Fill Our Empty Vases


huruma_icon.gif ryans_icon.gif

Scene Title Fill Our Empty Vases
Synopsis A heart to heart.
Date July 19, 2018

Red Hook

The Red Hook Market resides within the gutted shell of Textile Factory 17, a turn-of-the-century mill building that once served as the headquarters of New York's FRONTLINE civil defense organization. Miraculously, the building survived the civil war largely unscathed except for the total collateral loss of its electronics to the EMP that ravaged Manhattan. When the building was reclaimed by Gilbert Tucker in late 2015, it was remodeled with the intention of turning it into a central community hub for the entirety of the Safe Zone. Today, the multiple above-ground buildings serve as meeting halls, council chambers, offices, and storage rooms for the Safe Zone Cooperative. The basement levels, a labyrinthine maze of brick corridors, vaulted storage spaces, and small nooks, have become the sprawling home of the Red Hook Market, an open-air bazaar with free admittance to every Safe Zone resident. The market features pop-up vendor stalls, a single bar called the Red Hook Tavern, and food vendor stalls. Be sure to visit Eleanor, who has the best coffee in the safe zone at the corner in the main square.

I have picked wild roses, Far into September, But I had no one to give the flowers to--

I needed a celebration,
A September coronation,
And I admitted to myself I needed you,

I've watched the gentle winds change the colored shades of meadows,
I've seen the dew on flowers that had no name,
But I let my vase stay empty like my lonely empty heart,
Picking flowers for yourself is not the same,

Don't you think its come our time to be together,
Lets gather up our scattered words of love and make them rhyme,
Let's go pick some flowers and fill our empty vases,
Don't you think its come our time,

Would you take this small bouquet that leaves a fragrance on my fingers,
And a feeling that your love is close at hand,

Thank you for the flowers, now lets walk through the meadows,
Through the brook where our demands caress the sand,

Don't you think its come our time to be together,
Lets gather up our scattered words of love and make them rhyme,
Let's go pick some flowers and fill our empty vases,
Don't you think its come our time,

Don't you think its come our time

It proves incredibly easy to coax Huruma out on the basis of Lucille wanting her somewhere; it’s not that she has Huruma wrapped around her finger- - or, well, maybe she does. Pinky finger only. While the safe zone does not have an abundance of places to go out to, there are a few. The Red Hook Tavern inside of the market is one which offers more than pub food a few nights a week, depending on availability of different things. It satiates the local itch for somewhere to dine; some of the money made likely goes right back into the Market, self-sustaining.

Having spent a few weeks up in Rochester at the Bunker, it’s somewhat of a surprise that Lucille hadn’t said whatever it is she wants to say while she was there; still, Huruma knows meaning when she sees it. If Luce wants her to be somewhere, she doesn’t want to disappoint. That’s enough for her.

Ability cocooned around herself, Huruma seems to let some of her tension out when she slips through the market and into the tavern; her clothing is simple, with black jeans and a colorfully patterned sleeveless top hemmed to show a spanse of skin. Summer here is as bothersome as ever, but Huruma is used to this, at least. The doors click shut behind her, keeping out the bustle of noise out well enough and allowing the warmer light in the tavern to settle. There are not many patrons tonight, all things considered; plastic fans circulate a soft current, the idle whirring almost pleasant.

Since his diagnosis, Benjamin Ryans has been keeping mostly to himself, except for the odd visit by people such as Richard Ray. Maybe he was a coward, maybe he just didn’t know how to approach the subject with people he cared deeply about. However, when he got the message from Lucille that she needed to tell him something.

Well, seemed it was time he told her as well.

He showed up a little early, expecting her to be a little late. Of course, what he found awaiting him brought about an instant suspicion. Eyes narrowing at the offering and the note. “Lucille,” he growls out under his breath. At that moment he was tempted to leave, however, that’s about when Huruma stepped through the door.

So she’ll see him standing there, feeling rather awkward about the total set up by his daughter. “Huruma,” he says in acknowledgement. “I see my daughter is sticking her nose where it doesn’t really belong.” He looks down at glasses. “She clearly watched too much Parent Trap when she was little.” He’d probably blame Mary for that if asked.

Huruma clearly doesn't find Lucille waiting, which in hindsight… maybe she shouldn’t be so surprised. But she is, at least enough that her features indicate it, brows lifting and eyes blinking in a moment of pause.

