A Funny Way To Show Concern


hagan_icon.gif ben_icon.gif

Scene Title A Funny Way to Show Concern
Synopsis Hagan is concerned about Ben. No, really. Also there is Christmas shopping.
Date December 6, 2008

Brooklyn Books

A small bookstore.

It's December, which means Christmas music is already playing in the shops. Even little ones, like the wee book shop Benjamin Fletcher is currently poking around in. A particularly vile Chipmunk version of a carol is presently assaulting the ears of all present. Ben, standing over by the non-fiction, rolls his eyes upward as if he could see the offending Chipmunks up there to glare at. There is nothing. There is some kind of weird brown stain, but it's probably best not to think about it.

Christmas. If there's anyone who embodies the word 'humbug' who isn't Scrooge himself, it's Hagan O'Sullivan. But even humbugs need to buy gifts for the mums, so the bookstore seemed like a decent choice. He shoulders his way in and then stands just beyond the doorway, nose wrinkling. Smells like…a garage. Mildewy. Bookish. He strolls through the aisles and glances quickly over the shelves. This quick motion nearly collides him with Ben as he rounds a corner. He blinks, rocks back, then looks him over. "Oh. It's you."

Ben backs up a step as well, book coming up in front of him like a half-shield. He blinks back at Hagan. "It's me," he says. One eyebrow raises; looks like his bruises have pretty much healed. He's looking for signs of exciting new injuries on Hagan's mug.

None! Surprisingly. Only a few lacerations and scratches that look almost entirely healed from the last time they crossed paths. Hagan reaches out to the shelf and pulls down a book on exotic birds which he pretends to be interested in for a brief moment. "So. Have you done anything particularly stupid lately?"

"Nobody's come after me with a shotgun for getting into a fight in a bar," Ben drawls. "Does that count?"

"That makes two of us. No one's after me either." Not that Hagan knows of, anyway. He tosses the book roughly onto the shelf and pulls one out abouts gardening. Mums like gardening, right? "You could use a few street smarts there, Gorgeous George."

Ben is still holding on to his first book. 'Gorgeous George' throws him a bit; he blinks again, shakes his head a little, and then gives a little shrug. "Probably," he tells Hagan, tone mild. "Got any tips?" He doesn't sound like he's expecting any helpful ones. But you never know.

Well, he has to call him something. They've never actually been introduced. Hagan squints at the instructions for topiary gardens and makes a face at the picture of the author on the back with giant glasses and gray curly hair. He shoves it away and moves down to the craft section. "Don't be a fucking hero is the big one. Take it from someone who tried recently. You just get kicked in the balls."

Ben reaches up to scratch the back of his head. "I didn't think checking on you guys qualified as being a hero," he says. "I'm not big on heroics."

"Don't be so bloody curious then, how's that?" Odd. Hagan actually sounds a little…concerned. But of course, he'd deny it. He continues to sort through books on everything from origami to decorative ceramics.

"Do you have a name?" Ben prompts after a moment of giving the side of Hagan's head a vaguely puzzled look.

"Hm?" A beat, "Hagan." He sounds distracted as he says that. A large book is tugged out that he nearly drops. He flips through it. "Right…does this look mom-ish to you?" He holds it up. It's a picture book of pastoral landscapes.

"Ben," Ben replies; he's not offering his hand. He leans a little to peer at the book. "Maybe? If the mom in question likes landscapes a lot." This conversation is odd.

That's not surprising, considering who he's talking to. Hagan makes a face again and shoves it away. "I don't know. What do you get a mother? I'm rubbish at buying gifts." He moves down to another section of books. It's mysteries.

Ben, at a loss for what precisely to do - and a little socially inept in his own special way - trails along after Hagan. "It depends on the mother. What's she like? Does she have any hobbies?" The Chipmunks wail on over the speakers, providing an annoying counterpoint to the conversation.

Hagan glares at the speakers. "What's wrong with this music? They need to get their speakers checked." Because clearly that's what's causing the Chipmunk sound. "I don't know. She's a teacher. Or a school board person now. I haven't seen her in four years." He paws through books more quickly now. He does a lot of tossing books aside.

