Front Row Center


lancaster_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Front Row Center
Synopsis Tasha needs to make sure Vincent knows something should he ever topple off a building again. Also Lancaster.
Date October 9, 2010

Vincent's Apartment

It's not unusual for Vincent to get home after midnight, in the chilly hours of early morning. Before the sun.

Which, coincidentally, is when he has to be awake again.

It is unusual for him to have company.

Lock turned, Vincent nudges in alone at first, as per usual, black eyes heavy-lidded in their tired sweep of the entry and surrounding kitchen. He doesn't turn the light on once he's actually in either, mail dropped onto the dark wood of his dining table, front door left open behind him. Oddly.

One hand scuffed idle over the back of his head, bandaging and gauze crinkled white about his grip, he scuffs slowly for the refrigerator only to pause halfway there so that he can stare blearily into the living area, where he usually turns on the TV, grey screen as broad as it is flat. He is not actually paying very close attention. Just. You know.

The remote. Where did he leave it?

Though they've grown far apart in the years since he'd divorced her mother — far apart even prior to the divorce — Tasha knew her father well enough to know he wouldn't be home before at least midnight, but curfew meant she's been here since sometime before nine. Not wanting to alert him to her presence — she also knew him well enough to know he might just slip away unheard if he knew Tasha was here, she'd curled up in the dark, reading one of her textbooks by iPod light until she fell asleep.

The petite teen is dressed not to annoy her father today, not like the last time she'd been in this apartment, but in simple attire of dark jeans, black and red ballet flats, a black t-shirt and a navy blue peacoat that's draped over the arm of the couch — next to the remote. A black scarf with little red cherries adorning it is tied at a jaunty angle around her throat to hide the scars she has yet to let a plastic surgeon fix.

The sound of the door and the mail has her sitting up, blinking the drowsiness from her eyes which strain to see through the dark — blinking as she notices not one but two figures in the entry way. Her breath catches in her throat — but she doesn't speak for a moment. For a moment, she wishes so devoutly that she could turn into vapor and wisp through the vents to the autumnal night like he can.

If it were a movie about the Evolved, that's what would happen. She'd manifest right now and her father would not know she was silly enough to have come here tonight.

A significantly taller silhouette is Lancaster appearing in the doorway a few short moments after Vincent does, a hand scuffing through short sweeps of blonde and looking like she isn't expecting anyone else to be here either. Except Vincent, evidently. Boots carry her inside, a hand catches on the edge of the door and slaps it shut with a neat click of wood into frame and jamming lock thunking into place, sealing off the easiest escape route. She doesn't seem very sleepy.

She may have had something to drink, or a few somethings. Fortunately, this has no bearing on her ability, alcohol inside of her not necessary making anything else more flammable.

She does, however, turn on the light. Flick.

"Oh what the hell? A challenger appears."

Lazzaro's peacoat is warm for the weather. Professional in its government severity, if somewhat rumpled from whatever he's been up to out — there. In the great wide world. With Adrianne Lancaster.

Hand still on head, brows knit after the clip clop of Lancaster's boots, he doesn't look (entirely) sober himself. Especially not once she's tripped on the light and he blinks hard and then harder still — reproachfully unappreciative, even, at the assault on his soon-to-be-aching brain. Wingtips planted wide apart, probably to keep him from swaying, he's slow to turn his head back after the source of her interest.

And very quick to stiffen up straight after that, right hand swept back to his side and eyes hard.

Of all the scenarios of how this might go she played out in her mind, Tasha never expected a woman to be coming in with her father. Her face pales, and she stares with dark eyes, so like her father's, from Vincent to Lancaster and back, and suddenly she's on her feet. She grabs her own peacoat, ridiculously like his since so much of what she wears isn't, and her book bag, shoving iPod and Design Basics into it, clearly aiming on fleeing despite the fact that to do so would be illegal.

"I … I'm sorry, I didn't expect you to have c-company, I just… I didn't know …" Tasha stammers. For all that her size and coloring that screams Lazzaro, the fumbling and stuttering does not.

Her eyes move from the bag she's trying to clasp shut to her father's face and then to his bandages and back to his face, and suddenly tears spring up. "You could have died," Tasha exclaims suddenly, as the salt water streams down her face.

Lancaster backing up to press her spine against the closed door might either be retreat from crying girls— what is it like to cry anyway— or maybe blocking the entry way. Probably the latter. That she doesn't splay her arms is a rare moment of tribute to the context of the situation and deciding that facetiousness isn't the best policy. Her mouth presses into a line, eyes going wide beneath the graven lines of her brow — this is a look sent to Vincent.

It says aaaa. This time, she doesn't offer words, her hands gripping to the hems of her coat where she'd been about to take it off, brown wool over pea-green, vaguely mannish blouse and black jeans. Yep, this is a woman. Arguably less shocking than a dude, in this context.

Oh — Christ. She's crying.

Squared shoulders eased gradually into a haggard (and maybe slightly exasperated) slope, Vincent lets his mouth fall open and then more wisely closed.

It's been a while since either of them have seen him standing this way, conscious but with his cables cut, loose from shoulder to wrist and then some. He doesn't drink very often. With good reason.

