If Anything Happens


benji_icon.gif calvin_icon.gif nora_icon.gif

Scene Title If Anything Happens
Synopsis A miniature holiday reunion in Red Hook that could stand to be more upbeat.
Date December 24, 2010

Red Hook

The morning hours and the cold paints grey over everything, from the somewhat ashy quality pale skin and a low blood pressure can take, to the silver wisps of vapour on the exhale. It was darker when they started their journey, hedging towards noon now, with the sun a dreary eye in the overcast dome of sky that seems a solid, icy grey from east to west. Red Hook is a sprawling patch of dock-side city, all steely piers and concrete matchbox shaped warehouses, diamond-link fencing, faded graffiti. A boat, also, bobbing in the sluggish ice-cold water, left behind, one that Benji Foster doesn't have to worry about tying up himself. They wouldn't let him drive.

Ahead of them, a sea-faring bird lands hard atop the metal piping of a fence that bars them off from a construction site, makes a baleful call, launches again with furious flapping wings. Benji occupies himself with watching its journey for a few moments, his hand locked tight around Nora's in a bony grasp. He's in borrowed garments, mostly, a woolen coat of navy, denim jeans that are wet around the ankles, a sweater, and a scarf of mixed blues wrapped like a python so that he can tuck his chin into its warmth.

It's not exactly where they'd been, when they're fled the mainland that night — maybe a loading block or two south from there. It's much quieter at this hour, speaking of abandonment and complacancy. He hooks his arm around Nora's as if for his own comfort as opposed to her blindness, and scans the area with pale eyes as they move.

"I'd say it's the time of the day," Benji is telling her, in quiet description that skates beneath the sound of distant traffic, heard only via proximity, "but I don't think anyone comes here anymore, especially not after that night. Only us, and a bird friend, for now."

Nora's thin frame is bundled as well in borrowed clothing, most of it a touch too big for her wiry limbs. Her coat isn't really warm enough for the weather, but three layers of sweaters beneath help to combat the chill. The sunglasses once more obscure her face, and Benji will know it's more to keep away strangers' stares at her unfocused eyes and the fading but still present blotches on the sclera.

Not to mention the non-strangers they might see.

"Creepy," she says, tipping her head — for mid-day to be so silent, but for the sound of the water and the creaking of docks, she means.

"Thanks for letting me tag along," she adds quietly. It's not the first time she's said it on their journey. Her arm curls around his waist as she leans into him for both warmth and comfort, to both give and receive.

Ice and asphalt, asphalt and ice. Some twenty or so meters inland, Calvin slides sideways out've an open freight container like Elvis (or Michael Jackson), combat boots planted wide apart until asphalt gives way to gravel and so traction. School bus yellow and iron grey at his back, he's dressed all in shades of black and grey. Gloves. High collar, long tail, fitted coat sleeves finer than anything any Pollepel island dweller has managed to scavenge from dumpsters or donation bins or. Garage sales.

It's all very dramatic, really. Even if he does technically have only an audience of one, ginger crest of hoatzin dreads spined coarse against the frigid wind while he takes in company seeing and unseeing, just a shade warier than he'd like to appear. But he's too far for the intensity of his stare to translate. There's only the pause to consider, he with his chin tipped down and his hands raised up high away from his sides for balance and his heels under his shoulders.

"Well," he says, finally, voice carrying on the wind before he drops his hands and slacks himself into a casual(ly faggy) runaway approach, all loose balls in sockets and shoulders, "it may just be the light, but I can't tell who's prettier."

"Don't be silly," is uttered next to voicelessly to Nora, Benji soon distracted by the first sign of movement up ahead, spine stiffening in meercat alarm before relaxing once more, if never completely. A small squeeze in the mutual, huddled embrace to Nora is meant to communicate that all is well, and for Calvin, he gets a smile for his antics, bright and sincere in the chillier noon. An equally cold stare is probably more to do with that's just the way Benji's eyes are, seeing as amusement etches lines around them.

He brings up a hand, fingers together and bending a wave that pauses at that greeting, before the hand planted at Nora's back edges her forward a few inches. "Then we'd best not work it out in the dark. Good morning, Calvin, you're looking well."

Calvin's voice brings a slight squeak from Nora and a wide grin alights on her face. "Like I said — it's creepy out here," she says playfully, taking a step forward.

