In Defense Of Family


benji_icon.gif howard_icon.gif nora_icon.gif ryans3_icon.gif

Scene Title In Defense of Family
Synopsis It's important.
Date December 6, 2010

Pollepel Island

Fucking snow, again.

Howard Phillips is smiling like an eight-year-old despite himself, despite the snow. The steps out front of Bannerman Castle have becomes a popular gathering place on clearer days. Flurries of snow whipping around the island, however, have put most sensible people indoors where it is warmer. Sitting on a crumbling piece of wall dusted by the falling precipitatuion, however, Howard looks to be enamored by the weather. "Didn't see much'a this back home…" he admits with blue eyes alight towards the sky, snow flakes melting the moment they touch his skin, radiating too much warmth for an ordinary person. His jacket, folded over his lap, has new burn holes in it, partly patched up by howard's own unskilled hand, sewing the burn holes closed with gray thread. It isn't like Abby's original patchwork job, but he isn't about to go to her again.

"You warm enough?" At Howard's side, sitting on the steps near the wall, Nora Rosenthal is blocked from the wind by the very wall Howard is perched upon. Three thermal blankets wrapped around her shoulders and a thermos full of cocoa does for Nora what Howard's ability does for him, though the redness of her cheeks and ears is still the cold air's fault.

"You need t'get out more, y'know how it is… Bein' cooped up all the time inside, it ain't goot f'r ya." Smiling reluctantly Howard looks down to Nora, then to the battery powered radio on the step beside her, his brows furrowing. "You have any luck gettin' in touch with anyone on the mainland?"

He squints, intently, eyeing the radio and then back to Nora. "M'worried about them…"

He's worried about everyone, though he'd never admit that.

It's too cold, but she likes it outside, too; if she could see, she wouldn't stay cooped up, despite the inclement weather, and he knows that. Nora's brows twitch above the frames of the sunglasses she wears, a little irritated at his insinuation that she's staying inside by any sort of desire to hole up in the castle. Still, her lips curve up in good humor at his jubilation of being in the crisp wintry air. She can hear the smile in his voice.

"I'm good. It's nice out, in a colder-than-a-witch's-tit sort of way," she tosses back. The radio is for his sake, for him to talk and listen, but she shakes her head.

"Not getting them — they're busy being busy, I guess, all important and shit. I'll try again tonight — same bat time, same bat channel. That's when they're usually waiting for me," Nora murmurs, moving to stand. "We can walk, if you want," she offers, lifting the thermos of cocoa and reaching for his hand. "I trust you not to let me fall on my ass too often."

It may not be like last winter's mini ice age, but it's pretty damn cold. The summer was enough to take the edge off the memories of the painfully sharp cold, making it just as miserable now. Benjamin Ryans knows that if he was his true age, he'd be much worse off. He's lucky to be at an age where he doesn't feel the cold straight to his bones through paper thin skin.

His normally worn blood stained duster has been tucked away for a thicker woolen coat, buttoned up with a rust red and gray striped scarf wrapped around his neck. His hands, even though clad in leather gloves, are tuck in his jacket pockets with his shoulders lifted and head tucked down to keep his large nose warm.

He isn't alone however as he makes his way down the unpaved path, the covering of giving squeaky crunches with each step. His companion has been let out of his cage again, though for once it's Ryans that's escorting him. Words haven't really been spoken by the older of the two except for the typical pleasantries that one offers in greeting.

They also seem to be headed in the direction of Howard and Nora, Ryans watching them with some wariness.

Benji is fine with pleasantries, having exchanged them with perfect articulacy and lofty— maybe chilly— politeness, but had fallen into distracted silence for the last of their trip to the stairs of the castle. He's bundled into a woolen coat of his own— or possibly a borrowed item— and a knitted scarf of blue being the most colourful thing on his person, wrapped around his throat and tucked past collar. Hands bare of gloves, he has them tucked into pockets, his feet moving quickly as if staying in one spot would make his toes tingle with chill.

He's watching his step, as opposed to what they're heading towards, but now he looks up, ice-blue eyes communicating a degree of anxiety and expectation. Snow snags in jet black hair, speckles the shoulders of his coat, but he only squints against it in their nearing approach. The next time steam flows from a sigh, it's with a certain amount of relief.

