One Step


benji_icon.gif delia_icon.gif

Scene Title One Step
Synopsis One step ahead of the war, and one step toward forgiveness, and more than one away from malicious gingers.
Date July 6, 2011

A Sidewalk in Manhattan

It will be warmer and busier soon, maybe mere minutes away, the sky cloudless and beginning to heat the concrete of the roads and sidewalk as the sun crests the buildings of New York City. Shafts of it come thick and raw between the streets angled to receive it, but the one that Benji and Delia move down is pleasantly shaded, retaining some of the coolness collected over the evening. These details and more, Benji takes no notice of, trying to get her heartrate going at an acceptable tempo, and clear her own mind of confused thoughts, compulsions, and despite herself, trying not to let lingering anger and fear keel all the way into hate.

That would be wrong.

But she does notice when Delia stops and all but collapses on the sidewalk, leaned up against the building until her legs fold in. Benji stops too, a few feet away, paused on the brink of coming or going. Delia is giving her permission to, and all. But the ongoing fight with Sheridan seems to leave behind the bruisy ache of no resolution, and holding the same with Delia sounds like too much hard work.

A moment later, she's sitting, lacking a little bit of grace, as denim isn't very forgiving and she usually moves like she has too much leg and arm to know what to do with. Folding to crouch and sit like a collapsing tripod, not particularly mindful of doing so on the dirty sidewalk, so long as she is moderately out of the way, and the dirtiness is merely dirt and nothing more. She doesn't say anything, at first, wrapping her arms around a bent knee and peering at Delia, before lifting her chin to look away and watch the morning traffic trickle down the street.

"Someday, I'm going to run a marathon."

Or something sort of like one, if things go very very wrong for her. Delia's head lifts and brushes a bit of hair out of her eyes, tucking it behind her ears. It falls forward again, as it always does, but it gives her something to fidget with. Her eyebrows tick downward in confusion before she looks over at the slimmer of the two of them and presses her lips together in a thin line.

There's probably things she should say or some sort of justification she should try to make but the redhead keeps mum. At least for now, content to play with thin tendrils of hair while her breathing slows and her heart rate resumes to normal speed. She can still feel it, the fist sized bit of muscle pounding against her ribs and she places her free hand against it, trying to will it back to normal. Her lips part and the breath she takes is something like a gasp, like she's about to break the silence. There's a click as her teeth meet again and she looks away, unwilling to look at the brunette as she tries to make excuses.

"Did I ever tell you much about myself? From before I… changed?"

The glance back is mildly wary, as if Benji doesn't want to risk herself getting sucked into debate, or even for Delia to take Calvin's advice. Expression is more or less neutral — but guarded and still, without the give and readability of dimples of expression, lines next to her mouth or her eyes. Forgiving people and giving them chances seems to get harder and harder, or offer more penalty than it ever did before in the dystopic future or— more accurately— before Benji had to be responsible for. Things. Her legs retract tighter in the casual fold on the ground, and she gives Delia's question the dignity of thinking it over anyway.

"Much? No," she admits, cautiously, not wanting to get an important question wrong or block the way for Delia to make her point.

"I hated people like us, I hates us so much that I listened to Humanis First. I practically hero worshiped some of them… because I was so angry." Raising her left shoulder, she gives it a shrug before letting it drop. Already her breathing is returning to normal, though she doesn't get up. "I hated them all because the Midtown Man killed mom, your grandma… and I blamed myself because she got killed."

It's something Delia does a lot, spending time blaming herself for things she has no control over. "I manifested… and a healer in a coma felt like I deserved a second chance. I still didn't understand… and I was still angry, I hated everyone of them except for him. I didn't know." Turning her head, she gives the other woman a bitter smile before looking down at her booted feet. The painted docs have a whimsical pattern painted on them that matches her shirt, not that she noticed when she put it on this morning. She does now. "I'm not— It takes me a little while to do the right thing. And I do try.. I try really hard. I just get impulsive, in a different way than Lu does."

Benji's shoulders relax a little, portending a loss of tension overall, gaze dipping down to where her hands knot together as she listens. There's no surprise that plays across her expression, so maybe she has heard this before — but she is attentive to the way this version of Delia describes it, and how she links it to today. "It isn't— easy. I know that." She means, doing the right thing, and bends a leg to draw folded knee near her chest. "It's just— where I'm from. There's a sickness that kills everyone. Not just the Normals and not just the Reds, but it's where it started, the divide, the Evolved only virus. It's shocking, how many people are alive right now, the noise of the city, everyone creating and producing and dreaming…"

She trails off, shivering once in the warm summer morning gaining traction in the sky. "There have to be better ways to do this than that. I don't want what happened to us to happen to them as much as the other way around. Or, I thought there might be. But maybe it's just making everyone act quicker, to get a step ahead of the war before it begins — like Calvin. And you."

