first part of the mixed batter into the pan.

But breakfast is the last thing on Colette’s mind. It takes her the span of time Gillian uses to dollop batter into the skillet to come to terms with what Tavisha has shared with her. She brings hands up to her face, rubs them over her mouth and exhales a slow and steady breath out her nose as she drags her hands back down. Everything with Avi was still an open wound, they’d only just found out what happened this morning and Hana was still getting updates.

“Okay,” Colette steadies herself physically and mentally, hands out at her side. She gestures with both hands at Tavisha. “You,” she emphatically states, “are alive, and trapped in a bird.” Her brows furrow. “Avi,” she gestures vaguely behind her, “was grabbed by… SESA? Something. And there’s somebody named Erling looking for me?” Her blind eyes track around the room, to Gillian, to the girl she doesn’t quite knows how to fit into this yet.

Making a noise in the back of her throat, Colette scrubs the heel of one hand at her forehead. “Ok, I— need to call the Major and… I’ll tell her…” that a literal man trapped in a bird psychically told her about what happened to Avi. Colette takes in a deep breath, then looks back to Tavisha. “More details, I— who’s Erling? What’s he want with me?” Then, to Sibyl. “And— who’re you?”

“I’m Unimportant,” Sibyl answers, like she’s giving Colette her name and not an adjective. She levers herself up, the heels of her hands braced against the edge of Gillian’s kitchen table. Her disheveled ash-blonde hair looks like a bird’s nest on the top of her head, and she begins using her fingers to separate the individual curls, disassembling it one piece at a time.

Her eyes are lowered, gaze focused on her bare feet hanging a few inches off the floor below the table. Her toes curl in, then out again. Everything about her body language indicates that she’s still figuring out how all these new pieces of information fit together and slot neatly into her world.

The man inside the bird is named Tavisha.

Tavisha knows Colette.

Colette knows where Epstein is.

Epstein is alive.

She arrives at her conclusion around the same time she finishes detangling her hair and looks back up at Colette, but does not give it a voice. Not yet.

Tavisha's focus twitches off of Gillian's turned back, to Colette.


No, that's probably not enough information to answer the question of 'who is Erling', but it takes Tavisha a moment to adjust to the fact he can't convey everything — memory, mental image, his own bitter sentiments and fear — just like that. Words. Erling Olsen lives on Staten Island and sells information. He collects it from me and the others. Pigeons.

Not animal telepaths confined to birds, he means. Having conveyed this, however, something in him relaxes, wings rustling stiffly to settle, instead of staying half-cocked as if to fly.

Colette is resigned. it shows in her deep breath and exasperated sigh as she sinks back down into her chair and runs her hands through her hair. “Ok,” she takes a moment, as Sibyl had, to glue all those pieces together.

“‘Visha,” if feels weird saying his name again after all this time. “Two questions: Are you working for him willingly?” She raises a hand and one finger. “Is he dangerous?” The second finger comes up, but she lied and has a third, rhetorical, question. “Why the fuck does anyone fucking live on Staten fucking— ” she considers the count of explicatives, eyes Gillian, eyes Sibyl, eyes Tavisha. “ — Island?”


Tavisha tips a look to the table.

No. But he'll make me. Labouriously, he turns around so he is facing the table. Two. Knows danger. Sells danger. But unless you're a bird, he's just a man. He ducks, and launches.

Lands on the table with a clumsy skitter, but has otherwise landed where he wants to be.

At Sibyl's uneaten pancakes.

Three. It's where rats go.

He plants his talons in soft pancake, plate clicking against the table, and sets about tearing off a morsel with his beak.

The new information has Colette mulling some things over in her head. She scrubs a hand at her mouth, looks to the jacket draped over the chair, then to Gillian making breakfast. Finally she eyes Sibyl, the one part of this that doesn't make any sense. Closing her eyes, Colette chews on her bottom lip in silence.

After a bit, she's put enough together. “Alright. You…” she looks at Tavisha, “can't spend the rest of your— life— ” she hates seeing him like this. “You can't be a prisoner. I need to figure out what he knows about Epstein. Maybe I can trade, get what he knows and…” No. Colette takes her hands through her hair again.

“Staten Island.” Colette’s brows furrow, eyes still shut. “Okay.” She's narrowed her options down. “Do you know what he wants out of me?” Then, more pointedly. “How bad of a person are we talking about?” Tavisha will know how to measure that scale.

With a new stack of freshly made pancakes, Gillian turns and looks at them. She had been content to just listen to one side of the conversation, until she hears one thing that Colette says— this draws her out even more than a goshawk enjoying her pancakes (at least they won’t go to waste). “Prisoner? What do you mean prisoner?”

