Fence Sitters


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Scene Title Fence Sitters
Synopsis A dream of past regrets takes place… fortunately, the past is present.
Date May 18, 2011


Snow clots between the broken pieces of machinery and the molehills of gravel, dusting white onto the junkyard wasteland and making the journey all the more trecherous. It's difficult to even get a sense of what this place is or at least used to be, apart from a dumping ground of bomb-wrecked concrete and steel. The blackened shell of a sedan, windows entirely stripped of glass, looted of its parts, sits with its nose buried in rubble, is one of the very many bodies of junkyard scrap, and one of the few that is recognisable as what it used to be. The sense of space is only helped once one looks beyond this patch of wasteland, and marks the river beyond the docks, and the crippled cityline, and where the sun is sinking into the west in a foggy, meek sunset. To the south-west, one can see the craggy horizon of Staten Island, one of the few places that glows electrical lights, save for the sporadic signs of military camps speckled across the Brooklyn borough.

There's a fence that runs firm and direct through this place, dividing Red Hook and every neighbourhood south of it from the rest of the land, including the docks that reach into the river. Sturdy and made of diamond wire, with tilted outreaches of barbed metal making jagged spirals, leaning over either side. Through the chilly steel of fencing, the Statue of Liberty's proud silhouette can be seen in the low, wintery dusk.

Home to the junkyard of wartorn wreckage and setting to one of Lovecraft's less than cherished urban horrors, Red Hook plays host to this little swatch of land that goes unpatrolled, uncared for, and it's here that Vincent Lazzaro and Barbara Zimmerman find themselves on the weekly search for intelligence. Of signs. It's an act of faith, especially when Vincent is the only one who knows the identity of the sponsor that signifies his or her passing by this place with a red ribbon tied to a link in the fencing. From there, it's a matter of ghosting like vapour— or as vapour— to collect what's on the other side. A briefcase. A courier tube. It varies. Barbara is here because Vincent needs a partner.

They always only go this close to the border with a partner.

A fog has rolled in off the river, making visibility even more difficult, and there hasn't even been enough sunlight today to burn off the moisture. The fence on either side of them vanishes into the soupy mist. Rubble cracks and skitters under feet as they search.

Occasionally, being on the "right" side of the fence entails an adjustment. Of perspective. Awareness. Of allegiance.

Whether or not that holds true in this case, right or wrong, Vincent is on the side that he is on and he is not wearing a suit.

At least, not in the traditional sense.

The tatty, unevenly worn and faded black of his overcoat does something to disguise (or at least muffle the outline of) scratched and scored Horizon armor plating. And Horizon armor plating does something to disguise a limp. Or a hitch. Something more than arthritis that stiffens his spine and his shoulders and his left knee and his trudge overall in the same pan-to-the-face cold that fogs breath filtered thick through vents retrofitted into either side of his helmet.

Which he hasn't taken off since they set out.

An argument. Or something.

The stiffness in his shoulders isn't all achey muscle, anyway, as he navigates his way along wordlessly a step beside and behind.

There was once a movie, and it contained one iconic line. A mantra of sorts, repeated over sequals, that worked it's way into pop culture, one that is sometimes quited for humerous purposes, and tog et a laugh out of people.

"I'm too old for this shit", though, is exactly what Barbara finds herself thinking at times, and she is undoubtably far from the only one - there are some older than her still kicking around among the Ferrymen - hell, she's with one of them right now. But that doesn't keep her form sometimes feeling like age is slowing her down. Today, by whatever means nexessary, she's trying her best to keep that (possibly imagined) state from affecting her too much as she walks beside Vincent, a rifle held in hand. You know. Just in case. She doesn't have the benefit of an ability or highly advanced armour. Her clothing is loose, allowing for freedome of movement - a long, patched up jacket, loose pants that hopefully won't snag on a fence or piece of debris.

She's alert as she can be, tired eyes looking around for whatever their intel drop may be contained in this time. Silent and uneasy posture and catious steps are far from an unusual thing for her, but they are marked and noticable in this moment.

Through the visor of the helmet, it'll be Vincent that sees her first — a woman of average stature, a little shorter than Barbara, and also somewhat younger than either of them. She cuts a sharp figure when her shape suddenly cuts into view in the low, dank mist, her hands gripping onto the fence to lean, her hair drawn into a rough ponytail, and boots sunk into the muck and snow. She also stands on what counts as the other side of the fence, head ducked, almost meditative, with a wool-lined leather jacket drawn over her torso, jeans spattered in ice and mud, hands clad in lambskin gloves against the chill in the air. The steam of her breathing dances with more movement than the stagnant blanket of fog.

