Interior Decorating Intervention


benji_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Interior Decorating Intervention
Synopsis Benji comes to affirm the nature of dreams, for all that she doesn't want Vincent to take the future lying down.
Date June 13, 2011

Bannerman's Castle

Vincent's quarters on the island are looking awfully empty.

What little he had to begin with is in boxes and the boxes are now missing, the room's single bookshelf and open closet swept bare to the bones. A duffle bag sits open on the (neatly made) single bed next to a briefcase and a pack of cigarettes is blocked out white against the profile of a shabby desk.

Trimly upright in a white dress shirt, a tie, a shoulder holster and darker slacks, Vincent slings a bottle of water into the open bag amidst rattling pill bottles and papery boxes of ammunition. There is a lit cigarette in his mouth, and a suit jacket tanned carefully across the back of a wooden chair.

The door is open, slightly, in that way where people expect that they will be utilizing it soon enough that security isn't the imperative issue it normally is on an island full of people who don't like you.

He is leaving.

Benji would knock, if the door was closed. As it isn't, someone with an instinctive disposition towards prying cannot help but place their hand on the edge and gently ease it open a little farther. The hinges do not squeak and she doesn't call out, at first, taking in the spartan quality of the room with silent appraisal and judgment before sliding into the room proper, pressing her hand against the portal, and clicking it closed — not for security, but for privacy.

Not that kind of privacy, even if, spider-gripped in one hand, she has a tall drinking glass half-full of water and wildflowers both, the stems cut to soak up water direct and remain alive for a few more days to brighten the place up a bit, starbursts of bright petal and wild leafiness. Her attire is less colourful, even drab in greys and blacks and blues — denim jeans, cardigan drawn over cotton shirt, although tiny, sky-blue flowers have been stitched into the cuffs and collar, fraying in the way thrift-store clothing can.

Unpainted nails edge along the rim of the glass, head tipped quizzically and expression expectant, as if Vincent's presence was the one to be silently questioned. Or departure.

There's bull terrier constitution to the rigid alignment of Vincent's spine and collar from behind, upright and nearly too spacially conscious of squared shoulders and empty hands. Precise in a way that more stereoteypically sraight men usually.


More often the guilty party in instances of someone being observed unawares, he surveys the empty shell he's been holed in up in part time without particular feeling. Certainly no nostalgia. This place is kind of a shithole. His eyebrows agree.



Vincent turns through himself. Literally: a one-hundred and eighty degree transition occurs faster in a flush of sooty smoke than it would for him to spin on his heel, sidearm drawn and directed floorwards at Fosters' feet. Who he isn't happy to see, by the way, boot black eyes and similarly swarthy regard less inquiring after an explanation than levelly requiring it.

He is not the one to be silently questioned.

Not. The one.

Already leaning against the wall, Benji doesn't have anywhere to go. Already wide-eyed at that little trick of Vincent's, she can't quite look any. Innocenter.

Fingers do splay a little in a silent urge to maybe not shoot her, or maybe in apology, but probably not in an indication of harmlessness — there is a lot about Benji that does that for her already. Rather than edge back for the door, she inches away, headed towards the nearest window without actually making it there yet, not while she is unwelcomed enough to have a gun pointed feetward. Pale eyes scout out the evidence of a move out once more, now than Vincent is looking to notice.

"Looks like I came by just in time."

Adrenaline is slower to recede than it is to rise, but Vincent puts the gun away without being prompted to.

It may be the flowers, which his eyes linger on last. Suspicious. Skeptical. Both.

Are there flowers on his shirt, too? Jesus. In place of a timely answer, a curt lift of his hand draws a line of smoke out away from his mouth and tabs ash onto the floor, which he's kind enough not to scuff in with a turn of his near shoe.

"In time for what?" he asks, finally. His bed is close to the window. So is his open bag, by default, which may be why he follows so closely with his stare. "An interior decorating intervention?"

