2007-03-11: Breakfast At Demsky's

Starring:

Tamara_icon.gif Judah_icon.gif

Date It Happened: March 11, 2007

Summary: Tamara spends the night at Judah's apartment, and the two have a heart-to-heart over orange juice the next morning.

Breakfast at Demsky's


Judah's Apartment

Some people can walk into a room as if they own it, immediately laying claim to the space and daring anyone to challenge them. Not so many can walk into the house of a total stranger as if they themselves lived there. (At least, not without canvassing it thoroughly first.) …Yet that's exactly what Tamara did. Never did she ask a question beginning with the words 'where is'; never did she have to search for a utensil, a glass, the remote control. While just about every object in the apartment caught her mercurial attention at one point or another over the evening, none of them seemed to surprise; she settled in with quiet ease as if the apartment (and its rightful tenant) was part of some perfectly familiar ground.

Sleep came easily to the girl, and left just the same; she didn't sleep the night through, but in bits and pieces: as little as half an hour here, as long as two hours there. In between, Tamara rattled around quietly - not sneaky or stealthy, but trying to assuage her need for activity without disturbing Judah's sleep in the process. Most of the time, it worked out well enough. Now, she's asleep again, curled up on the couch with her head pillowed on folded arms; resting, and perhaps dreaming, judging by the way her eyes occasionally flick back and forth beneath their lids.

Every morning, like clockwork, Judah is up at precisely 6:15 am, roused from his fitful slumber by the quiet chirp of the wristwatch he keeps on his nightstand. Today is no different, though the detective has taken care to step lightly as he goes through his pre-work routine. For the first time in months, he skips his morning shower to fix a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and turkey sausages, which he leaves on the kitchen table while he retreats back into the bathroom to shave. The food, after all, isn't meant for him.

A few minutes later, he once again emerges, this time in the process of adjusting his tie. He stands behind the couch, gazing down at Tamara with a perplexed expression on his face — a few bloody shreds of toilet paper still stuck to his jaw. Judah doesn't usually cut himself when he shaves, but this morning he's been understandably distracted. Not wanting to startle her, he places both his hands on the back of the couch and leans over, just slightly. "Tamara."

One moment, she seems to be dreaming. The next, Tamara looks up at Judah, almost as though a switch were thrown as - or just barely before - he spoke. Asleep, and then awake; this time, at least, there is no intermediate stage. Despite that, she doesn't seem to have been surprised into waking. She looks at his for a moment, as if about to question, but then must arrive at the answer by herself: the teen nods, sits up, then gets up altogether.

"There's breakfast on the table," Judah offers, "if you're hungry." He removes his hands from the back of the couch and then pulls on the jacket that was draped over his forearm. "I have to go down to the station for awhile, but you're welcome to stay here as long as you want. There's a library in the master bedroom, if you're into reading. Robinson Crusoe. Red Badge of Courage." He wrinkles his nose in thought. What do kids Tamara's age like to read, anyway? "The Wind in the Willows…"

Tamara tips her head as Judah speaks, a slow smile spreading across her face. It's one of those 'I appreciate the offer, but…' smiles. She waits until he's done, though, before shaking her head. "It's empty. The mirror doesn't hold it." Breakfast seems to have little immediate allure, as Tamara tucks her hands in her pockets and just lingers where she is. She blinks a couple of times, then says, "How… did you sleep?" The sentence is more stilted than her usual chatter, less easily spoken, but she /does/ try.

"About as well as I usually do, but thanks for asking." Judah moves into the kitchen and opens the fridge, rummaging around for the carton of orange juice that he keeps tucked away on the inside door. He might grab a bagel and some coffee on the way too work, but that doesn't mean he can't have a glass of something to tide him over until then. "I heard you moving around in the middle of the night. Everything all right?"

Tamara drifts over in Judah's wake, eventually taking up a place by the table - although not sitting, just leaning her hands on its edge. If he looks her way, it's to receive a puzzled frown at the question. "It was fine." Tone adding an unspoken question along the lines of, 'why wouldn't I be?' The teen hooks her hair behind her ears, then looks down at the table, tracing a line in the grain with one finger. That seems to have been as much 'normal' conversation as she can come up with on the spot, this morning.

Down comes a glass from one of the higher cupboards, rolled around between Judah's hands for a few moments before he fills it halfway with orange juice. "Well," he says, watching her, "even if you decide not to stick around, my door's always open for you in case you need a safe place to stay. You know that, right?"

Tamara lifts her gaze to Judah, then nods once. "Of course." Apparently, that goes without saying. Resting her elbows on the table and leaning in over its edge, she studies him across the piece of furniture. "What do you want?" is the girl's next query. It's not asked as though she expects the detective to demand something in exchange for this offer of shelter. It's just a curious question.

"What do I want," Judah repeats, rolling the question around in his mouth to get a better taste for it. He washes it down with a swig of orange juice. "That's a tough one." Taking a seat on one of the stools at the kitchen's island, he sets the glass down. "I want my partner to get better so she can start working again. I want some solid evidence so we can close the Virginia Gray case once and for all. I want you to be safe. I want a lot of things. Most people do."

