Old Habits Die Hard


megan_icon.gif ryans_icon.gif

Scene Title Old Habits Die Hard
Synopsis Where do you go when you're worried or afraid? Old habits die hard… and sometimes they don't die.
Date March 27, 2018

Ryans's Home

They've spoken. Of course they've spoken. Visited here and there. Had coffee a couple of times. But Ben is busy doing what Ben does and Megan's been pretty busy with Elmhurst and with her private crusade on the streets to make sure that the people afraid of the hospital also get care. So… it's not been often. She lands on his doorstep today, though, with no warning and no ceremony. She's still dressed in scrubs and she's hauling the massive EMT-style duffel that she uses for her street clinics, apparently having come straight from one of them.

As the door opens, she pauses for a moment, the faint furrowed lines between her brows easing at the sight of his familiar face. A faint smile appears as she studies him. Then she pulls in a slow breath and lets it out along with words every man in the universe dreads to hear: "Ben… we have to talk."

He stands there for a long moment. No expression or anything, while internally he is going what the..? No greeting or anything, just that… yet, those words — coming from her — has the hackles on the back of his neck rising, so he doesn't hesitate to step back and let her inside. At least it is warm, with a fire crackling in the hearth. A pair of chairs sit to each side, though one is currently occupied by a very large cat, its golden eyes shining with the firelight. A couch sits back a bit with a coffee table in front of it.

Once the door is shut and locked, Benjamin turns to her with concerned and furrowed brows. "Alright, what happened?" Because clearly… something was up.

Megan smiles just a little, coming inside and dropping the huge duffel out of the way of the front door. She glances around and pauses to simply soak in the essence of the room, the tension in her shoulders visibly easing a bit. Unless it's him she's perturbed with, he's always had that effect and it hasn't changed.

Turning back around to face him, the redhead can't help the chuckle. "I'm sorry — my brain is running a million miles an hour and I blurted." He knows how she gets when the hamster in there gets started. She moves to give him a hard hug. "It's good to see you, Benjamin. I'm sorry to barge in. It's rude."

When she relaxes, so does Ryans… though he is a little confused by that entrance even with the explanation. He watches her as she sets her bag aside and all, even wrapping arms around her in return. "Way to give an old man a heart attack," he teases in a soft rumble as he tightens his arms before letting go enough that he can look at her. "It's good to see you too, Meg."

Blue eyes searching for something… "But, I still get the feeling that something is up, though."

"Well, that's because you know me too well," Megan informs him with a cheeky grin. The stress lines between her brows haven't really gone away, which tells him that her brain is still running away with her. "It's probably nothing and I've got my knickers in a twist for no good reason," she admits. "I'm probably significantly overreacting."

Although that is not exactly within her character. More like she's trying to convince herself that she's overreacting when in fact it's really bugging her.

"Uhm…" She gestures toward the chairs. "May I?" She looks rather abashed. "Now that I'm here, I'm not entirely sure where to start."

"Of course," Benjamin rumbles, motioning to the empty chair, with a wave of his handless arm. He doesn't exactly hide that handicap anymore.

Moving to the other chair, the cat looks up at him with half lidded eyes and chirps at him. "You're going to have to move, Ruma." Bending down he — gently — nudges the cat off the chair. With a flip of her tail, she hops up to sit on the bricks in front of the fireplace. Though before he sits, Ben asks. "Anything to drink?" A thin brow arches with the question. "I have water and whiskey." He is at least not rude.

Megan waves the offer of a drink off easily. "Nah. Not right now… thanks." She grins at him — they always go through this vaguely awkward first few moments until they settle in to just being Ben and Meg again. "So… and really, Ben, it's got to be nothing, right?"

Yikes. You know when she starts with that, it's definitely something she's fretting.

"I met Luce the other day for coffee and we happened to meet a really young SESA agent sitting nearby in the coffee place. I'll tell you about her later, it was kind of cool," Meg digresses. She doesn't even realize she's done it. "So when all that crap hit the news the other day about what happened in Yamagato Park, I was … you know. Leery. Cuz… you remember." The visions. UGH. She waves it off again.