“Ben,” She can feel the awkward aura even without her ability, and for this she offers a small, tight smile before moving over to have a look for herself. Huruma’s breath leaves with a faint huff of amusement. She lifts a hand to her head, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. “Ah. I am guessing that the similarity is in trap…”

After she speaks there is hesitation, eyes flicking questioningly between the table and Ryans. “Do you… want to humor her?” Drink, she means. Hesitation seems to ease back some, and one hand lifts a bottle to examine it. “Seems a waste otherwise… and I admit it is tempting to abscond with this.”

The question get a lift of Benjamin’s own brows. A glance going to the bottle in her hands, she’ll feel a touch of anxiety coloring his emotions even though it doesn’t show. Taking a deep breath, he finally sighs out a “Sure…” He sounds resigned, but not for what she thinkings.

“I promised you we’d talk… and it’s time,” Ben nods his head slowly. “I have something you need to hear.” Whatever it is, between his emotions and his tone, it doesn’t sound like it will be good.

Of course, Huruma only knows one or two things that she can attribute his anxiousness to; the resignation in his voice earns a somewhat skeptical look, mixed with a tightening of her lips. It doesn’t seem like it’s her, but…

When the nerves cement into something more solid in her study of his mood, Huruma picks up the shift enough to skim a look across the tavern before levelling back to Benjamin. “If you’d rather do this somewhere else, I would understand.” Her voice is measured in such a way that its huskiness takes on a definite intensity, and her eyes search his features, pupils full against her irises. If he wants more discretion than the tavern, it is alright.

“But yes, you did… promise.” More or less. Between what went on with Megan and Lucille’s wriggling insistence, some of Huruma’s composure tilts visibly less self-assured; she fusses with the bottle, rolling it over in her hands.

A hesitant glance is cast over the restaurant, before his head nods slowly. “I think we’d be better off finding a quieter spot,” he admits, picking up the other bottle. He’d have to corner his daughter about meddling in people's lives like this; even if she means well. He hadn’t been ready to have this conversation yet with Huruma, but now it had been forced upon him.

“Maybe there is a nearby park… or something,” suggests while Ben tries to remember what was in the area.

Sometimes it's better to pull the bandage off quickly. Huruma was not exactly thrilled when the younger woman tried to give her dadvice- - but Lucille has a way of exuding pressure on her without trying very hard. She had been right, though. It's better to just deal with it.

Huruma wouldn't have done it this way, but there’s no changing it now.

“It is overgrown as much as Park Slope, but it is there.” The answer comes with a cautious smile, “I do not trust her not to have someone watching for us, anyway.” That sounds about right. Huruma rolls the bottle under her arm and confiscates the stemless glasses, tipping her head in a gesture for him to follow her out.

Rather than go out the way she came in through the main entrance, she takes a couple of turns before moving to open a heavy door. Dusk in the summer is still rather bright, and outside of the side door the bay shines in the distance. The walk to somewhere more secluded won't be a long one, and the foot traffic is sparse.

The other bottle is tucked against his side, held there by the blunted arm. This was he can at least be polite enough to open the doors for her. He is a gentleman enough to do that, even holding it while she steps through.

His features are unreadable, but his emotions are a jumbled state. “I’m sorry, I didn’t get in touch with you sooner. I— “ He sighs through his nose, resigned maybe. “I had a lot going on.” Really, only one thing, but it took up his every waking moment, even worrying about his other daughter or his grandson visiting him in dreams. It wasn’t an easy thing delivering this kind of news.

He had honestly been avoiding it.

Ben gets a more amused glance when he opens the door for her, though she stifles any running commentary. At least the air feels clean and provides a more present distraction from Lucille’s trapping.

He knows that she can read him, and so Huruma does not bother masking her next look of concern, brows knitting faintly. As they venture out onto old, cracked sidewalks, there is a small noise from the woman's throat.

“It wasn't me, was it…?” She doesn't feel like it was, but she felt what happened at the end of their not-a-date. He was less a jumble before, though. “Not that I think so highly of myself- -” Huruma amends, tone apologetic, “But can you blame me for wondering?”

“I was overdue for a stay at the Bunker anyway.. Working on an upcoming op, that sort of thing. Although it also got me interviewed by your daughter, so- - double edged.” Huruma angles for a touch of levity there, one side of her lips ticking up.

That question gets a huffed sound that is probably the closest he’ll get to a chuckle at the moment. Ryans does offer a reassuring smile. “Not you, no.” He turns his attention to the path before them. “Me.”