Gun put away, Benji's steps quicken to casual stroll, until she can place down the glass and flowers upon the windowsill, urging them with fingertips to sit nicely. "No," she says, despite this gesture, stealing away a thin stalked, weed-like flower from the others to keep for herself and nervously wind the resilient greenery around an index finger. "Just to talk.

"Where are you going?" The question is delivered light enough that it doesn't come across as interrogation, but there's a note of anxiety beneath it, a tinge of worry in the glance back to Vincent. "The mainland?" Instead of, say, Seattle, or Ohio, or Luxembourg, or Antarctica.

"Yes," says Vincent, evenly, because it's true. Also because answering now allows him the covenience of doing so with a single, too-vague-to-be-very-damning syllable.

What are the odds, anyway? That raggedy andy would notice him siphoning his belongings out and show up just in the nick of time.

The effort he is making to be patient in enforced privacy shows plainly on his face. It looks very similar to unfiltered impatience, unfortunately, rendering the effort mostly moot. Maybe it's the thought that counts.

Except that he then squares his shoulders out and reminds (or informs, or prompts) Benji that: "You're in my room."

"A room."

But Benji makes a concession by drifting a step for the closed door, to leave the flowers behind, without making it all the way. Maybe it's best to say things straight-forward like, instead of circling around it and gathering suspicion like thread on a spool, winding taut. "You had a dream. A little while ago. About someone you don't know yet, when they turned the Brooklyn harbors into Staten Island's junkyard, at the barrier. And another one— " She lists off into uncertainty. There have been. A lot of dreams. Ice-blue stare falls off leftwards, mouth going prim in memory, before one fuzzy-wool clad shoulder lifts. "The one with your CIA friend. They're real."

Is the important part. She loosens the flower threaded between fingers, so as not to worry it to pulpy death. "They're of real things."

Lazzaro is not a large man. A shade shorter than Benji, actually, he has an impolite habit of projecting gradual, unconscious aggression through the shoulder-width apart plant of his shoes and the stiffness of his shoulders. The acidly rhetorical diction with which he says, "Excuse me?" point blank a beat deep into blanket silence has a similarly forbidding effect.

This may just be a room but so long as it's just the two of them in it, he evidently feels confident enough in his ownership to apply all the pressure a slow step forward entails.

"She saw it too." There is a direct relation between intimidation and intimidated, but it doesn't account for composure.

Benji is becoming good at keeping her's as well as standing her ground, although direct stare wavers again, drifts to the set of Vincent's shoulders, the centre of his chest, briefly at the ground between them. "Those are dreams of the future. A future, except it happens. FRONTLINE Evolved who do tricks, until the government set them on fire. The rebel cause, and the wire fences, ash in the sky."

She gives Vincent an uncertain smile, a heel hedging back an inch without truly stepping back. "You said a wise thing to her. To Billy. You asked me about my connections, once." Or twice.

"She did," Vincent agrees without resistance, acknowledging accuracy devoid of acclaim. The fact that it is true does not make it nice, even if there is a cinch slight at the corners of his eyes, like he might be tempted to smile. Smiles aren't always nice, anyway.

He's thinking about it, breathing controlled, blackly unhappy amidst a stir of something that is either nausea or toxic amusement at his own expense. He isn't sure.

"Who decides what we see?"

The cigarette returns to his mouth, cherry weathered down to a spark that he revives with a drag that withers remaining tobacco nearly back to the filter. "You?"

A shake of her head turns into a nod, loose on her neck. Yes and no, but mainly yes. "Dreams are stitched together by memories, but people call them fiction anyway." Now Benji takes a step back, but less in retreat — more so that she can angle a look out the window without being rude, still mostly turned to Vincent, rough nails up to scratch along her jaw, dropping to grip to woolen collar in absent fidget, the weed-daisy trapped between digits.

"I would hate for you to think of them as fiction, Mister Lazzaro. Just as much as I'd hate for you to think of them as set in stone. The future isn't supposed to be."

