There Was No Meeting


judah_icon.gif kathleen_icon.gif

With an appearance by:


Scene Title There Was No Meeting
Synopsis There was no meeting. Judah never saw Kathleen. Where that envelope came from is anyone's guess.
Date December 10, 2008

Le Rivage: Judah's Apartment

It's early in the morning… but Tamara ascribes to no clock save one of her own invention. She sits on the corner of the couch — sideways, her feet drawn up and tucked between the cushions, arms folded over the arm of the couch, chin resting upon the point where they cross. The precog is quiet, distantly still in the expectant fashion that presages some small event; and this could be anything. As simple as a single spoken word… or as complex as a knot of possibility that has yet to unravel into a clear path. Tamara's expression conveys something of the moment's significance — the cant of her head, the rueful quirk of her lips, the patient amusement in her eyes… it's the look you turn on someone who's deliberating over a decision they won't admit they've already made. But that person isn't Judah, and it isn't Colette; in fact, they might as well not be in the apartment for all the notice Tamara pays.

Up to his elbows in paperwork, Judah sits at the kitchen table and examines a spread of glossy photographs — each depicting a separate view of the same crime scenes from a dozen different angles. He's been staring at the uppermost left photograph for almost two full minutes, one calloused finger rubbing along its edge as he tracks invisible lines with his eyes and wishes he had a tape measurer, a pair of good legs and the authority to duck under the yellow tape that stretches from one side of the picture to the other. It will be some time before his extended leave of absence reaches its conclusion and he's allowed back on the beat; until then, he has to settle for this. Consultation work. Feh. He isn't even getting paid. "Everything all right over there, Tamara?" If it wasn't he suspects she'd indicate otherwise, but at this point he's desperate for a distraction from his work, no matter how small. Please, girl, for the love of God, need a glass of water or something.

Glass of water? Not particularly. Unseen by Judah, her smile straightens out at the off-duty detective's words; an equally small but more pleased expression. Yes, she can help. "S'fine," the girl answers, even as she slides off the couch and pads over to the phone. Seeing as Judah's handicapped and all, Tamara does him the service of picking up the handset and bringing it over to the table. She holds it out for Judah to take, the childlike glee born of an opportunity to be helpful slowly transmuting into a more somber expression.

The phone rings.

Somewhere Up There, Someone is listening. "Thank you," Judah says as he takes the phone from Tamara and transfers it from one hand to the other before tucking it between his shoulder and his jaw. He lays the photograph beside the others and leans back in his seat, drawing in a long, slow breath through his nostrils. He has no identification software attached to landline, has never seen any real need for it. Most people — telemarketers and extended family excepted — usually have good reasons for dialing his number. His thumb slides across the CALL button, presses down. "This is Demsky."

Tamara smiles at Judah's thanks, and then she retreats, quietly retracing her steps, returning to sprawl in the corner of the couch. She's done what she needed to; the rest is in other people's hands.

"Judah. Hi." The voice is a familiar one, not exactly family, definitely not a telemarketer. There's a brief pause, a hesitation. "It's Kathleen." Nervous in a way that particular young woman has never seemed to be in Judah's experience — but underneath her doubt is Kathleen's more typical 'seize the day' resolve.

"I need to talk to you. There's a cafe down at the Seaport, 'Il Porto' — can you meet me there?"

"Il Porto," Judah repeats, plucking up his pen and idly twirling it a few times between his fingers. He taps the tip against the edge of the table once, twice. "I know it." That doesn't stop him from scratching the establishment's name across a stray post-it note, however. Just in case. A quick glance at his wristwatch yields the current time, and he pulls his sleeve back down over its face. "I can be there in twenty. You okay?"

The voice on the other end chuckles, the sound wry. "I'm hoping. God, am I ever." The agreement to meet her, however, seems to bring some relief. "But I'm not the one to ask that, I think," Kathleen concludes dryly. "I'll see you then." And she hangs up.

Il Porto, South Street Seaport, Financial District

The South Street Seaport is an historical landmark within the Financial District; notable for its shopping, its museums, and the carefully preserved old ships. Il Porto is a Mediterranean and Italian cafe on one of the cobblestoned streets, the environment an astonishingly quaint contrast with the rest of urban Manhattan. Not to metion all the urbanites wandering around the historic streets and not-so-historic shopping malls. Given that the rain's stopped (for now) and the air's actually reasonably warm (for winter), there's a goodly number of people out hitting the shops.

Kathleen doesn't seem to be anywhere in immediate sight, at the moment.

