A Dangerous Conversation


tasha_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title A Dangerous Conversation
Synopsis Tasha and Vincent stumble uneasily into one.
Date April 26, 2010

Vincent's Apartment

Tasha's phone was for once connected and so when the telltale ring denoting her Father's number came through, for once she did not ignore it — after all, she was safe away from Ferry and curled up at her mother's house with warm down comforters, chocolate-chip cookies, and hot cocoa. Her mother was at work after spending the first part of the day shopping with Tasha — and Tasha was actually feeling lonely — this was the first time she had spent any time alone in weeks, aside from the quick jaunt in the snow to call Vincent a few days earlier.

The phone call was awkward and terse — basically he demanded to meet and she agreed to come to his house.

A few hours later, she has arrived, knocking with a quick Rap rap first and then using the key to open the door — in case he hasn't arrived from the office yet. She's thinner than he last saw her back at Thanksgiving, but otherwise healthy looking — or as healthy as anyone can be without having seen the sun for however many days in the northeast.

Vincent is home.


Or he's been home, anyway.

Scraps of mail are scattered unopened on the kitchen table, all crisply, cooly uniform. Bills. A pay stub. No ads, no magazines.

No junk.

Luggage at rest in the unlit living room consists of a single checked piece on wheels and a laptop bag slung blackly into a contemporary leather chair that looks like it's hardly been sat in. There's a light on somewhere in a bedroom towards the back — warm yellow to offset paler night light white touched cold on black granite kitchen counters. The place is masculine enough in its faintly tobacco warmed atmosphere that he probably hired a decorator. Even the refrigerator is stainless steel.

When he appears, it's at her back near the door; a silent accumulation of black vapor dusted forth from the gloom. He only has a gun in hand for as long as it takes him to recognize the frame of her. Taller than he remembers. Which is saying something, you know. When you're a Lazzaro.

There is probably a reason he is in a tuxedo. It's probably a better reason than his reason for still being in the process of nudging his sidearm down into its shoulder holster when a tell-tale scuff of metal on leather threatens to give him up and he opts to compromise himself with a mild, "Been a while."

She turns at the sound of his voice with a slight jump, then leans against the wall she's closest to. She arches a brow as she looks him up and down. In comparison, Tasha is very casual — dressed, it would seem, with the sole purpose of irritating him. Her new yellow plaid coat's unbuttoned, as she was in the process of taking it off when he decided to alert her to his presence; beneath that are the black and white striped fingerless gloves like something out of Burton's closet, an Invader Zim hoodie in colors of lime green and hot pink, Doc Martens laced with hot pink ribbons. Somehow, miraculously, she only has one set of piercings in her head — the ones she's had since she was 13 — as a single set of small hoops adorn her ears.

"What's with the monkey suit?" Tasha says, gesturing with one striped hand at him. "You playing at being James Bond or something?" Her voice is light, casual, friendly, but there's a tension in the way she holds herself, like she's waiting for the storm to hit.

"I've been away," says Vincent, maybe a little too concisely for comfort. His lower jaw juts while he fidgets with his holster and looks her over, trying not to do some kind of Look and failing because she's in plaid and stripy gloves and so many colors what the hell. He blinks, and in the dimmed out entry, the impression of her stays with him across the backs of his eyelids. "There were politicians."

"Meanwhile," a tug of his shirt crisps it down into relatively uncrumpled finery once more, holster adjusted cleanly out of sight despite the fact that he can't possibly be going anywhere else tonight, "if this is the exclamation point on the end of a cry for attention, you're doing an excellent job. I'm pretty sure I can still see you with my eyes closed."

Her brows knit and her chin lifts a touch — she is all Lazzaro, even if she uses Renard most of the time. Or Oliver, these days. It takes her a moment to figure out what he's talking about, and Tasha glances down at herself. "It's fucking cold out. Pardon me if I didn't put on a silk dress in some pre-approved color to come visit you in proper attire. I didn't expect it'd be a black tie affair, you know?" she says, arching a brow as she pushes off the wall to move to the sofa and sit there. No hugs, no kisses, apparently, for him.

As she walks past him, he can catch the scent of tobacco and smoke waft past, though it might be faintly covered up by the minty scent of gum. "So anyway," she says as she flops onto the couch, putting her feet on the coffee table. She glances up at him through long lashes, waiting for him to begin the lecture or the inquisition.

