Future, Past-Tense


barbara_icon.gif benji_icon.gif

Scene Title Future, Past-Tense
Synopsis Barbara and Benji talk a little bit of the future, the dreams, and the work, and a few more secrets unearthed in the casual light of trust.
Date May 26, 2011

Pollepel Island

It's becoming late by the time the boat is cresting at the docks — the sky is pitch and starless, and swinging torches arc knives of light here and there as a few Pollepel Island residents approach in a dislocated scatter of people. It's a supply run — a little bit of everything, some food, some fresh medical supplies if nothing very revolutionary or advanced, and a few luxury as simple as bed linens and thrift store clothing in cardboard boxes. For Barbara, it's a few hours after the last meeting she's sat through, post-dinner and pre-bedtime, at least by adult standards. They're at it already, boxes being helped over the edge of the boat, the thud of boots on the docks as people take their armful and head back for the looming shadow of the castle, flashlights held awkwardly to guide their way.

Though she'd spent most of the ride back slung over the rails to watch the water, Benji is moving as others do, crew included. Though she knows her way around boats as a general rule, she picks her steps cautious so as not to get in the way, but moves to lend a hand when she can by removing a package out of the way of others in turn. A box of deceptive heaviness — cans of food and water bottles, by the sloshy, weighted feel of it — is hefted, then thunked down against the railing of the boat as she reassesses her options. Lamp light throws some of the deck and the docks into wobbly illumination, but not enough to be arrogant.

When it slips, her hands grip tighter onto the prize, and she twists around to look for assistance.

Assisstance comes quickly enough, at least quickly enough to prevent any sort of unfortunate accident from occuring. Barbara steps orward, flashlight tucked under her arm as she moves to take hold of, and at least steady, the box as Benji spins and scopes out around her. "Careful, there," she is said with a smileas she takes a grip on thecorner of it, looking to see who's face her flashlight illluminates when atwist of her body angles it upwards.

Seeing who it doesn't really give her pause, but it does make her quirk a bit o an eyebrow, perhaps surprised for what ever reason. "Welcome back," is a somewhat standard greeting Barbara offers to Benji, wiping a hand off on her white tank top. "Did you need a bit of help with that?"

"Hello," is small in her throat. Tentative. Surprised, as well, maybe for other reasons, Benji turning a little away from the light, albeit not consciously. She gives a hurried nod, and shifts the box so that its weight rests forward in Barbara's hands. After a verbal urge to wait, she lets go, moves with gangly agility up and over the railing to thud down next to Barbara before moving to help her lower the thing to the deck, sliding it off the metal rails to rest upon the damp wood so that others can take apart its contents. Once done, she wraps her arms back around herself, the air having taken on a chilled quality as opposed to the murky warm humidity of daylight.

Dressed predominantly in grey, from the gunmetal tone of clinging jeans, the softer tones of a draping wrap-around cardigan of wool, with vainer touches of a silver necklace and saintly token, and ashy makeup at her eyes that doesn't do much to hide the fact there are truer shadows beneath it too.

It does emphasise the brightness of pale blue eyes, however, currently eyeing Barbara with unspoken uncertainty and speculation.

It's a bit of a process - when it comes to strength in her family, it seems like Barbara got the short end of the stick. Still, Benji's assistance makes things that much easier, and Barbara is thankful for it, again wiping dirty hands off on her shirt and letting out a bit of a long sigh. She gives a nod to no one in particular (or maybe to the box, as if to tell it to stay put), and then angles her gaze over towards the new arrival.

Hands slip into her pwn jeans, a moment passing before she turns again to look out at the cargo and what's left to unpack - it's dwindling, but there's always getting it inside that presents a new challenge. "I hadn't expect to see you back here so soon, I have to admit."

"Shamed back down the river?"

That comes with a hint of a smile, shaped eyebrows up before a bashful tilt of her head throws dark locks back into her eyes, shoulders curling in. It's probably too close to the mark to really say with sarcasm, Benji twisting at the waist a little to glance back down the length of inky water, before turning back to Barbara. "I've been meaning to come back. It's probably the one place I feel safe, and— " The sentence is severed in uncertainty, and also the fact that someone is pushing their way passed both Barbara and Benji to collect up the box they set down, Benji shying back. In the monochrome darkness, it's difficult to make out the ready blush that characterises her during moments of awkwardness.

A bit of a laugh, and Barbara is quickly shaking her head no in response to Benji's joke. "No, no. Nothing so awful," she assures, smiling a bit back in her direction. At least Barbara means nothing so awful. She, unfortunately, cannot speak for everyone. When the person (rudely!) cuts between them, Barbara acosts them with a big of a glare and a grimace - not that she blames them for wanting to be done with the work as soon a possible.