"So I called the kid — and she's really green. Knows next to nothing about New York. But she meets up with me cuz she's a good kid. And I asked her straight out if there was something coming. The people I'm treating in the street clinics — they're really worried. And I have to admit, I'm probably not as calm about it as I'd like to be." Obviously.

The refusal of the drink allows Benjamin to settle into the chair, though he doesn't sit back. Leaning forward he rests his arms on his legs, hand clasp to his other arm. She knows that means he's listening… interested. His brows however, furrow a little as he listens. His head bobs a little, showing that he is listening… though… "I remember the visions." Even after all these years, he remembers waking up to a car pileup.

There is a bit of a tug at one corner of his mouth in amusement, but only at her babbling. "I think everyone is worried." Maybe an indicator he's been thinking about it too. "I'm not surprised that experimentation is happening… the Company did for a good portion of its existence." He should know, though remember what is another thing. "What did she say?" He adds for clarity, "The kid."

Megan breathes a little easier, because maybe it's not just paranoia. She does worry about that sometimes! "Well, see, that's the thing. She made this comment about it — Yamagato has their own security and all that. I gather they're somewhat like an embassy? So SESA has no jurisdiction. And they've been told in no uncertain terms that it's not their business. Yamagato is handling their own investigation." Yeah… see, now it's becoming clear why the paranoia ramped up.

"Then she said, SESA doesn't really have a clue — they're working on it." She rolls her eyes. "But the thing that caught me was she said there were actually two incidents… one in the park with people having visions, and then another one where they had amnesia and then had visions. And her phrasing was kind of dismissive about oh we have no idea what's up.. they could be experimenting with stuff, someone's Evo power gone awry, tech leftover from the old days for mind control or, ha ha, for all we know it could be aliens or people building time travel machines."

Even saying the words out loud brings that furrow back to her eyebrows, and she brushes her hair back from her eyes in a very typical albeit rare Megan gesture — she's seriously unnerved.

"Hmmm…" That is all Benjamin says for a long time. Eyes flick down to the floor, forehead creased in deep thought. So many words that set off red flags. Things that the Company and Institute have done. His jaw tightens a little, eyes narrowing. Sounds like Yamagato might have gotten their hands on some of it.

"She is right," he starts softly. "The grounds of Yamagato are not U.S. soil anymore. Part of the deal to help." Seems he's been doing homework. "They just allow people in out of the kindness of their heart… but…" He spreads his arms a little, helpless. "SESA cannot do anything, even if they blatantly killed someone at the threshold of the gate. At least without a lot of politics."

Megan nods slightly. "Yeah. I know." But his demeanor means that it is something to worry about. She's not just being paranoid. Sighing heavily, she finally slumps back into the chair and sprawls out. "Now I want that whiskey, handsome," she informs him, her lips twisted into that moue of perturbed thoughtfulness. Now that it's not just her nerves jangling, she can calm.

"So… what do we do? Who's on the Whiteboard of Doom that we can … nudge or otherwise kick in the ass to get involved here?"

There is a long moment Benjamin sits there, listening. His head turns a little allowing him to look at her out of the corner of his eye. However, he doesn't answer her right away. Instead, he pushes to his feet and moves to get the whiskey. The bottle and two low glasses are pulled from the cabinet and carried back.

He knows she is going to need it.

The glasses are handed off, since he needs his hand for opening the bottle. Drinks are poured, and the bottle is set down, open on the edge of the coffee table. He then takes his glass and takes a drink… not a sip… a drink. He needs a little fortifying, because…

"Not a thing."

Benjamin watches her face as he continues, "I'm not Special Activities anymore, Megan. We gave up all of that when we sat on that bench and spilled everything." He finishes off the glass and sets it down, so he can fill it again. It was obvious it was a fact that was hard to swallow and maybe something that has him drinking a little more than he used to.