Slap. That's Howard's hand batting gently against Nora's palm, a sort of I see you but hold on gesture as he hops down off of the wall with a crash of his sneakered feet on the stone flooring underfoot. "Benji," is sharply breathed out, and Howard is quick to hop down a few steps before jogging through the quarter inch of snow down the trail to meet them half way. "Benji, bro," Howard comes to a stop when he sees Ryans, or rather when he realizes who it is. Eyes grow wide, his posture stiffens and he seems for all his worth like a stray cat in the presence of a big dog.

"They didn't hurt you none, did they?" Howard snaps his attention back to Benji. "You just gimme' the word man, an' I'll deck him." The shirtless, skinny youth tilts his chin up as if in challenge of Ryans. "I ain't afraid to cold-cock an old guy," he admits with a puffed up sense of toughness, but also protectiveness.

Not that he cares or anything.

"Benj— Howie!" The first is an echo of Howard's relieved whisper; the second a sharp protest as she hears him moving away from her, leaving her behind.

Dropping the blankets on the stones behind her so she can move without tripping, Nora is slow but determined to follow, brows furrowed in concentration as she steps down carefully, Ugg booted foot gingerly toeing the step below before settling onto it, followed by the other; her gloved fingers are splayed out in front of herself to be sure she doesn't run into anything.

For all his posturing, Howards display mainly gets the faintest upward tick of a single brow, from a well covered feeling of amusement. His head lifts to sit straight on the stalk of his neck, putting him at that full six foot plus four inch frame, as he regards the blonde haired youth.

"It's alright, Nora." Her rumbled tones of the ex-agent, punctuated by the white mist. Ryans head tilts ever so slightly to one side to look at the blinded girl. "It is Nora, isn't it?" In the face of threats, he still manages to sound so calm.

"If I was in his place, I'd probably be the same way."

Observant blue eyes focus on Howard then, brows settling back into that default setting that doesn't really give much away. "And I do believe I remember once threatening to do the same to a officer in Vietnam. There it could have gotten him thrown into the brigg. Here… it's rude, yet commendable. Given the circumstances." He doesn't try to insist that Benji wasn't harmed, that's up to the young man himself.

Dark brows knit a little in exasperation at Howard's response, mouth opening and closing as Ryans responds first, Benji glancing up at the elder man before his attention spans back to his two friends. A minute shake of his head is meant to call off the dog, a small mouthed no. "No, don't do that," is more out loud, quiet as ever, moving foward now to reach out a hand and take Nora's, his fingers feeling cold but warm in gesture. He does bump Howard's shoulder on the way. "You're going to get sick, young man."

Preternatural warmth or no. "I'm fine. See?" A small lift of a shoulder, for all that winter-layers don't exactly allow for close inspection, but pale-freckled face is free of abuse. He does not appear to be, however, very well rested. But that's what worry does for you. Gives you lines. "They've all been very polite."

"Fuck you I ain't never been sick," Howard protests with a slap of one bare hand against his chest as he over-dramatically stumbles back from the bump of shoulders, only then realizing he'd shed his coat from his lap to lay crumpled in a heap in the snow. He looks momentarily panicked by that, before realizing it will probably be okay there for the moment. What won't be, however, is Nora's fumbling frame approaching with feeler-fingered blindness.

Shooting a look up to Ryans, as if not sure what to make of him, Benji swiftly turns and heads back towards Nora's blindly approaching self. Howard's quick to take the other hand not secured by Benji, gingerly, then guides one of his arms around her waist and eases her arm around him. "C'mon now," Howard says in a hushed tone of voice, "you fall your ass over you're gonna make me'n Ben feel bad, y'don't want that."

A look is offered up to Ryans, worriedly. There's something about these kids, a family-unit manner to them, despite not seeming to be — or look — much related at all. They act like people who grew up together, or at the very least have spent a great deal of time together. Ryans has been around the block enough, seen enough things, to have intuition on what family is like, even unconventional ones.

"I'm a regular ol' electric blanket," Howard states with a cocksure smile, all of that anger from before gone now that he's certain he has Benji back. "Give Nora a fucking hug before she kicks the shit outta' you for worrying us." Give Nora a hug, of course.

"Benji," Nora says softly, her fingers intertwining with his as she tips her head up toward him, smiling, her other hand wrapping around Howard, squeezing him tightly, no anger in her stance or expression at him for leaving her behind.

