2007-03-10: Tomorrow is Today


Tamara_icon.gif Judah_icon.gif

Date It Happened: March 10, 2007

Summary: As promised, Tamara and Judah meet again.

Tomorrow is Today

Central Park

"Tomorrow," Tamara had said. It's funny how one word with such a simple definition can have so many different meanings. Judah has spent most of the afternoon mulling this over, waiting by the phone in his office for a call from the teen, but when five o'clock rolled around he decided to punch out early and take a walk down to Central Park. The detective has a very clear destination in mind: the gazebo off the beaten path where he first found her. If he's lucky, she'll be there; if he isn't, he'll spend the rest of the night sitting there and cursing his poor judgment. When he arrives and finds himself alone in the shade, he takes a seat on the bottommost step, and waits.

Throughout the entire day - despite being immersed in the city's chaos, the noise and bustle of everyone out enjoying spring - Tamara has had a figurative eye on this particular possibility, watching the others get pruned off by both of their decisions along the way. Now that it's here, she doesn't make Judah wait too long. But it's the far side of the gazebo she walks in, hopping lightly over the steps and into the structure. The quiet tap of her shoes landing on the wooden floor is the first announcement of the teen's presence. "Here again?" she asks, although it isn't really a question (for obvious reasons).

Judah tenses at the sound of the voice, though it only takes him the span of a sharply inhaled breath to recognize it as belonging to Tamara. He turns in place, shifting his head and shoulders to face her without rising from his perch. One hand, however, does reach up and grasp the railing in case he suddenly needs to stand. "Here again," he admits, perhaps just a little guiltily, "but you knew I would be, didn't you?"

The question elicits an approving smile from the girl. "Yes," she replies. Tamara moves about halfway around the gazebo, boosting herself up to perch on the rail. Close enough to converse easily; not so close as to be in reach, easy or otherwise. She looks to be wearing the same clothes as yesterday, and her hair is more tangled than it was, although not bad by most measures. Presumably, this is closer to 'typical' for her. "What do you want to ask today?"

"More of the same." Judah quietly appraises the teen, less interested in her hair and more interested in any cuts, scrapes or bruises that he might spot on her exposed skin. "You knew the penny would come up tails both times," he explains, "so what I want to know is, when /does/ chance stop being chance? And what does it have to do with the shadows and the mirror you were talking about?"

Cuts, scrapes, bruises - not so much. She doesn't get them if she can avoid it, and most can be avoided. Not paying much heed to his appraisal, Tamara shrugs at Judah's question. "Sometimes soon, sometimes late. Changes. All's chance when the cards are shuffled; nothing left to guess when the decision's made. …Except if it's unmade," the teen amends. When he asks for the explanation of shadows, she pulls her lower lip in between her teeth, studying him. Or maybe contemplating how to answer.

If that's the case, Judah doesn't let Tamara contemplate for long. "What do you mean," he asks, "if it's unmade?" It all makes very little sense to the detective, and he's beginning to wish that he'd brought a take recorder a long; being able to go back and listen to her again after he's had time to reflect would be immensely helpful.

Tamara tilts her head. "Walk a ways and then the path isn't the right one anymore. Not to you. So you leave it, find another, never reach the end. Not on that one." Blue eyes narrow a moment; then the girl drops back off the rail, feet thudding against the gazebo floor. "Words didn't do so well," she remarks almost apologetically, walking over to join Judah.

"Words are tricky," Judah agrees. When Tamara joins him, he picks out a stick from the bushes and begins to draw a long line in the dirt with it, though what this might symbolize remains unclear. "Is there anything you'd like to ask /me/ while we're here?" he offers. By his logic, she wouldn't have shown up again if she didn't want to speak with him.

Tamara smiles at Judah's agreement, then turns to watch him draw in the dirt with curious interest. Her gaze flicks to him briefly at the query, but soon returns to the drawing. Apparently she finds it more intriguing than most lines in the dirt deserve. "Most were their own answers. You're the question." Fishing another penny out of her pocket, if much less shiny and more worn than yesterday's, she sits down on the upper step, holding it loosely in cupped hands.