His hand tucks into his pocket as they walk, “I have a confession to make.” He starts softly, “Back, around the time before Winslow did this thing to me. I started to notice things. Trouble concentrating, a hand would suddenly not work properly. Little things.” There is a glance her way, out of the corner of his eye, his tone conversational.

“I went to a specialist,” He gives it a moment, thoughtful. Maybe trying to decide how to explain it. “It was an aggressive brain tumor. I was just coming to terms with it, when Winslow turned back the clock so to speak. It was part of the reason I agreed to go back to the company.” There is a small rueful tug at one corner of his mouth. “I didn’t want to wither away. Thought maybe, one last… ” He gives a little shrug, but doesn’t finish that sentence.

She didn’t realize how much she wanted to hear that tried and true, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ until he says as much. A brush of tension leaves her shoulders, even though his attention seems to be on the space ahead.

The old Red Hook recreation center visible at the end of the blocks used to serve as an activity park, but now it has been overgrown in a similar fashion to Park Slope and Prospect Park. Vegetation that has clearly been assisted by some hand, clustered in a grove of emerald with specks of color; young trees gather together, the old fields and courts now swathes of grass, weeds, and wildflowers. There are a few paths trodden through already, between the locals and the deer. It’s much easier to navigate than the Slope- - so people are not as cautious.

As they walk, Huruma angles her head to listen, peripheral vision on her steps. There is an apprehension that brews steadily when he starts, and he doesn’t need to be an empath like her to see it. Conversational as he may be, the lingering look silently asks him not to be. This- this isn’t a normal conversation to be having, and very soon that feeling is validated with the reason for old, odd behaviors. Symptoms.

As rare as mournful expressions from Huruma can be, Ben has gotten his fair share; now is no different, as she fixes him with a somber, almost baleful look. A little daring but still sympathetic, all the while as a coil of uncomfortable heat lurches around in her gut.

“…Hurrah?” She finishes his sentence for him, her tone an inquest in itself.

“Exactly,” Benjamin confirms.

He is quiet after that for a long moment as they walk down one of the paths. Listening to the sounds around them, until they find a picnic table with faded paint. The bottle is set down on the weathered wood surface. Red paint cracks under the weight of it and crunches when the man himself moves to sit on the table, booted feet resting on the bench.

Once settled, arms resting on his knees, Ryans continues his tale. “When Winslow turned back the clock, somehow the tumor went with it. Doctors were baffled, of course. Since things like that were still a mystery. People with abilities unheard of.”

His hand lifts to scratch at his jaw, blunt nails catch on the faint stubble. He needed to shave. “When Benji started showing us our future, one thing seemed clear… it wasn’t coming back.” This sounds like a good thing at first, however, there seemed to be more to this story.

“So I thought. I don’t know what is different,” Ben starts slowly, turning his attention back to Huruma. “The doctor said that there are a growing number of Civil War veterans that are suffering from… “ he sighs heavily, looking away. “There is no better way to say it. The brain tumor is back. All those chemicals we were exposed to, the doctor believes it is responsible — that it triggered it again.” He explains.

“After… our date.” Cause in all truth it was, “I kept thinking about the fact that I’ve been noticing that I’ve been getting mild headaches. Mainly, after working in the yard. I thought it was from being in the sun…” It was probably the most he’s said in one setting. “So I had it checked. I needed to know.”

When they find a place to stay and talk, Huruma sets one bottle between them as she sits on the table beside him. The wood is sturdy even though the paint is not. She doesn't open a bottle yet, glasses set down with a punctuated click to wood. All she can do here is listen; Ben is not known for his speaking roles. Huruma refuses to interrupt. When he actually tiptoes around saying it so explicitly, that heat in her stomach turns into something that floods her limbs and pulls her face into a darker, quieter expression.

She picks up on it before he confirms as much.

If there had been something she was intending to say, it falters and is lost to the sound of heartbeat in her ears. The field around her spikes and twitches, and for a moment he may be able to feel that spasm of heartbreak. For him, of course- - and to a lesser degree her own. They've taken too many hits for one another for this to not make her feel a pang of selfishness.

Denial may be a better word. This isn’t what they fought for.

Huruma's mouth twitches as if she's found words again, but the only things to show are the smallest of exhales, the quiver of her eyes, the upward bend of her brow.

A hand finds his elbow from beneath, and rather than trying to force something- - anything- - from her tongue, Huruma swallows an invisible lump and leans over to put her cheek against his shoulder.