"To be truthful, I figured you and your lot would be rather busy." SHe doesn't mean to make them sound segregated, it's unfortunate phrasing, really. "You should feel safe here, though. It's how it should be, and I'm sure despite what others may say, you and yours are welcome out here any time." SHe straightens her back a bit, rolling her shoulders. Barbara doesn't see awkward, but beneath her largely shiny demeanor, she does seem to carry an air of uncertainty. "Is there anything you need?"

Her reassurances relax Benji's smile — less twisted, sardonic, something gentler and genuine if ever-shy. Eileen made her impression, enough that it's difficult not to superimpose a surplus of it onto the attitudes of others, never mind Cat's academic curiousity, or Joseph's tentative hope, or even Barbara's reserved fairness.

"Perhaps," she admits, stepping a little nearer. "I wanted to— actually. I was looking for you." It's not quite true, given her hesitation — but maybe it's true now, now that Barbara is in front of her. "I don't think I made it explicitly clear, my role in everything. Actually, I know I didn't. I tried not to. But I'm not actually a telepath. I'm a dream manipulator, like— " Like her mom, but it's not something she needs to spell out — either Barbara is aware of such contexts, or she isn't. Glancing around at the still milling presence of volunteers, Benji rather suddenly goes to take Barbara's hand in almost childish conspiracy, making for where the ground bleeds out from manmade docks, steps quick and light, almost feline.

Looking her you gets another one of those raised eyebrows and a look of slight disbelief, but Barbara lends her ear accordingly - though she's not given much time to react to what little is bassed on to her before Benji suddenly begins to drag her off. She has a vauge understanding of the contexts at hand, but Barbara has never know the Ryans women terribly well, so the conclusion isn't one she comes to.

"A dream manipulator?" is echoed in a low voice, Barbara biting a bit at her lip. "I'm curious as to why you elt the need to lie about that, at least to us. I think knowing that tou weren't a telepath might have eased a lot of the…" she wrinkles her nose a bit before continuing, "early tensions." You know the ones where Benji ended up locked away and negated for a short amount of time.

The word lie generates reaction — a sharp look back and an abortive attempt at argument, but Benji isn't about to interrupt, releasing the woman once they're on solid ground. And away from the others, who give them barely a second glance — not while there's work to be done and the cold of evening has set in.

"In all fairness," Benji says, after a moment, voice low and near whisper level, "I only lied via Registration. I didn't ask to be frisked." Fussing an inky brunette lock behind an ear, Benji once again folds her arms around herself, sighing through her nose, mouth going into a line as she considers those events, a wince making the muscles around her eyes tense, drawing lines. "It was only a matter of time before you all started talking about your dreams. I wasn't prepared to be outed just yet." She hesitates, and adds, a little gentler and with a touch of humour, "But if you were really planning to shoot me or throw me in the river, I would have told you everything."

Turning to look out at said river, a hand drifts up to toy with silver pedant. "Does that sate your curiousity, Miss Zimmerman?"

That catches her off guard, even if it shouldn't - very few people, outside of Niki, Catherine, and one or two others call her by her real last name. NOt that she minds, it's actually rather nice to hear. But she gives a shallow nod in responds, hands fidgeting a bit in her pocket. "Fair enough. For what it's worth, I don't think anyone planned on shooting you. i do hope someone apologised for all of that, though." Because, really, it's long overdue at this point if not. "I han't thought about the possible outting." She steps up beside Benji, also taking a view out over the river. "I wasmostly just curious. It makes sense."

Benji makes a noncommittal sound, about whether she earned an apology, the corners of her mouth turning up — dismissal of the concept without bitterness. It's done and she's welcomed back, maybe twisted or helped twist the timeline into something unrecognisable, brought a friend who unleashed a deadly virus—

"The dreams are memories — the ones you had from where I'm from. I seem to collect them. When I draw people in, they trigger it. Comes to the surface. Sometimes it even surprises me."

She glances at the woman, only slightly shorter than she is, as if for silent permission to continue. "I see them too, through your eyes. Or through— through Vincent's eyes. Billy Jean's eyes." She stops there, her posture meercat straight, chin tucking in to nibble absently at the set of her nails against silver chain, watching the nighttime horizon.

There's an almost absent nod from Barbara at first, before she really processes what Benji says. When she does, the movement slows and she blinks, looking over at Benji with a surprised look. "Memories?" she repeats, and she not wide eyed in surprised, or filled with anger or annoyance - reactions that she can only imagine Benji might expect from some people. Her eyes, however, also aren't exactly full of understanding.

