Safe And Less Sound


judah_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Safe and Less Sound
Synopsis Tamara comes home somewhat the worse for wear. Judah practices his concerned parent skills, as tailored for the sybil.
Date August 30, 2009

Le Rivage: Judah's Apartment

Judah Demsky is by no means a superstitious man. He has broken more mirrors than he can count on his fingers and briefly owned a black cat in the late nineties that he adoringly named Lucky Luciano and gave away to his little cousin two weeks later when it took a chunk out of his thumb. Nonetheless, he gets the distinct impression that he should have knocked on wood when he sat in the Golden Luck Dragon with Felix Ivanov and spoke of his future — or, perhaps more accurately, the distinct lack thereof.

He sits at his kitchen table, thumbing through all the paperwork related to the ice cream truck kidnapping, dark eyes focused on what few grainy photographs have been made available to his precinct. Colette should thank the federal agent. If it weren't for his propensity for trouble, then she wouldn't be getting a temporary reprieve on the whole Gabriel Gray issue. He has a copy of that file, too, but it's tucked away in a darker corner of the apartment and gathering dust, waiting for a more appropriate time for Judah to present it.

In the past three years and change, one thing seems to be always true.

The snick of a key turning in the lock is loud in the apartment's silence, as is the protest put up by the hinges against moving at this late hour. The footsteps are familiar; family, in their way. Tamara Brooks doesn't always close the door behind her, but today she does. She even slides the bolt home.

Her hair is braided, probably yesterday or yet longer ago given the frazzled edges of the plait, the individual strands which have gradually worked themselves loose; there's still a few tiny twigs, each one less than one inch long, snared at several points along its length. The brown pants are browner in places, having come into close contact with dirt at least twice; a loose thread trails down from the sleeve covering her right shoulder, once upon a time caught on something and forcibly jerked loose.

A ragged, oblong hole punctures the green shirt, stained red-brown well around its edges, the off-white weave of bandages peeking through from beneath. Its close cousin rides over the outside of her thigh, neater in its presentation, no less mistakeable for anything other than a bullet graze. Judah's seen too many to have to guess what caused these.

She stops, two steps into the apartment, looking towards the kitchen doorway. Smiles wanly, bittersweet reassurance she knows he won't pay much attention to; weary relief. Fatigue. That texture of weariness almost unique to Tamara, the one that makes itself at home when the sybil has been pushing her ability just that little bit too much for more than a little too long.

Almost ever since the day they met, and certainly since the first time she saved his life, it's to Judah Tamara comes when she most needs sanctuary.

Judah's eyes flick up when he hears the key turning in the lock. He's rising from his seat a few moments later, paperwork abandoned for the young woman whose slim silhouette fills the doorframe. As the door clicks shut behind her and the bolt is slid into place, he wordlessly closes the distance between them, crossing the room in a series of long, smooth strides. One large hand finds Tamara's shoulder. The other brushes callused knuckles along the curve of her jaw, then reaches up to pick one of the twigs from her hair and snaps it between his fingers.

The two pieces of wood fall away and hit the floor with a sound that's barely audible above the detective's breathing. He smudges at some of the dirt on Tamara's cheek and fixes her with a look that, while reproachful, has no heat behind it. The seer can't change what she is. Getting angry at the young woman for her current state would be about as logical as shouting down Jupiter the next time he tracks mud into the house after a long walk in the rain.

The hand that had been at her jaw drifts down to gently press against the exposed bandages, testing her injury for sensitivity. She's obviously been seen to by someone, though it isn't clear who.

"Bathroom," he says, and it's an order.

Most teenagers coming home in such a state would be either defensive or meek — in both cases, anticipating parental rebuke. In Tamara's case, Judah's reproach slides harmlessly off eyelids closed during his tidying of her appearance; for whatever it's worth, she does know the reproach is there. Or did, until it happened.

Halfway focused blue eyes tilt down as Judah prods the bandages, the sybil too tired to try and put her senses into something resembling alignment; she watches much as if he were testing someone else's injury, mild interest and little reaction. Helps when she has to move in spite of such things. Not helpful in other respects.

Given the order, Tamara slides out of his grip — after a moment's pause which isn't wobbly enough to be termed hesitation. She pads over to the bathroom, shoes leaving little bits of dried dirt behind; not mud by any measure, nor any more than could be easily swept up. Later. The girl boosts herself up onto the counter with a little more care than she would on other days, but without apparent twinge or wince; this, too, is unfortunately typical.

Judah follows Tamara into the bathroom but leaves the door open behind him. The dog curled up on the area rug in front of the couch doesn't like it when other sections of the apartment are closed off to him, especially not when it erects a barrier between himself and one of the two girls he's come to identify as his. Jupiter is more protective of Tamara than he is of Judah, and it shows in the way he flattens his ears and lifts his head from the floor, watching the scene unfold from his spot in the dappled sunlight.

