colette_icon.gif koshka_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title Woodsmoke
Synopsis Colette unexpectedly returns to Staten Island after realizing there is nowhere else in New York that's safe to hide.
Date December 14, 2010

The Garden

The deeper chills, longer nights and slow ebb of the anxious energy that early had Sable making a cottage lumber industry of the Garden all conspire to keep the underqualified custodian of the safehouse on Staten Island indoors. All good sense as well as even simple sane preference would demand that she retreat into the big, ramshackle brick building with its roaring fire and no-longer-quite-meager supplies as darkness creeps through the pines and blankets this little patch of wilderness. Defiance may be a core tenant of Sable's unhinged personal philosophy, but keeping all her fingers is also sort of important, too.

Yet there she is, out in in the cold and the mostly dark, but Sable's not braving the night for her own stupid sake (for once). Nature calls to us all, but dogs can't use a septic system, so the two beasts, older and younger, need one last release in which to, um, release. They become canine shadows as they trot, stalk and gambol around the edge of the clearing, eyes gleaming strangely as they steal short glances Sable's way and catch the light from the firepit the young woman constructed at the peak of her lumbering activity.

The yellow eyed musician crouches by this pit, those valuable fingers spread out before the coals which glow a petulant red, fading by slow degrees for lack of further fuel. An AK-47 is slung about her shoulder, its butt brushing the soot and woodchip scattered ground, strap rumbling the upper sleeve of the BU hoody which, by now, smells so thickly of woodsmoke that it nearly constitutes an aura, one shared by the sooty faced Sable, who will need weeks of showers to rinse the rustic order from her hair entirely.

The moon rests, half shrouded in clouds, a fat, dark crescent cut out of its pale face. Almost all the stars are drowned out by the overwhelming light pollution, but it's marginally better out here than it might be in the thick of the city, plus curfew gives less reason for many of the commercial light displays to remain on. Once and a while Sable tips her gaze upwards, sounding out the words to the song that plays out of her headphones. "Do y' wanna mess 'around… do y' wanna spend th' night… yeah I've know both kinds 'f love… but I wanna get it right this time…" Softly, with a slight exaggeration to her own put-on southern twang.

The dogs and Sable aren't the only ones out, and while the dogs may be dogs and Sable has taken refuge by the fire pit, the current ward of the Garden is braving the darker areas as well as the bitter chill.

Koshka, stuffed in a hoodie and making use of a blanket for extra warmth, is prowling about the edges of the cottage. There hasn't been a whole lot to do since she arrived. Save hide in plain sight and help out with the few chores that needed to be done. At least the inside is tidier.

There's enough noise made in Koshka's activities that it shouldn't, hopefully, startle the dogs. And with luck Sable knows she's outside, too. Wouldn't be too seemly if she spooked the woman and met the business end of that gun. She works her way up, not unlike making laps around the structure, coming from the far end shrouded in darkness and toward the firelight and warmth.

Hiding in plain sight is something people who reside at the Garden are accomplished at, furthermore when your genetically predisposed ability involves hiding in plain sight. Koshka may not have noticed the subtle crunch of dirt and grass around her while she lingers outside of the cottage, may not have noticed the scuffed bootprints in the near frozen dirt path leading up to the cottage where gravel was washed out over the spring.

Jupiter and Misty stiffen when they catch a scent on the wind, noses alight to the air and ears tilting this way and that, trying to hone in on something they can't see. Sable, however, notices someone on the opposite side of the fire pit, already in a crouch when she bleeds out of the background like some last-minute idea painted into reality. First in swatches of black and white, then in color atop value. "Who's the girl?" Is Colette's abrupt greeting, the firelight illuminating her pale face, dark hood up over her messy hair and leather jacket atop that hoodie dully reflecting the firelight on its matte black surface.

The girl in question earns a look of mis-matched eyes over to Koshka, then back to Sable.