She takes the glasses from him and holds them while he manages the bottle. When he comes back and takes the glass, Megan listens to him and purses her lips. Then she too tips her head back and swallows a gulp of the liquid, letting it burn all the way down.

"You're right," she tells him, standing up. "And we're far too old for this shit." She brings him her glass so that he can refill it. "We did our part." She waits expectantly for him to pour. "We went through hell several times over. If they're stupid enough to muck with time yet again, they deserve what they get."

In silence, the two glasses are filled again. The bottle set down with a little more force. "Let's hope…" He starts softly, as fingers wrap around his glass, "That everything we did was not for nothing." He sighs heavily, looking up at her and holding his drink aloft. "Cause you're right… I'm too tired to go through another war."

Would he do it? Hell yes… But he was getting worn out. "Too old for this shit…" He grumbles.

Does she believe that he might be actually too damn tired to do this shit? Yes. God alone knows, she sure as hell is. It's just hard to convince herself that it's okay to relax some. Maybe she should take a page out of Harkness's book and semi-retire finally.

But there's a flash of amusement in her blue eyes as she retrieves the refilled glass. "Uh-huh." If she retires, it's too much time to worry about this kind of shit! Lifting her glass to touch it lightly to his, the redhead laughs wryly up at him. "I really wanted you to tell me that I was being paranoid, Benjamin." Megan sips the drink this time, the first medicinal dose still a warm glow all the way down to her belly. "So… Who do we tell so that we can both sleep at night? Hana? Wolfhound?" They, at least, have experience with all the time-displaced Ferrymen children.

Finally, leaning back in his chair, Ryans sighs, eyes on the brown liquid in his glass. She can tell he is deep in thought weighing his options. “I don’t know,” he finally admits with a rumble. “Whoever decides to look into all of this… they will be in the crosshairs of a powerful family.” He levels a look at Megan. “If Kimiko is anything like her father, then going up against her and her company could be a dangerous situation.”

The fact that it sounds like she might be following in her father’s footsteps bothers him more. Though Ryans had respected and liked Kaito, he was still a fierce man. Last thing this country needed was another Company rising from the ashes. “I’ll try to think of something.” He promises softly, giving her a small smile.

And there it is… the thing that perhaps she was looking for most of all. The reassurance that if she wasn't paranoid, he would know the right people to tell. Because this kind of thing is way outside her pay grade. She leans down to kiss his temple gently. "Thank you." She seems relieved. Then she walks back to her chair with the remainder of her second drink and slouches down into it. "I'm so far outside of the loop on any of that, I wouldn't have the first clue who to tell — Hana would be my only guess."

OH! He can see the moment when something occurs to her, too. "Jesus!" Meg adds, looking startled, "And speaking of Hana and Wolfhound… do you remember that rescue attempt we made at the airfield before Pollepel fell? Holy shit, Ben! Scott Harkness is working for Wolfhound!" She remembers the kindness he offered back then about her friend having been lost, and the fact that the bugger is alive is just plain shocking to the redhead still. "I ran into him at Elmhurst — if you wanna talk about giving a body a heart attack!" She gives him wide blue eyes in a rather amusing holy hell! expression.

“No shit?” Ryans does seem surprised by that fact, brows lifting a little. “It’s good to hear that man made it out okay.” Especially, since so many did not. “Good…” He trails off turning thoughtful again. Megan has brought him a lot to think about.

“I’m not sure Wolfhound is a choice in this…” he says softly after taking a sip of his whiskey, savoring it more now. “They are contracting for the government in a way. That means they have to step carefully.” He lifts the glass for another sip, but pauses long enough to add, “They will be under surveillance and that means not causing an international incident.”

Part of him can’t help but wonder if Yamagato has a job opening for his particular set of skills.

