Take Backs


koshka_icon.gif ted_icon.gif

Scene Title Take Backs
Synopsis Koshka returns what does not belong to her.
Date April 15, 2011

Outside Eltingville Blocks

There are no lights on in the house, when she gets there.

From finding the gap in the fencing, to arriving at the overgrown dirt road coursing up to the house, the track over the familiar path has been almost suspiciously uneventful for Koshka — there is no cracking footsteps from distances away, no hissing steam ejections, and especially no klaxons, unfurling oily yellow smoke, piercing needles and superheated metal. But one does not look a gift horse in the mouth, one supposes. It's not even raining like it used to be.

The air is filled with the sound of night time insects and the wind touching tree branches. Rain from earlier in the day speckles the windows of the iron shed that Eden had hidden behind, and greases tracks down the glass of the house itself, small droplets clinging stubborn to the wind chimes that don't swing right now.

The front door is closed.

It's with a pounding heart that Koshka slipped away and into the night, retracing twice-traveled steps through the fence and into the woods. If only this path led to grandmother's house and not a potential big bad wolf. But she felt certain that something was missed, and that some answer for the box of strange things could be found still within that house. She'd hoped to return all the contents, but those plans were overturned by the adults in charge regardless of her protests. No, everything but the comics and the papers with the foreign writing upon them had been divvied out, so all the teenager had to bear was those comics and paper.

Heart thundering, loud enough she's sure it's giving her away, Koshka hesitates in the tallest grasses before leaving the woods. Her eyes are fixated on the house, watching for a long moment for any sign of movement within and trying desperately to hear anything beyond her own fears. In haste to get away last time, it's hard to say what's normal and what isn't on her return. But she's pretty sure the front door wasn't closed when they'd left.

It's late, which could explain the lack of lights if her assumptions are correct. Too many clues led her to believe that the house wasn't simply abandoned. Foremost being that box that's been a point of contention. Straightening, Koshka jogged across the clearing to reach the front door. Taking a breath in futile attempt to calm her nerves, she raises a hand and knocks soundly against the door.

For a while, there's nothing. Predictable sort of nothing. But it only takes as long as Koshka hesitating a step back in return of no response when she can hear a creak from within the house, someone on the staircase perhaps.

And then, the louder, much more clearer unlocking of the door from within, bolts becoming unlatched and the scrape of iron, the shift of wood. Finally, the door judders in its frame, before its yanked hard to unstick it from its swollen edges, swinging in once freed and showing darkness beyond. Darkness beyond, that is, the older man standing in the immediate hallway, old enough for his hair to be silver though he doesn't have as much on top as he does bristling on his face, and dressed in flannels, denims. And holding a hunting rifle.

Which seems like excessive force against something like Koshka, levelled around her chest. He doesn't look panicked, or aggressive.

Looks like someone who got his house raided not so long ago.

A second knock was aborted well before the telltale creak of movement inside, the teenager thinking, perhaps, the others had been right to ignore her suggestions. She begins to turn after waiting another long moment, and then the stairs creak. It gave her just enough pause to be caught, transfixed, by the sounds of mechanisms being unlocked. Koshka sidles back a step as the door is pried open, a hand surreptitiously patting the front of her jacket to see that the comic is still resting, safe and sound. She won't show it right away.

Lowering her hands to her sides and swallowing against the pang of fear, Koshka tries to meet whomever is coming from the house with a grin. That quickly fails, abandoned as the urge to flee starts fighting for control. She manages to keep her feet planted, but never has there been another time when she was more afraid. It's equal, definitely, to the sentinel robot that she, Brian, and Sable had encountered just a week before, having a rifle pointed at her.

Koshka forces herself to take a breath, a shuddering thing that shows a tremble in her shoulders. Blue eyes rise to meet the gun weilder, slightly wider than normal. "H— hi," she begins, mind racing to remember any explanation she'd thought up beforehand. "I… um… Do… do you live here?"

She can hear the expulsion of air through his nostrils when his eyes register the form of a girl being the thing he is leveling this weapon at, but we live in strange enough times that the older man does not immediately lower it as he peers at her through his glasses. Though there is a certain ruggedness to him, they are rough edges to something more gentle — he'd probably suit smart casual and books as well as he does his current outfit and the weaponry in his hands.

"For a while now," he confirms, that same refinement in his voice, but very firm as well. "Since the renovations, I don't get many visitors that I could call trustworthy. What're you here for?" A pause, and he adds: "Honesty'll make this go faster." He nods, then, in indication to where he might judge her anklet to be.

