colette_icon.gif judah_icon.gif

Scene Title Please
Synopsis Colette comes back to the home she's been avoiding, to be fully honest with her father, and ask a difficult question of him.
Date April 25, 2010

Le Rivage, Judah's Apartment

Colette comes, Colette goes. It's how it's been ever since Nicole came back into her life.

A wise mercenary once said of a her girl age, that a young woman eventually learns to lie with their body and vote with their feet. Colette Nichols may be a far cry from Eileen Ruskin, but she's coming into her own in much the same way, raised in a life that is becoming more and more violent over the months since her joining.

When her keys jingle familiarly into the lock of apartment 109 in Le Rivage, Colette Nichols return home is for the first time in weeks, ever since the fire at Cliffside. She'd not told Judah that she going to look at apartments, not until she got everything in order, and the lie of the day has her staying at Nicole's house, though Nicole was told she'd be at Judah's and— it's easy to imagine how this all went down in her absence.

That both members of her family aren't waiting for her when the door opens is a miracle in and of itself.

Greeted immediately by the cold, graying muzzle of Jupiter's noise, Colette's quiet and coy laugh comes with her good hand juggling keys in the same effort of trying to ruffle her gloved palm across the dog's head. Bundled up for the cold weather, the medical brace along Colette's arm and sling that right arm is kept cradled in bring bakc memories of her car accident, but she'd long been out of that, and a return to an injured state almost seems like a return to default for the young woman by this point.

"Dad?" Colette calls out to the apartment, trying to squeeze in through the door without letting Jupiter slip by, a balancing act of shifting knees, a shoulder managing her courier bag, and the eventual clack of the door coming shut, "I'm— I'm home."

Such as it is.

Dark sweats, dark wife beater, dark tangle of receding hair— There's a pattern here, and you don't have to be as perceptive as the dog with the wriggling tail to recognize it. Eyes hovering between deepest brown and black are immediately drawn to Colette's sling when Judah Demsky steps out of the bedroom, a damp towel draped over one muscular arm, his large feet bare.

The girl has good timing. Fresh out of the shower following his daily work-out in the basement's gym, Colette's adoptive father probably doesn't have much aggression left in him after having his way with the punching bags downstairs; the derisive look he gives her injury is a lot less reproachful than it could be, and there's an absence of heat behind his eyes with he lifts them to Colette's face, silent and searching.

Animals are keen to emotions, though their responses are often contrary to what a person's would be. Jupiter makes a break from Colette, slowly and patiently making his way to Judah's side, tail up and curled and wet nose brushing around at Judah's thigh, then up towards his lowered hand as if to say it's okay I'm here in whatever tired old man's voice a dog of Jupuiter's age would have. It's more than Colette's saying, with her tense posture and wide eyes.

Swallowing nervously, Colette shifts her weight to one foot, eyes fixed on her father but her feet slanted posture eventually leading her away from the door and towards the sofa. "We need to talk," isn't quite the elephant in the room but it's at least in the same circus. When she makes her way to the couch, Colette carefully crouches down, making a visible effort not to bend her back as she settles her courier bag down on the floor, then turns to squat beside the coffee table, rummaging around in the olive-drab bag.

Pausing mid search, she looks back up to Judah, lips given a tiny form of a smile before she pulls out a spiral bound notebook and lays it on the table, then her digital recorder, setting that on top afterward. "I'm okay…" she offers, even though he didn't ask, "I— um— " it's always harder when he doesn't talk.

Judah lowers his hand to touch his fingers to the back of Jupiter's ears, acknowledging the dog's presence before he lifts it away again and crosses toward the sofa. His feet make very little sound for a man of his size except for the occasional creak of the floorboards beneath them where they're weakest and have never supported weight without low groans of rickety protest.

Hanging the towel over the back of the sofa, he settles on one of its arms with his own stretched across the furniture's length, and not for the first time Colette is presented with the reality of just how large he is. A bird-like tilt of his head angles a hawk's glance toward the notebook on the table and the digital recorder positioned atop it.

He knows it's harder when he doesn't talk, which is why he says, "Go on."

Swallowing nervously, Colette picks up the recorder with one hand, bracing it against her chest as she pulls open the side screen and turns it on, working the rewind button with her thumb in an awkward juggle. Once she's certain what she wants to show is on there, she pauses the frame and closes the window, then reaches inside of her bag for AV cables. "Um…" Colette mumbles, one by one plugging the red, white and yellow wires into the side of the recorder.