Her head lifts not a few seconds after she's seen first, a sharp look down the way of the fence to see who's coming, and her tension doesn't go away. She doesn't call out, or offer identification, save for the strand of red satin ribbon that tangles up in the fence, pinned with her fingers, that marks her as someone who has either discovered their intel, or is delivering it.

It's been a while, since Vincent has talked to her in person, since their initial introduction under fire at the factory facility not so far from this place, wrecked though it is, by now.

The silhouette of a woman down the line of the fence snags Vincent's attention before the ribbon does. Mud-spattered and silver-streaked armor stops cold in its tracks, weight splaying hard to soft in slurry and sludge. In the next second, a gauntlet wraps with stinging cold into an iron vice around Barbara's near arm, anchoring her (and her rifle) as well, while there's still plenty of distance between them.

He stands like that for a moment, poised, and then reaches up with his free hand to unfasten the clamps that connect helmet to neck and neck to shoulder. Steam lifts free off the glance of his skull once he's dragged helmet and a few stray strands of cut wire down to his side so that he can better see what he is seeing. Something unusually grim, even for this climate: his brow is hooded black and muscle's knotted dry under the grey bristle at his chops.

"Stay here," is not a request, once he's made up his mind. Neither is, "And turn around," as he eases off his grip and tucks his helmet under his arm to set off for the ribbon.

When Vincent takes hold of her, Barbara can't help but tense up noticably, stiff as she looks ahead at the forming silhouette lingering in the fog. The rifle starts to move to a ready position, just in case, but the tight hold that Vincent keeps on her does it's job of keeping it in place - not that she had any plans of shooting now and asking any questions later, but she can't blame Vincent for taking a precuation. Hopefully, she wouldn't blame him for any she had to take take later.

His requestcommand is met with narrowed eyes, the rifle finishing it's move to a more ready position, just for a moment. "I'm supposed to be watching your back," she remarks quietly, "Not my own." Still, she complies, turning around with a bit of a sigh. "But if something looks wrong, I'm catching up to you," is her only real compromise, a smile offered back over her shoulder. The rfile raises about half way, and once agian she resumes looking around for aynthing that would fit that very description of "wrong".

Pushing herself away from the fence with a barely audible creak, the younger woman starts to pace closer. There is a mixed race touch to her features, indefinite as to what, although these days, it's rarely skin colour that results in much bloodshed. She is also sleepless, with deep shadows under her eyes — but there is warmth to the smile she casts Vincent when recognition sets in, prowling along a little faster but stopping before any real distance is eaten away, allowing Vincent to approach. Once he's close enough—

"It's okay," she says, voice low. "I'm okay. But they killed— they killed Agent Pak." Which might explain the fluttery fear that she isn't projecting so much as manifesting in the nervous twist of the red ribbon between her fingers. She glances passed Vincent, curiousity sparking in her eyes.

Vincent doesn't look too bad off. He looks his age, certainly. Haggard, shabby and a little drawn, scruff less fastidiously maintained than memory implies it should be. Sore, too — fresh, private lines etched in tight around his eyes.

Prescription painkillers are harder to come by on this side.

Barbara's reluctant compliance is marked with a half glance back that rides the line between grateful and resentful, helmet adjusted in its sit against his side. Satisfied, at least, that she isn't going to shoot.

Eavesdropping is a more pressing concern, particularly when the younger woman moves partway to meet him. He doesn't smile back. He isn't necessarily happy to see her, relief at wellness accounted for in a flinty glance around her person counterbalanced by an automatic lean with her line of sight while he listens, as if partially blocking her view of Barbara is likely to obstruct curiosity as well. "All the more reason," he tells her, "for you not to be here."

The woman is not the only one with curiosirty. Barbara doesn't make any move closer to Vincent, but she doesn't move further away either. Eyes scan the edges of visibilty only a time or two before she looks back over her shoulder, trying to catch a glimpse of vincent's contact. But his effort to block the woman's line of sight blocks hers as well, leaving her alrgely unable to see, or hear, the person that they've come here to meet.

Not that the fog is helping. Thrice damned fog has Barbara mildly paranoid of what could be stepping out of it and into view. A paranoia largely kept in check for teh moment, but it doesn't stop her from looking past Vincent and teh woman and into the fog all around them. Just in case.

The woman's smile dims but doesn't vanish all the way, paring down to wryness instead of warmth. "Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it just means that I'm going to need a way out, Vincent. And for that, I might need to be more than an intel dispenser." The ribbon is crumpled up into a fist and shoved into her pocket, and she shies back a step or so from the fence, the crunch of gravel beneath her feet louder than either of their voices. She pauses, then reaches under jacket to take the plastic-sheathed handful of pages out from her waistband — curls it into a tube and offers it through the fence. "These were handed around the office. Maps tracking supposed coyote routes for Reds escaping to Mexico. They're sending out some teams to investigate.