"You're okay?" she says to Benji, then adds, "Don't make me pat you down to find out you're hurt. And you know I could kick your ass if I wanted to, even if I can't see it."

In other words, she was worried, too.

Her cheeks color just a little and she tilts her head toward Ryans; his form is reflected back at him in the black plastic lenses of the sunglasses she wears. "So how long does he have to say separate from us, mister … Bryans, was it?"

"You'll jinx yourself." There is a touch of amusement that manages to worm it's way into those words. "I can get the all out flu and no one cares. You kids get a sniffle and there will be an evo flu scare." Ryans gives a slight jerk of his head towards the castle. "I don't recommend you all being out here overly long.

"And it's Ryans. Benjamin Ryans." The old man offers to the girl, in a pleasant tone.

Her question takes a little longer to answer as he considers it with a press of his lips. "I can't give you any definitive answer. I wish I could." And Ryans at least seems to mean it, eyes drifting to the dark haired man. "It took some time before they trusted me. I can honestly say, I've been where Benji is." His head inclines slowly to the man he's talking about. "But with hope it won't be much longer."

Benji obeys, in that he wraps them both into a hug, an arm folding Nora closer as the other reaches to sling over Howard's overheated shoulders, a nudge of knuckles at blonde head to get his attention; "'m still negated," he admits to them both, too quiet for Ryans to hear as its pitched for this closer proximity, though not necessarily a secret, either. Any and everyone who's had the ~pleasure~ of tending to their semi-prisoner knows his opinions on that matter as readily as they know his reservation about his own ability. It's hard out there, for a psychic.

But he's not hurt. Benji steps back from them both once the embrace is squeezed, claiming back his treasured personal space with a flush of blushing red filling the shells of his ears. "I can come out and visit more. They let me now. I just don't want to waste anyone's time, supervising," he says to the two younger refugees, scratching his nails down his jaw which hasn't been shaved as regularly as they are probably used to him doing.

He glances to Ryans, and manages a brief smile for him. "No, hopefully not," he agrees, lightly.

Awkwardly accepting the embrace, brows furrowed and head turned a slight bit towards Nora, Howard restrains a smile before squirming out of the embrace and away from both Nora and Howard. "Think he tried t'grab my ass," Howard admits in half-joking half-insulting tone, "should've known better, right?" His brows screw up, eyes flick towards Ryans and Howard is quick to assert his manilness again by closing in on the tall old man.

"Who d'I gotta talk at t'get Benji let go then? Beauchamp fucked off 'cause she couldn't take the heat, an' if you ain't gona stick up for— " Howard motions back to Benji, brows furrowed and lips struggling to find the right words.

"If you ain't gonna stuck up for my friend," Howard lifts up a hand to press a finger to the center of Ryans' chest. "Obviously I got's t'be the bigger man."

Nora nods, lifting her hands to press on Benji's face, as if to read his expression, but the hand furthest from Ryans' side gets cupped around his ear as she brings her lips to his cheek. "Lemme know if there's any messages you want, I'll get them out," she whispers very, very softly, for his ears only since Howard's already pushing away pretending to be macho.

Her lips press into a line as she hears Howard's provoking voice, and she swallows audibly. "Howard," she murmurs, nervousness creeping into her voice, though she tips her head up toward where she thinks Ryan's stands — just a touch off by a couple of degrees. "He did go get help when he could've bailed; I heard them talking about it in the infirmary. That has to count for something, doesn't it?" she asks the older man.

It's like watching a puppy try to be mean and tough to a much larger dog, there is a certain amount of patience involved. Part of which is the much bigger and taller man glancing down at the finger before lifting that neutral expression back up to Howard, with only a questioning lift of his brow. It would be so easy to reach up and with a deft twist of a hand get him in an arm lock, but Ryans is trying to be reasonable.

That doesn't include humiliating the young man… yet.

"They are your family, this is mine." It's a blunt assessment from the older man, who just leaves the kids finger there, almost as a dare in itself. How far is the kid really planning on going with that. "Just like you protect them from danger, I protect the people on this island. There are families… kids and all here. And the Institute would probably bundle them up in shiny metal coffins. Even that little baby could end up their vicitm."