"I can't— keep doing this." Colette offers in a nervous cadence, green eyes up to Judah. "I— I can't keep… lying to you about stuff." Tongue sliding across her lower lip, she doesn't finish hooking the camera up yet, and instead comes to stand, carefully reaching up to pull the strap of her sling off of her shoulder, then wincingly move her arm. Throwing the sling down onto the sofa's arm, Colette uses her good hand to unzip the front of her jacket.

"Um, I— was in Queens, at Cliffside… when— the fire happened." Unshouldering the side of her jacket that doesn't require moving her bad arm, Colette very carefully slides the coat off the other side, wincing as she does. The gray Alpaca sweater she wears beneath looks to be layered beneath by a turtleneck and likely more clothing, given how cold it is, but shedding the coat's as far as she goes.

"I— I was looking for an apartment. I'm… I wanted to move out, cause— cause I wanna' try being more independent. I…" Colette looks down to her feet, "I love you, but I'm making you go gray." There's a faint crook of the corner of her lips at that, green eyes over to Judah. "I got hurt, and— some… friends, they helped patch me up." Patch her up.

"There's… there's so much I wanna tell you." Colette says nervously, her voice wavering a little as she looks to the TV, then back to Judah again. "But you're not gonna' like it."

He doesn't like the long absences or the gnawing sensation of worry burrowing teeth into the pit of his stomach when he lays awake at night and stares at his bedroom ceiling. He doesn't like not knowing where Colette is or who she's with. The only solace he has is the knowledge that Tamara would come to him if something were to happen— really happen, and not a day goes by when he doesn't sit rapt, listening for that knock.

Whatever it is she's going to show him, there's no way he's going to like it less than what her disappearances already do to him.

If Judah were capable of articulating his feelings, he might tell her as much, but resorts to laying his hand on the back of her head instead. It isn't a coincidence that the gesture is similar to the one he showed Jupiter. There are only so many ways he knows how to expression his affection, and this is one of them.

For all the nervousness Colette shows towards Judah, she never flinches away from his affection. Never since he adopted her has she ever shown hesitance towards him, he's always been her protector, even when he was hobbling around on crutches, and he still has some of that awe about him that he had when they first met. Instead, Colette turns her head to the touch of his hand, twists enough so her cheek presses against his palm and her eyes can close against that touch. She kisses the tip of his middle finger, then nudges his index with her nose.

Only after that gentle and affectionate gesture in return does Colette move away, and even then only out of necessity. Working her injured arm in and out a little, she seems to be testing mobility without the sling. Taking her camera in hand with cables laid on top, she moves over to the television across from the sofa, plugging the other ends in to the back of the set, then turning it on with a static buzz.

"A few days ago, um, this— there was something that happened in New Jersey." Already the possibilities dwindle. "The— The Ferry," the name is like lead on her tongue, "was supposed to— get some vaccine from a shipment they diverted. It— it got violent, 'cause— 'cause it wasn't supposed to happen like it did. But it didn't happen like they said in the papers either." Changing the television to AV2, and already the television is showing a paused depiction of a cottage. There's an old worn sofa with a quilt over the back, lanterns, lots of snow outside through frosted windows. Someone's sneakers are visible in frame, and the camera is tilted down to the floor.

"It wasn't vaccine." Colette murmurs as she looks over to Judah, eyes a bit wide and brows furrowed. "Not— not all of it. It— it was… um," settling down by the television, Colette presses play on the recorder. It will explain things better than she can.

«"Is it on? Okay— alright this is… recording one…" Colette's voice comes over the television, and the Camera swivels disorientingly, showing her face up close, a redheaded young man over her shoulder with round, dark sunglasses and another view of the cabin. "Um, recording of— " there's a voice off screen, muffled a little, "Shut up Tash, I've got it. Um, recording one of whatever the hell this is."»

Looking from the screen to Judah, Colette's brows nervously furrow, teeth toy at her lower lip and her attention goes back to the screen.

«Colette's camerawork is jerky and horrible, bouncing up and down as she brings the camera out through the front door of the cottage into a snow filled front yard surrounded by thick pine trees. A beat up old pickup truck with no license plates and riddled with bullet-holes passes by on camera. Laid out on the snow, there is a large, black plastic coffin-shaped container. Colette walks over, zooming in on the IV wires attached to the open hood, the tubes, camera auto-focusing in and out on the lettering, then pans down to the padding inside. "This is where we found one of the… I don't know like, prisoners. They were hooked up to these tubes, sedated and locked up in the back of the truck. There's— one more. Weird, it was out here last night…" Colette's camerawork moves to tire tracks, then swivels over to the redheaded young man standing right in line with the camera. "Where's the other one?"»