The touch to his elbow has his whole being going still, his head turning her way only a fraction. Maybe it’s the sensation that the comes from her heartbreak that has his swallowing heavily and taking a deep breath. His voice is a touch hoarser as he feels compelled to continue. “I’ve spent all this time trying to tell everyone. Especially, you.” After that date, he’s been more aware of things then he had in the past.

When her head settles on his shoulder, Benjamin is still for a long moment; but, then she feels the weight of his, as he tips his head sideways to rest it against her’s. “You’ve waited so long and… now…” He trails off, brows furrowing a little. He still remembers that dream brought to him by Benji. Sitting by her bedside and the anguish he felt. Now it seems their roles would be reversed.

“I’m sorry,” he offers in soft apology.

“You make it sound as if I’ve been biding my time like some sort of- -” Huruma’s voice is a touch strangled in her throat, and air huffs in and out with a sardonic sound of a laugh, brief though it is.

God, Ben, the last thing you need to do is apologize…” A shudder moves in her chest as she breathes inward. The grip on her lungs seems to twist only for good measure, and the muscles in her jaw tense like taut strings. “…Not even for keeping quiet.” She wishes that he hadn’t, but it is already in the past- - it’s forward now, not back. What matters is that he did tell her.

Head shifting away from his shoulder, Huruma sits straight again, her fingers still curled around the crook of his arm with an insistent care. Though not a freefall, she does not stifle the tears pooling over the edges of her eyes and down the planes of her face; they are a quiet trickle, with as much grace as she can afford herself.

The last thing that either of them need is a snapping rope in the mooring keeping them tied to the ground.

Huruma’s hand leaves his arm only to curl up around the back of his neck, then a soft pull as she puts her head against his. The somber pulse of her grief is a heavy weight, but showing him a glimpse of it is much of what she knows how to do. For his sake, it is a short-lived show and tell. Just enough. Huruma was never good about speaking her fear or sorrow, so perhaps it is better this way.

“What’s… what’s next?”

Warmth is what she feels in his emotions when their heads touch, but also the barest grimace against the sensation of her emotions. Ben can’t remember when she last shared things like that with him. It brings a fluttering of guilt for putting that burden on her; but, he also doesn’t say anything about it. What was there to say? She is allowed those emotions, just as much as he is allowed his.

When she asks what he is going to do… His chest rises in a deep breath and shortly after sighs it out heavily. “I don’t know.”

Not much of an answer, but it was how he felt. He has his own emotions, even that little tremble of fear. “It is too deep for surgery.” Another blow really. Which means there is a type of inevitability to what was going to happen. “They said it could be a few months or a few years. Because of my history and of what I was exposed to…” He trails off, his head shifts against her’s, shaking in his inability to know where to go from there.

That initial spill of tears across her cheeks stems with a tightness of throat, though the shine of her pale eyes remains in his peripheral. Huruma tastes the guilt, and the deeper fears, and the mixture of everything else; her eyes hood downward as she listens to the inner layers as his words come. This close, there is not much she can miss.

News of where it actually is, then timelines— a tension moves along the lines of her neck and arms. Fingers brush against the back of his hair, thumb resting against the edge of his jaw. For a time she is silent still, palm warm against his neck; when Huruma speaks again, her voice and breath have evened out, smoothed into an aura which at least resembles temperance.

“We’ll figure something out,” Because regardless of if he wanted her to have this burden, she has decided she is taking it. Before leaning her head back again, Huruma leaves a press of her lips to his temple. Her voice is measured, gently empathetic. “whatever that might entail. I know that you… prefer to handle your own affairs, but this time there is no need to go this road alone.”

There is the first signs of depression edging in on the fringes of the man’s consciousness. There are a lot he had to consider. There is a bloom of anxiety that comes with the fact that, he’d have to talk to the girls. “There are things I’ll have to do alone,” he admits, he’d want to talk to the girls alone.

His hand scrubs at his weary features, as if trying to scrub away the thoughts and worries. Huruma can even feel the emotions dulling a little as he works to push them down, though that first seed of depression remains tickling at the edge of the man’s mind. “Either way, no reason to dwell on it right now.” Gently, he pulls away enough so that he can find the bottle and work to fill the champagne glasses. He really needed a drink right now.

On some things he needs to do alone, Huruma nods almost imperceptibly. She knows what he means. Talking to the girls is something he must do for himself, though she will absolutely have his back through such a task. The heel of a palm scrubs anything more from her cheekbones.

Ben leans away to open that first bottle, and wordlessly Huruma lends a hand— no pun intended. This is usually for celebrating, but right now it's just available. They settled for much less during the conflict, and there's a distinct lack of shame when Huruma drains half of her glass immediately.