At first, it's like Sable's tripping. It something straight from a song she's been dwelling on, too, with the glow of the coals suddenly illuminating, redly, a specter much on her mind but not present. It's sort of… woah. Sable's heart does a quick jitter, going syncopated with startlement sending her emotional compass on a quick spin. The question grounds Sable quite quickly. Sable's the sort to talk to visions.

"My, like, ward," is said with a spreading smile of considerable amusement, "left in my wise 'n' responsible-type care." The smile grows less assured, but more personal. "That really you?" because, yes, she's not sure if she's seeing things - she accepts a much blurrier reality line. Though it still doesn't matter. She extends a hand, beckoning to the other girl. "Come 'ere."

Sable isn't the only one startled by the sudden appearance of Someone. As Koshka's eyes catch the light playing off someone across the fire from the keeper of this place, her wanderings come to a stop. In fact, she backs up a step, a guarded expression taking over the look of surprise that had first appeared. Who she is doesn't matter much, who's that who just appears out of thin air? No one was there before.

Koshka presses herself closer to the cottage, leaning a shoulder into the structure while not entirely taking herself out of the picture. For all her wariness, it's far too interesting to flee outright. Besides, where's she going to run to? It's dark out.

For a moment, it looks like Colette might just be doing that, pressing her hands onto her bent knees as she straightens up. But on her way around the fire, Colette's trajectory winds up going askew from Sable. Her boots crunch in the cold grass, carry her past the other brunette in a slow progress towards the unfamiliar young woman that is — unbelievably — Sable's responsibility.

Colette makes for a dark silhouette with the fire at her back, clothing all monochromatic shades of gray and black, mostly leather and synthetic cotton. She lifts one hand, fingers pale where they're not covered by her gloves. It's a silent greeting. "Hey," Colette halts on the gravel path, lowering that hand and resting it at her hip, one brow raised as she looks over her shoulder to Sable, then back to the girl.

"Name's Colette… I run things around here," comes with just the barest of pauses between it to acknowledge, "I— guess with Sable." Somehow. "Who sent you here?" The answer to that pointed question will be very important, and it also gives Colette something to focus on other than her problems.

Okay, so she didn't disappear or walk through the fire, and she still ends up getting away from Sable. These are all points in favor of this being real live Colette, which is actually - after being told just what Nicole told her - more surprising than spirits or madness. Sable scrambles to her feet, padding quickly after Colette, slapping her thigh sharply and calling out to the dogs. "Come on. Y'all get yer furry asses indoors, y' hear?" And, further wonder, they obey. But dogs tend to do that to the one who's in charge of when they eat. Plus she's been snoozing in front of the hearth with them more often than she's been resting in a bed. Communing with the mutts.

A tug straightens the gun at her shoulder as Sable trudges up alongside Colette. Jupiter and Misty have every intention of piling towards the (closed) door, but then the fullness of Colette's sensory presence enters their doggy perception, and they immediately dart for her. She's been gone forever to them. The yellow eyed girl gives a just slightly more than slightly smug smile as Colette admits her authority. That's right. Alpha dog, right here. "She's cool, don' worry, hon, y'all jus' tell 'er" she says to Koshka, encouragingly, "hardest workin' gal in th' Ferry, this one," her head tips to indicate Colette, "she's th' one who roped me in, ain't that right?" A slightly crooked smile is directed at the prodigal, just for a moment.

Well, if everyone else, dogs included, say it's alright… Heck, the dog's excitement actually breaks down the wariness and draws a grin from the girl. "Quinn and Brian brought me here," Koshka explains with a small shrug. For all her wariness around a newcomer, she at least sounds confident. "Jumped on some Humanis First guy and got stuck to a crazy woman for it. This doctor said he had friends who could get me out."

Blue eyes lift to meet the mis-matched ones briefly, then retreat again to Jupiter and Misty. "So they brought me here." There's a hint in her tone, an 'and I'm staying as small and out of the way as possible.'