"It's fine," he says, at length. "I'm fine. Raymond's fine. You're — fine." Did that sound wrong? He clearly tries to weigh it out, and just as clearly through every transparent degree his brows tilt, decides that he doesn't care. "Have you eaten?" is the only thing he can hazily think to ask back from his post in the open kitchen. It's late. He doesn't keep much food here.

"This is my daughter," he tells Lancaster as an afterthought, nose scuffed at when he turns to navigate his way after the pantry. "She's an art student."

Tasha's hand goes without thought to her neck as she turns her wet eyes toward Lancaster, touching the French scarf as if to make sure it's there — a new nervous tic to add to the thumbnail chewing. She swallows and nods her acknowledgement of the woman in her father's house, though there is no introduction of Lancaster to Tasha.

She shakes her head. "I was going to cook but I fell asleep," the teenager says. It's a lie, but he doesn't need to know that — that she didn't cook because she knew he'd smell it from the hallway and stay the hell away from this confrontation.

"I'm sorry. I should have called…" I did call, and got voicemail, part of her thinks. And she'd hung up, unable to speak to a void of her worries and sorries and fears.

Not that she can now.

She swallows again, and slowly sets down the bag and the coat, then steps forward to offer a hand to Lancaster. "Hi, I'm Tasha. I didn't mean to crash your date." It sounds so weird. Her father on a date? "I just… I saw the news and… I was worried. I should have called."

No, there is no introduction of Lancaster to Tasha, which has the CIA agent stalling a little in offering it, keeping huddled at the door as she watches Vincent track for the kitchen, mouth twisting thoughtfully at 'art student'. "I thought you looked familiar. Not that he's overly forthcoming about his personal life, but I run background checks on everyone I know. Call me Lancaster." She shakes Tasha's hand, brisk and business-like, a pump up and down before she retracts.

Not Adrianne. Certainly not Lanny. Whoever she is, she's not taking off her coat, kicking off shoes, flopping facedown on the couch and demanding coffee like she usually might in this scenario. "It's cool. You didn't mean to be born either. But you should probably hang out a while this time too. Vince, I can jet," is offer projected to the kitchen.

There is no introduction of Lancaster to Tasha. Possibly because he doesn't know how to introduce her. He's never had to quantify her to someone who wasn't already well aware of who and what she represents.

"Probably," agreed offhand with Tasha instead, he opens his pantry, suspends himself slowly into a lean inwards between the door and the frame, and draws himself more slowly back out again.

Do Chinese restaurants deliver after midnight? Somehow he looks more tired when he closes the door than he did when he initially came in, circles pitched in dark around the sink of his eyes.

"We work together," too-belatedly clarified of his relationship with a self-introduced Lancaster, he zones out a beat before further adding, "in the government." In case. That wasn't clear. To his daughter that is now the subject of background checks.

"You should stay. I have two bedrooms." He does not say, and a couch.

"I'm not hungry," Tasha murmurs, belatedly only after Vincent goes scrounging for food, failing in the hunting and gathering. "And, yeah, I guess… I guess the trains and such don't run this time of night," she adds, as if she has never been outside past curfew and has no clue what the world is like after 9 p.m.

Never mind that the new, earlier curfew was enacted because of what she was a part of on Staten Island.

Her eyes are wide as she looks from one of the "grownups" to the other. It's always awkward with her father, but a spectator that is someone other than Joanna makes it feel even more so. Doubting that he'll be so kind to give her an audience of just him, she steps closer.

"I just… I didn't want… I didn't want the last time I saw you to be like what it was," she whispers. Her questions that felt more like accusations. Him turning into so much air rather than face her.

She swallows, and casts a glance over her shoulder at Lancaster, cheeks flushing a little shyly at having to do this in front of a stranger, but then she turns back. "I didn't want you not to know I love you." Tasha swallows audibly — the whisper that follows is quieter, hardly more than a breath. "I'm sorry. I know I keep saying it and you say I'm not but I am, and if you'd…" The words are bitten off. He didn't. He's here.

O-kay. Brown, vaguely boxy wool is shrugged off, flung over something, and Lancaster kind of tilts off in some other direction in the struggle to unlace a reasonably unexciting pair of boots, all giraffe limbs and inebriated determination that flushes her face a little pinker by the time she's unfolding herself. Thump-thump, go footsteps as she paces further inside, drifting behind Tasha as she goes (she smells vaguely of whiskey, smoke, and L.A.M.B by Gwen Stefani.), and Lancaster is not a quiet presence in the apartment.

But she is getting out of the way of tears and family moments, for all that she shoots a glance to watch at Vincent over Tasha's wee head.

Too muzzily inebriated to manage much of a retreat and markedly more human than he likes to think, Vincent leans uncomfortably away when Tasha gets close enough to whisper. It was probably optimistic of him to persist with Lancaster where he might have spared himself a semi-public demonstration of messrs massive parental guilt and inner turmoil at his own inadequacy and Other More General Feelings like sadness and especially love.

It's not fair that he's been drinking, really, is what it boils down to. If he was sober he would not be having this problem.