Colette pauses the tape, running her tongue over her lower lip, green eyes up and offered to Judah nervously. She isn't sure what to say, but she's fairly certain that by now Judah will have something.

Judah has read the papers, listened to the radio and observed the snippets of footage released to the media that show the weigh-station where the Ferry ambushed the CDC vans and their precious cargo. What Colette shows him is much different than the bodies laid out under white sheets lost and fluttering amongst a sea of snow. He observes the footage in his usual stony silence, free hand under his chin with blunt nails raking through the stubble along his jaw. The name Tash is important as the visuals flickering across the screen, and he commits it to memory along with a mental description of the cottage, truck and the facial features of the young man with the pale skin and head of bright red hair that he imagines is brighter in person than it appears in the recording.

What comes next is like something out of a science fiction film with a shoestring budget; Judah's initial reaction is to lean back, distancing himself from the television, and arch two dark brows at Colette without saying anything at all, but as the camera continues to roll, it soon becomes apparent that the coffin isn't a prop and the teens aren't playing.

When he speaks again, it's in a low voice that sounds like sandpaper being dragged over his callused hands, which are tense and clenched. "Do you know what execution-style means, Colette?"

"I've seen CSI." Colette perhaps a little too light-heartedly notes, "That wasn't what happened." There was that bit with what Eileen did, to the men laying in the snow, but Colette was bleary from pain by that point, and no one's spoken to her of it since. There's a defensiveness to her tone of voice, one that shows in her posture too until she slouches down and relaxes, moving a hand up to her shoulder with furrowed brows.

"They shot at us first," Colette notes, first being the operative truth to imply that they did shoot back. "Dad, it— " there's a strained sound in the back of her throat, and when Colette pulls up to her knees she leaves the recording paused, slowly getting to her feet and looking down at Judah on the sofa as she walks over to clear the distance between the two.

"You… know me. You know— you know what kind've person I am." Or Colette would like to think so, at any rate. "I— I'd never," her voice cracks at that, jaw trembling and green eyes averting to the side. Yet still, there she does, finding space to sit on the coffee table facing him, hands folded in her lap.

"They shot me, dad." Colette's voice cracks as she speaks, wavering between syllables. "I didn't— have a gun. I didn't have anything. Me an' Tasha were just in the truck and they just— they tried to kill us." That she's crying now isn't that hard of a stretch, aside from one break at the side of the girl Judah only found out about just now, she hasn't fully come to terms with nearly dying, were it not for her vest.

"What— kind've people shoot at an unarmed teenage girl?" Colette croaks out, throat tightened and lips downturned into a frown. "What— kind've people put people in— in a thing!" She waves her good hand at the screen, green eyes wide and focused on her father. "Tamara… would— never let me… ever do— do something like that."


Judah exhales through his nose, and it's a sound that lacks the thinness of someone who's truly exasperated. There's truth in what Colette says; he knows what kind of a woman she is, and there's no doubt in his mind that she isn't the one responsible for the bodies in the morgue or the tags dangling from their toes.

"This is out of my jurisdiction," he says. "I don't have access to any of the evidence taken from the scene or the reports that were filed except for what's already been made public." He pauses to rub the heel of his hand along his jaw, eyes closing for the brief amount of time that it takes him to collect his thoughts. It helps that he has very few, and that they are all very straightforward. "Have you shown this to Felix yet?"

"I didn't come here to have you… cop at stuff." That's not entirely true, but Colette's being honest. "I haven't seen Felix since the hospital a while back," Colette notes quietly, "I stopped by his apartment but he wasn't home…" at least she tried, though. "I— I'm not expecting you to just… detective all this way, I just— I want you to see what I do. I've… I've kept a lot from you, 'cause I was afraid of how you'd react." Swallowing tensely, Colette shifts off of the coffee table and comes to sit on the edge of the sofa, scooting closer to him with her brows raised.

"I wanted… I was going to stay away until I got better. But Tasha— um, a— she's— " Colette squints and waves a hand dismissively, "I need to be honest with you." Turning to the spiral-bound notebook on the table, Colette carefully reaches out for it, unrolls the front and hands it out to Judah. It's a journal, sloppy penmanship and scribbles, poor sketches in the margins and all.