"So… then what's been going around about them being visions was true, in a manner of speaking?" Barbara asks with a quirked eyebrow. "I recall hearing taht aylee was trying to make a timeline." Not that she's asking - or even trying to imply - that Benji should help with that. "I had a feeling, once I first heard Lynette and Francois speak of a dream we shared, that something was amiss. I think may people assumeit's more the wpork of a precognative. INstead it sounds… well, like how my ability might work, if it only worked while I was dreaming."

Rather than look to see reactions, predictable or no, Benji keeps her attention set forward and only listens keenly, one eyebrow going up at the news of a timeline being made, but doesn't offer support or enquiry just yet. There are probably other reasons she dragged Barbara off to talk, than the spontaneous compulsion to spout the truth.

For a nosy dreamwalker, she knows the value of secrecy. She nods a little at Barbara's assessment. "I didn't really pick up my mother's flare for the creative," she says. "But yes, they're retroactive impressions of a history that hasn't happened yet, for anyone who isn't temporally displaced. But things are changing, so swiftly. I can't see in the future, but I think that I can feel it, a little. I imagine we all can, like— homesickness. But if Calvin can make the awful things happen, then we can make the good things happen. I wouldn't suggest looking for Billy Jean, of course.

"I think she's about nine, at the moment." She drops the pendant to hang on its chain, casting Barbara a swift smile. "Maybe ten."

"Homesick…" Barbara trails out a bit, before she looks down, not quite at her feet. "That feeling like, even when you know that sometimes things were pretty awful, you want to go home, and can't." Barbara knows that feeling fairly well - even if not in the magnitude that Benji or his friends may. BUt to this day, the fact that she can't sut waltz back up to Thompson breaks her heart.

Clearing her throat a litte, Barbara looks down to her side, and frowns. "I don't have my bag with me. I wish I did, I drew a picture in it. Of my dream." She rolls her shoulders a bit in a shrug, beore she turns to face Benji, looking down at her with all seriousness.

"If what you really intend to do is to help improve how things are, or at least how they will be… I'm sure you can. It's not unheard of, from all the stories I've been told over the last year of time travel and other assorted oddities." Her hands withdraw from her pockets, moving up her hips wher ethem come to rest. "What your friend did is awful. But the fact taht you came to talk to us about it at all shows that it's far from what at least those of you at that meeting, and I imagine most of the rest of your group, intended. I, at least, am willing to trust you on that. I just think that, if something good is to happen… I know you were never not working with us, but we need to work together from here on out. there's a difference." That said, of course, with a small smile. "I'm sure you didn't come to me for a lecture, though. I'm sorry."

"Oh, it's not so bad when I agree with it."

The small smile is mirrored back to Barbara, but wans again, Benji sinking into thought of what good things can be done, and the possibilities seem both endless and limited, the playing field already changed at the hands of someone else, and of course— all roads lead back to thoughts of the changer himself. "I think at this point, we can call him something other than a 'friend'," she says, with a certain heaviness, something freshly severed. "But the fight can't revolve around him. It's still a time of opportunity. Raymond Praeger is still in a position of power. Humanis First is still struggling for dominance instead of assuming it.

"What was the picture of?" she asks suddenly, quick curiousity and turning to look at the other woman.

Well, there's a few things Barara had wanted to address among that that big, but the inquiry about the drawing makes her smile widen a bit, an instinctive look given over towards Bannerman - in theory, towards where her bag and the drawing lie, waiting for her to return to them. Fingers loops in the loops on her belts, and she gze looks upwards. "JUst myself and Mr. Lazzaro speaking with… Billy Jean?" There's a questioning inflection at the end, as if making sure that she got the name right.

"Raymond Praeger… I don't actually know much about the man," she admits looking backdown towards Benji with a more serious expression. "I've heard some things here and again. And Humanis First, with any hope we can keep them from ever being a dominant force. More than they are. That is something I will fight tooth and nail to help with until I die."

She falls silent for a moment again, beore she looks over towards the water, contemplative for a few seconds. "Do you think there's no chance of him being friend any longer? I admit, I have… no love lost for your firiend I've never met, from all I've heard. But sometimes people surprise you."

Benji, as a general rule, can cry easy. But she already has over this particular topic, long before she packed up some necessities and waited diligently for the next supply run, and it mostly proves to make her seem tired again, eyes hooding. "I saw him. A few days ago. He found where I was staying and brought a bottle of wine. Not to apologise, or— or anything like that. I tried to— I keep sedatives, at home. Pills and teas, but for emergencies, hypodermic needles. But he got away and…" Benji stops, and shakes her head. "Friends don't do that to one another. Friends don't fear each other, what they might do to each other."

