Windup Before the Pitch


colette3_icon.gif judah_icon.gif

Scene Title Windup Before the Pitch
Synopsis In the wake of the slayings at Columbia University, Colette decides to finally face her fears and make an important confession to her adoptive father.
Date August 18, 2009

Le Rivage — Judah and Colette's Apartment

It was just going to be an ordinary afternoon.

Initial reports are stating that the security personnel removed from the scene have died of their injuries…

Half of a dinner sits uncooked on the open counterspace, rice long having since been boiled in a pot and a thawing package of chicken breast dripping with condensation on a cutting board. Vegetables are half cut, a knife hastily laid down from the moment the news broadcast began.

We're reporting live from the scene of the brutal attack on the Columbia University campus where just a few short hours ago, suspected terrorist Samantha Tanner was apprehended by authorities.

Seated on the sofa, her legs curled up to her chest and chin resting on her knees, Colette listens to — more so than watches — the television play out the news regarding the attack on Columbia University. The escalation of violence has gone unabaited, and where once she would be stricken with fear where she sits, the expression on the young woman's face is something more inscrutable.

Various sources have now dubbed this incident 'the Columbia 14.'

Chewing on her lower lip while listening to the news broadcast, Colette brings her fingers up towards her eyes, pinching at the bridge of her nose as she blinks them a few times, trying to see more definition in the blur of indistinct colors that is the television, but to no avail. It's only when she hears the sound of keys in the door that she realizes one very important fact — she's forgotten all about dinner.

The sound of the apartment's deadbolt turning punctures the tension in the air and is followed by the familiar creak of hinges as the front door swings open, admitting a tall, lean figure dressed in dark jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, olive green with a collar and sleeve embroidered in black. One of the benefits to being a plainclothes detective is the lack of uniform — after a long day at work, Judah can come home and shower in the privacy of his apartment instead of needing to change into civilian clothes back at the Crown Heights locker room.

Dark eyes note the shape of his daughter nestled amongst the sofa's pillow, but rather than immediately move to greet her, he shrugs off the lightweight jacket he wears and hangs it up on the hook beside the front door. Under normal circumstances, this would be an easier maneuver to perform. Unfortunately, he's balancing his cell phone between his shoulder and his ear when he attempts, tone terse, voice just loud enough to be heard over the television.

"No," he says into the mouthpiece. "I hadn't heard— I hadn't. What do you want me to do, Nicholas? I don't have the Tanner files in front of me. I'm not in the bullpen right now, I'm not even— Hello? Nicholas? Nick?"

Turning to look apologetically towards the door, Colette shifts her weight around and crawls up onto her knees, laying over the back of the couch like a houescat as the back of her hands serve as a resting place for her chin. She watches Judah come in pensively, considering the unfinished dinner for a moment compared to his attitude and the conversation on the phone.

Less thoughtful and far less considerate is the heavy snort and click-click of claws on hardwood that preceeds a firm and furry headbutt slamming into one of Judah's thighs from the massive brow of Jupiter. The old gray-snouted dog looks up with a whine, tail swishing back and forth as he circles around and lets out a few panting huffs that lazily might be a bark.

Managing a smirk at Jupiter's hello, Colette seems a bit more at ease when it comes to disturbing Judah's evening rythm. "S— sorry um, dinner's a little," she nods her head towards the kitchen, "are— you going back to work?" Colette's milky white eyes stare vacantly in Judah's direction before she realizes how disconcerting it must look, reaching down to the collar of her t-shirt to retrieve her sunglasses, unfolding them and sliding them up and on before starting to use up off of the sofa. "I can— um— make you a sandwich or something to take back with you, I— guess…" By now Judah's able to read that tone like an open book, she's trying not to be disappointed.

Judah claps his phone shut, sliding it into his back pocket, turns around to lock the door behind him. This done, he reaches down and scratches Jupiter behind one of the dog's overlarge ears with the tips of his callused fingers, a low "good boy" mumbled absently under his breath. "Lau couldn't drag me back to the station by my ear if she tried," he tells Colette as he slips off his leather loafers and uses his socked feet to arrange them off the side of the throw rug the Demskys have been using for a makeshift welcome mat.

He glances over in the kitchen's general direction, a frown tugging at one corner of his unshaven mouth when he sees that the chicken has been left out and is seeping water. "We can order out if you want. How does Chinese sound?"