“Gh—” Huruma's features wince in a moment of body versus fizz; the reaction is comical, considering. There's a reason she's not into soda, alright? “She is much better at drinking this than I am..” As unwanted as the meddling was at first… now she is a touch more grateful for it. Even if it has her coughing up a small chuckle.

“So,” she brings back something he noted earlier, expression relaxing. He was right about dwelling. Plans take time. Humor… helps. “Is this considered a second date?”

She’ll know he appreciated the help even if he never shows it. The glass is examined before he takes a sip, there is a wrinkle of his nose. Clearly, he isn’t a fan either. “Makes you wonder how this became a drink for celebrations. There is a small upward tick at the corner of his mouth. It doesn’t last long. The next drink, he downs a good portion of it with a grimace. It’ll do the trick, but slower.

The question gets a sidelong look and then a small firm shake of the head. Lips pressed tight for a moment. “Not in the slightest.” Brows are driven down and his head shakes more. “You don’t have this sort of conversation at a second date.” He gives a small huff of amusement. “No… not a second date.”

Huruma gives it a second after he says ‘no’, reading the apprehension then the amusement with a ticked smile of her own. His small huff gets a warmer sort of smile, as knowing as she can get. No, she supposes you don’t have this sort of conversation on any instance of a date. She may have time served, but it’s still a lot to put out there.

“Just so we’re clear,” Huruma rolls the liquid in her glass a little, the fizz dissipating some. That’s the part that makes champagne the ‘get drunk fast’ vehicle.

“I hadn’t intended all of what happened last time.” There was no pre-planning- - she was earnest in getting him out of the house. “…but I don’t take it back.” Her eyes lift away from a sip of her glass to study his profile, mouth pursed in mid-thought. There is still a note of humor in her voice, delicate.

“Mm. Does that mean I get a real one, then?”


That is a huge step for him. The word only coming after he studies the woman. At least it wasn’t a no. There is a heavy side. “I’m an old man, Huruma.” The alcohol is left for the moment as he leans forward to rest arms on his knees. “I might not be able to be what you need.” There is a tired look to the draw of his features. He wasn’t for this world long, it seemed cruel to leave hope only to have it dashed away one day when he ends up confined to a bed. That thought gets the barest twitch, but it’s obvious he isn’t ready for his fate.

“So we will see,” He gives her a small smile, sad too.

When he studies her first, there is certainly a moment where she wonders if he'll even take any other step. The ‘maybe’ suffices, judging by some of the tension easing in her shoulders. It's one thing to get a No, and another to get one after anything.Huruma cannot help but allow her ability to hawk, making sure she doesn't go sideways: it's not cheating if you need the help. This qualifies.

A gentle, feline blink follows up to that sad smile of his, Huruma's attention undivided. She returns the expression, a brief mirror of bittersweet.

“You don't need to tell me you're an old man…” Huruma leans her shoulder against Ben's, watching him out of the corner of her eyes. They'll see. There is a hush of a sigh, out and in, sobering her words. “…And what if all I need is you?” Her eyes dip to the glass in her off-hand, thoughts threatening to wander.

“I’ve always been here,” He points out with a small sliver of amusement. Ben’s attempt at trying to lighten the mood a bit. Not very good at it.

On a more serious note he continues, “I’ve never been able to push you away.” Even with their past and the reminder that aches on occasion when the weather is just right. “So very few have truly understood the person I am. Not even Megan.” Which is quite the admission. The affection for the nurse was always there, through that fire had tempered over time.

“So I guess I could say the same….” A finger brushes against the ebony angle of her jaw, a brief contact. “Just wish, realization wasn’t coming at the end of things.” The end of him.

He may not be very good at lightening things, though this seems to. Huruma’s mouth presses in a stifled expression, eyes giving a small glint. Yes.

The rest of what remains in her glass disappears, and her eyes settle on the open bottle. The inability to push her away is both of them. At first she did it because she knew it bothered him to see her; after a certain point it turned into a desire for that companionship. Better understanding came with time, and now it’s inescapable.

The warmth of a touch to her face brings her eyes back to him and away from the debate of just drinking from the bottle. Pale eyes waver, brow creasing faintly. Lips part and close, uncertain. “It’s never too late to share something meaningful, Ben.” It isn’t the end, yet.

