Not A Prison


benji_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Not A Prison
Synopsis A stowaway on Pollepel Island decides to take matters into his own hands and makes Eileen's reassurance to Benji more literal than she'd probably like.
Date December 01, 2010

Pollepel Island

The morning seems to be stretching on if only for the fact that sun is shrouded in cloud that patters down icy-cold rain. It seems earlier than it is, like dawn without an actual sun rise, and Benji is headed into where negation drugs are meant to overlap. It won't matter if Nurse Megan~ is an hour or so late for such an appointment — there's a good several hours of windowed opportunity. It's for that that Benji waits, taken to pacing restlessly from one end of the room to the other, and coming to stop at the window that stares out towards the river.

It's a nice room, relatively speaking, if locked. Clean sheets and old world walls, not any colder in here than it is in other areas of the castle. He's been fed and watered regularly, if overdue for a walk, seeing as he's on his feet already, this early. Hair still slightly damp from last night's bathing is limp and finger-combed, and most irritating to him, stubble developing along strong jaw, gaining itches from fingernails that leave fading red marks. Dressed for the day in pants and a sweater, feet bare, he's additionally bundled himself into blanket dragged off the bed, covering arms and clutched from the inside, feet peeking.

Probably, if he wants out, he should be watching the door. But even as he goes to sit on the thick rock window sill, facing it, he keeps twisted around to watch rain.

Deathly late to bed and equally early to rise, Vincent's been in and out of the kitchen before there was a crowd sizable enough to lynch him. Odds are he'd still have a mug with him if the smallish, oldish, greyish woman in there doing dishes hadn't looked like she intended to raise an alarm when he started to walk out with it.

This is significant mainly because he is defined by the scent of coffee clinging warm to his person rather than the sound of his entry. Which is smokey. And silent. And involves slithering through cracks.

As per usual.

If he had enough hair to look damp upon resolution into a human being he might. As things are, the relatively thin fabric of his hooded sweater clings close to his person over jeans and a darker shirt, today an appropriate mix of grey on black. He's tried to keep up with his shaving, somehow, the haze of his hairline tidy for all that the previously sharp edges of his stubble collection have drifted a little coarse around the fringes.

Overall he appears formidable. Black eyes, black brows, black expression taking Benji in from an angle that might be close enough for him to be distinguishable from rain-softened shadows that have rendered themselves in the fringes of his peripheral vision.

He does not appear to be very tall.

Vincent's appearance is timely; Benji was about to start work on his nails, and no, not like that, but nibbling them to the quick out of twenty-four-seven anxiety and bad habits. Index and middle finger both resting light against bottom lip, foot swinging a little from his perch, it takes him a few seconds to refocus his gaze and notice that there is a man— one that's shorter than him— suddenly in his room, judging by the reflection in the window.

First his hand goes down like he got caught biting his nails and that matters, and second is that jump of startlement, a wordless pitchy sound of surprise. He's gotten used to the grinding lock sound and the squeaky hinges.

For all that Benji is a stranger, relatively, some iota of recognition reflects back at Vincent in light blue eyes when they sweep a stare up and down. Blink. Blink. Natural wariness and suspicion filters in in natural sequence.


"Hi." Says Vincent.

He is precisely the same amount of suspicious back, one brow easing down past the other a sparse degree or two when he gets an up and down that yields more than just blank surprise. Then again, he is still loitering listlessly in the wake of his Fifteen Minutes. Recognition is not so unusual.

His ego says it shouldn't be, anyway.

Also, the nail biting jump is —

"They wanted me to swing by," he explains mildly after a beat long enough to qualify as awkward, especially given that he isn't quite sure how to describe whoever 'they' were with anything more telling than a grammatically inconvenient pronoun. Another beat passes, this one more critically contemplative (according to Vincent's eyebrows) — apparently while he rummages around in his memory to place the younger man's mug.

"I think I remember seeing your face on Agent Keller's desk," he decides at length, more confident once he has determined as much. "Was he your contact?"

Not unusually, Benji is beginning to become a little pink beneath freckles, never one to flourish under scrutiny even as he shifts to a more conversational position, back entirely to the window and bare feet lightly set against the ground, where he perches on the sill. "I suppose they are not the Department," he notes, instead of answering the question. An index finger hooks over the edge of wrapped blankets, pointing towards Vincent. "Even you, sir, wouldn't be that brave. And I'm not that important."

