Black and White Sort of Nighttime


benji_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Black and White Sort of Nighttime
Synopsis Two sleepless denizens of Pollepel Island's Bannerman Castle bond over what they have in common.
Date January 22, 2011

Bannerman's Castle: Dining Hall

The room converted into Bannerman's dining hall, although long and narrow, can accommodate up to one hundred people, but despite the amount of use that it sees, it isn't hooked up to the castle's electrical grid, which means that after dark it's lit up by gas lanterns strategically positioned on the wooden tables with bench-style seating that occupy the space. A giant hearth set into one of its walls provides the hall with additional light and warmth, as well as a place for the castle's residents to convene when it isn't in use during the hours when breakfast and dinner are being taken.

The walls themselves are bare stone with no decoration except for the four windows opposite the fireplace, and these are covered with heavy pieces of plain canvas cloth at night to prevent the light from leaking outside, where it might be visible from the shore or the air. During the day the canvas is pulled back to brighten the room and make the gas lanterns unnecessary, but on mornings and afternoons when the sky is overcast, there is very little to combat the gloom and so the fuel is burned anyway.

Lantern light does shit all to illuminate the darker reaches of the dining hall, but it spills a golden, flickering halo around the immediate area, spilling up the curves of the ceiling, close to the centre of the cavernous room. It's after hours, and the place is empty save for whoever guards the light, sitting crossed legged on the floor for reasons that are not immediately clear. A cardbox box is tucked off the to the side, lid removed with finger holes making black eyes in the sides. It smells a little like cat, but not filthily so. Benji has done his best.

But done better at hiding the little kitten's presence, probably, than taking care of it. Underprepared, Benji is trying some tuna mushed further in water, the open can at his knee and a spoonful place on a teacup. His hands protectively surround the small tuxedo patterned feline, a weak creature that nose at the food, but thankfully, eats, its eyes in lazy slits and ears perked forward. He's hunkered down, with a sweater drowning his torso, and loose sweat pants better for sleeping in than socialising. His feet are in socks, and his hair uncombed, a by now shaggy mop of inky black.

He could do with a shave, too, a shadowed grain along his jaw and throat starting to grow in. But he's had other things to do with his face to worry about. Small scratches from bird talons flaw his skin, but more markedly, there stitches closing a deep cut, knifing a little uneven above an eyebrow. Splotchy bruises have yet to heel, darker than the sleepless shadows under his eyes.

She's had another nightmare. Rue Lancaster haunts the corridors of Bannerman's Castle like the ghosts she's claimed she can see. (Okay, ghost. Singular. And she wasn't dead. …Never mind.) Dressed in a pair of dark grey yoga pants, thick socks, and a Batman logo'd tee shirt under a teal robe (all brought from her home on the mainland), she shuffles her way into the kitchen. She seems surprised to see the light in the room. Perhaps as well she should be. Squinting in the dark, Rue tries to make out the figure as she makes her way forward.

"Benji?" The corners of the woman's mouth turn upward faintly in a smile. "You're looking better." When Rue's eyes finally adjust to the change in lighting, she spies the cat. There's a small gasp and an impish grin to follow. Her pace to meet the young man hastens. The sound of glass clinking together accompanies the swifter movement. One deep pocket of her robe seems a bit more heavily laden than the other. "Where on earth did you find that little thing?" is asked in a very hushed voice.

Benji's head goes up as soon as Rue's voice cuts through the quiet, as if having either not noticed or tuned out the other sounds of her approach, like rustling fabric or foot steps. There's a vaguely guilty set about his expression — but then again, his instinct for being wide-eyed when startled sort of just lends itself to that impression, as he manages a wan, tired smile for her when he sees one offered to him. "Hello," he greets, without word on how much better he looks. He probably disagrees.

"I got given this little thing," he remarks, voice whisper-quiet, breaking a little where tone does manage to filter through on the edges of words. He hasn't been speaking much, lately, in that he's been ghostlike in his antisocial recovery. "She was meant to die and I thought I'd— help." He tips his head a little in apology for poor wording. You know what I mean.

He strokes his hand down the length of the cat's body, tiny tail flipping like a snake. "But she's not."

"She's adorable," Rue comments, coming to sit down next to the young man, careful about whatever's got her pocket so heavy if the sweep of her robe is any indication of fragility. She still gives Benji his space as she leans in a little to coo at the kitten, "You're a dapper little thing, aren't you? All dressed up in your tuxedo." Which is silly, but she's a girl presented with a kitten, and the closer one's proximity to a kitten, the less intelligent the words out of one's mouth tend to be. It's a scientific fact.

"What's her name?" Rue asks with a cant of her head to regard Benji as she reaches out to scritch the animal behind the ears.