"I keep telling Felix he's eventually going to run out of lives," he says, retrieving a clean wash cloth from under the bathroom sink. A twist of the faucet spills lukewarm water into its porcelain basin, drain plugged with a plastic stopper to keep it from escaping. "But you must be down to your last couple, too."

The girl sticks her head around the doorframe to smile and wiggle her fingers at Jupiter, not in a come-hither gesture but a simple and unadorned hello. Then she sits back, returning her attention to Judah. Another smile, this time for the detective, amusement seeping out around fatigue. "Just one," Tamara replies, voice muted. "One ribbon. Winds around the rocks, tossed by the river." It's less an answer, or even a reply, than a ramble germinated from the seed of his statement, wrapped around his words but meandering somewhere entirely different. Spoken because he deserves conversation rather than silence, because she wants to answer… but coherence is currently at its more elusive.

Up close, and in a smaller room, the bandages smell faintly of alcohol — lingering traces of something 'drink this and die' proof, never meant for consumption. There might even have been a first-aid kit involved in taping up the girl's wounds. This is a step up from some past scenarios. "Cats eat ribbons. Dogs know better." Or something like that.

Judah chuckles low in his throat, more of a growl than true laughter. He douses the wash cloth in the water, scrapes its corner across the bar of soap he keeps by the sink and begins dabbing at Tamara's face. "Dogs will eat anything," he says. "Socks. Kleenex. Dish sponges. Shower loofahs. My grandmother's Thanksgiving turkey." As he works, he's checking her neck for any injuries he might have missed during his cursory examination, brushing away stray tendrils of hair and then tucking them away behind the appropriate ear.

"You can stay here tonight," he tells her. "I'll take the couch, or you can share a bed with Colette. Jupiter, too. I don't think he'll let you get away with sleeping alone." There are questions he wants to ask about how she came to be this way, but he knows the answers will either be indecipherable or the sort he's better off not hearing. Although he learned his lesson about playing the white knight in shining armor when he went up against Amato Salucci last October, the urge is still there.

He asks one of them, anyway. "Does it hurt?"

"Turkey is dog food," Tamara states absently, closing her eyes so the washcloth can do its work. It's probably a rephrasing, an echo of Judah's statement back to him, rather than a personal opinion; she eats turkey as readily as anything else, after all. Hasn't shown any dislike of anything edible, in fact.

The only injuries that aren't already bandaged are the kinds of scrapes and thin scabbed-over cuts that are practically beneath notice. Even for people other than Tamara. "Jupiter's couch," she informs, reminds; by inference, not Judah's couch. She can give instructions, too.

Does it hurt. The teen wrinkles her nose in a familiar fashion, an expression all too common and so easily parsed: she has to think about that one. To translate what Judah's asking and what she could say into some sort of meaningful middle ground. "There's… edges. Prickly pieces. Sliding by; too hard to catch. Tired. I think… they were supposed to?" The frown deepens, a questioning look cast towards Judah. "Am I supposed to?"

"No," Judah lies. From a purely physical standpoint, Tamara should be hurting. The blood on her clothes and the gauze plastered to her skin is evidence enough of that. Whether or not he thinks she should have to hurt is another question entirely, and the answer presents itself in the worried creases forming around the corners of his unshaven mouth. He wrings out the washcloth over the sink and turns the faucet again, this time to squeak it off. There's enough water in the basin for him to work with and no immediate need for him to waste another drop.

Speaking of food. "There's leftover risotto in the fridge if you're hungry," he says. "Peas. Maybe some chicken. I can warm you up a plate in the microwave." Can, not will. There's no point in trying to put food in Tamara's stomach if it can't hold it down or, worse, doesn't want to keep it there.

And then there's the problem of just plain making the girl pay attention long enough to finish eating. She'll eat when she needs to, not sooner; hunger is something else more abstract than not in Tamara's perspective. The disavowal of feeling pain was acknowledged with a nod, a rather visible hint of relief; on the other hand, Judah's following statements are not met with such acquiescence. "Sleep," she disagrees. In keeping with her choice of the option not presented, the girl lets her head lean back against the wall, watching him through half-lidded eyes.

The fridge, after all, will still be there… whenever she wakes up.

With a sigh, Jupiter rests his head on the floor. Judah feels like he could do the same, and though he does not blow air out through his nostrils, his shoulders visibly slump when her head bumps against the wall behind it.

"Sleep," he echoes and leaves it at that, allowing the water sloshing in the bottom of the basin to fill the silence for him.

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