Judah now rests the stick across his knees, watching Tamara and the penny sidelong. He frowns, suddenly reminded of the uncanny accuracy with which she was able to call a coin's outcome twice in a row when flipped. A coincidence, sure, but she seemed more certain of herself than most of the gamblers he's met in his life. "You want to play the penny game again?"

Tamara shakes her head. Actually, she starts shaking her head just about when Judah begins to speak. "Maybe it could help," she says. The girl holds out her hand, fingers outstretched, the coin sitting on her palm. Head side up. It's angled slightly away from Judah, so the point probably isn't for him to take it. "Here. It is. Quiet. Waiting. The river's ever wider, ever changing, but the shadow stays /just/ the same." A beat. "Close enough, anyway. /It/ does."

"Okay," Judah murmurs, at a loss for what else to say. He's beginning to understand, if just a little, the same way that the light shines dully on the surface of the tarnished penny. It's not quite fully illuminated.

Closing her free hand, Tamara transfers the penny to it, balancing the coin over the end of her thumb. But she doesn't flick it yet. Instead, she looks at Judah, gaze intent as if watching for any signs of comprehension. If he does look at her, her eyes are too dark, the pupils dilated much further than they should be - and than they were just a few moments ago. "Then it wasn't. Scattered. Ripples in the water. Fractures in glass, true glass." A moment's pause. "We can pretend its and mine aren't the same. You didn't see, but you /did/ know. Count them."

"Tamara." Judah says her name as gently as he possibly can. She needs help, anyone can see that — he just doesn't know how to give it to her if she doesn't want it. An aggravated sigh passes through his nostrils; it isn't often that he finds himself at a loss for words, but here he is, mentally grappling with them. "I still don't understand, but maybe you can show me?" He offers her the stick, and then nods to the line in the dirt. "You like to draw?"

Tamara lets out a sigh of her own as the explanation fails, shoulders slumping in disappointment. Turning over her hand, she lets the penny fall; it bounces off a step and rolls into the grass, but the girl's no longer watching it. "Sometimes." But she doesn't take the stick. "What do you want to draw?" she asks first.

Judah lowers the stick, his attention shifting from the line in the dirt to the penny in the grass. "I was thinking you might draw the river for me," he says, heaving to his feet. His long legs make his trip from the bottom of the steps to the section of lawn where he last saw the penny a short one. Now it's just a matter of finding it. He crouches down, running his fingers through the blades as he speaks. "Or the shadows, or whatever you want."

Tamara tips her head to one side, looking at the line. "I don't need to," she says, blinking at Judah even if he isn't looking her way to see it. But she hauls herself off the steps anyway. "Right. Not too far. Heads," the girl remarks distractedly while she walks around the line, studying it. At the left end, she leans down and rakes all of her fingers through the dirt, lines more or less fanning out from the original.

Heads. Silently mouthing the word is all Judah can do to stop himself from cursing aloud in astonishment when he locates the penny — exactly where Tamara said it would be. "How do you keep doing that?" he asks, but whatever he was about to say next is abruptly cut short when he sees that the teen has added to the line. "Oh," he murmurs after a long moment of stunned silence, "like a tree."

Tamara looks over her shoulder at Judah, a faint line creasing her brow. "It didn't go anywhere." Puzzled by his surprise. Her frown deepens at the detective's remark, and the girl turns back to the drawing. "Not really. Trees are slow. Solid. They look different, but weren't." As she speaks, she straightens, beginning to scuff out most of the straight line with one foot. But not quite all of it; small patches are left intact.

"I meant, it looks like a—" Well, it doesn't look like much of anything anymore. Judah tilts his head slightly, peering down at the marks in the dirt with a blank expression. Another sigh, and he places his hand on the back of his neck. It's difficult not to feel frustrated, but she's at least trying to communicate with him — and that's something. "Have you tried explaining this to anyone else?"

Now it looks like a fan of lines coming from a short stem, with a few scattered pieces of the original line following behind. That means more to her than the 'tree', but she knows Judah can't see it. Looking up at him, the girl offers an apologetic smile and a half-shrug. Then a frown at his question, as she stuffs her hands in her pockets. "I.." Tamara's eyes narrow, as if she's struggling to remember.

"What, Tamara?" Judah crouches down in front of her, though he's careful not to step on the scratches in the dirt. Slowly, he slides the penny across to her. "Whatever it is, you can tell me," he promises, "I'm not going to hurt you, and I'm not going to take you down to the station unless you ask me to."