"Nine days," Colette responds as some sort of makes sense to her answer to the question about Chinese. Off of the sofa and padding barefoot around one corner of it, she makes her way into the kitchen with a crooked smile. "I'm not having Chinese for nine days," she notes with an incline of her head, making her way back up to where the half-finished meal sits, picking up the kitchen knife and starting to chop at one of the carrots again, her head tilting to the side as she does.

"That's what Tamara said when she stopped by," her lips purse to one side, "you missed her by the way, but she says you're not upset about it, and that she'll see you tomorrow." The knive slides down against the cutting board with delicate, practiced strokes, i fnot a bit slow due to the lack of precision vision Colette is afforded with.

"Nine days, and it's just for me and her," Colette adds, smiling softly, "then it'll be a full year since I met the two of you." She's ridiculously sentimental in that, using the side of the knife to push away small chunks of the carrot into a pile as her fingers feel around blindly for the onion, sliding her thumbnail into the skin as she lays down the knife with her other hand, peeling the skin back with one finger at first.

"We need to talk, actually…" It's almost as ominous sounding as when a parent or a wife needs to talk. One of Colette's dark brows rise up at that, and she turns to regard Judah more carefully with those dark sunglasses shielding her eyes. "You probably wanna' sit too," she adds with a nod.

Judah is about to propose Vietnamese instead when Colette returns to the vegetables. He holds his tongue, circling around the sofa in search of the remote. It isn't difficult to find, tucked lovingly between two cushions along with enough lint to fill a thimble and more pennies than he can count on all his fingers and toes, but these are discoveries best left for another day. Rather than turn the television off, the pad of his thumb comes down hard on the triangular button marked mute, trading sound for the white-on-black closed captioning at the bottom of its screen.

He's gotten better about leaving work at the precinct, but old habits die hard, and sometimes it pays to make exceptions.

Pulling up a chair at the kitchen table, he claims the seat closest to the counter where Colette is working and shifts his attention from the television to the young woman in the midst of preparing his dinner. "I'm sitting."

Turning around with the kitchen knife in her hand, Colette begins waggling it around for emphasis as she speaks, one somewhat blind hand pawing at the still plastic-covered package of chicken. Her fingers discern its shape and shift it aside, knife working to slice the plastic off and lift one piece of meat out of the yellow foam packaging. She pauses, draws in a breath and steadily exhales. "I'm going to go back to school…" softball points at first, brows furrowing. There's no can I or I might, se's taken some measure of a step to apply adamancy to her decisions.

"I'm gonna' start taking night classes at NYU to get my GED. I'll be home right around curfew, but there's been some slippage in curfew applied to students, I heard 'bout it on the news." She brings the knife down without looking, slicing through some of the fat and shearing it off, using her other hand as a guide, fingers curled slightly. "It's gonna' take me a while to get all of the credits I need, but m'gonna be eighteen this fall, and— I want t'go to college." Despite what is glaringly terrifying on the news over Judah's shoulder.

"M'gonna balance it with everything else I'm doing, because I need responsibilities. I don't do enough, and m'sick of just being someone else's responsibility." Nodding her head once, Colette twists the knife around and slides the yellowed cut-offs aside, bringing the knife to split the chicken breast in half like a fillet. "I— I wanna go into criminal justice." her teeth tug at her lower lip, "Wh— when m'done with my GED."

Judah must not have any objections to what Colette is laying out in front of him, or if he does he keeps them guarded behind a neutral facial expression. His body language, too, is relaxed and at ease, languid in the same way that big cats lounging in jungle enclosures are. After a few moments, he gives a lazy blink of his eyes, glances back toward the television to make sure no new developments have begun blinking across the screen in the interim — they haven't — and then returns his attention to Colette.

"You sound nervous," he observes coolly. The phone wedged between his hip and the back of his chair begins to vibrate, metal reverberating against wood through the denim material of his jeans.

He ignores it. "Did you think I wouldn't approve?"

"I'm also gay." Colette rather rapidly blurts out afterwards, nearly slicing the tip of her index finger off for the anxious trembling in her hands. "So— just— I wanted to tell you, because I— um— " she moves a hand up to try and sweep back hair from her face but remembers she has chicken all over her fingers and hesitates, setting down the knife and skirting away from the counter to head towards the sink. "So— there I— I finally told you and— and there."

Shoulders hunched, head ducked down and fingers turning the faucet on, it's hard to tell exactly why Colette's so anxious about something like that, but the truth — no matter what it's about — can't always be easy to say. But at least it makes sense why she was nervous about something as simple as school — because that really wasn't what it was about at all. That was just the windup before the pitch.