Humanis First makes Colette's nose rankle, but before she can blurt out anything otherwise she's accosted by the sudden approach of two dogs of completely opposite dichotomy. One old, gray around the muzzle and large, rubbing up past Colette and then licking at one of her slacked hands. The other small, pale-colored and energetic hustles around her ankles, leap up and slaps paws on her knees and drags nails down her leather pants.

Colette strains not to smile under the assault of affection, crouching down to scratch cold fingers at the fur around Misty's neck, even while Jupiter leans in to lap at her cheek and nose around her hair inside of her hood. COlette rolls her shoulders, tucks her chin close and tries to push Jupiter away while doing the same with Misty. "Okay, okay," she whispers softly, "enough guys, c'mon."

Mismatched eyes look up to Koshka, staring with half-blinded quality to the young woman, then flit away as Colette looks over her shoulder to Sable. "Can you— " Jupiter noses at her chin and pushes her head aside, " — take them in?" Colette barely manages to get the words out through pressed lips.

Help, doggies.

Sable's smile is maybe just a touch Mephistophelean, as if the canine assault were all according to plan. She puts fingers to her lips and gives a piercing, two tone whistle that grabs the sharp eared attention of both dogs. What? What? their expressions seem to say. "Back off, fleabags. Y'all get yer tails t' th' den. Come on, let's go, don' make me tell y' 'gain." Sable speaks as she advances, herding the dogs towards the door, which she pulls open to let both critters scramble inside.

"Know, we don't have t' freeze ourselves, either," Sable suggests, door swung mostly closed to keep the warm air in, but held just slightly ajar by the curled tips of the musician's fingers. "Figure we cooked up some supper anyhow. 'n' every one 'f us is eatin', that ain't up f'r debate. Gonna have us a goddamn Ferry family dinner, like decent folk." All this said like she intends to sit at the head of the table.

Koshka coughs, or maybe just poorly covers up a laugh, at the plight the two dogs have plied on Colette. Clearing her throat she looks beyond the not quite so newcomer to Sable. More properly to the door and the idea of warmth on the other side. Going in sounds like a good idea, a hoodie and blanket aren't quite enough to keep out all the cold. And food. The youth's attention turns back to Colette and she grins hopefully. There's no intention of moving from her spot until everything else has been settled.

As stern as Colette wants to be, Koshka's smile elicits something of a break in Colette's otherwise impassive barrier. "Fine," she reluctantly admits, pushing herself up to stand slowly once more, wiping with woolen, fingerless gloves at her cheek and jaw. "I… may as well stay the night, but I have to leave before sunrise," and she doesn't both to explain why as she turns around for the door to the cabin.

"C'mon," Colette insists with a curl of one finger over her shoulder, beckong Koshka to follow her in. Though as Colette walks, she offers an askance look to Sable. It's meant just as a fleeting glance, but there is so much worry and so much hurt in her expression that its evident that she's trying to be strong — possibly out of some proud sense of self, not wanting to embarrass herself by breaking down in front of someone the Ferry has to be strong for now.

Pausing in the doorway, Colette stops. She lifts up one hand, rests it on the door frame, then looks back over her shoulder at Koshka. "Quinn 'n Brian are good people," she opines in a tight voice, never quite making eye contact. "If they say you're okay, then you're okay. But before you come in, you'e gonna tell me what t'call you, even if it ain't your name. I ain't calling you, hey you while I'm here."

Sable had no doubts as to Koshka's ability to be winning. She's cute as a goddamn button, and just so damn well mannered it confuses Sable, who at fifteen was as likely to tell you to fuck off as to wish you good morning. That was before she found music, and before she learned to panhandle, of course.

The news that Colette's stay here will be very, very brief does cause a slight moment of disappointed sickness in Sable's belly, but she's quick to ignore it. That's just how its gonna be, how it's gotta be. Or so she insists. Sable still holds the door as Colette stands at the threshold, eyes finding hers for that moment, receiving the volatile mix of emotion that she has to keep so tightly bottled up.