Bringing his shoulders up in a shrug, Benji shifts over enough so that Rue has access to the kitten a little, withdrawing his hands in case Rue would like to touch silky fur. Though the little tuxedo she-cat can still stand, she seems unsteady without some support, tail whipping harassed even as she keeps her focus on tuna for a couple more bites. Much like her new owner, she is a gawky creature, too skinny for her own good. "I don't know," Benji admits, shifting to sit with his hip against the ground and legs folded beside him, a hand restlessly gripping ankle. "I'm not very good at naming anything."

His pale eyes slant down towards where her robe is weighed down, back up to her face with open curiousity before he seals it off with a closed smile. "What are you doing awake?" he asks instead. "It's half passed midnight," is added with enough conspiracy, as if it really were a witching hour, or young adults like themselves would never dream of being up so late.

A quick glance around the dining hall - unnecessary, but still bringing some comfort - confirms that they are alone. "I couldn't sleep," Rue admits. "I'm worried about Reynard." Fingers brush over the kitten a few times before she takes the twitch-thrash of her tail to mean leave me the fuck alone I'm trying to eat. "Don't s'pose you've heard from him at all, have you? He… I need to thank him. He saved my life."

Curiosity doesn't kill the cat, or the cat's caretaker this time. Rue empties her pockets, procuring two beers, and a bottle opener. She sets one bottle in front of Benji, one in front of herself, and the opener between them. "Join me?" the ginger asks with a hopeful if somewhat troubled smile. "I was gonna drink 'em both myself, but I'd much rather share." Healthier, right?

Benji's smile breaks broader, a slither of an exhale that implies a chuckle rather than is one. The hand not supporting his weight goes up, palm shown to the ceiling. When in Rome in gesture. "I wouldn't say no to a nightcap," he demures, leaving the actual opening of bottles to the girl who might know better — before his brain catches up to what he was hearing. Reynard. His smile is wiped away in a look of more avid concern for her, and maybe Reynard as well, a soft hue of pink beginning to warm beneath his freckles.

For. No discernible reasons, really, as per usual. "Reynard?" he enquires, in the tone of a man who isn't sure how much he's supposed to know about a certain thing.

Rue's smile strengthens a little when Benji doesn't reproach her for dipping into her beer stash. She makes quick work of the bottle caps and tucks them (evidence) and the opener back into one pocket. Then her smile fades. "I was on a supply run with Barbara and Lynette. They asked me to help them deliver some stuff to the Garden?" Spoken like she isn't sure if that's the proper name of the location in question or not.

"We were stopped by soldiers. There was a problem with Barbara's identification…" Rue's mouth suddenly feels dry. Fortunately, she just happens to have a drink in front of her. Convenient. A generous swallow is taken before she continues. "They were pulling us out of the truck and they were going to arrest us. Or…" Or not. But not in the way that means letting them go. "Reynard just appeared out of nowhere. And he had this sword and…" One hand comes up suddenly to cover her mouth as her eyes start welling up with tears that are quick to spill over her cheeks. "He bought us time," she squeaks out between her lips and her fingers. "Everything just happened so fast. I froze, and he… This guy was dragging me by the hair, and Reynard just— He cut off the guy's hand."

Someone so unused to violent conflict, it's little wonder Rue has trouble sleeping. "He saved my life. And… What if he's dead? What if it's my fault because I didn't run sooner?"

A sword.



Benji drags his beer bottle a little closer, tipping a look down the slender neck of it before raising it to sip from. Not a big drinker of alcohol— with the strongest he's had on this island being a glass of red he nursed for about half an hour on New Years Eve— he grimaces fractionally at the taste, inspects the label, and then risks another sip to grow better accustomed to its bitterness. "If he appeared out of nowhere," he starts gently, after some amount of thinking, "then perhaps that means he can disappear back into nowhere just as easily. Mm? But perhaps you could cast word around the network and someone will know better.

"I'm afraid I don't." The lie is rich with sympathy, although the sympathy isn't necessarily a lie as he eyes the glistening tracks of her tears. His white teeth bite down on his bottom lip. Between them, there's a soft squeak from the kitten, who is dropping little bits of damp tuna upon the ground with small nudges of her nose.

Rue sniffles quickly and wipes at her eyes. "Jesus Christ. I'm so sorry. I just… haven't talked about it before. To anyone." She casts an apologetic look to Benji that looks like she may be thinking about attempting to smile. It doesn't happen. "It's been… rough. I mean, I don't have to tell you that. We're all here for the same reasons, essentially. It's tough for everybody. I just— Sorry."

For lack of better focus, Rue turns her attention to the tiny kitten. Who can be sad when one has a kitten? She reaches down to drag her fingers over her fur again. "How about Selina?" The query is meant for the kitten, but there is a small askance up at Benji. Her eyes are still bear that glossy sheen of uncertainty and misery, but she's managed to stop shedding those tears. Her emotions tend to play out in brief fits.

