Murder, Arson or Peyote


tasha_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Murder, Arson or Peyote
Synopsis Father and daughter bonding time is always short and tense, much like the Lazzaros themselves.
Date July 10, 2011

Grand Central Terminal

The high-pitched whine of Colette's motorbike is a familiar enough one in these tunnels; the sight of Tasha on it is one that's become more and more so in the passing weeks. The fact that she's not-evolved means that Tasha can come and go with less fear of the evo-sensing robots, and since she's on summer vacation from school, she has plenty of time to kill and enough heart to donate it all to the Ferry.

It's a thinly-veiled attempt to keep too busy to worry about other things, and the operators of Grand Central give her plenty to do in an even-more thinly-veiled attempt to help her in that task. A day doesn't go by when she's not running supplies or purchasing them, and she's banked plenty of hours between the Bay House and GCT. Most nights she doesn't sleep here, alone in the little ticket booth that Colette had claimed as hers — eventually theirs — but tonight she's too exhausted from a day's worth of errands to do otherwise.

Late night finds her on one of the worn, threadbare couches of the makeshift rec room. "Across the Universe" plays on the television, thanks to the DVD player hooked up to it, though Tasha only glances up now and then from the sketch she's working on. No robots for posters today; this is simply figure work: hands and feet, apparently, are the focus for her practice.

Deft as the turn of a magician's hand for all that the final product is far less elegantly evocative of wonder and applause, Vincent resolves silently into being.

He does so in a sports coat and jeans, the former dusky brown and the latter blue, the dress shirt underneath rumpled no more or less than it seems like it should be. He would blend in very well topside in New York, if he spent any time there.

Less so here, where his posture lends him an air that's more innately business than it is casual. Back straight, shoulders locked back, cigarette lit.

He watches her sketch past it unannounced. It will probably be the smell that gives him away.

The scent of cigarettes does catch her attention, and she looks up — the wrong way, first, and then in the direction Vincent stands. Tasha jumps, startled to see him so close, then laughs nervously, swinging her feet around so that she's no longer lying on her stomach, but sitting, and then pushes up into a standing position.

"Dad," she exhales out in a relieved breath, but then the nervousness crawls back into her. She's too thin, at least ten pounds underweight on her short frame, and dark circles bruise the area beneath her dark eyes. "Is everything okay?" she follows with, quickly — the tacit implication that he'd only be here to see her if it wasn't.

"Tasha," says Vincent, who holds his ground. "Hi."

He can see well enough from here that she's thin, and if he was in a dark mood to start with, he has to struggle somewhat with buffering it back from getting any darker. Which mostly entails not saying anything.

He spends the breath he'd drawn in automatically to do just that on smoking instead, jaw worked into a bristly vice that says everything he would have anyway. "I just thought I would check in," he lies, easy and even as lead-based paint. Readily believable for anyone he hasn't lived with.

To his credit, it's at least ten or fifteen seconds before he tips the end of his cigarette at the whole of her person and asks, "Are you on a hunger strike?"

She looks like she might throw herself into his arms for a hug, but then turns to pick up the sketch pad and pencil from the couch, setting them on the decrepit coffee table, before nodding to the sofa to sit.

Her chin lifts slightly, and her eyes narrow, the softness of just a moment ago gone in an instant into something much more defensive. "I'm not anorexic or anything, if that's what you're worried about. Just busy," she says, curling her bare legs beneath her as if to hide them from his view. "It's good to see you," she adds, dark eyes scanning his form for signs of wear and tear, damage and abuse. She reaches for the remote control, muting the movie on the television, but letting it play — perhaps for something to look at when it's too awkward to look at each other.

"I've missed you," Tasha adds, awkward in tone and in timing.

"I'm not worried that you're anorexic," says Vincent, whose brows have already taken on a defensive stoop over the black of his eyes to mirror the way his cigarette-wielding hand turns slightly out like — that doesn't even make enough sense for it to have occurred to him. "You just look kind of — sick. Is all." He looks her over again. Confirming that is what she looks like. Sick. And then pushing it aside because if he starts thinking too hard along that track he won't get any sleep at all, and he's already not getting much.

Which shows in ways that it has to, after a while. In his eyes and more subtly in the way he holds himself, arrogance worn and weathered smooth into something more like apathy under close scrutiny. Upright rigidity is still there, but it's less of a conscious thing than it used to be. He's been standing like this for so long it is hard to stand any other way.

Anyway, he manages to ease back enough to say, "I've missed you too," for all that he looks at the sofa instead of moving to take a seat on it.

She tips her head up, giving him a sad smile. The expression she wears is one that would usually precede the onset of tears — a look Joanna and Vincent know too well, their sensitive and artistic daughter always having been prone to crying or arguing. But no tears come.

"I'm all right," Tasha asserts. "I'm not sick, I promise."

Sitting while he stands is awkward, so she stands back up. Shyly, she reaches forward to take his free hand, squeezing it lightly. "Thanks, though," she adds. "You're okay? You look tired. Where've you been staying?" Short, choppy sentiments reveal her worry for him, her relief in seeing him.

Smoke isn't the only scent clinging close to Vincent's person — there's booze as well, alcohol buried acrid beneath more familiar tobacco and cologne. This isn't the first stop he's made tonight. Probably not even the second, given the delay it takes him to nod after her asking whether or not he's okay.

His free hand has been taken and he glances to it, tolerant of contact for all that enthusiasm fails him. If it makes her feel better.

"Here and there," isn't much of an answer, meanwhile. Thin and translucent as the side of smoke he breathes out with it when he looks to the television. He should say something about the motorcycle.

He wants to stay something about the motorcycle.

"I know I haven't been very present."