The musician leans forward, hand going out to catch Colette's own, the one that isn't braced against the doorframe. It's just a momentary contact, marked by a squeeze, as Sable leans in and murmurs in Colette's ear. "Wanna see you, b'fore y' go. Real quick, arright?" is said with the low gentleness of a humble but urgent request.

"Koshka's what everyone calls me," the girl answers without the slightest bit of hesitation. Heck, she's told more people her name lately, luckily all those have been involved in her arrival to the Garden. She tugs the blanket up around her chin as she heads for the door, a couple of steps behind and remaining that way as the passageway is blocked. "Been that since I was a kid and it works well enough."

"Koshka," Colette echoes in favor of answering Sable's question, slipping in to the cabin with a clunk of her boots across the wooden porch and the equally wooden floor within. She leaves room for the youth to follow in behind her, though proceeds to man the door once inside, quickly ensuring that it is shut behind Koshka and latched closed, the bundle of carpeting rolled up near the door dragged over by a booted foot to cover up the bottom of the door and ensure a draft doesn't get inside.

On that task's completion, Colette unzips the front of her leather jacket, slowly shedding the fire-scarred thing as she makes her way across the floor towards where the hearth is burning hotly, throwing her coat across the ratty old sofa in front of it, then using those cold fingers to try and unzip her charcoal gray hoodie as well.

"I'm bringing Tasha here tomorrow," Colette explains to the air, stopping in front of the fire but not crouching down, just holding her hands out to it, numb fingers unfeeling of the prickling heat. "Probably won't hit Staten until just before midnight. We'll stay at a place I know in the Rookery, then head here when the sun comes up… I don't know how long she's going to stay."

Then, perhaps more worrisome she adds, "It's not safe on the mainland anymore."

"'s long as we keep gettin' food 'n' all that," Sable says, keeping the door held open for Koshka before shutting it securely, trapping the heat they've managed to accrue in the big three story building, "she c'n stay 's long as she likes, seems t' me. Good thing, too, have someone t' switch shifts. I got people, need me back in civilization."

Sable unslings her weapon and sets it next to the door, propped against the wall. Her jacket unzips and she shoulders it off, tossing it to one side and tredding into the living space. "Figure we outta teach Kosh here t' shoot, eh? Just so's we have able hands." Just in case, though the 'in case' is not something that anyone wants to talk about, surely. And not a situation where one more small girl with a gun will likely do much good, once the gas is tossed and the flashbangs lobbed.

The musician stops herself, standing a little off and to the side of Colette, arm's folded, glancing between the greenhorn (Sable's label) and the comparative vet. "How safe d' y' figure we are now, here, honest to God? They really dunno 'bout it? With all th' comin' 'n' goin', howzit we gonna keep ourselves under th' radar, so t' speak?"

Koshka wastes little time in getting inside, once the way allows for her to squeak past. She takes the time to fold up the blanket she'd been using while stepping away from the door, laying it on the back of the sofa. After a moment, Sable's jacket is picked up and deposited there as well. Then, attention not entirely on her or who she is, the teen plunks herself down on the sofa so much like an article of clothing herself.

The girl doesn't offer anything more, and likely won't unless asked directly. The new kid, stranger to the folk who guard the Garden, does her best to intrude as little as possible. Of course, blue eyes do flick toward the pair, and she's listening obviously, curious but polite enough to not insert herself where she might not be welcome.

There's a look over Colette's shoulder to Koshka, then back to Sable. "No, she's too young," to the topic of teaching her how to shoot, never mind that she's not that muhc younger than Colette at all. "If they knew about this place it would have been turned upside down or they would have come for us by now. It's as safe as we're going to get, because there isn't anywhere else to go. Nowhere. I don't— we don't have anywhere else, Sable. This is it. I don't— I don't know where everyone else went, I don't know where the boats were supposed to go."