"Selina." Benji starts putting pieces of tuna back upon saucer, then shifting it out of the way as the kitten settles to lie on her belly, her back limbs curled in and front paws splayed. There is an alertness in baby-blue eyes, however, bobble head up and gaze curiously taking in the big old world in which she hasn't departed yet. "That has a black and white sort of nighttime sound to it, doesn't it?" His head tilts as if to catch the baby cat's gaze. "I was thinking that if she gets stronger, she could be our resident rat catcher."

He hesitates, before snorting and adding, in a lower voice, "Or birds." Benji covers kitten head with hand to scritch ears and between her eyes, a soft prrllr from the feline in response. "Don't be sorry. Please."

To the comment about it being a black and white sort of nighttime sounding name, Rue nods her head. "I think so. S'appropriate." It brightens her spirits, having her choice of names liked. She turns back to little Selina now and coos, "Are you gonna be our big, strong mouser? Yes you are. You're gonna be so fierce."

Nose and brow crinkle with amusement momentarily until Rue's shoulders sag a bit and she takes her beer in her hands again, sipping this time rather than gulping. "You're really nice, you know that? Then again, I figured you would be. Nora has good taste in friends, I think." May be a little biased.

Blue eyes lid for a moment, and then Rue is offering out one hand. "So since we're sharing beer and naming kittens together, I should… probably suspend my social retardation and formally introduce myself, huh?" She smiles, sheepish and embarrassed. "Rue. Lancaster. Registered Evo and, depending on which rumours you listen to, Bible-bashing lesbian. Only half untrue."

Setting beer aside, Benji takes her hand to squeeze in greeting. An easy, amused smile spreads at her introduction, a soft uhh in reply as he tries to think of his own and mostly only comes up with: "Benji Foster. Not— not Benjamin. Or Ben. And you're— Lancaster." There's something about that name that strikes a little familiar in Benji's overtired scrutiny of her features, but he's releasing her hand and waving the notion away before she can even ask. "Rings a bell from, um. Work."

He tips back a deeper sip of beer, the gentle slosh of fluid audible in the wide silence of the dining hall, air bubbling up from neck to bottom and back again as its set down. "Some of my best friends are religious," he says, with a sort of mock chastising warning slant to his tone.

Rue tips her head to one side slightly. "I have an aunt in the area. Don't look too much like her. We're both tall and I think maybe we have the same eyes. She's blonde, though. Great smile." Then the girl blinks. "She works for the government, though. So, maybe you don't know her." Because if Benji - not Benjamin. Or Ben — is here? He probably doesn't work for the government. Right?

At the small amount of chastisement, Rue doesn't seem cowed or guilty. She just gives him that mischievous smile. "I said only half of that was true. I'm a lesbian, not a Bible-basher." Except for the part where she suggested a bible cake would taste like bullshit. Okay, that was maybe uncalled for. But in her defense, it was too good to pass up, and Nora planted the seed in her mind. Also beer.

Which she is consuming more of now, thank you. "I overheard someone say that you've got an ability, too. I see… phased people. Like Samara and Paul. Maybe invisible people in general? What about you? I mean, if you don't mind me asking. It's kind of neat to have all these abilities under one roof. I used to go to rallies and stuff, but didn't really… know people like me."

Ah, so Rue hasn't heard that rumour, the one about Benji's affiliations. His eyes droop, as if each defined eyelash weighed a little more than it should, and he finds himself scooping Selina up off the ground to cuddle to his chest as he's been doing since holing himself up in his room. It's cold enough that he doesn't want to leave the kitten exposed for too long — his breath as well as Rue's hits the chilly air as steam. He isn't going to correct her mistake.

"I'm a telepath," he says, with a neutral kind of smile, dropping his gaze down on the tiny predator he's holding close. He raises kitten aloft as people are wont to do with animals who don't resist, fore legs sticking out stiff over the rigid clasp of his hands, tail curling up. "And I'd prefer to leave it at that, if that's alright," he adds in a softer tone of voice, ringing familiar in his ears as when Eileen had asked a similar question. "Rumours, Miss Lancaster, they spread so quickly on this damp little island."

"I'm sorry," Rue murmurs. "I wasn't… I didn't want to insult or offend you. I'm just… curious." She bites her lip and eyes Benji for a moment, then Selina. "I'm a telepath, too. I mean, that's what my registration says. I don't… read minds, though. Do you? I mean, can you?" She winces. "Sorry. That's me… not leaving it at that, huh? I've just never met another telepath before."