Hazel eyes dart to the bird, lips pressed together. “You’re a prisoner?” There’s a few things that she never liked— the loss of freedom and choice being the biggest. She’d stayed unregistered as long as she could, after all. She only feels ‘safe’ in the Safe Zone because she has some influence over things, feels like she could use her position to help, to have some control over her own life.

But if this bird is the only piece left of Gabriel… and a piece that she once loved…

With spongey pancake crumbs caught in hooked beak, Tavisha looks to Gillian first, and then to Colette. A lengthy pause might be construed as him talking to one and then the other, which is what will eventually happen, but for a moment, he needs to think, and takes that moment to study Sibyl, who he remembers like dreams that don't belong to him.

Prisoner, he says to Gillian. Can't leave. He keeps us, and finds me. Can't leave-leave, anymore. Not strong enough. Don't have a place to go back to. Died.

He fidgets with a piece of pancake he tore off. There's no taste to it, here, but at least it's still a little warm. Somehow, the confession feels embarrassing, and shameful, but then again, he used to be Gabriel Gray. Abstracted from, but fundamentally proud.

To Colette: The kind of bad that does well in bad places. Small time. There are worse. I was worse. But he's worse to me.

Breathing in deeply, Colette tilts her head from one side to the other. “Alright.” There’s a resolute tone to the way in which she responds, as if everything is buttoned up and solved somehow. Hands flat on the table, she pushes her chair out and takes her jacket off of the back. “I’ll hit Staten Island, shake down Erling,” the oversized jacket is thrown over her shoulders. “I’ll need to borrow— Tavisha.” Blind eyes direct down to the bird, nose wrinkling slightly at the situation. “Just enough to guide me to where I need to be. In, out, maybe six hours.”

Blind eyes drift over to Sybil next, she hadn’t made any requests or showed much involvement, but something about her presence nags at the back of Colette’s mind. In the end she dismisses it, offering a look over to Gillian with one brow raised. “You good to stay here with your… kid?” Colette still isn’t sure what the situation is, regardless of what she was told. “I’m sorry this came t’your doorstep. Apparently, it’s mostly my mess.” By guilt of association.

“You shouldn’t go alone.” This, from Sibyl. She folds her hands in her lap and squares her shoulders, adopting her best negotiator’s pose. Her chin lifts, but only fractionally. “Gillian and I want to come with you.”

He died.

That mental message causes Gillian’s eyes to lower to the stack of pancakes while she takes in a deep breath. It’s hard for her to think about anything else for a few moments. Somewhere, somewhen, his body died, stranding him in a bird, one held prisoner by someone. She starts running over things in her mind, wondering what she could possibly do to help— but then she hears Colette’s words, and her apology.

Her lips part as she gets ready to protest— and thankfully Sibyl does it for her. “We’re going with you,” she reiterated. “She knows things, might be able to read people. Maybe together we can find a way to get Tavisha out of that bird. But first…” she nods to the stack of pancakes, “You should have some breakfast. We can head out in ten minutes. Can’t let perfectly good food go to waste.”

There’s people starving. Everywhere.

Around Tavisha's feet, on the table top, pancake crumbs are scattered as he twitches them off of his claws, his beak. Appetite meagre even for something his still human-self feels like he should like, he just listens, and watches Gillian, and then considers Colette.

Considers, too, what he wants to say to her. He goes in order of importance.

So, I want to help, is the first thing Tavisha transmits to Colette's mind. But don't let him have me back.

Colette slides her tongue along the back of her teeth and regards Sibyl with a partly-lidded stare. First instinct is to do what Hana would do, firmly say no, and then keep her safe if she is belligerent. Their upbringing is different. Colette sees familiar attachment in Sibyl’s eyes, even if she can't place why.

Gillian’s den-mother reinforcement is enough to assuage her concerns. Eyes close, a deep breath is taken in. “Fine,” is Colette’s monosyllabic agreement cribbed from the Gitelman book of resignation to stubbornness. “But before we head out,” Colette lingers by her chair, too much nervous energy to sit now. “I want to know the broad strokes of what it is you do,” she points in Sibyl’s direction, “and fair’s fair I'll give you a breakdown on what I do. So we’re all on the same page.”

There's a look, finally, at Tavisha. She'd been trying not to make the eye contact, trying not to address the request he’d made. Instead, she finds herself closing her eyes and nodding to the bird in a single, wordless compact. She knows what Tavisha is asking for. She won't like it, but she’ll handle it.

No one stays a prisoner today.

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