"No shit," she assures him. "Apparently they got him out in 2012, along about when none of us had comms. I was absolutely floored, but…" Megan smiles. "Damn, it was the best surprise I think I've had in years." She settles back in her seat nursing her second drink a bit slowly. She knows when he's pondering — it's a long-familiar expression on his face. And so she sips quietly and gives him room to think. When he states that Wolfhound is under surveillance, the quirk of her lips tells him she's laughing at him.

"Retired my lily-white ass," she murmurs into her glass, amused. She may not know exactly where his brain just went, but she knows the man. Leaning her head back against the back of the chair, comfortably ensconced now and feeling a little more mellow, Megan lets her breath out slowly and visibly relaxes in the silence that surrounds them. It's an easy one, built over years and shared experiences. The lines of stress that were evident in her features have smoothed themselves out and the high level of energy that she came in with has dissipated.

"You don't… think they're really crazy enough…." Megan trails off, studying her glass of whiskey. "Never mind," she says quietly. She doesn't need to even ask that question. They've seen so much crazy.

Huffing out a soft chuckle, Ryans glances at Megan with amusement. “I am retired.” Clearly saying that for the benefit of both of them. “I could have easily been put on the chopping block with the rest of the Company for my part, but… I guess my defection was my saving grace.” He still boggled at that. He had been such a heavy presence in the Company for so long, took part in so much, yet… he was still pardoned and hailed as a war hero.

It haunted him a little.

There were probably a few people in the ear of the government that helped with that, still… he counts his blessings. Even though she says nevermind, Ryans still nods and says “Yeah.” They could be crazy enough.

"Yeah… you're retired," Megan teases gently, her blue eyes still amused. "You're retired in the way that old cop who lived up the street from my parents when I was a kid was retired… you still have the police scanner on your kitchen counter. And occasionally yell at it." It's why she brought this to him — not because she expects him to fix it necessarily. She just expected that he'd know someone to give it to. And… if she's honest with herself, when the sudden fear hit her that it was starting all over again… she went to the safest space she knew, the place where if all hell breaks loose, at least one of the people she trusts no-questions-asked would be.

The realization makes her smile just a little, one of those soft smiles that tells him she's figured something out but is keeping her own counsel. She sips the drink, comfortable with simply being in his living room out of the blue. "Huruma said she'd been by," she comments mildly. "Did she meet the namesake?" The cat lazily lounging in front of the fire gets a glance.

Knowing that she’s being talked about, Ruma gives a purred coo at the two, stretching out those long front legs, toes splayed and claws visible. She doesn’t move though, content on those warm bricks. They can just come to her.

Benjamin chuckles softly and drained the last bit of whiskey from his glass. The feline is considered for a moment. “I think she was insulted at first… but they two seem to have come to an accord.” By now, the woman probably sees it as flattery, instead of the friendly ribbing that it was.

“Speaking of Wolfhound… You said you saw Lu?” Ryans finally asks, setting the glass on the coffee table. “How is she?” He could have asked Huruma, but had not gotten around to it.

Megan merely chuckles at the reaction of the third part of their little trio. "Of course they did," she snickers. "Because they both must be worshipped appropriately!" Huruma would 'tch' at that and shoulder-check herself a redhead for it… but the soft laughter at least is an indicator that Megan's not going to retreat into Awhell, hide the kids, get the guns mode. That first year after the war was supposedly "over" was hard.

She savors the taste of the last swallow of whiskey in her own glass before answering. "She's doing well, it seems like. We both acted rather absurd when we first met the SESA agent, to be fair." She shoots him a wicked smile. "But the ice was broken by an apparition in a friggin' leisure suit sashaying through the bookshop." There is definitely laughter in her voice. "Agent was a broadcasting post-cog, which made for interesting conversation at least."

She pauses, and then admits more seriously, "You know how Lu gets… she won't tell us shit. But … something's up with her." She holds up a hand to forestall any questions he might fire at her. "I don't think it's a bad something. But… I noticed something about her neck when we were chatting — like the scar there is healing up and going away maybe? It made me curious, and she managed to slip out before I could get into it."