Judah raises both his eyebrows at Colette, a series of creases appearing on his brow beneath his slowly receding hairline. He says nothing at first, and not because he's at a loss for words. The closest he comes to speaking loosing a short snort of what might be laughter but sounds more like a cough or a noise that Jupiter might make with a chicken bone caught in his throat. He covers his mouth with his hand, fingers splayed, and leans back in his seat, regarding the young woman with a detached air of—

— amusement? "I'm sorry," he says after a few long moments of protracted silence, voice muffled by his hand. "Is that— is that a problem?"

When her glasses slide down the bridge of her nose, it makes it all the more obvious that Colette's batting her eyelashes in some semblance of disbelief. Laughter isn't exactly the response she expected to elicit from Judah, but somehow his ease with the sentiment doesn't entirely drain away all of the anxiety from her as she rolls her head to the side, using her wrist to push her sunglasses back up the bridge of her nose before running her hands under the water, turning her back to Judah again.

"So's— Tamara. I think." Because that's probably the most concrete answer Colette can give on that. "If— you know what I'm— " she winces, the water getting too hot as she jerks her hands away, dribbling water all over the floor while she paws at the faucet to turn it off. "I— Felix didn't say you were gonna laugh at me!" Colette's cheeks puff out, hands coming down to her sides with some faint level of indignation as she storms back over towards the counterspace.

"M'being serious! S'really hard for me t'explain my feelings and— and— and I just— I didn't wanna hide anything from you anymore s— so— " swallowing noisily, Colette shifts her weight from one foot to the other, "s— so stop laughing and— I— I don't know say— I— " her face turns a deep, embarassed shade of red the more she thinks about that reaction, "F— forget it, forget I said anything." She blurts out afterwards, turning partly to the side as she steps across to the stove, trying to pretend like she can just segue to another task and not worry about it.

Judah's hand falls away from his face and down to the tabletop, knuckles rapping against its wooden surface. It doesn't take much effort to reign in the smirk twisting at his mouth, exchanging his lopsided grin for something more sober and less self-satisfied. "I know you're being serious," he says gravely, tone reeking with apology. Then, "You talked to Felix about this?"

For a moment, he looks like he might laugh again, but this time he manages to contain himself. Barely. He swivels in his seat at the table, one arm draped over the back of his chair, the other reaching to retrieve the phone from his back pocket. Whoever is trying to get ahold of him is persistent — it doesn't stop ringing until he flips it open, turns it off and sets it aside, out of his immediate reach. The television has been completely forgotten.

"Colette," he murmurs. "Look at me when I'm talking to you. This isn't anything to be ashamed about."

There's a twinge of anxious motion in Colette at Judah's last words. She pauses at the stove, the dial for one burner turned, and the electric coil slowly beginning to heat up as she turns around, teeth tugging at her lower lip as she stares across the tops of her sunglasses towards Judah. "M'not…" the sound of her own voice seems strange next to the pounding in her chest, "m'not ashamed, I— I just— m'scared." Dark brows furrow together, looking at Judah intently. "I— I'm— "

Looking away and towards the orange glow of the coil, Colette turns down the heat some before her focus settles on her father again. "I… I did talk to Felix, he— he's known since I stayed with him for a while when— when you were in'a hospital. I told you too," she notes with a tilt of her head to the side, "but I did it when you were doped up on morphine…" She bites down on her lower lip slightly, then shifts her colorless eyes back up. "I don't— want you to— I don't want you to not want me anymore, because— I— " it's ridiculous. Jupiter thinks so too in the way he lets out a whine and lowers his chin to the floor. Either that or he has gas.

"M'scared of pushing you away."

"Because you're sexually attracted to other women?" Judah sounds incredulous, but he does not raise his voice when he asks. "Good God, girl, you really don't know, do you?" What it is that Colette is supposed to know, however, never gets elaborated upon. He can ask Felix another time what he told her to make her so apprehensive about this conversation — right now, his focus rests entirely on the shape of Colette's mouth and the tilt of her brows, both of which are so difficult for him to read outside of a professional setting. It's easier with witnesses, if only marginally.

"Did I do something to make you think I wouldn't want you?" he wants to know, rising from his seat at the table and looming over Colette in the imperious way that only someone several inches above six feet can. The counter remains an obstacle between them, though it wouldn't be hard for him to either move around it or vault over it should such a stunt become necessary.