She shrugs at the same time her brows draw upward and finally Tasha laughs, shaking her head. "We can't keep apologizing for the same thing, Dad. You're a fugitive an all, you know? I think you have an excuse." Her hand squeezes his again, then lets loose, dropping to hr side and then both slide into the pockets of the cut-off jeans she wears. More so that she doesn't fidget than any other reason.

"And I've been busy," Tasha hurries to add, repeating herself. "Between here and the other spots and usually staying at Mom's. It's hard to pin me down in one spot for very long, so." Her shoulders hunch around her ears in another awkward shrug. "You want something to eat? Drink?"

Yes. He knows. The word still sounds hard to him, though. Offensive. It bleeds some of the tired softness out of his face and blacks his eyes. Ineffectual, bitter resistance to a label he's basically conceded to outright.

"That isn't what I meant," manages to come out evenly enough, regardless. Not so tired that his temper is likely to misfire without ample provocation; he's back to watching her more warily than before. "I wasn't accessible when I could have been." Prior to his resignation and all associated fallout.

"You know that I would do anything for you. Even before, if you had been arrested. If you'd killed thirty people or set a nursing home on fire or became addicted to peyote."

Tasha glances down, as if suddenly the space between her bare feet an his shoes is amazingly interesting; her brows draw together beneath the jagged line of her dark hair. Two bobs of her head say yes, but that's too easy, and what he's doing is hard for him. She finally looks up and nods again.

"I know. I'm sorry that I didn't know it earlier," she says, her voice soft and her cheeks flushing a little with shame for having pushed him away too easily so long ago.

"I promise not to get addicted to peyote," she adds, with a small smirk; the rest is still up in the air, apparently.

"Good," says Vincent, either to her knowing or to her promise that she won't get addicted to peyote. Both.

"Because I love you. And I'm proud of who you've grown up to be. For all that I don't always agree with your methodology. Or your associations. Or," he steels himself with a breath sans cigarette, "your driving a motorcycle around Midtown."

Pressing her lips together, Tasha can keep them from trembling, but she can't keep the tears from welling up, even as they crinkle at the last barb about the dirt bike. One hand slides out of a pocket to brush across her eyes, and she squints up at him.

"I love you, too. And I'm proud of you too. Even if I don't always agree with your methodology or your associations."

The last is followed with a wide-eyed, open-mouthed "aha" sort of look — her thespian days in high school still showing. "Oh, wait, we have the same associations these days, don't we?" Tasha teases, before sobering again.

Her hair is shoved out of wet eyes, before she tips her head again. "What's going on, Dad?"

A look acknowledges teasing without joining in amusement at his expense. Sore subject and all. Still, his tolerance isn't angry or bleak. It just Is.

"I'm not sure," is the truth, or close enough that guilt at deception needn't cross his mind. "Times are changing." So is he. Whether he likes it or not, smoke winding at an uneven rise from the end of his cigarette. Is smoking even allowed in here? Probably not.

"So you're keeping in touch with your mother."

Meant to be a question. Sounds more like an imperative.

Tasha nods, glancing away. "Most nights, I stay there. I don't like to stay here," she says, striving to keep her voice neutral. She's not sure if he even knows about Colette — but then, he knows about the motorbike, so he probably does.

"It got a bit late to make it out by curfew today. If I stay somewhere else, I let her know. I mean… not necessarily locations, but just that I'm away."

She exhales, puff of air blowing her bangs up from her face and then back down. "You know I'd do anything for you, too, right? Is there something I can help with?" she asks, suddenly, taking a step closer to him, and reaching to touch his sleeve before she drops her hand again. "I don't… I don't want to lose you, too."

"You will. Sooner or later."

He's dipped his chin at the rest, approving of the relationship she's maintained with Joanna and all associate care taken to keep her out of trouble. And presumably, safe from the flu. So far.

"Part of being an adult. Grandma aside, I mean. I'm pretty sure she intends to live forever."

She snorts a little at the joke, then shakes her head. "You know what I mean. Don't be so literal. I mean I don't want to lose you anytime soon. You need to grow up to be old and fat and … I don't know, have a hobby like painting miniature space shuttles in your basement, or something," she says, eyes welling up again but she blinks back the tears.

"I know you don't approve of me being involved in all this." Her hand gestures to their surroundings. "But I can't help it that the people I love are Evolved. Anymore than I can help that they keep leaving me."

Leaving her. Getting abducted or possibly killed — it's all abandonment in the end.

"And I don't want that to include you. Anytime soon, anyway." In case he's going to take it literally again.

From the way Vincent's brows hike and tilt at each other, he has no intention of becoming old, fat and happily occupied with painting miniature anything in his basement. Re: everything else, excuses are like assholes, but he doesn't have the energy or momentum he needs to argue accordingly.

It's easier just to look at her. Silent. She'll get the message one way or another.

"Revolutions are dangerous," is all he's eventually willing to say on the subject. Then, "I should try to sleep."

"The alternative's more dangerous," Tasha says, more certainty and conviction in that than anything else she's said.

She moves closer, tentative for a moment, before that impulsiveness wins out, and the hug she wanted to throw around his frame upon his arrival is given now, instead. Her head tilts and her toes tip, so that she can quickly peck his cheek before withdrawing before he has to figure out what to do with 100 pounds of teenage daughter.

"Love you," she whispers, settling back on her bare heels. "Be safe."

Hugs are. Hugs. Vincent accepts this one one-armed, cigarette held aloft enough not to dribble cinders on her shoulder for as long as it lasts. Not very.

He is warm and smells a little worse closer up, but the day is winding down and he'll have plenty of time to shower once he's slept. "Alright," he says, once she's disengaged. "I love you too. Behave yourself."

And with that and one last drowsy look, he opens his hand in subdued farewell, puts his cigarette to his mouth and falls blackly to vapor.

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