Ryans studies Howard for a moment, "You want to help make these people to trust enough to let Benji go? Help them instead of scaring them. These people are scared." Eyes narrow slightly in thought, considering his words. What he says next is aimed specifically at Howard. "I could use the extra man power on patrol. You'll be not only helping me protect my family, but your own as well."

"Enough. Enough, enough, enough," is hissed out from Benji, if barely audible, leaving Nora along so as better to reach and put a firm hand on Howard's elbow. "Please just leave it alone. Not everything has to be resolved your way for it to be effective, my goodness. I can look after myself, and I have, but you just keep getting hurt, by the sounds of it. Please— " That last word is to Ryans, attempting a smile, though it's clearly strained, clearly worried.

He shakes his head, briskly. "He's young. That's— a nice offer of you, you're very kind. You should take it," is gritted out to Howard, between teeth. Being some several years everyone's senior is only so useful when you can act it and maybe have something of a strong personality, but not all of us are forces of nature.

Whatever sharp-tongued invective Howard was going to lob at Ryans is trapped behind his teeth only because Benji is there to pull back on Howard's figurative leash and stop him from saying something that would get him knocked flat out, or worse. He jerks his elbow away from Benji, taking a few steps back from Ryans and lifting both hands up, palms out slowly. "Fine," Howard asserts gruffly, "whatever, you don't want my help, Benji, you ain't gotta have it." Ryans' offer is met with a fixed stare, a furrow of brows, and a flick of his head to the side.

"Why don't you take Benji with you, kill two birds with one stone, right?" Howard keeps backpedaling, right past Nora, then turns to pick up his jacket off of the ground, shaking the snow out of it. "I ain't all that good on patrol, people tell me I don't follow orders no good." He looks from Ryans to Nora's back, worriedly, then back to Ryans again.

"I'll pass, in otherwords," is Howard's flippant way of handling things as he turns around, starting to ascend the steps to the castle.

"Howard," Nora says, teeth raking over lower lips nervously as she hears Howard crunching through the snow away from her, turning as if to follow, but just a little too far out of bounds, out of her normal haunts; she doesn't know the number of strides she's taken away from the castle's steps, and her angle's been shifted by hugs.

Benji and Nora are favored a glance and the edge of Ryans mouth tilted up just a little at the corner into a hint of a smile. "I've two girls of my own, young… and rash. Hard headed." He knows. "But then… so was I." His gaze shifts back to the retreating for of Howard.

"I'll see you in the morning." The gruff words call after the light haired youth, Ryans head following the retreat. Whether the kid realizes it or not, he's just been drafted into patrol duty. "If your not at the docks by time I get there… I will gladly physically drag you from your bed and get you on that boat. Not much ordering needed to ride a horse and watch for bad guys."

It's all spoken so calmly, without a lick of anger, irritation or any sort of emotion. Hands dip into pockets again and waits. He'll do it too. Shocking personality or not.

Regret is instant, expressive. Benji's hands retract as sharp as Howard's yanking back of his own freedom is, curling inwards to hold onto the hems of his coat as he turns to watch younger man go once the wince has cleared from his expression. His eyes close a little at Ryans' words, hands drifting up to press against his own temples like he might stem a headache, before sweeping his hair back and taking a breath. "Howard? Thank you." It's a little formally delivered, but a lot of Benji is formal, and no less heartfelt for it.

He glances to Nora, and says, more quietly to her, "Just— know that I'm fine. And remember, we're staying on the island. Whether we like it or not." His words are careful when they're not whispered, but it's in belated reply, with a very final tone of voice, no matter what Howard might be claiming. "Try to make sure he," head tilt to retreating blonde, for all that she can't see it, "remembers that?"

"That's not — you know, if we're going to stay here, we may as well be useful. I don't want anyone saying we're a fucking burden, do you?" she calls after him, the discussion with Barbara still echoing in her ears. Her arms cross her chest wrap around herself, gloved fingers curling around the too-thin fabric of the coat she wears.

Grumbling and cantankerous, Howard's retreat into the castle must be people's iconic memory of him at this point. Leaving an argument or a situation frustrated and stomping. The snow whips as his back as he swings his jacket back on over his shoulders, flipping up the collar and trying to pretend like he can't hear that people are still talking.

But Benji is perfectly right, he is staying here on Pollepel.

Whether he likes it or not.

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