His mouth twitches in the beginnings of a smile, but fast to fade. There was a question to answer, and he shifts to lean a shoulder against concrete window frame. "Um. No, not Agent Keller. Bailey?"

The questioning tone is less like he's searching for the right answer, more gently spoken offer, his voice dwindled into something subdued that could be a result of imprisonment but. Isn't. He is just unnecessarily quiet, but the dimensions of the room at least mean he is easily heard.

"Should've gone with Smith." More tolerant than he looks capable of being easily, Vincent scuffs at the back of his neck, hoodie strings drawn a few shades tighter around sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles on his way over towards the window once he's felt across raised tissue somewhere in there. "Or Garcia."

He doesn't acknowledge any bravery contacting the Department directly at this point would entail because he doesn't want to. Still sore. Likely to stay that way for a while.

Instead he tips his attention down out the window, skeletal branches and black water obscured by bands of silvery runoff and drizzle. Depressing day for a talk.

"Bailey wouldn't like that you're prettier than her."

Another wordless sound of reply, barely vocal chuckle through his nose, eyes rolling up on a blink before Benji slants his stare off to some obscure, Vincentless corner of the room. "Well. That explains why I dealt so much with her intern," is muttered into sleeve as he brings up a hand to scrub itchily at his nose, letting his back come to rest against glass. Glances at the gloomy view beside and behind him when he notices Vincent watching the same thing.

And back to older man, shoulders curling in at a subtle shrug. "That particular escapade didn't come with a lot of choice on my part, Mister Lazzaro." Hey, so he does know his name.

"…But it did come with some. Choice." By his own admission. Because he didn't say none.

Vincent tips his brows back at him sidelong, seeking to confirm at a glance that he heard correctly. Then he's quiet again, restless energy hardened into concrete tension up the length of his spine. Layer upon layer, like ice. Or a mineral formation. Or calcium buildup in the shower.

"Trust is a valuable commodity on a community without laws or fair representation, Mister Foster." Vincent knows Benji's name as well. It was on his card. "Especially when the community in question is comprised of cutthroat terrorists and panicky citizens on a very secret island that they are very intent upon keeping — a very secret island. Probably…owing to the deficit of very secret islands in New York." A lazy gesture indicates what lies beyond the window. Very few secret islands. In case Benji wasn't sure.

Confirmation denied, but so is denial. Impassive as sheets of ice himself in response to Vincent's sidelong glance, and Benji rests his head against concrete wall as he listens. "One might argue that Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and all the others are also islands comprised of cutthroat terrorists and panicky citizens. A little less secret than this one, I'll grant you that."

It would be hard to not be miserable after about two or three days seeing this room and the hallway and the bathroom down the hallway and being cornered into conversations longer than he likes on a given day, and Benji isn't making a valiant effort at pretending otherwise. Whether he deserves it or not.

"From what I can tell, the current currency for earning trust involves handing over information. The same goes for earning protection and a clean record, somewhere south along the Hudson. But I didn't, when I left last week. In case you were wondering."

"Well," says Vincent, who scratches his chin as if in exaggerated pondering of the unlikelihood of what he's about to go on with, "for whatever reason, handing them the 'information' that you're a potentially refrain-addled informant for the Department has not endeared you to them."

For whatever reason.

An expert at rolling his eyes without moving them at all, Lazzaro lashes out of existence because he can, whipcord flight plunging him back into tangibility at the side of Benji's unoccupied bed, which he examines mainly because it looks nicer than his own. "You do have a slightly nefarious affect. No offense."

There is slight recoil from Benji, as if fearing what that ashy black vapour might do to him, light eyes going wider in the time it takes for Vincent to *puff* out of solidity and then back into it. A minorly defensive stiffening of Benji's spine regarding what Vincent is looking at, for all that he has very few belongings in here. Some clothing over the end of bed. A Harry Potter book shadowed by it within reach of lying down. He shifts like he might stand up, but ultimately doesn't.

"None taken. I don't get to be called nefarious very often, especially with regards to my affects," he dismisses, chin lifting, a hollow above his jawbone where he clenches it in a tense pause, a slow inhale and exhale. "It's— not the best story, but— they said they wanted honesty." His heels thump-thump against the wall with a subtle leg swing, restless.

At least he doesn't seem to be going through withdrawal. He follows a ridge in concrete with fingernails. "Do you have suggestions?" He doesn't sound sarcastic for all that he sounds humble and withdrawn.