A pale red brow quirks upward. "I'd hate to know what people are thinking about me. So I'm kind of glad my brand of telepathy only allows me to see invis'." There's a gentle shrug of Rue's shoulders at that. "Your secret's safe with me, though. Any friend of Nora's is a friend of mine, and friends keep each other's secrets." She reaches out to scritch the tiny kitten in Benji's grip. "And you aren't gonna tell anybody about us wacky telepaths, are you, Selina? No~"

"They do," Benji agrees, with a pull of a half smile, eyes still hooded to show just slivers of pale blue. "And beer." And kitten love, apparently, as while he doesn't relinquish the tiny creature to Rue's hands, he does shift to allow easier pettings, smiling a little freer at the sight of the feline pushing pink nose up towards Rue's palm with inquisitive whiskers. "She was abandoned, I think. Barely showed any interest in anything when I first came back with her. We were so sure she'd die."

A beat as he considers something, and then smiles again, a smaller smile. "Or just me, maybe. Um. You don't have to worry about me reading your mind." There. He allows for that much, if only to put her at ease, fingers skritching behind the kitten's ears.

"I wasn't." Worried, that is. Rue gives Benji a reassuring smile, brighter now than previous attempts. Selina's nudges only encourage Rue to lavish more attention. "She fits right in with us, I think. She's a survivor." She withdraws then, her hand from the kitten. Brings beer back to her lips. "Let me know if you need anything for her from the mainland. Or for yourself. I'm going back for more of my comic and book collection in a week or two, to try to bring some more entertainment to the island. So… Not really out of my way."

"Oh— " — is partial interruption, though too quiet to actually do so, coming at a midpoint after 'or for yourself', Benji's eyes lighting with some gratitude — he'd almost forgotten his dilemma just moments ago, about what to feed the little beast. "Yes, please. Some dry food for her, I think. I can mix it with water. Um. If there's anything for malnourished kittens — I stole a syringe to water her," he says, without particular remorse for their little medical supply over here, "and there might be formulas. I don't know. She's very young. Or just small."

Sinking the kitten against his chest once more, within the curling crook of an arm, Benji picks back up his beer, before shifting over to go and distribute the feline into the box once more. "I don't have much in the way of money, but naming is inherently possessive and possession is nine tenths of the law, right?"

The young woman tips her head down to shoot Benji a decidedly foxy look, one shoulder up with a devilish little quirk to her mouth. "I'll be your sugarmama," she teases. And then Rue giggles, smile wide and toothy. "Friends do things for one another. And good people don't let kittens go hungry, right? I'll see what I can scrounge up for her."

One elbow comes out and nuuuudges the man slowly, gently, in the arm. So as not to jostle the beer, the kitten, or aggravate injuries that may be hidden beneath sweater fabric. "Yooou could come with me," she suggests. "We could take her to a vet on the mainland. Get her vaccines and stuff? I mean, unless you can't, and want to entrust her to my care. She's your kitten." Both brows come up now in an innocently encouraging expression. "We could maybe take Nora? I think it'd do her good to get off the island for a bit. Us, too. And there's safety in numbers, right?" One hand comes up, acknowledging and backing away from any possibly overstepped boundaries. "Think about it. S'totally up to you."

A hand wanders as far as the stitches at his head, in a roaming fidget that would have Abigail Caliban slap his hand away as he thinks, some uncertainty reflected in his hesitation as well as his eyes. The mysterious bird attack has had him sequestered in his room as soon as he was released from the infirmary for extended concussion symptoms, and only now, the castle. Going outside and not only outside but all the way to the mainland has him pausing, until annoyance at himself firms his jaw.

"Sure," is a little curt, but no less sincere. Benji flickers a smile towards her. "If you're buying."

"I'd have it no other way." Rue stops just short of slapping her hand down on his shoulder. It's a very Lancaster (family) thing to do, but she catches herself, squinting one eye shut with a breath of laughter. "Sorry." Very gently, and (dare I say it?) gingerly, she pats the man's shoulder. "It's settled, then. It'll be fun. You guys can stay at my place. It'll be a little cramped with three of us, but no worse than here. And I have a heater." A point in her favour, she clearly believes.

Pushing herself to her feet, Rue then begins cleaning up after Benji and Selina. Bits of stray tuna, and the saucer. "Thanks for talking to me, Benji." Not that she gave him terribly much choice, but he didn't tell her to fuck off, either. "You're awesome."

There's a small sound as Rue begins to clean up after him, minor protest, but Benji ultimately lets her. Too groggy and kitten-having to stop her beyond that, and offering a smile instead, a shy tip to his head at compliment. "Oh, don't mention it." Getting his legs back under him, Benji stands with the same caution as one might who fears sudden dizziness to strike, but it never does, even as he bends to pick up the box, the tuxedo kitten with quick to flop amongst the warm linens and wools gathered at the bottom.

"Least I could do now. Now. Have a good night, Miss Lancaster. Rue."

Rue grins cheekily in return, glancing over her shoulder as she goes to dispose of the evidence (wash a dish). "You as well, Mister Foster."

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