Tamara runs her hands up over her face and into her hair, then shakes her head. "I don't know. Ghosts drift." She lowers herself to sit in the dirt and grass, closes her eyes. The girl doesn't show any interest in the penny, assuming she knows it's there. "Glass in the water. Hard to find; it isn't part of the mirror anymore."

Judah starts to reach out as if about to touch Tamara's shoulder, but then thinks the better of it, letting his arm drop limply back to his side. He's conflicted. Painfully so. "Do you want help? To see a doctor, maybe?"

"It's all right," the girl says, in the same distracted tone as when she gave directions for finding the penny, without opening her eyes. It isn't until Judah speaks again that Tamara opens her eyes, just for a moment, the glance apprehensive. Then she shakes her head briefly, almost violently, wrapping her arms around herself. "No. No. Won't. Didn't want to be there. Lost. Falling. Fading. Won't. Can't. /Can't/." Tamara keeps her voice quiet, but that doesn't stop it from expressing her fear of that possibility.

"All right, all right." Judah holds up both his hands, showing Tamara his palms. Harmless, see? "No doctors. Just me, okay?" He's grateful that they're alone here by the gazebo. To the casual passerby, the situation would look a lot worse than it actually is. "No one is going to force you to do anything. Not while I'm around. I promise."

Tamara nods. "No." Even if she agrees with him, the girl doesn't relax entirely, although her tension eases a little. Dispelling the echoes of whatever that idea conjured in her mind is clearly going to take a bit of time. She opens her eyes, peering at Judah through a thin curtain of fallen hair. "Wouldn't be here. If it wasn't. Mostly sure. Mostly true." Tamara closes her eyes again, drawing and releasing a deep breath.

"Look," Judah says after another one of those long, contemplative pauses, "I want you to come back to my apartment with me. Just for tonight." He can't leave her alone, not now, not after this. "I have an extra room you can stay in. A futon. We'll get you some clean clothes, maybe some take-out. How does that sound? No tricks." He means it, too — though this might be more of a surprise to the detective than it is to the teen. Damn his job.

Tamara gives Judah a sidelong look. Studies him. Then smiles faintly, sadly, beneath the hint of fatigue beginning to settle in her eyes. "Only ever harder," she says. "To listen. To trust. I try, but I can't promise to hold the pieces in line. You think you could still listen when the currents pulled them apart?" She shakes her head slowly. "I don't know," she murmurs. It's not meant as an answer to him; it's a response to her own question.

"I'll listen for as long as you ask me to, Tamara," Judah replies, slightly taken aback by the conviction in his voice. It doesn't take him long to regain his composure, however, and the steely edge returns to the detective's face. "Currents or no currents."

Tamara regards Judah steadily. "You think so." It's an observation only; her tone doesn't imply she disagrees. Not entirely, anyway. She doesn't answer immediately, but after a short silence, the teen nods, looking down at her feet. "All right." It's breathed as much as actually spoken.

All things considered, Judah might be foolish — but he isn't quite so foolish as to offer Tamara his hand. Instead, he slowly rises to his feet and looks over his shoulder, scanning the immediate area for anyone who might have been spying on their conversation. Seeing no one except for a squirrel on its way up a nearby tree, he nods. "Okay. Whenever you're ready."

Tamara watches Judah stand up and look around. "What are you looking for?" she asks curiously. It's a couple moments before she hauls herself up as well. She makes the effort to brush some of the dust from her jeans, but it's half-hearted. A little dust won't hurt her.

"Nothing you need to worry about," Judah says as sincerely as he can manage. It's only a half-lie. As soon as Tamara is up on her feet, he starts moving down the path a few paces ahead of her, his hands now tucked into the pockets of his jacket. "I hope you don't mind Chinese. It's the only decent food around my place."

Lie or no, she seems to accept it readily enough. Tamara jogs forward a few steps to catch up with Judah, until she can walk beside him. "Didn't matter," she replies, shrugging one shoulder. "It was fine." As they walk, her gaze wanders over their surroundings absently; she's not so much looking at anything as just looking. And then she tucks her hands into her pockets, drops her head a bit, and just walks.

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