Perhaps Judah should have clarified whether Kathleen wanted to meet him inside Il Porto or out on the street. He climbs out of his taxi, expertly maneuvering his crutches so he doesn't trip over them, slips the driver a twenty dollar bill and mumbles something under his breath about keeping the change. As the vehicle sputters away, he moves toward the establishment's entrance, hoping to spy a glimpse of Kathleen's figure through one of the window even though lingering traces of rainwater distort the glass and make positive identification difficult — if not impossible.

As luck would have it, she isn't inside. Having seen the taxi pull up and covertly observed the detective's progress towards the cafe, it's not long before Kathleen disentangles herself from the two little old ladies she was conversing with and converges on Judah's position. The crutches are worth a wince. "Sorry, I…" Wouldn't have done anything different anyway. "…haven't been in touch. You want to go in?" the young woman asks, indicating the interior of the cafe with a movement of her chin. She's wearing a brown jacket, not leather but the cheap vinyl that pretends to be leather, and does so badly; the blue jeans and well-worn shoes that go with it are anything but notable. The way one hand intermittently picks at the bottom of the jacket betrays the anxiety her words pretend isn't really there.

"I think it would be better for our arrangement if we weren't seen in public together." It's nothing personal. With Judah, very few things are. His brown eyes shift to the narrow alley between Il Porto and the neighboring building, where the shadows distort the already vague shapes of the restaurant's dumpster out back and the rest of the trash scattered around it. "For both your safety and mine."

Kathleen's lips twitch in a thin smile. "Can't say I disagree," she replies. Certainly no offense is taken; he's right for more reasons than he knows, and the statement appears to bring nothing so much as relief. "Then I won't prolong this with explanations." From beneath the cover of the jacket, the young woman produces a manila envelope. A moderately well-stuffed envelope of just the size to hold papers. "I'd prefer you keep my name out of it," she says quietly, as she offers the package to Judah, her body angled to keep it from easy view of passersby. "And… thanks. I… There isn't anyone else I could go to." Not and walk away, at any rate…

"Anonymous sources aren't a problem," Judah assures Kathleen as he takes the folder from her and, without so much as glancing at it, slips it inside of his coat. He can take a closer look later, back at his apartment in Le Rivage. "SCOUT doesn't exactly have a track record of poking its nose where it doesn't belong." Most likely because it hasn't been around long enough to develop a track record, but Judah leaves this unsaid, not wanting to alarm Kathleen any more than she already is. "If you need anything — anything at all — you know where to find me."

"Not sure I'd put money on that," Kathleen replies, lips quirking wryly. "Much less my life." That Judah doesn't promptly start rifling through the delivery is a good thing, in her estimation. "Yeah, I do. But I won't. I'm going to go practice being me again. And… do it very quietly," the young woman concludes, with what might actually qualify as a grin. "Put that to good use," she continues, after a beat of sobering silence. "And take care of yourself." By extension, of her sister also. With that slightly awkward farewell, Kathleen steps back, then turns and slips into the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Judah hangs around Il Porto for a good ten minutes after Kathleen has gone, resisting the urge to open the folder right there on the street. He can feel its contents pressing up against his chest on the inside of his coat, but — as usual — he manages to restrain himself. Only the tenseness in his shoulders belies the anxiety he feels, and even that is difficult to pick out at a distance. When he feels that enough time has passed, he steps back out onto the curb, leaning on his crutches for support, and hails the next taxi to rumble by.

The sooner he gets home, the better.

Home is quiet, with neither of Judah's in immediate evidence. Perhaps they've gone to visit someone else in the building, or just to walk around; the net result, from his point of view, is that there's no one to get between Judah and his new acquisition.

This is a good thing.

The papers are a mix of handwritten documents, typed pages, and a few photographs; grouped in clipped bundles by subject. Details on people, a dozen of them — names, every bit of background information Kathleen could obtain, current pictures, what she has on their abilities, if any. There's a map to a location, and a hand-drawn building schematic — including designations of defenses, storerooms… and everything else Kathleen could possibly imagine law enforcement officials wanting. Including her recommendations on time and date of raid.

The small packet of papers whose accompanying photograph is a distinctive figure in trenchcoat and fedora says more loudly than words could why the information is important. SCOUT just got everything they could ask for on PARIAH. Not everything there is — but more than enough.

December 10th: Crossing Phonelines

Previously in this storyline…
Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

Next in this storyline…
A Kiss Good Night

December 10th: There's No Argument
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