The arm around Benji releases him though stays back, as if to moor herself to his coat, fingers curling in the fabric there even as her other hand reaches out toward Calvin, waiting for him to take it. That tentativeness is not the Nora that Calvin has known, but it is the Nora that is here now.

"And don't be silly," she says, tossing her mane of dark hair back from where the wind has blown it into her face. "Benji is by far the prettiest of us all. It's okay. I've accepted it. I cry myself to sleep a little every night, but we can't all be beautiful."

"I feel very well," says Calvin too amicably, obviously under the impression that saying so will nullify the shadows smudged in dark under raccoon eyes when he grasps Nora's hand and spins her a little carelessly back around into him, lapel warm to the arch of her spine. For her it will, especially in the 10% of a tango he's levered her into.

It may be a little unsettling that he catches himself still eyeing Benji once the he's wound that same arm lazily around her, far friendlier than it is restrictive or otherwise uncomfortable. "No use denying it, Benjamin."

Once Nora's found her new port of call, Benji's hands occupy themselves by linking demurely together, standing still and straight and apparently trusting Calvin as far as not flinging the blind woman into the side of a freight container. Uneasily breaks that grasp only to sweep black hair out of his eyes in needless fidget, warmth already leaking up his throat in encroaching flush at teasing. "'Benji'. Next topic," is an awkward, breathy chuckle, instead of getting into no you wars, slanting a stare the other man's way once it's scouted around the curl of the redhead's arm on girl's waist.

A glance over his shoulder, although from here, the boat is more or less out of sight, and uncomfortably shifts the sit of his coat around him. "How is everyone?"

There's a slight gasp from Nora, but it segues into a breathy laugh. She turns in that tango stance to throw arms around Calvin's neck, hugging him and standing on tiptoe to kiss his cheek, sunglasses frames pressing against his forehead before she eases back to flat footed stance.

"He's so modest," she says playfully of Benji. One gloved hand comes up to try to tame her hair, tucking it into the collar of the coat to keep the wind from whipping it around her face. "Have you seen everyone?" she asks, a near echo of Benji's words, as she curls an arm around his waist tipping her head up, the sky above reflected in the black lenses of her glasses.

Next topic? Maybe in a minute. Because Calvin insists on a low, "Awww," — a touch of malice sickly sweet on the fork of his tongue in tandem with a gentle 'lookatim' squeeze at Nora that she cannot actually comply with. Awwwuhh! "He's blushing!" Isn't that just. Precious.

His teeth show under an exaggerated bunny rabbit wrinkle of his nose. Precious!!

"Josh'n Ingrid are alright. Dunno about the others, really. Last I saw Lene she seemed just about the right amount've mentally deficient. Few weeks ago. I figured youd've been in contact yourselves by now."

Crawling redness almost reaching his freckles by the time softer smileyness has melted away and Calvin has next topic'd. Benji's gaze seeks out the skyline and an impatiently patient rush of air sighing through nasal cavities, white steam betraying it, before he tucks his hands into his pockets, rocking weight onto the heels of pragmatic, slightly damp sneakers. His shoulders shrug like a seesaw, loose limbed. "Mm, I figured we would have been too, but circumstances were tricky. I was almost executed." An ivory smile follows, deliberately removed.

Because. It's not a very smiley topic of conversation. The danger is long since passed but still casts enough of a shadow for Benji to look kind of tired and a little nervous just by virtue of standing upon the mainland. He quiets, then, sort of turns in a half-twist away from them as if to allow them their hugs and kisses, even if the shape they make together remains in his periphery.

Nora's lips press into a thin line at the nonchalance of Benji's words, her form growing a bit stiffer, tenser at hearing it so casually mentioned. "Just you and Kincaid," she says a moment's pause after, to pick up the conversation before it grows too awkward.

"We should maybe figure out something more organized. You know. In case we need to… if something goes wrong again?" she says a little tentatively, reaching with a free hand for where she thinks Benji's stepped aside to, to bring him back into the fold, and to offer reassurance, as best as she is able.

There are hugs a plenty, but kisses are conspicuously sparse. None at all since Nora's first, friendly affection kept firmly in the category of — friendly affection. Even if they are awfully close and even if Calvin is quick to catch Nora's outstretched hand dexterously in his own, glove to glove — his larger, with longer fingers and an acrid metallic funk saturated warm into the woolen outstretch of his sleeve.