The calculated absence of a hug is naturally one of those things that is more of a presence in non-existence than it is as a thoughtless physical act of love or — something. Vincent doesn't need to be perceptive to note its absence, but the fact that he is quickens the bore of a cold little pit somewhere behind and beneath his sternum once she's past.

Suspicion of her mother's influence creeping in already is a little paranoid even for him, and he forces himself through doubt to clip after her in the wake of a stricken pause only someone like him would think twice about anyway. He flicks a switch on as an afterthought as he goes, recessed lighting and wall fixtures placed to elaborate upon bookshelves and flatscreen and abstract paintings in black and grey with occasional lashes of red thrown in. You know, for variety. One of them looks like it could be a horse.

"So," he echoes, eyeing her as he lifts his laptop clear of his nearby chair, "where have you been, why was your phone off and are you really smoking or just experimenting to piss me off?" His hand catches at the strap's middle, dropping the laptop itself very nearly to the floor. "And you shouldn't say, 'fuck.'"

Tasha's dark eyes study him for a moment — perhaps trying to decide if the questions and the little vulgarity lecture come from care and concern or just because it's what he's expected to say as her father. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out an envelope, tossing it on the coffee table. Inside is a few hundred dollars of cash. "That's the rent for the Boston apartment, since I cashed the check and didn't pay rent," she says coolly. At least she didn't steal the money for drugs, right?

"And you smoke, so you can keep the hypocritical forthcoming lecture to yourself. Pretty sure you drop the f-bomb once in a while, too, but you know, we don't talk that often, so I'm going to go on vague memories and intuition, on that one." Her defenses are up, so out comes the sarcasm.

"I was in Boston until last week. I've been here since last week. My phone has been off because," she pauses — how does he know her phone is off?

Vincent opens his mouth. Then he closes it again, the level his brows set and eyes every bit as black as hers, if somewhat older, harder and more accustomed to drilling through people like a mako shark through schools of herring.

"You can keep the money," sounds natural enough. Probably because he takes his time in saying so. The pauses before and after those five words yawn treacherous across the living room, something hard to pin down clamped into an awfully steely lock at his jaw. "I'd like to know why you left school."

Her hand comes to her mouth, thumbnail inserted between upper teeth and lower and she chews it for a moment — a bad habit Tasha has had since they were still a family, perhaps picked up when the tensions between Vincent and her mother grew so they were no longer ignorable, an elephant in the room. Her dark lashes dip once as she glances down, then her eyes meet his.

"There was a guy," she begins, before her eyes slip away, looking through the slider to the balcony and the snow beyond. Her cheeks color slightly. "I … we… there was a problem, but…" she begins, frowning as words won't come in any manner that's coherent. Colette's suggestion to be honest is at war with her own instincts. She lets those words hang in the air for a moment, trying to think of what comes next.

Laptop carrier weighed in his hand, Vincent eventually lowers it enough to bump the corner down into light carpeting so that he can sink after it. Into the perpindicular chair, posture lengthening itself into a mirror of her own, shiny black shoes kicked up onto the coffee table's polish and stubble-dusted jaw rested in his hand once he's slouched back far enough. Leather creaks. There's a soft 'wump' when he lets the laptop tip the rest of the way over on its own, maybe a little carelessly.

"Well. You don't look pregnant."

Pregnant. That's not what she was going for, but it's a possibility if she feels she needs the lie. There's a click of teeth on nail and Tasha looks away again. "Right, because you can always tell right away," she says sarcastically. "Don't worry. I'm not stupid enough to actually have a kid at 18. People shouldn't reproduce until they're at least 25 anyway. Someone told me that you're not even like a person until you're 25, not really, your brain is still figuring out who you are."

Her words are deliberately ambiguous. She didn't say she wasn't. Tasha drops her feet from the coffee table and leans forward. "Dad," she says, arms crossing and leaning on her knees. It's the first time she's called him by any sort of name since he spoke to her. "Do you know anything about some group called the Ferry?"

How old were they when they had Tasha? If math was Vincent's strong suit he wouldn't have been a police officer. 22? 23? The furrows in his brow read of resignation in the face of further backhandedness, intentional or no, and he lets it slide in a minute tip of his eyes ceilingwards. Meanwhile he's awkward despite himself, tension closed off in his chest and in the bend of the arm he has crooked up to support the side of his head.

Being a father is complicated and hard and time consuming at odd hours and most of all something he hasn't been decent at in at least a decade. The process of him sinking his claws deep into the barest possibility of something like a second chance is virtually invisible for all that it defines every subtle movement (or lack of movement) about his person. Even the casual, "Mm?" to her Dad is calculated while his eyes turn back to her from the blank flatscreen. Maybe it's not a confession. Maybe this is good news. Maybe she is evolved after all. That would be cool.