Something in what Megan says, catches his attention, the SESA agent. The description rings familiar in his head. Suddenly, what the medic said made sense. He’s met that one, though he doesn’t say it outloud… the way he met her was rather secretive and hush-hush.

On the subject of his daughter, however, Ryans features fall into a neutral line. “She is technically in a job where things like that happen,” he feels the need to remind her. A soft smile is offered to Megan. “Don’t worry, I am sure she is fine.”

Megan grins slightly. "Yeah, yeah… she knows how to retire just like we do, right?" She shakes her head, looking down and toying with the glass in her hands. "I'm sure she's fine — I'm more curious about the healing than worried or anything." Though she does worry after the younger woman quite a lot. She lets the silence fall between them.

"I miss this," she says finally, her smile soft. "Just sitting by the fire with a few minutes of peace." Her blue eyes close as she leans her head back, and she asks, "How's the Pipsqueak doing lately?" She hasn't seen the littlest Ryans since the last time they managed to grab coffee together — is it really several months ago? Christ.

“Growing like a weed,” Ryans comments readily enough. Settling back himself, letting his gaze fall on the orange glow of the fire, “Probably a little too spoiled by her mother.” But he gets it. While this was his technically third time raising a kid, it was Nicole’s first. He smiles a little at a memory. “She’s already asking me when we can start planting the garden. At least, she likes that.”

Stretching out his legs in front of him, feet crossing at the ankles he sighs. “I miss this too… “ He finally admits, angling a look her way. “Beats drafty castles… “

Rolling her head to the side to look over at him, Megan's smile is easy. His company, the reassurance that he'll figure out who needs to know, and a good dollop of very nice whiskey have gone a long way toward making her unwind. "Ugh… that place," she agrees. "Swear to God, I was sure that someday I was going to wake up with the infirmary under water." But her voice holds just a hint of fondness for that memory. As hard as it was, as badly as it ended… what came later was infinitely worse.

"Do you remember the treehouse we had to use that one time?" She starts to laugh. "The wind was so damn cold! I always thought Huruma was part cat, but I have no idea how that woman didn't fall off the beam and squish both of us. I was sure we were going to be human popsicles up there." It was the worst part of being out there with nowhere to go, she's always thought — she hated the cold. Often she could literally be found in the morning burrowed so far down in her sleeping bag even her copper hair wasn't visible out the top.

There is a brief flash of teeth at the memory, Ryans remember it well. Even through it the pain and misery, they at least had those moments where they could look back and laugh. Those are the important ones, even when the bad ones threaten. “It seems like yesterday, and yet it’s been years.”

Drawing his feet in, Ryans leans over to scratch fingers under Ruma’s chin. “Of course, Huruma has always been like that. Even when I hunted her as a Company agent.”

"I don't think something that fundamental to a person's make-up ever changes," Megan observes softly. "In another life, I'm pretty damn sure she was Bast herself." Her fingers toy with the empty glass that she hasn't yet placed on the table or next to her on the floor. "I used to watch her move around on watch and try to figure out how the hell her muscles let her do that… slink like a beautiful, deadly jungle kitty."

The redhead chuckles, watching the smaller furry version of Huruma purr. "I couldn't even be jealous of her for it… it wasn't like she did it on purpose. She's just built that way." Blue eyes slip up to his and she wonders aloud, "Did you two ever try to make it work? After we parted ways?" Megan doesn't sound judgmental, merely curious. That whiskey might have been a little strong. Either that or she's become a lightweight. More likely she just forgot to eat before she came to tell him crazy shit about time travel.

She smiles slightly. "Don't give me the eyeball, Ben. Tell me to mind my business if you like. It's pure curiosity on my part." A wicked twinkle lights her expression. "I missed you both… I just wondered if you gave it a shot."

