After "No Way Down" CLEAN COPY - Path 2

Dueling: Zara and S
Language: English
Setting: The [working] title says it
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After "No Way Down" CLEAN COPY - Path 2

Post by Zara »

Purple :arrow: Zara
Blue :arrow: S

The attorney training was not enough to hide the alarmed distress that showed on Catherine’s face at those words.

Isaac held her gaze. Quietly he explained, "The Silks' women, our shotgun-toting ladies in leather? Seems they're nursing a pretty serious grudge about everything that happened that night. Word is they've hooked up with some close friends of Jason's. Splinter group, broke off from the Protectors after Jace...well, disappeared. That's the angle I want to know about." He stood up. "Now, I can help you, if you'll let me."

She bent her head. The petite frame all but vibrated with her frantic thinking. She looked at him again. “What about Lucy? Is she in danger?”

"I'm not sure," Isaac admitted. "I mean, if I thought she was in immediate danger, you and me would've already had this conversation a long time ago, and I'd have already done everything I could to help Lucy get out of there in once piece. As it is..." He sighed. "Look, I'm not hearing her name getting passed around out there--and you can be damned sure I'm not gonna be the one who draws anybody's attention her way. But like I told Lucy when I talked to her, there is a power vacuum in that neighborhood right now. The Silks' girls are the kind of women who will latch onto the biggest, baddest players they can find. The fact that Patricia and Cozy have started hanging out with a man called Red, and his people, tells me a lot about how things are starting to shake out on Broome Street. I do know that these ladies know who Lucy is, and where she lives, and that she helped their old gang's enemy escape. So far, all the rage seems directed at this nameless shadow who dismantled the Silks in a single night. I've been keeping my eyes and ears open for Lucy's sake, if not my own peace of mind. I think her level of danger might depend on whether these ladies ever decided that Lucy could lead them to Vincent. Vincent's the one they want to find. But with Red and company also taking a strangely personal interest in their hunt...well, that lit up some questions in my mind about my old friend Jace...and whether he might have gotten himself dismantled too. This is where I'm coming from, Cathy. This is the storm I see clouding up our sky."

The silence that followed was pure tension on Catherine’s part, while she connected the dots and got the horrifying picture. Finally, she cautiously asked, “And you said you can help… us?” He caught her uneasiness at pronouncing even that simple pronoun. Strict habit of secrecy, huh? But her concern for Lucy had given away enough.

"Yeah," he said softly. "I know we've crossed swords in the past about street law versus city law, but believe me when I say that I know how things work on the street. There are some problems that cops and D.A.s just can't touch, can't prevent, can't fix after the fact. I think you know that now. My interest here is keeping the peace and protecting the peaceable people who fall through the system's cracks. People like Lucy. And I'm thinking...some people who fall outside the system altogether. I can give people like that the kind of advice and support that saves lives." He turned toward one of his loft windows, gazing out at the blank gray sky. "I used to know Red pretty well. I might be able to talk with him. More important, I can listen, maybe diffuse some tension, maybe shield you from any more violence. If nothing else, I could give fair warning of anything Red and his new friends might try to do. But I need to know the whole truth about what I'd be walking into with him. He'll only give me his side of the situation, if things go well. And I cannot go in half blind." He looked at Catherine again.

“Isaac, I think you know already that… a decision about all this is not only mine do make, don’t you?”

"Yeah," he said again. "I know. I just had to start by talking with you." He smiled his warm, chip-toothed smile at her. "He may be your friend, but you're mine. And so I care a lot about you and yours."

She looked at him with a strange expression on her face. A hesitant smile started to twist her lips. “You can’t begin to understand how… good it feels to hear this, Isaac.”

Isaac only nodded. "Friends do for each other," he said.

“You know, Isaac, sometimes... I wonder if all the pieces of my life will ever fit together again," Catherine quietly said, absently looking around her teacher’s loft with its paraphernalia. "No,” she added after a moment, “actually, what I’m wondering, especially of late, is if I am fit for this… new life I chose for myself.”

"You worried that you and your pieces are too big for the life...or too small?" Isaac asked.

She thought over it for a little while. “I guess… just too different.”

Isaac nodded, understanding. "My grandad used to say that life has its seasons, and we've got to pass through them all, whether we like it or not. When one season changes over to the next, all we get to decide is whether we're gonna change with it, or try to stay the same as we were before. Neither choice is easy to make. But the ability to choose even the least little thing is what gives human beings our power and dignity." He rested a kind hand on her shoulder. "If I can suggest one thing? Just don't get stuck letting happenstance make all your choices for you. If you're starting to think your pieces are too different to fit inside your new life...well, it's never too late to pick a different life and try that out for a while."

“I had a different life, Isaac. Before that April night. Where happenstance was my lead. No, I gratefully choose this complicated new life. I can’t remember a time when I felt as good or complete as I do right now. I just… need to learn to fit.”

He gave her shoulder a friendly squeeze and let her go. "Well, for what it's worth, you're one of my best students, ever. I think you're pretty good at learning new things."


That evening, Catherine did not stay late at the office. Her early-morning conversation with Isaac weighed heavily on her heart. She gathered her belongings at a quarter past five and hurried home as fast as rush hour traffic would allow. Arriving at last in her parking garage, she parked and locked her car, balancing purse, satchel, keys, and overcoat in a routine feat of absentminded acrobatics. She then went straight from the garage to her apartment building's subbasement access door in the basement storage room.

A minute later, he was down the ladder and in front of Vincent. A very concerned Vincent. “Tell me,” he said.

She related all that Isaac had told her: about Lucy, about the man named Red who had once abducted her in a taxi cab on Jason Walker's orders, and about the Silks women, Patricia and Cozy, whom Catherine and Isaac had fought in order to follow Vincent down into the abandoned ruin of the former Beaumont night club. Vincent lowered his eyes quickly when she spoke the women's names. He doesn't like remembering them, Catherine guessed, a little surprised by Vincent's reaction, because she had not anticipated it, but also immediately sympathetic to his discomfort. She forged ahead, hoping to spare him from too much time spent remembering bad things.

"So now Isaac wants to know what happened to Jace," Catherine concluded. "They were friends, and it's hard to lose a good friend. And...Isaac wants to know your side of the story before he hears Red's. I think...maybe...he wants to size you up. Decide whether he can trust you or not. Maybe he's even wondering how much he can trust me."

to be continued...
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