Ben does a lot of correcting the placement of those books, re-shelving them where they ought to be if they're out of place. "That's the Chipmunks. They're a Christmas classic. An extremely annoying Christmas classic." I JUST WANT A HOOOO-LA HOOOOP, sings one of them. He thinks for a few moments before walking down the aisles, breaking from Hagan and waving for him to follow. "Teacher Man. Frank McCourt. It's the last of a trilogy of memoirs he wrote that started with Angela's Ashes, which was followed by 'Tis. Angela's Ashes was pretty big years ago, it was about an Irish family living in New York that went back to Ireland. Later, the son goes back to New York and becomes a teacher." Coming to a halt, he pulls a book from the shelves, turning to offer it to Hagan. "Sound good?"

Hagan snatches the book out of Ben's hand and looks at it. "Frank Mc…bloody. Do you really think that just 'cause my ma's Irish she wants to read about this twat?" He holds up the back of the book with the author's picture. He tosses the book back on the shelf. "What else?"

Ben's eyes narrow. "I wasn't assuming it was your mother. And it the book of a teacher's memoirs that came to mind first. I'd suggest A Prayer for Owen Meany, but she's probably already r… wait. Why am I helping you, again? Asshole."

Hagan looks to Ben and the smallest of smiles appears. "That was lesson one. Grow a fucking spine. Now. On to lesson two." He reaches out to Ben's shoulders to guide him towards the chick lit section. "Pick one of these that would appeal to a very loud Irish woman in her 30s with two brats."

"I love how you assume all kinds of wonderful things about me," Ben says flatly, shifting his shoulder away from Hagan. "You should get her the Twilight books. Tell her you loved them so much you want to share. I don't have to prove anything to you. If you're trying to get punched again, though, go a little further and maybe I'll oblige."

"Ha! I know that trap. I've seen the reviews. My dear mother would think I had lost my mind…" which is different than how Hagan is, how? "…if I recommended that teenaged drivel shat." He paces ahead a few steps, then turns back to Ben. He looks at the other man with hands in his pockets, brows up, and hair, as usual, wild as anything. "Honestly kid. I -am- concerned that I'm going to see your picture in the paper and read about how you were strangled with your own bike chain." Wait. When did Hagan see him on a bike?

"You know I ride a bike. That's vaguely stalkerish of you," Ben says, eyebrows lifting again, lips pressing together. The look he gives Hagan is not friendly.

"Right. Because I have nothing better to do in my fucking life than to follow a girly boy around." Hagan snorts. "You delivered to my office one day." Which could very well be true, but whether Hagan was actually around to see it is the question.

It's always the girly boy thing. Ben rolls his eyes a little, making an effort to relax the muscles in his shoulders that have tensed due to this delightful conversation. "I find that advice kind of funny coming from a drunk who picks fights. If that doesn't get you into shit, your liver exploding might."

"I'll grant you that my liver might explode. That's a hazard of my lifestyle," says Hagan as he picks up a wine guide. Apparently he's chosen this one, though it's hard to say if it's for himself or his mother. "But I don't pick fights. What I do is fucking finish them." He goes to the counter to pay for the book. It's not his fault that his personality provokes people. Or perhaps it is. But he doesn't do it to start fist fights.

"Bullshit. Fights don't necessarily start when one guy throws a punch," Ben tells Hagan as he heads back to the section he started in. "If your eyes and fingernails start turning yellow, you're fucked. But answer me one question: when'd you try to be a hero?"

"More than once recently," says Hagan a bit grumpily. He bags up his purchase and shoves the change away. He gives Ben a look, then starts to the door. He needs a smoke.

"Keep at it," Ben calls after a moment's thought.

"Fuck no," Hagan can be heard saying as he exits. A trail of smoke is the only marker of what direction he's gone.

Ben mumbles something uncomplimentary under his breath.

December 6th: Pull The Strings
December 6th: On Danger, Visiting Dignitaries, and Lunch
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