She doesn't relax in the slightest, giving the impression of a rabbit about to bolt. Koshka meets his gaze, swallowing against a lump in her throat. She blinks and drags her gaze back to the weapon, taking in a quick look over the man's dress as well. Once her gaze touches the rifle it jumps back up to to the man holding it.

The anklet is hidden currently, under the folds of a denim leg, but Koshka glances toward it as well at the implications. Her tongue dabs at her lips nervously, lower one folding inward to be bitten upon once she looks up again. "I …I came back to …We found some things and…" She fumbles at her jacket, trying to pull the comics out. "I just… I was hoping for answers. And wanted to return what I had."

Eventually, the rifle lowers, some defeat setting into his shoulders. It's heavy, and she's little, for all that looks can be deceiving.

"So you were one of those that came by here the other week and took my friend's belongings," he says, and his voice has some bridling annoyance within it, but it isn't sharp accusation, or even reprimand. "That was a hell of a mess to clean up." His eyes seek out what her hand is roaming after and by then, his rifle is all the way down, and if he's being too trusting, well, so be it. Behind him, the foyer is as she might recall it to be — relatively empty, but now with the addition of burn marks where the robot cat had stepped.

From what she can see of the living room, it's been tidied. "There was more than just whatever you've got in your jacket. What's your name?"

"Yes, sir," Koshka admits quietly, some tension leaving as the rifle is lowered. Tension, but not her own wariness to the situation. The comic, still carefully kept in its protective plastic sleeve is finally pulled free, her eyes falling to the cover. "I'm sorry about the mess. That… it was an accident." A very big accident, and a repeat of which she's secretly hoping to avoid.

Lifting her gaze from the comic book, she looks up at the man again. "I'm Koshka, or… Bethany. I go by Koshka usually. We… we were just exploring and found your house. One of the others suggested going inside. And…" And her brow furrows slightly, unsure of how much more to tell. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all, coming out here. "I tried to bring the other things back. But…" The comics are offered, a little hesitantly.

He ducks enough out the door to set the rifle down nearby at a lean, freeing both his hands to take back the comic and gently leaf through the worn pages. A few steps are wandered back, and when he doesn't close the door in her face or ask her to step away, it's sort of a silent invitation for her to enter in if she chooses to — even if it might well just be limited to the foyer. "Well, Koshka," he says, looking up from the comic book to eye her over the rims of his glasses, "my name's Ted.

"And thank you for coming back with this, even if it's not everything. Do you happen to know where the rest of it all went? If it's back beyond the fences, there isn't a lot I can do about it, but— I'm curious."

A couple of tentative steps are taken in following, enough to get her just over the threshold. Koshka seems reluctant to assume more than that, especially considering how the place had been left before. An arm wraps across her chest in a sort of one-armed hug as she takes in the now cleaned up foyer. When she's addressed again, her attention promptly returns to the man. Ted.

"Y— yes, sir." Koshka shifts her weight between her feet, leaning a moment on one more then switching, her shoes giving a light scuff against the floor. "We took it back to …back across the fence. And… It's sort of been divided." Not something she seems particularly pleased to divulge, a small twist of her lips showing toward a frown. "We… we were curious about the things we took. About… where they came from?" Her tone rises in obvious question, prompting and hopeful for some clue.

He almost mirrors her frown — not personally displeased by the news so much as he won't be happy to share it when it comes time to. A glance up to the ceiling, crosswise as if he could see through it towards the bedroom up above, before Ted is settling his attention back on the worn down comic and its otherwise recent publication. He's silent for a small while, before flipping the comic closed. "I couldn't really tell you that," he says, a hand up to scrub fingertips through the silver bristle along his jaw. "They don't belong to me, you understand. And the person it does belong to…"

Moving to slip the comic back into its plastic sheeting. "You'll've caught her writing, maybe. She doesn't speak much English, and it's nothing I know. So all I can really tell you is that it came from her. And where she came from, well, that's a whole other question. But she's my guest, and I'd be appreciative if her effects could be returned. Eventually.

"Commute isn't the easiest out here, I know, but seems like you've got someone up there looking after you, unless you aren't tagged or anything." Another curious glance to her ankles, unable to see through the cuffs of her jeans to judge what he'd guessed before.