Colette swallows noisily, looks askance to the hearth then back to the brunette at her side. "We can't stay at Grand Central, they're at maximum capacity and struggling as it is. Everywhere else is gone that I've checked. I haven't been back to Cat's building, I can't fucking imagine that's safe, given— "

Colette cuts herself off, brows pinching together and arms crossing over her chest, looking rueful. "I need t'find out how t'get in touch with Tasha's dad. He owes me, and— and I need t'cash in on that."

"Naw, naw, bring 'em to me," Sable says, motioning with a hand, beckoning unseen refugees, "this place's meant t' be full up with folk, warmin' up th' place, playin' cards 'n' readin' old books with yella pages. I'm jus' gonna need a proper stereo, is all, 'n' 't least one 'f my gals. Goin' fuckin' crazy without a guitar," pronounced gee-tar, "all I brought is m' mouth organ, y' know?"

Koshka gets a considering glance. Too young? Okay, for some things. But to shoot? It may have been a bad idea to admit that Sable actually has something like authority here. If Colette's going to be gone again, that gives Sable plenty of time to disobey, and it is better to beg forgiveness with an armed and trained girl at your side then to ask for permission.

"I ain't th' one t' offer help, 's far 's that's concerned," Sable says, with a shrugs, "but I'm gonna be here, 's long 's y' need me t' be," and, if told she was no longer needed, she might stay anyways, out of sheer stubbornness, "y'all c'n do what I know y' gotta do, find who you gotta find," just the slightest suggestion, here, that Sable knows Colette's larger purpose, "I'll keep y'r dog 'n' yer gal safe, y'all c'n trust me to. Their life b'fore mine, swear t' God." She flashes a quick, crooked smile at Koshka, "yers too, I guess. 'nless y' piss me off." Joking? Joking!

Koshka barely stops herself from scoffing at the idea she might be too young to learn how to shoot. But she can't quite wipe the indignant look from her face. Too young indeed. Arms folding across her chest, the girl settles in to stare at the fire and keep to herself. Show her who's too young. One day. —Maybe

The blue eyed teen glances between Colette and Sable, narrowed slightly, considering. It is one day. "I can help," Koshka finally pipes in, turning to more or less kneel on the sofa seat. "Just tell me what's got to be done, y'know. Or whatever." She doesn't have to just stay and take up space after all. "I can earn my place here."

Whatever Sable's reassurances were intended to evoke in Colette, there's little in the way of visible change in her posture. Shoulders are tense, her jaw is set tight and her arms cross over her chest in unrelaxed fashion. Much like a caged animal, she seems unwilling to relax inside of the confines of the Garden, not tonight and not right now.

"Thanks," is dismissive sounding to both Koshka and Sable's offers, or maybe it's just tired. It doesn't look like she slept last night, it also doesn't look like she's slept much at all this week. "I'm… going to go upstairs, get some sleep." One hand rises to rub across Colette's brow, her mismatched stare leveled back over her shoulder at Koshka. "You're safe here, as long as you stick around. Don't make too much noise, no bright lights at night, nothing that would attract attention."

Which implies, no guitars. At least not electric ones.

"When I get back on Friday," Colette offers to Koshka again, "I wanna' talk t'you about some things, if you're gonna' be staying here. Nothing serious, just— things I need t'know."

The reassurances were enough pledge for Sable to view them as worthwhile in their own right. A stalwart declaration does as much to steel Sable for its defense as anything - her word, her bond, or at least that's what she's aiming for. The interdict on loud noise is taken in stride. She couldn't really operate an electric out here, anyways. And acoustics seem much more fitting with the whole rustic aesthetic out here.

"Hey," Sable says, in the wake of Colette's head's up to Koshka, "y'all c'n get yer rest, darlin', but we're talkin'. There ain't no two ways about it," its not plea or insistence, now but statement of fact, "shit I need t' know m'self." It's a little confrontational, which isn't totally kosher with Koshka around (not in front of the kids!), but she's not about to get ignored again. That is one thing Sable cannot stand, to be ignored.