There's a pragmatic quality to her voice when she continues, as if resigned, "The dreams sometimes stir up on their own, depending on who I reach out to. I don't remember everything when I'm awake, and it takes the presence of others to recall them. I took them with me, and came here." Now she looks back, gaze sharper, studious, reading.

Vincent is impressed against his will, goat gotten and ego bruised beneath the level hood of his brow and a narrow at his eyes. A pull at the corner of his mouth lacks the momentum it needs to develop into full on incredulity; in the end, there's nothing to do but blur and resolve such that the stub of his cigarette stifles out with a crackle and hiss. The evolved equivalent of a cracked knuckle or two while he studies himself being studied.

Flick. The butt arcs away from his fingertips.

"A simple, 'yes,' will do," he says at length, willing himself away from deeper irritation. "So what's the accomplishment, here? What's your measure of success?" Out of things for his hands to do, he tightens slack out of his tie and turns to regard himself in a smudgy, corroded mirror mounted on the open closet door. "The idea that pulling strings isn't amoral as long as I ultimately decide to do something on my own?"

The tentative suggestion of a smile at the corners of Benji's mouth tug into something fuller, briefly. "Maybe," she concedes, drifting a little to the right so that shoulder interrupts the path of the vapour mimic's stare for the mirror, hands linked behind back. "But then, isn't one puppeted Department affiliate enough? Particularly when he's the Secretary." Sharper stare dims a little, turning over the question behind her eyes. Measure of success can be compared to measure of failure, and she has family that is dying before it can even be family.

But that's not what she came here to talk about. "Success is when things change, at the hands of the people who can, if given guidance. I want to help."

A warning Look leveled sideways away from his reaching to slide his jacket says that suggestions of Secretarial manipulation are to be taken as more of a threat to national security than they are something to smile over. Praeger's situation is such that there isn't much dreams can do to sway him. Also: "But you don't know him well enough. Do you?"

He knows Vincent. Obviously. All efforts made thus far have been on the mark or too close to it for comfort, with dreams or without. "You'll be a part of the leadership here before long," he predicts once his jacket's on smooth and he can pace to fasten the lock on his briefcase. "You're practically the personification of a mascot already — the way you talk. And act. But I'm leaving."

Benji shakes her head — no, she does not know Praeger. "Coming from you, I might try to take that as a compliment," she says, of this last part — a trifle self-deprecating, her gaze now shifted to Vincent's efforts and affects towards leaving as promised, though she knows as well as anyone else exactly how easy Vincent can disappear. "I don't know Praeger. His story, his wife's story, why you felt the way you did when Billy reported on her death. I don't know all the answers.

"If you leave now, you'll only come back. You won't have a choice, like you didn't have a choice before. Things aren't better yet. What are you going to do?" That tinge of anxiety reflected in glances and wringing hangs leaks back into her voice, managing to stop at the question, where it's most audible.

"What do you want me to do?"

It's difficult to discern why he's asking. If he's genuinely interested or likely to be influenced, or if he's merely making a point. Patronizing, even. There's little to read in the plainness his tone and his eyes are zoned downward after the process of zipping the duffle.

"And what makes you think I'll be less capable of making decisions while gainfully employed?"

Benji closes her eyes briefly, a thinking kind of gesture, or one to gather her own patience — difficult to read in turn. It lasts for a few seconds, silence settling in this time, before she says, "I want you to make the decision you make up to ten years from now, before it's too late. The one where you don't give in. It's all I can ask of any of you. And— " She glances to the makeshift vase of flowers, but doesn't go to collect it, despite the imminent abandonment of the room. Instead, she heads for the door, twists the handle to open it a fraction.

"And sleep easily," she settles upon. "Wherever you go."

For all that pride is one of his more insidious sins, Vincent can't not look when Benji stays quiet a little too long, familiar mug distinct in stubborn dignity as it is the absence of painful lines etched in tight around his eyes. Challenge is better than outright dismissal in the crude oil of his stare while he watches him go, though, reluctance to give preferable to a total absence of reasonable consideration at Foster's final answer.

He will.

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