"I saw it." Koshka nods toward the comic, a small tipping of her head in gesture to indicate the book. "There was some writing in there, some small papers with… I never saw that language before either. Anywhere." She hesitates, teeth finding her lower lip again and biting lightly upon it. "I'll try to get the other things. I told my friends we should bring them back. They thought it was a bad idea." It still may be, she's not unaware of the gamble.

When Ted's eyes go to her ankles, Koshka's follow. She gives a slight hitch to her jeans, lifting one of the legs high enough for the anklet to be exposed briefly. "Tagged," she admits with a small shrug. "Who is she?" The question comes as she allows the pant leg to fall back into place. "Your guest. What's her name?"

Even after the anklet gets hidden again, Ted's stare lingers distrustfully, before squaring his shoulders and nodding his head for the door. The front one. The one she just came through. This way, please. "Let's not push your luck, then. Either McRae's doing something to be kind to you, or the— the sentinels are busy with someone else," he's saying, as he moves back through the space with a certain heavy ownership of the floor he walks over. "Or you paid someone off, but you don't seem the type."

The door wasn't closed behind her, and still whispers in a damp smelling cool wind of night fall. Ted puts up a hand to urge her to pause while he dips a look outside, scanning the thick of the forest and listening, before the coast is clear enough for him to answer her question.

"I just know her as Kitty. She stole something from you kids, or similar?" He's guessing they're all kids.

"McRae," Koshka echoes in questioning tones. She begins toward him, a hesitant step taken to bring her just a little further into the foyer. But at his staying hand, she refrains from further movement, save to look back outside. "Wouldn't be able to pay anyone off if I wanted to," she says wryly. "Is McRae the one controlling the robots?"

Speaking of the sentinels, Koshka, too, looks outside through the still opened door. She hadn't heard any of the telling hisses or sirens that had ended the first foray to the house. But that doesn't mean they aren't out there. She turns back to Ted as he gives a name, brows lifting slightly. "Kitty? No she… those pictures were… We know the people in those pictures. And some of the other things were familiar too."

There's a rough, throaty chuckle at her question. "Controlling's a liberal interpretation of what he can do," Ted assures, a little regretfully. It'd be nice, wouldn't it? "But he can distract them, sometimes. Some of the time. Helps me stay out here as I like. He said it was something to do with the weather, all the electrical energy it generates — it's somewhat outside of my field of expertise— and I think I've spoken about a friend's private business too much already. It wouldn't do for rumours to spread around the Blocks, and for him to find himself hassled."

He glances up for the sky, in thought. It's too still.

Pushing open the door back to its wider step, it's the only gesture he makes for her to leave, but he puzzles a look down at her at the claims of familiarity. "Well, what a world it is. A small one. What are your friends' names?" He hesitates, and adds, "I'm thinking selfishly. That something she knows might help her."

It's unintentional, but Koshka stares up at Ted throughout his explanation. Now that is interesting to know. But also dangerous. As though there was some unspoken message, some warning within his words, she nods slowly in affirming an equally unspoken pact. "Mister McRae's secret is safe with me. S'far as I know I just got lucky." And hopefully that luck holds out to see her back to the other side of the fence.

Turning again to step outside, Koshka's eyes scan over the face of the woods. His question again stays her departure, once more looking up to Ted. "Brian and Sable," she answers after a moment of hesitation, "and Delia. And… between all of us we could name everyone in all the pictures." Another pause follows, more thoughtful than hesitant. "I'll… I'll find a way to get the other things back, that we took. I'm really sorry we caused trouble."

Ted nods once in gratitude, both of a pact agreed to as well as the information traded to him, and though he doesn't recite back to her those names, they're carefully filed away for later reference. "Then you're forgiven," he offers gently, a hand up to adjust the sit of his glasses. "You just be careful getting back, and I expect I'll see you again. If nothing else but for the forty dollars of pot one of your friends took too." He'll give her the benefit of the doubt that it wasn't her, says the small smile passed her way.

Then, the door shuts, judders in the frame before a shoulder applied to it shoves it back into its frame completely, and the click down of locks and latches snags at the edges of her hearing.

Inside, Ted peers up the staircase to see the folded legs of a woman sitting at the top of them, shadows drinking out colour save for the white of her sleep clothes. He pauses, as if debating calling Koshka back after all, before he huffs a sigh and makes his way up the stairs, to collect her up from her sit on the top one, and put her back to bed, with strange language muttered into his ear, and a weak clasp around his shoulders.

Outside, Koshka has the chilly walk back to contend with, and a mysteriously empty forest, and a mysterious lack of weather to explain it.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License