Koshka cracks a self-assured grin at Colette's warnings. She's been here a few days already and has done pretty well laying low. She flew well under the radar before that, too. "No problem," she tells Colette, giving a two fingered salute from brow and out. "No one knows I'm here, and it's going to stay that way." The continuance draws a nod from the girl. Of course there'd be more questions. The grin turns less smug and more amiable. "Sure. I'll be here." No sarcasm intended.

If only Sable was as well behaved as this kid. Colette's expression practically betrays that very surprised notion as she looks over her shoulder to the older girl.

"Yeah," sounds equally as dismissive as before, "we can talk." But not right now, is what her posture says, turning away from Sable and only then drawing back her hood and stepping around the sofa, headed towards the creaky old stairs that lead to the second floor.

"It can wait till morning…" Colette says in a way that implies there's some room to negotiate, but in a manner that Sable has run into before which really means that there isn't. Her boots thump out the steady rhythm of her departure towards the stairs, each step like an elipses at the end of her sentence, leaving Sable hanging.

It won't be the last time either.

"It was nice to meet you, Koshka," Colette only finally says once she's at the bottom of the stairs, talking at the teen's back but with her eyes fixed on Sable. There's silence, then a nod, the closest thing to good job Colette can offer right now, before she starts jogging up those stairs to the upstairs bedrooms.

Close is at least better than nothing, even if only just.

Considering Sable started off with an imperative, Colette's rescheduling itself is a negotiation. Which Ms. Diego respectfully accepts. She's have her way, and Colette will have her rest. Everybody wins! The yellow eyed girl turns on her heel to face Koshka, rolls her shoulder at the stairway. "Mom's cranky," she says, with a tinge of humor, however sardonic, "but she's got 'er reasons. Y'all did good," she pauses, "but what she said, 'bout you bein' too young t' shoot? Thass bullshit, she ain't thinkin' straight. So, like, when she rambles on out 'f here, me 'n' you 'r gonna participate in that great American tradition, th' can shoot. Dig?"

The girl nods, as though agreeing to some greater wisdom. Cranky isn't the word Koshka'd use to describe that exchange, but she's not going to pry into business that's most definitely not her's. She turns to face the fireplace, sinking back into the sofa with a smug little grin pulling up the corners of her mouth. "Hell yeah I'm not too young," she agrees, arms folding across her chest. "Just don't tell her I learned 'til I'm good at it."

"Shit, 'course not. Not gonna risk gettin' my head bit off f'r nothin'. We'll make y' a crack shot. Jus' need t' make sure we got 'nough ammo," Sable says, sidling over to the couch and leaning against the back of it, eyes tipped down to Koshka. "Cans'll happen by themselves, we jus' gotta keep eatin'. Which reminds me, we got supper t' make. Y'all know anythin' good? I can't really cook f'r shit. I gotta… bachelor type lifestyle, y' see."

Tilting her head to the side, Koshka looks up at Sable. Supper, right. "Um… Sure. I can make meatloaf. Or roast chicken and steamed veggies. Or maybe if we've got steak…" Lies, all of it lies. That much should be clear in the girl's grin. "Sorry, not really a cook. There hot dogs and buns? I can make those." And a small selection of other from-the-box meals.

"Ha!" Sable barks, grinning right back, "hold on, I'll jus' catch y' a lobster. We'll have surf 'n' turf." She rolls her shoulder. "Come on, we'll see what we got. I like treatin' food like an adventure. A goddamn scavenger hunt," which is particularly helpful when you have actually been a scavenger, "perhaps in th' combination 'f our mutual-type ignorance, we'll somehow strike a spark 'f genius. Worth a shot."

The teen chuckles and removes herself from the sofa. "So long as it's eatable," Koshka counters, pushing her sleeves up to her elbows. She follows the way into the kitchen to start the hunt for food. Maybe there's a chance for oatmeal, or pancakes. Breakfast for supper is always a good choice, and both those are filling as well as yummy.

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