"I don't know if it has anything to do with you, but it might. There's more. I didn't write it down," is added, eyebrow lifting. "Maybe your friend wants to join us."

Vincent lifts a gloved hand to wrap around the proferred tube without actually looking at it. He's still looking at her instead, level stare boot black over the rough flag of his coat and collar and body armor that looks like someone's tried to reposses it more than once. I hope you are aware, says the look, that I can't take responsibility for your decisions if you decide that you are making them as an adult, now.

Or something.

The implication is there, in the Sam Eagle furrow of his brow and the faint marr of his frown. Not approving, even once he's given her a serious beat to reconsider based upon his disapproval and then raised his voice to say: "Barbara." aloud to his partner's shape in the fog. Invitation. Or as close as he's likely to get to it. "You can be anything you want to be," he adds for her in closer quarters, voice low in the second or so before he pries his glare away to unroll the laminated papers instead, "but these days, you only get to choose once."

It takes a few moments for Barbara to once more look back over her shoulder towards Vincent, choosing to give another look over the horizon and deep into the fog, before she finally turns back around to face Vincent. It's a slow move that she takes towards them, rifle lowered and pointed away from them. She doesn't want to intrrupt whatever last bit of private discussion it is they're having, but she doesn't want to stay sperated any longer than needed.

"Anything wrong?" is teh first question offered as she reaches them, a smirk on her face. "Or were you sad I was gone? Either way…" She shrugs a bit, letting the rifle fall to her side. "Something I should know?"

Barbara. The name is filed away as the woman dances a glance towards the older one, evaluating and remembering — but an innocent kind of evaluation. She isn't here to drag back pieces of information to the other side. One hopes.

She only got out a muttered, I know, to Vincent, by the time the conversation has been opened to accommodate one more, and she turns a look to Barbara, standing straighter. There's a touch of reassurance that Barbara feels, but it doesn't feel forced, or invasion — more of an empathic suggestion, to replace her paranoia coming off her like a smell. "I was telling Vincent that one of my colleagues was assassinated," she says. "She was working on compiling evidence of contracts between the government and Humanis First. A lot of it's destroyed, now. But there's another way. Evolved agents who did some dirty work, back in your day.

"Brenton Black was sighted to still be in city limits, but he's running. If he isn't willing to submit a statement, he might have leads, if he comes to your people for help. Maybe he'll even know something about what happened at Factory 17." Her hands come up to hook onto the fence, turning her look from Vincent, to Barbara, and back again. "In other news. Carol Praeger died. I don't know if it's because she stopped being useful or her body finally gave out."

More than news of a recently deceased agent, a dead Praeger drains some of the constitution out of Lazzaro's stubborn mug. His tar and ink fix on maps to Mexico derails into a sideways drift out of the margins, and for all that there isn't much room for guilt in the age angled in bleak around his face, there is room for trains of thought to be pushed off of tracks.

He's careful, at the same time. Blank static muffles a mermaid glimmer of despair under the surface; he keeps his breath steady and busies his right hand with passing the maps over for Barbara to take and examine. Brenton Black is filed responsibly away with a sideways glance not even a beat later. Moving on.

"Barbara, this is Billy Jean," he says offhand into his own vacuum, and to Barbara. Staggered introduction. Explanation. In for a penny. He scrubs unconsciously after a spike of fresh heat through the side of his skull. "And this is Barbara. Finest ass," he tells a tug at Horizon's stiff collar, "in all the Ferry."

"Brenron Black," Barbara repeats upon hearnig the name. A small smile and a nod is offered to the woman - straight to business, more or less. There doesn't really seem to be much room for introductions and chatter. Need to keep things going. "Alright. I'll make sure to pass that on. if he does come to us, I'll make sure myself or council knows as soon as possible." Because they'd all like to know more about what happened at Factory17, and if he might know somehting it's something they can't let lie.

The news of the deceased Mrs. Preager earns a frown, Barbara's eyes sliding shut for a brief moment. But she triest not to well on it, instead tilting her head back and exhaling sharply. "Nice to meat you, Billy Jean." Barbara doens't actually believe it to be the woman's real name, but there's a good reason if it's not. It's probably best for Vincent that she's able to hide her embarassment, it somehow mananging to creep on to her face even in these times, in these situations.

"Alright…" she remarks, looking voer the maps as she handed them by Vincent. "Do you know if anything from your friend's investigation survived? Even teh smallest thing is a help. If not… Christ. That's a hit." Said sadly, unsure of anything posative she can follow taht up with.

Such are the times.