A hand goes up, greasing palm beneath an eye, and inspects it. There's moisture, streaks makeup onto her fingers, but it's more of a leak than a break, steeling her shoulders a little as arms wind back around herself. "Billy Jean Cambria," is belated confirmation, as if maybe the topic itself would lend some strength. "I like that you made a picture, that someone other than us might remember who she was.

"I don't know much about Raymond Praeger either. He came before Secretary Mayes."

Somewhat tentatively, a hand is raised up and placed on Benji's shoulder, squeezing gently as she close her eyes. "I'm sorry," she says in a similar manner. She doesn't offer anymore on the tpic. In truth, she's not sure what she can say, without it likely coming off a little forced. She ahs her well iwshes, but… she can't say she's been in Benji's position before.

'Secretary Mayes?" is repeated with a bit of surprise and dismay. "That's certainly not what I expected," she admits, a noticable grimace on ehr face, even in the dark night around them. "I'm guessing you don't remember her too fondly, then? From what I've heard, I certainly don't blame you."

And from that depressing topic, on to what might be another one. The last name Cambria doesn't mean much to her, but she catches something else instead. "Who she was? …I'm orry to hear that." A momentspause, and Barbara's gaze moves ahead again. "You're welcome to have the drawing, if you'd like. I raw because my ability works much better when I do, but also simply for fun. I can do another one, if you'd like."

"Keep it," Benji demures, with a shake of her head. "But thank you. She and I weren't actually very close — but she was with others. Hannah. Calvin, actually. Howard. She eventually came back to us, and stayed. She was— she was meant to come back with us, actually. If anyone could have done this right, it might have been her. But she went missing before we were ready to leave. But people do that, in my time." Stretching, woolen fabric is bundled tighter around her shoulders. "Go missing."

She sinks a step back from the water, more towards the castle, but makes no really definite effort to walk away. "Mayes is Humanis First. Or that's what was widely believed amongst the people who knew better, like Lazzaro. I never met Agent Pak personally, before she was killed. But there was— before she retired, her methods… she would use her contacts with extremists to stage events that were angled in support of the Department of the Evolved Affairs or anti-Evolved policy. The pregnancy laws. Immigration.

"I only wish dreams could change the minds of powerful men, but." She twitches a smile. "Praeger would need facts, not dreamed notions for a changing future."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Barbara offers apologetically, head dipping a bit when she learns of Billy Jean's fate. There's a bit of a sour look on her face; that such a thing can just happen in that way - followed by the belief that Georgia Mayes is HUmanis First paints evenmore of a bleak vision of teh future than she had expected. And yet, at the same time, she doesn't seem terribly surprised. She lets out a sigh, shaking her head.

"I had thought about reaching out to this Agent Pak. Or finding someone a bit less… auspicious to do it. I can't eactly go walking aroun the mainland talking to DoEA officials. If they aren't looking for me, I would be surprised if they aren't looking for my sister, and any real scrutiny would shatter any impersonation of myother sister," the one she hasn't met yet, "rather quicly, I would think. Your friend, Billy Jean… she said she had evidence going back as 2010? In the dream. Maybe she already has some of that available."

In silent support of who Barbara can and can't strike up a conversation with, Benji shakes her head in agreement. What could go wrong? Everything. Looking up from river to sky, Benji studies the clouded over blackness above with vague analysis as she thinks. "There have to still be, at this earlier stage, people in the Department of Evolved Affairs who believe in something better than Mayes' regime. Even in our time, there was a resistance. One of my friends— has a cover, in the Department, keeping an eye on people like Agent Pak. Maybe it's time to cash that in." A beat, and she adds, "Ingrid Ryans. Is her name. She's my aunt.

"For now, I'm keeping you out in the cold long enough. Shall we?"

"Your aunt?" That surprise is mixed with a healthy dose of amusement, Barbara looking over at Benji with a laugh and a smile. "You RYans folk are always so busy. We're lucky to have you on our side." And see means that of all of them. At least, the one's she met, which admittedly is only about 50/50 at this point. Still, a good impression is a good impression. "I think that may be a good idea. If you could keep me informed of what Ms. Ryans can find out, I would appreciate it. All of us will, I promise you."

There's a beat, and Barbara turns to face back towards the castle. "I had meant to ask you about your associates," she admits, looking a bit off to the side. "But I think it'll all come in time. I think it is about time to head in, yes." She offers an arm out to Benji, a smirk on her face. It's a friendly gesture, but also a sort friendly offering of trust - in case there was any doubt.

The gesture is taken gracefully — Benji's hand settles warm and demure in the crook of Barbara's elbow, a gentle clasp that communicates agreement, that she will talk to Ingrid, and agreement, that all will come in time. Whether through their own circumstance, or through another conversation much like this one. For now, it's a quiet walk back to the castle, leaving business where it settles at the edge of the river.

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