“Meg…” Benjamin chides softly, giving her a look. Almost like he expect better of her. He isn’t telling her to mind her own business, but he isn’t answering either. Pushing himself to his feet, he moves to gently take the glass from her hand. “I think you have had enough of this if you are asking that.”

The glass is set on the table and the cap for the bottle is picked up, placed on the bottle. He concentrates on that action. “She is a lovely woman. Fierce and strong. She is family.” He does admire those things about her. The bottle is picked up and tucked between his mangled arm and his chest. “But… So are you…“ He points out. The two glasses picked up, held between fingers.

He starts to turn for the kitchen, arresting that action just long enough to say, “Despite all that, she is and will always be, my friend.”

Her blue eyes on him are affectionate as he takes the bottle and the glasses. "Of course she is," Megan observes quietly. She moves to reach out and touch his arm but aborts the movement, settling for the soft observation, "Whatever works out or doesn't, it doesn't change anything about the things we've seen together or who we are to one another." She lazily reaches back and removes the elastic band holding her hair back, running her fingers through it to loosen the strands that have pulled tight over the day's confinement and letting out a weary sigh.

Megan chuckles, shifting her weight in the chair to get more comfortable, crossing her legs over one another and allowing herself to slouch into the cushion. "I've almost assuredly had enough of that," she agrees. "I'm quite comfortably warm and there is just enough of a fuzzy edge to things that maybe I'll actually not have nightmares about living in a goddamned Terminator movie." Her tone is vaguely grousing, though mostly good-natured. "Can't the world just stay saved? It's like doing laundry. It never seems to end, Benjamin."

“Human nature,” Benjamin points out blandly when he finally returns from the kitchen, things put away in proper places. He’ll wash the glasses in the morning. “It will never allow it. Though… it would be nice if it stayed that way a little longer.” He can admit that at least.

He watches her get comfortable from the doorway, amused with the obvious affection that he has for her. “Well, you are always welcome to stay.” He has the guest room after all. They spent so many years surrounded by people, living in close knit communities. Often sharing homes, rooms, and even beds when called for. It's not unusual to find comfort in it. He knows that. “Though I warn you, Ruma might join you.”

The irreverent thought it wouldn't be the first time a Ruma shared my bed! is bitten back, though Megan can't help a moment of internal laughter. He might even remember that expression, as heralding some kind of really outrageous Snark coming from her sitting next to a fire in the snow years ago. She might be a little in the buzzed side — what the hell did he give her to drink?? She can usually hold her alcohol much better than this.

"I shouldn't," Megan admits candidly. "I really should haul my ass out of this chair, go find dinner, and leave you to your evening — now that I've rattled your cage and made your brain start mulling possibilities." She's quiet, watching the fire for a long moment. And then she looks up, allowing him to see the uneasiness that still has her nerve-endings pinging with the expectation of danger. "Do you mind if I just… sit here for a little longer? If you're heading in to bed, you don't need to stay up." She admits, a little reluctantly, "I just… Is it stupid that I really just need you nearby?" The half-smile is rueful and she attempts a perhaps flat quip. "That sounds bad — I'm using you for your aura, Ben. Don't hate me in the morning?"

There is a soft chuckle, as Ryans steps further in. A blanket is snagged from the back of the couch and with a flourish and care, is settled on her lap. Somehow he manages it, even having only one hand. He stakes advantage of the moment of closeness to reach out and brush fingers against her jaw with affection. “Hate? Never.” He grins and steps back.

He then settles into the chair, legs out again. “You are always welcome here, Megan. You know that. Stay as long as you need.”

The smile she offers is soft, and Megan turns her face into the light caress. Beneath the blanket he lays out, she kicks off her shoes and pulls her feet up into the chair, curling into a ball and settling comfortably there. He knows exactly what's going to happen; that particular curling up is terribly familiar. With her head resting against the high back, she relaxes into the quiet with him, content to watch the fire while he reads his book. When he glances up a short time later, it's no surprise that her cheek is resting on her hand like she's watching but she's fast asleep.

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