The small but sharp inhale from Billy Jean might indicate that it is in fact her real name, mildly startled when introduction is made, but her composure is kept and in the end—

In the end, at this late hour, it's a necessity. "Call me BJ," she invites, shoving her hands into her pockets, steam whorling out in a breath out, a small smile for herself. She shivers, beneath her jacket, and nudges the snow with the toe of her boot. "Pak— " Her voice tremors, there, the death of a friend being a rough blow. "— kept copies in case anything ever happened." It did, evidently. "I don't know exactly where, but I'm waiting until the heat of her death has cooled down, and then I'll go looking. I have some ideas. It's too valuable not to protect — she has evidence dating all the way back to 2010.

"I don't know what it would do for us now. Maybe nothing — people're tired of the war. But we can't let them bury everything." She squinches her eyes closed, trying to remember all she came here to do, before nodding to herself and adding, "Last thing is last— Bradley Russo's son has been taken out of the city. One of yours had a request, that I keep an eye on him? Well, they've disappeared him. I'm waiting for a contact to pass me any record of prisoner transports out of New York City, but I thought it was— important. His foster family doesn't know anything."

BJ's shoulders slacken beneath her jacket. That's all she wrote.

Little more than an iron-clad catalyst with names exchanged and council-to-contact connection made directly, Vincent watches BJ startle and recover at a resigned distance. Shoved out of the nest and into the breach without mercy. As guardians sometimes do.

"I can pursue hard-to-reach leads," he offers at length, re: Pak's backups. "Nobody will trust Black's word and neither should we."

News of a disappeared Russo does not surprise or phase him: he remembers the kid's name more than his face. But it is, somehow, a convenient excuse for him to give the fence and Billy Jean opposite some austere distance in the few paces he takes back in the direction from whence they cmae.

Barbara bites at her lip a bit at the mention of the vanished child, letting out a long sigh. "That's fantastic," she mutters with a small shake of her head. "If you ehar anything about where he's been disappeared too, please, don't hesitate to pass it on." She looks over the map again, before folding it and handing it back over to Vincent.

"I'm glad that there's backup material at least," she continues, looking a bit off to the side. "I imagine we'll have a person or two poking into it," she offers over to Vincent. "If you want to dig into it, go for it. I still believe every little bit will help, even years overdue as it might be."

BJ is nodding to Barbara's words— respect for your elders, as well as making sure the right information is being read the right way— but there is some distraction in watching Vincent's pace away, a hand coming to hook against the fence as if she'd like to be on the other side. Already. If not to run with the freedom fighters, but to hug someone. For someone's sake.

"I wouldn't dismiss Black. People have regrets. But I trust you more."

A glance back to Barbara includes her in that sentiment, more symbolic rather than meaning the woman personally. "If I find out anything soon, I'll leave it here like usual. I won't make a habit of. This." The whole. Face to face thing. There's a shimmer of something like apology sent Vincent's way — but a sincere lack of regret, which feels different. The fence shivers once BJ takes her hands off it once more, stepping back through the ruined ground, sinking further into the cloaking fog that might have been the reason she risked staying, this time.

"I hope so," says Vincent on the subject of trust, matter-of-fact and quietly to himself. Cranky. Ruffled and sore. He has earned it, he feels, in some directions more than others. Unlike some people.

Trust an empath to be too empathetic.

Apology is fielded with a last warning look, your funeral, and he turns his shoulder the rest of the way into getting his helmet ready to put back on, glossy black visor and breath divided into whispier halves once more.

The maps are rolled into his coat. Where cigarettes used to go.

A look over to Vincent, then back to BJ. "I don't think we'll dismiss Black. Everything has to be carefully weight and measured, as far as ther isks we wish to take and who we trust." Which is Barbara's way of saying, it's a good thing that BJ trusts them - they're possibly extending a lot by trusting her back.

"Thank you, BJ," she remarks with a sense of finality, "for this and everything else." Because if Vincent won't say it before they leave, she will. "It really is greatly appreciated. Be careful, and be safe. We'll be arond again. Hopefully, we'll find something more here the next time we come," meaning, she hopes that nothing unfortunate becomes of BJ. "And hopefully, we won't have to find you here again either." Meaning, she hope the circumstance where it's her, and not intel, never arrises. That would be unfortunate.

Following Vincent's lead, she gives a small wave, before turning to follow the armoured man. The longer they linger, the more her (empathicaly augmented) mood slips, and that's not a state she wants to be in for the trip home.

"Good night," BJ says, before she turns as Barbara does, turning up the collar of her jacket for warmth, and with a sound of boots against sliding junkyard ground, she's more or less disappeared into the enveloping fog, angling away from the docks, and into the sprawling mass that is the reclaimed territory of Brooklyn borough. By the time the sun is completely gone, and it begins to snow again in earnest, all evidence of their meeting is hidden beneath falling ice.

Not that the dream extends that long, the humid spring morning greeting both Vincent Lazzaro and Barbara Zimmerman in their respective New York locations, and one other, the dreamwalker that journeyed with them.

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