There's no real reaction to her question. No immediate snap of sinew or bristle of hackles. Vincent shifts minutely in his chair. Drops his hand around to scuff at the underside of his jaw and then his nose. Tips his head to belatedly follow her attention to the balcony and the snow beyond that.

This is what silent panic looks like, Vincent Lazzaro style.

Stupid. Tasha's inner monologue is already self-berating. She knew better than to try for honesty. Now she has this question without an answer, and there's no way to back it up so anything makes sense in the non-conversation they're having. Her eyes close for a moment — she's not good at concealing her emotions yet. She may have been a drama geek in high school, but concealing one's emotions takes a lot more acting skill than pretending to have emotions on a stage under bright lights.

Tasha drops her hand into her lap, giving up on the nail she was chewing on for the time being. "I was just curious. Forget about it," she says, waving it away. Like every other topic they've started so far today. "Look, I'm sorry about school. They said they'd send you back your money. If they didn't — I'll pay it back, all right? I just… I need to get a job or something. I'm not cut out for school. I'm not like Mom."

The lie of course is that she had all As her first semester in the rigorous BFA program — but the grades didn't go to him. Just the bills. She's banking on the fact that her mother didn't share her GPA with Vincent.

"This is a dangerous conversation," seems like an odd thing for a father to say offhhand, even if it is true and does sound a lot like something Vincent would say muffled a little sideways into the curl of his hand before it hooks in under the hood of his brow to mash at his eye. The side with the scar chipped lengthwise through the temple, over the jut of his ear. He tugs at his bow tie next, still not looking at her.

"The Ferrymen are dangerous people who act out against and occasionally in collusion with all manner of other even more dangerous people. That is what I know." His sentences are suddenly very structured. His punctuation marks are set in concrete and his grammar is precise. "I will forget about it so long," flick, he drags the tie blackly from around his neck, "as you intend to do the same. As for school, I'm sorry too."

So much for Colette's idealism. Tasha nods, hand going to her pocket and pulling out her gum pack, fingers extricating a piece to slip into her mouth. "I was just curious. I'd heard about them from some kids at school, they said something that had to do with your office. I couldn't really follow it, but since they brought up DoEA, I was just curious." It's a lie, but she hopes it's a believable one.

Dark eyes scowl at the envelope on the table. The money will be useful, no doubt, but she already has pangs of guilt for the lies she's telling. "Don't talk to Mom about the school thing, all right? She'll think I dropped out because of a guy and that's …" her cheeks flush slightly and she looks away. She doesn't want her mother to think she's that weak — she dropped out because of Dane, but not because Dane left her. "I don't want her to think badly of me." The implication is perhaps that Vincent already does so it doesn't matter.

It's hard to tell whether or not Vincent's willing to take her at her word at this point. It certainly doesn't look good. Dropping out of school. Disappearing. Asking the wrong kinds of questions. He nods vacantly all the same, mind racing behind casual acceptance while the narrow band of his tie slithers loose through his fingers into his lap.

"I don't think she will," is a very ambiguous kind of reassurance. Honest, anyway. "But I won't say anything."

"Thanks," Tasha says, her 's' held out just a moment longer than necessary, as if that will show more gratitude, or maybe fill all the awkward space and silence between the two of them. Unfortunately, not so much.

"I … you're probably tired. I'll head back home," she says, standing up. She hadn't even taken off her coat, though she did get as far as unbuttoning it. "I'm trying to decide if I'm gonna stay here or go back to Boston, but," she begins again, reaching into her pockets for her ski gloves, "I'll let you know."

Tasha heads toward the door, before stopping and turning, one hand on the doorknob. Glancing over her shoulder, there is something wistful, needful in her expression for a split second. "I'm sorry I worried you," she whispers, the words almost too quiet to hear, before she opens the door to slip out.

Vincent's Blackberry is cool in his hand the moment the door has clicked quietly closed at Tasha's back, screen lit blue all the way until he turns it over once and tucks it away without dialing over the course of some six or seven minutes.

He eventually turns the TV on instead, maybe for the first time since he had it installed, flooding the apartment with a rolling wash of color and sound once he's flipped the light off, retrieved the laptop and retreated back into his bedroom to change into something less ridiculous. Not that he can switch lives with someone or anything, but.

Pajamas are a good start.

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