"I need my dad… not Detective Demsky." Colette says in a hushed tone of voice, eyes closing for a moment so she can use her lashes to hold back tears that trace the bottoms of her eyelids. "I need to tell you about a doctor named Bella Sheridan…" there's a look in Colette's eyes, the look Judah's seen in other young teenagers in his time on the force; earlier years, simpler years, but the look in the eyes of a young woman like that is unmistakable. "…and what she did to me."

Judah accepts the journal, smooths his hand over the cover and pauses to drag his thumb across the pages. Like most things, it feels soft and flimsy under his fingers and does not hold his attention the way that Colette herself is somehow able to. "Sooner or later," he says, "this is going to catch up with you, and I don't mean the way that bumps and bruises seem to."

It's difficult to separate Colette's father from Detective Demsky. Judah's two identities are a tangled knot of common thread the size and density of a clenched fist. If it wasn't for his work, he never would have met the teen in the first place or taken her under his wing, and when he looks at the television he's not sure whether he's supposed to be seeing a peace offering, a cry for help or some strange amalgamation of both.

"Who's Bella Sheridan?"

Leaning against Judah, Colette furrows her brows and closes her eyes partway. "I told you about my friend Joseph before…" Is how the story begins, but it's not a fond recanting of Colette's inspiration to do good by the word of Pastor Sumter, but rather a different tale entirely. It's a story about a young woman named Kaylee, about the day Joseph Sumter disappeared, and the lengths to which Colette would go to rescue a friend.

Unlike the lies shes had to weave before, this novel idea of truth telling has more texture, and regretfully more emotion. More than once, Colette is too choked up to talk, struggling on through her explanation of bringing Joseph's possessions to a man who reads the history of objects, detailing out the lengths she and Kaylee went through to discover the identity of Bella Sheridan. Colette talks of Molly Walker, her ability to find anyone and how they finally pinpointed Joseph's location.

The story's turn towards the dark comes when Colette regales her father with stories of the Remnant. Though she doesn't know what to call them by name, the descriptions of Jensen Raith, and Eileen Ruskin come without their names, perhaps for fortune's sake. But when it comes time to admit she was wrong, that she took on more of a responsibility than she could handle and wound up captive in a human experimentation lab… she completely loses it.

This is why she was so distraught when Felix cornered her to talk, why she was blinded enough to walk into the path of an oncoming car. It starts with her attempt to rescue Joseph on her own, walking into the mouth of the beast, to her brutal capture at the hands of Bella's mercenaries, and then being locked in a lightless cell, alone, terrified. The experimentation, the injection that made her ability go berserk, though the details there are foggy recollections from her drug-induced state.

The story ends with a connection to the news. The "violent attack" on a shipment of trucks across the Queensboro bridge. Colette recalls the story of the day she and other human test subjects that were forcibly addicted to Refrain were being moved, and how Judah narrowly avoided losing her, how it was the day she first killed a man in self-defense. How she was saved, though not by whom, only that it was the Ferry, and that everyone was saved.

In the end, with her face buried against his chest, offering up spoonfuls of bitter truth between tear-filled breaths, she's come full circle. Back to the tiny young girl curled up against Judah's chest, crying her eyes out. This time it isn't over a lost sister, or fear of terrorists; she's grown up, and so has her troubles.

Both of Judah's arms form a protective circle around Colette's shuddering frame, one large hand at the small of her back, the other tangled in the hair at her nape. He hooks his chin around the side of her dark-haired head rather than resting it on top, gathering her to him with a quiet fierceness that has only increased in intensity during her confession and culminated in what amounts to a full body hug sans legs.

He smells like freshwater and soap with ribbons of aloe woven through it rather than the wet reek of his leather jacket hung up by the door or the faint hint of cigarette smoke that sometimes follows him home even though he kicked his nicotine habit a few months ago, but the underlying scent of his body and its natural oils are something that even a shower can't wash away, and the heat of her shape fit snugly against his only brings it out more, enveloping her in the aromas she's come to associate with security and the kind of familial love that doesn't come from a sibling.

"I'm sorry…" is whispered against Judah's chest, and it's not the first time she's had to apologize to her father, but this still feels different. "…m'never going to hide this from you," she whispers with a press of her nose against his collarbone, "never again. Just— please— trust me." It's not easy to admit being wrong, not easy to admit being scared, and never easy to tell the truth when it hurts so much.

Carefully curling up against Judah, Colette rests her head against him and her cheek against his chest, "I asked them… if I could bring you in," Colette whispers the words out, "they said yes. I… I want you to." But there comes a time for everyone when they have to stop running from what they are and where they've been, and come face to face with the reality that there's worse things than just being scared, being wrong, being hurt.

It's being those things, and being alone.


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