“You said that people like us can never get out of this life. That it decides for you. But this…” It isn’t what he deserves, nor has he ever rolled over before. “There is always one more fight.” Huruma’s words come intensely, but they soften almost immediately; one hand moves to capture his before he pulls away, the other moving to take his shoulder. Though her voice is heavy as she echoes some of his own words, the feeling ebbing from her is heat and ember. “I have always been here. This is where I need to be.”

There is a shake of his head, when Ryans realizes what she means. “To fight this means to spend the rest of my life weak and barely living,” he says in a quiet rumble. “Chemo… and all that. None of it is guaranteed. This isn’t the way I want to go out, Huruma.” There is frustration there. It could work, but there was a good chance that he’d spend years on his back in a hospital barely hanging on. His girls forced to care for him.

Ben has had way too much time to think about it.

“I’d rather make the most of the time I have left.” However long that might be.

Reaching out, Benjamin, takes her hand; the contrast in the color of their skin most noticable. Thumb brushing across the back of her fingers, he offers her one of those rare smiles. “Thank you.” For being there.

Huruma’s fingers fit snug in the loose cradle of his, palms a mix of warmth and the faint tension of nerves. She knows it isn’t the way he wants to be. The truth leaves a coarse mark regardless, raw and stinging. The small space between them lessens as Huruma moves closer and leans against the brace of his frame.

I should be the one saying that.” Her eyes remain on the clasp of their fingers, features holding back a well of emotion as she returns the brush with a squeeze of hand. “So… thank you.” There is a pause and still a moment of hesitance when she looks up into his smile. “We live in an age of miracles. Maybe there is someone out there who knows how to be one for you, too…” It is not all medicine these days. There are already ideas in her head- - but Huruma reluctantly lets it go with an inner promise to revisit it another day.

Instead of dwelling or pushing, there is only the curl of her other hand into the fabric of Ben’s shirt. Then, a gentle tug intent on pulling him in for a kiss, longing and warm.

“I guess we will see what happens,” Ryans rumbles quietly, though he doesn’t seem convinced that there is a miracle out there for him. However, he will let her have her hope. “If anyone would find a miracle in this world it would be you and the girls.”

Feeling the tug at his shirt, Benjamin glances down at it with a small upward tick of his brow. Allowing himself to be pulled in, so as to finish closing that space between them, there is a stiffness to that kiss. Though not for long as something ignites within him, bringing more warmth and a bit more willingness.

Benjamin allows himself this moment, but all too soon, lips part and he straightens again. He studies her face and brushes the backs of his fingers along her jawline. With a soft sigh, his mind finally able to engage again, he glances the way they had arrived. “Think it’s too late for food?”

The stiffness of his allowance is almost a worry, before it eases back and melts to something more receptive; apprehensive tension moves away at that. The mutual affection is short-lived, but there is no disappointment.

A touch of head against his brow comes before he straightens out again, a lingering reminder in Huruma's hand flattening gingerly against his chest. The sigh earns a slip of a smile as much as his words do, her eyes sparking with a moment of playfulness.

“No harm in finding out…” Huruma is no stranger to stress induced hunger, even if her appetite had been briefly stifled. Besides, “We could always add it to your daughter’s tab.” Just as a casual lesson in meddling.

“I like your way of thinking,” Ryans comments lightly, with a touch of humor. Looking back in the direction of the Tavern, his eyes narrow in thought. “A little lesson like that could be good for her.” Moving to slide off the table, his boots crunch on the dirt underfoot. He brushes off the back of his jeans as best he can.

Only then does he turn and offer his hand out to her to help her down. Not really cause she can’t do it herself, but because it is the proper thing for him to do. In his mind anyway. He was far older than he looked after all.

“Come on, let’s get a bite to eat,” There is a bit more of a smile on his lips, for a moment the shadows of his prognosis fade away. “On Lucille’s tab, of course.”

Of course he likes her way of thinking. Huruma’s lips pull back in a crooked little smile that touches the corners of her eyes, mirthful for what it is. The offer of his hand earns a touch more of it, a puff of breath serving as a laugh. She pulls the bottles they brought along into the crook of her arm.

“We work for the same people… I know that she can afford it.” This comes almost pointedly, but still a tease at Luce’s expense. Huruma’s dark hand alights on his, curling in a firm but gentle grasp as she slips from the table. It is not just to humor Ben’s old fashioned habits, as it turns out. It gives her the opportunity to not let go of him, at least for now- - and instead silently offer up the comfortable fit of her fingers around his in return. One small gesture for another. “Of course.”

Lucille may learn something- - or just be emboldened- - but those are fair enough odds.

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