As keenly aware of Adrianne's eyes on him as he is Tasha's whisper, Vincent looks at an empty span of floor rather than either of them, one hand raised as if in belated request that they maybe somehow do this some other time. He smells like whiskey, smoke and whatever cologne he's usually wearing, meanwhile. It is warm and old-fashioned and probably expensive.

"It's okay," seems like an okay thing to say. The raised hand snakes as if to draw her into a hug, kind of. Not all that smoothly. "I'm a little drunk," sounds matter-of-fact for an apology muffled into her, but it is one. That or a warning. "Can we talk about this later?"

When is the last time they hugged? She doesn't remember which means it's probably been too long, and she knows it's as much her fault as her father's. And Tasha's not so old or hardened at one month shy of her 19th birthday to pretend it doesn't affect her. A soft whimper is her initial response as she steps into the hug, her arms wrapping around him and her forehead resting against his shoulder for a moment. She breathes deep — it's not a displeasing smell, and as scent is wont to do, it pulls her back into her childhood, when the safest place in the world was with her dad. Her hero.

She nods, finally at the question, stepping back and wiping her eyes and offering an abashed and tentative smile. "I'm tired anyway. i'll go to sleep in the guest room and get out of your hair," she murmurs, her voice a little stronger, as if the hug and tacit apology had given her some fortitude. "Thanks."

She picks up her bag and glances at Lancaster, a rueful smile for the tall woman. "Sorry to give you a front-row-center seat to Family Drama Night, Ms. Lancaster," Tasha murmurs politely, a small smirk curving her lips upward. "I'm not usually so cry face, but… you know. I only have one father. The news shook me up. I'm glad you're all okay though." Her father is glanced at once more — she knows this is no miracle cure for what ails their relationship, but at least he knows she cares.

"No, it's a fantastic source of blackmail, don't apologise," sounds very sincere, Lancaster fanning her hands out to deflect politeness, mostly to preemptive strike out at any smirking at being Ms. Lancaster, suddenly and without warning. "And hell, the man fell off a tall building in a swoop of stupid heroism and gets the medal to proove it. I'm personally more upset that it's not on YouTube, but there you go. Sleep hard, kiddo."

She's come to perch on an arm of sofa by then, half-straddling it and scuffing a sock-clad heel against the floor, pressing her mouth into what normal people do when they're smiling reassuringly, blue eyes slightly hooded from drowsiness.

"Alright," says Vincent, who looks probably a little too openly relieved that the hug is over once it is. See aforementioned state of inebriation, for reference. Lying is harder.

Also, he is really, really relieved.

Still holding himself with the air of one who's just finished being hugged by an octopus or some other damp, tentacled creature of the unknown deep even after Tasha has vanished into the designated bedroom, Vincent checks his cell phone after an awkward beat. Then he scrubs his hand over his face and dawdles on his way over, too tired to pretend that he isn't uncomfortable. At least, not well.

"Sorry," he says, finally. Once he's close enough. Sort of. Quiet. "I can probably still —"

And fingers find purchase on each hem of peacoat, tugging him in— she's still strong even when whiskey'd— closer enough. Adrianne doesn't actually get to her feet, at a comfortable enough height for her to then drop her skull, forehead first, against Vincent's chest. Thunk. In obvious mimic of prior display over near the kitchen. Her voice is flatly herself when she does speak, a little muffled; "Yeah, you probably can. Still." She tilts a look back up before her posture improves.

"You don't need to process anything emotionally, do you?" sounds like honest query, like she could go for that if he wants, hands coming up to grip collar rather than buttoned hem.

Vincent doesn't weigh all that much. Solid — sturdy, even — but short. The fact that his center of gravity keeps trying to skew somewhere off to the right also makes him easier to drag along by the lapels so that he can tolerate (and only tolerate) a reinactment of Tasha's display.

"I'm not sure what you mean," sounds honest, which is good for him, because he'd be hard-pressed to tell a half-decent lie right now. A glance down reveals that she's taken her boots off, which. He actually missed, earlier. In the midst of everything. "We don't really get along."

Lancaster follows that glance down, then looks back up, voice dry sounding as she responds with, "I— don't actually stand corrected but okay." With a jerk, she shucks his shoulders out from the woolen coat, obligingly, dealing him a thin smile as she tugtugs sleeves down and past his wrists. "Next time she hugs you should do the smokey thing, when I'm watching. She'd probably stop crying out of fury. Wanna go to bed or let me talk you into practicing falling out of buildings with me instead of your bosslady."

"You're a bad person," Lazzaro informs Lancaster at an affectionate(?) murmur once his coat is off, and for once, he is too cross-wired to fuss about getting it hung up somewhere before he forgets. He could probably try to make moves or something, but he just stands there instead, drained and maybe a little persistently distracted despite himself. "You're welcome to try." To convince him. Assuming she is interested in a substantially heightened risk of dying messily and/or inexplicably. In the meanwhile he probably needs to be physically directed one way or the other, as he's begun to eye the couch as an alternative to having to walk all the way to the bedroom.

This first observation gets a solemn nod, before hands land back on Vincent's shoulders to turn, steer, push him in the direction of bedroom before the sofa can win out.

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