She flushes, bright goddamned red and hides her face behind one hand. This is the most awkward thing ever blares through her mind loud enough for Matt Parkman to hear her across the city, she's fairly certain. "I— " that doesn't really come out sounding like a word, more of this high-pitched croaking sound. Rubbing her hand over her mouth, Colette stares up blindly towards Judah, then breathes in deeply and slowly and exhales a heavy, exasperated breath.

"I'unno!" A pout comes almost immediately afterwards. "I— I just— I'm screwed up enough with— without— I— " she bites down on her lower lip, rocking from one side to another on uneven footing, "I was scared. I— I didn't know if you were— I— I don't know. Felix kept telling me to tell you but— but you're— you're the best thing in my life next t'Tamara and— and if I did something stupid and lost you I— "

Standing at the counter, Colette looks up sheepishly to Judah, towering over her. She wets her lips, then looks down at her feet, uncertain of how to vocalize any of her fears now that they seem so misplaced. "I was just… scared." Her voice is small, sheepish, "But I wanted you t'know, 'cause— 'cause m'gonna fix Tamara one day— and— " perhaps best not to tell her someone from the future told her how everything works out. "I've got plans. And— and I want you to be in them, you know? I— " Colette's jaw gives up its stiffness to a wobbling tremble, then a very brief and ragged laugh, "M'kinda' dumb aren't I?"

"Kind of," Judah agrees, though it's probably safe to say he regrets the words the moment they leave his mouth. Lips clamp down, tongue pressing against the roof of his mouth and then the front of his teeth. He blows out an aggravated sigh through his nostrils, consternation beginning to fade as the breath leaves him. "I'm not sure if Tamara can be fixed," he adds, taking on a more sympathetic tone, something he learned from Felix. "Not without stripping her of her ability, and short of suppression drugs—" The detective makes a vague gesture with his hand.

They're out of the question, really. "I stand by what I put my name to," he says. "If I didn't want you, I wouldn't have put that desire in writing. I wouldn't have filed it, petitioned, fought. Look." Reaching up, he runs a hand through his thinning hair. "Paperwork or not, you're mine. You and Tamara both."

For as stern as he is, for as sharp as his attitude can be sometimes, there's a modest relief in the earnestness of Judah Demsky. He doesn't mince words, he doesn't use double-meanings or beat around the bush. So it's easier, in her insecurities, for Colette to understand and accept when Judah tells her something, that it is in fact truth. It's that comfort that makes Colette manage a smile, teeth tugging at her lower lip as she wordlessly circles around the island, walking over to Judah as she rises up on her toes and wraps her arms around his waist.

"You're terrible at this," she murmurs into his chest, pressing her nose there before adding, "and I'm a terrible daughter, so— " she smiles awkwardly, lips curling into a teasing smile, "it works out perfect." Nudging her nose one last time against Judah's sternum, Colette leans back and looks up with a more honest smile, locks of dark hair hanging in front of her face.

"You're coming with me to meet Pastor Sumpter this weekend," Colette adds as an afterthought, her dark brows rising and falling slowly. "So be nice, he's delicate." There's a slow, firm nod of her head as she untangles her fingers from his shirt and lowers herself down onto her heels, keeping herself close in that thoughtful moment before she's decided what to do with herself, halfway into cooking a dinner.

She starts to turn, then hesitates and looks over her shoulder towards Judah. "Oh," one black brow rises, "and I do fix her. You'll see."

Judah leans down to press a kiss to the top of Colette's head, his breath ruffling warmth through her hair. "I know," he mutters against her scalp. "You're not a terrible daughter." As the girl eases herself back on the flats of her feet, he rests a hand between her shoulder blades. Not about to argue her point, at least not now when they seem to be making progress, he cants his head to the side in a faint concession. Pastor Sumpter this weekend? All right.

"I'm always nice," he insists, the statement coming out gruffer than he probably intended it to, edged with that same sharpness. It doesn't last. "For you— I'll make an extra effort. Fair?"

"Fair," Colette agrees with a crooked smile, "and I'll try not to— uh, be such a spaz." Not that she'll actually hold to that to any useful degree, but it's the thought that counts. Though as Colette circles around the island, her brows rise and she looks towards the heated burner on the stove, then back to Judah. "That reminds me," her fingers tap down on the counter as she springs back a hopping half-step. "I've gotta make sure you meet one of my other friends sometime too, 'cause m'probably gonna' get some more lessons on how to control my ability from him once my eyes get better…" An impish smile creeps up on Colette' slips.

"His name's Gabriel."

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