"I think it's the underlying air of almost unconscious condescension," muttered more or less unhelpfully to himself, Vincent reaches to collect the Harry Potter book out from under abandoned clothing. It's heavier than he would have expected a Harry Potter book to be, and after glancing at the title, he slings it back down the same way he would a block of wood with the same dimensions, ignorant of any automatic recoil his most-of-the-time harmless ability might inspire.

"Oh — you mean to explain your clearance?" His brows knit back into a flat level and he shakes his head. No. Not really. "You probably should've told them the card was fake and you Jedi-mind-tricked the station guards. If they don't decide to kill you you're probably going to have to kiss their asses until they like you again."


Yeah maybe that would have been a good idea, says that oh, somewhat despondent and flatly delivered. Because maybe he's not good at any of that — the lying, or the ass kissing. Benji swallows and huddles in place as Vincent throws his books around. The room blurs out for him, and for everyone else, his eyes are abruptly shiny with unshed saline, which no amount of blinking will make just go away. The tip of his little finger to make sure— what, his mascara doesn't run for all that he isn't wearing any, and a small, prideful head toss.

Like he told Eileen — it wouldn't have been his first mistake. Maybe he doesn't want to add 'crying in front of unsympathetic government agents' to that list. "Can you— can you tell them I'm not a threat? Maybe they'll listen. If it's…" You. Someone they've accepted it not a threat.

Too late. Vincent does a double take and instantly squares his jaw out've the onset of a leer at the dire nature of Benji's situation — inevitably as compared to his own. Faintly exasperated guilt at the sight of suspicious dampness locks in even more automatically than schadenfreude. But if he says, 'Please don't cry,' he acknowledges that there may be crying which surely breaks some kind of unwritten man code somewhere.

"Christ, kid. I can't afford to lie for you if I don't know the truth. And they'll go into panic mode if I take you off the island."

No longer in the mood for puns (or much of anything else), Vincent doesn't ask Benji if he minds if he smokes before he palms out a fresh box of cigarettes and sets blandly about the process of lighting one up. "I can open the door. If you're still here when they check in next maybe they'll take it as a show of good faith."

Benji ticks a watery glance from Vincent to door, faint longing that has little to do with tangible escape plans. Getting out of the castle would be lucky. And then there's the whole island thing— "Maybe," he agrees. Admits. Another look towards Vincent, opening his mouth as if to say yes please do that for me but something about not wanting to appear super keen about an unlocked door has him hesitating, then not trying. He shakily breathes in, and doesn't ask him not to smoke.

Doesn't ask him for a cigarette, either. "I won't ask you to lie. Your honest opinion, when they ask for it— " And they will. "— will have t be good enough."

"My honest opinion is based upon a single conversation with someone I know nothing about. Limited information, limited context. It would be irresponsible of me to vouch for you." But short of bringing in an affiliated telepath to perform a more rigorous interrogation, having him stuck in this room isn't going to provide any new insight to the nature of his alignment. Or truthiness.

So Vincent steps backwards for the door, right hand grasped square around the locked handle once his lighter's tucked away, broad shoulders sloped steady after an indulgent inhale. It looks like he's probably been trying to cut back. Because he has. "Before I do this, know that this is the only place I have to stay. Nobody here likes me. I have no power. But if you fuck me, I will make time to fuck you. And your friends. Before they find me. Capiche?"

That gains a smile, for all that the threat is very real. So is the room and the locked door and the needle sharp poke of negatory drugs — Benji is desensitised to real, to some extent, enough to curve a bland little smirk of amusement before it fades like a choked flame. "I will do no such thing," he pledges, with a head tilt in gesture, before he tugs blanket around himself tighter in preparation for more hours of monotony and waiting, nail biting, and Harry Potter's wonderful adventures.

He hesitates, and delivers an only slightly brittle, cynically sincere; "Thank you." For not speaking in tongues like Raith or going like ice like Eileen. For unlocking the door.

"Okay," says Vincent. Good enough for him. And enough to get him in tremendous amounts of trouble, which is rapidly turning out to be the default theme of his life post-employment anyway. His, "You're welcome," falls a little flat. It's rehearsed, to a degree — the same cursory respect he's given anyone else he's ever interviewed. But polite all the same.

Then he goes up in smoke and so does the entirety of the metal doorknob, end to brass end and the deadbolt with it, leaving behind a perfectly round wooden hole.

It sizzles a little sickly in Lazzaro's wake.

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