"You were nearly executed? Not Howard, or…" he trails off, brows screwed up into a baffled knit, "…Howard?"

Genuinely disconcerted, he goes through the automatic process of molding all of Nora's fingers down but the middle one same as any genius working through a Rubik's cube without looking at it, halcyon blue eyes veered back after Benji instead. "I agree."

A shrug accompanies words of Howard, as well as a small and wearily affectionate smile that is meant more for himself than for Calvin. And Nora. Benji's shoulder shifts like he is about to take the hand offered to him, but awkwardly drifts a step to the side when contact is denied. "I don't think the network is what we need to worry about," is murmured, meeting Calvin's glance before dropping eye contact once more. "It was a mistake, on my part — a stupid one.

"But no, you're not wrong. I wish— " Words are knifed off, dismay slacking his shoulders, but Benji feels compelled to at least stammer out that statement. "You know. That she was here. Are you…" The topic is shuffled along with less grace than Registered telepath would like, offering Calvin a smile. "…inviting us back to your place?"

It's freezing, says a shift of Benji's shoulders upwards. Brr.

A puff of pale air escapes Nora's nostrils when she snorts at Calvin's grabbing of her hand and further manipulation of her fingers. She shakes her head. Boys. "And I'm the kid in this group?" she says, fondness taking the edge of sarcasm's bite.

"Me, too," she says quietly to Benji's words. She wraps one hand around Calvin's, then steps forward, reaching with her other hand for Benji, a sort of determination evident in the move that dares the ginger to interfere this time. "We'll figure out something. We need to. Some system, with back up plans, to cover us if anything happens."

Nora swallows, then adds, "To any of us."

Calvin should let her go. So he does, grip unwound like a slow-coiled spring in the frigid morning. There is no riposte for the implication of his immaturity. The conversation's taken a darker turn too quickly, leaving him to watch her at the end of his left arm in fond (if distant) silence. He says, "Yeh," quietly instead of me three when it's his turn, brooding gravity better seated in the hood of his brow than it looks like it should be.

Then there's the matter of invitations and places and he shakes himself sluggishly out of it, a sharp sniff and a deep breath simultaneously stirring him back to the present and reminding him how exhausted he is. "Yeah, of course. I've got coffee and snickers. If you're after anything more substantial we'll have to stop and do groceries on the way."

Slightly cool hands clasp Nora's outstretched one in a friendly as well as reassuring squeeze, concern and sympathy shown in expression that only the man holding onto her other arm can actually see. Benji allows this connection to reel him in a little from his detached wander away, focus back towards the redhead, pale eyes angling skywards in thought before nodding to him once, a twitch of a half-smile showing. "No, that sounds perfect. I can pick something up when I get back from seeing Astor." This plan, more of a hypothetical plan, an eyebrow twitching up in silent maybe, but.

He can at least get dinner while he's out chasing geese. "We— only have a day or so, so… shall we make the most of it?"

"Something without venison or fish, please," Nora says with just the smallest and uncharacteristic bit of a whine in her voice, though the thought of real food, combined with the prospect of good company brings another wide smile to her face.

She tucks her hands into the crooks of each man's elbow. "See if he'll join us," she adds, though there isn't a lot of faith put into the words. "But if not, give him a hug for me."

Posture upright into the wind despite every other aspect of his countenance, Calvin scans the leaden roll of seawater past the nearest dock through narrowed eyes, more sober now that the initial high of seeing people he hasn't seen's worn off and reality's sunk back into his bones. It's very early. He hasn't slept. Benji's going off to see ~Astor~.

"No venison or fish," agreed despite his lack of an aversion to either, Cal adjusts the crook of his elbow to better allow for leading on his way to falling into a procrastinatory, winding pace homewards. "Any other good stories, aside from your almost-execution at the hands of your heroes?"

Benji moves last, pace falling into a meander wherein he watches Nora's path more than his own. Between the two of them, surely they can keep her alive. "A great many stories, Mister Rosen," he says, ducking his head to shine a smile passed Nora before lifting his stare back towards the ruined city line somewhere northwards. Both arms wind with Nora's one as they go, despite his height on her. "But I think you should go first — we both know how you love to talk."

Blink blink, before he's back to squinting around like a tourist, and it is unclear if he's paying more attention to the skyline than he is the sky.

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