Once he sits down, Tamara does the same, although it's anyone's guess how long she'll stay there for. "Most do," she echoes in agreement. "Most drift. One now, another later. Even if they didn't get the first yet." She lets her feet swing a bit in the air before the stool, and offers the cop a smile. "The mirror was always safe," the teen assures him. "Unless it doesn't want to be. But that wasn't much." The smile broadens, pulls to one side, becoming crooked. And she shrugs. "People listen to what they know. Not what they see."

The more time Judah spends around Tamara, the easier it is to get at the heart of what she's trying to say. He nods in agreement. "That's true. I see it a lot, out on the job. You'd be surprised how often things don't get reported because they strike people as being too strange, too out of the ordinary. A couple hears an unusually loud thump in the apartment above theirs, passes it off as a knock in the pipes. Two weeks later, a smell starts leaking out under the door…" He trails off, lost in some memory or another. "But I suppose that's people listening to what they know rather than what they hear, hm?"

Tamara grins lightly at Judah. "No, I don't think so," she says, after the remark about 'surprise'. While he takes a brief sojourn into memory, she picks up the carton of orange juice from where it was left on the counter, idly examining it - but seeming to skip all the text and just look at the picture. The girl nods at his conclusion. "They know it is nothing, and so it must be." The carton is replaced where she found it, no longer an object of interest. "What do /you/ see?" She fails to specify a subject, and doesn't give much indication as to whether that omission was deliberate or not.

"Patterns, mostly," is Judah's response, as he uses a stray napkin to wipe some trails of juice from the outside of his glass. He glances at Tamara and narrows his eyes, just so, as if debating with himself whether or not to elaborate on that statement. In the end, he decides that it can't hurt; she comes off as more mature than most of the teenage girls he's questioned during his time on the force. "I work blood spatter with the city's crime scene unit."

Tamara considers Judah as he considers her, a hint of a smile on her lips. "Patterns," she echoes, in the end. The whole 'blood spatter' thing seems to be nonimportant, given that it receives no acknowledgment from the teen. "Patterns are dependable. Rocks in the river. Always the same. I like them - when there's not too many. Change is important, too."

Judah tries to come up with an accurate comparison that someone Tamara's age might understand. "They're like snowflakes," he explains, "each one is different, but they all have certain similarities. Never the /completely/ the same. I have some slides—" The detective stops himself then, shaking his head as if to say 'never mind.'

Tamara chuckles softly, grinning at the detective. "It's okay." A faint lift of one shoulder. "We don't see the same. Wouldn't want to. You to." Hopping off the stool, she moves over to where the untouched food sits - and it remains untouched; the girl is just there long enough to snag the associated glass before coming back. "What do you /know/?" is her next prompt. Probably not a surprising one.

What /does/ Judah know? He's quiet for a long time, and when he does speak, his words sound very rehearsed, as though he's spoken them a hundred times before. "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise," he says, "and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." He smiles weakly. "Proverbs 17:28. I guess I don't really know much of anything."

Tamara waits as Judah considers - with no sign of impatience, despite her apparently typical (short) attention span. The only thing she does, during his silence, is fill her glass half-full with orange juice and take a couple of sips. Her response to the quote is a smile. "Perhaps. Sometimes, the less you know, the more you can see. That can be good." Put an upbeat spin on it. Tamara tilts her head. "You weren't a fool," she observes, taking another drink from her glass.

Judah would argue that he's very much a fool, keeping a runaway teenager under his roof when his superiors would have expected him to drag her kicking and screaming back to her parents. But now, in this one moment, he is absolutely certain he's doing the right thing. "Thanks." A glance at his wristwatch, and he sighs. If he doesn't get his ass in gear, Viola will probably want to have a few words with him. "I've got to get going, kiddo. Stay as long as you need to, and don't worry about locking the door on the way out — I'll be back to check in on things around lunch."

Tamara dips her head slowly. "I know," she assures him. Her gaze flicks to the door, eyes darkening somewhat. "It was fine. You didn't need to." Check back in, presumably. Bare feet hit the floor again, the girl pausing to rest her fingertips briefly against Judah's shoulder. "Go see her." Then she keeps walking, back over to where she was originally /supposed/ to sit.

Her? Judah's mouth forms the silent question, too startled by the touch to actually give it voice. "Stay safe, Tamara," he says after he's mentally shaken the stupor off. "I'll see you again soon." Not that he has any actual say in the matter, but he can hope. With one last glance at the teen, he heads out of the apartment, shutting the door and turning the key in the lock behind him.

Tamara watches Judah go. Her "Probably" is delivered only to the closed door, but it's not like he needed to be told, anyway. She smiles for a moment, then turns her attention to the food on the plate. It may be cold by now, but that's not a problem; she eats most of it - eventually. In the end, Tamara cleans up everything she used and puts it away, such that even Judah might not know he'd had a houseguest if he hadn't been there with her. When he does come back - whether at lunchtime or not - the apartment will be empty. Except for one bright-yellow daffodil in a vase on the counter.

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