She is like Calvin. When Benji makes the comparison, Delia just nods and looks away. "It's hard to do the right thing when you're not sure what the right thing is. Brad thinks it's following the rules, Lu thinks it's breaking them, I have no idea who is right. Dad just seems to want to put a blindfold on me and put me on a shelf." Pursing her lips together, she finally pushes herself up from the ground and takes the stride over to Benji, extending a hand.

"I don't know what to do anymore," she says giving her would be daughter a helpless look. "I hate being all alone." She swallows the rest of her words and lets loose a long sigh, trying to cleanse herself of all the bad air, not that anything she's breathing in is any better. "Is the offer still open? To have someone look out for me?"

Taking the hand as its offered, without any show of hesitation or flinch this time, Benji picks herself back up off the sidewalk, before self-consciously sinking into slope shouldered slouch, hands resting on narrow hips. She twitches a smile then, at that last question, vaguely guilty now that anger has slowly leaked its way out, no longer further exacerbated by the presence of someone who deserves it more. Guilty and defeated — she'd probably take it back, the petty words and threats she'd indulged in on the sidewalk, unhelpful. Ineffectual, even.

"Of course it is," is said simply, and as hushed as she prefers her voice to be. "And as soon as you feel able to leave— tell me. Maybe I can help you. Maybe someone can.With everything happening so fast, I don't know how things are going to be."

"I had an idea about that…" Delia begins, a small smile touching her lips before the blush creeps over her nose and cheeks. "It's one more thing I wanted to talk to someone about before I do anything." Or make another rash decision in the heat of the moment. Pausing on the sidewalk, she rubs the anklet with her other foot, displaying some good balance, before taking a few more steps.

"You know how Mister Lazzaro brought me to the boats during the riots, right?" She glances up at the sky, almost expecting him to be floating over them as she invokes his name. When no sooty cloud passes over, she glances back to Benji and raises her eyebrows anxiously. "He turned me into smoke, like him. I was going to ask him if he could turn me into smoke with him again… but not the anklet. Do you think that would work? Then it would be off but not broken."

Benji glances down at where the anklet is — then up again, observing the street. This isn't Eltingville Blocks, after all, but some place in Manhattan, very much not under the purview of the military — or at least, not in the same way they govern the blocks and the outlying lands. Meaning Delia can come and go. Meaning they desire her to. Meaning— "Are you rejoining the Ferry?" she asks, before she responds about Mister Lazzaro. "Or just giving yourself the opportunity?

"And I think Mister Lazzaro can do something like that. I can probably find him— he knows who I am. What I am."

"I'm scared to. I'm scared it's the wrong thing to do," Delia admits, chewing nervously on her lower lip. "What if I leave and they do something horrible to Tania? What if it gets Mister Logan in trouble? What if they did something else— like— put a tiny chip inside my neck while I was knocked out? Then I'd have the anklet off and I'd still put everyone in danger."

She shakes her head then and furrows her eyebrows. "I was thinking, I could carry it around with me for a while after. Then one day when I'm ready to go, just throw it in the river and run away. People kill themselves every day and I've been crying enough… They probably think something's wrong with me anyway." The redhead is still proud though, lifting her chin defiantly and knitting her eyebrows together in a frown before Benji has a chance to say anything. "I was worried and scared… and alone. It's over now."

Worry in turn wrinkles Benji's forehead, but she holds her peace for now, hands coming to grip together and on the verge of wringing before she nods. "That feeling of being scared about doing the right thing— it doesn't really go away." Her smile returns — crookedly, but there all the same. The blush on her face has stopped going from patchy pink and too pale to something more normal, despite her warning to the younger of the two — never mind who raises who in what incarnation. "I think sometimes doing the wrong thing at the same time can't be helped — but I just want you safe. And the safety of the people you're protecting—

"There has to be other ways that don't involve you being— " A flappy, vague hand gesture. She isn't exactly sure how to put it, the situation in which Delia is in, cold-war danger and the potential within the tracking device, the gates, the emotional ties.

She swallows, leaves it there, quite suddenly, something cut free. "I could eat, couldn't you?" Or, maybe Delia can shout her something.

"Right now, I'm safe enough," Delia's voice has a gentle tone and she returns Benji's shy smile, hers just as crooked. Reaching for Benji's hand, she stills it in mid flappy and brings it down to clasp between both of her own. "Thank you, for being here and listening. It means a lot to just have someone there sometimes." Especially when the person needing the listening is so afraid to be alone.

She squeezes the hand before dropping it, keeping her hands busy then by tucking them into her pockets. "You sounds like Nick sometimes, when you worry about me. He doesn't like where I am either but for now I think he just wants me to be careful and lay low." Not that she is, very much, with running between the ghetto and a defunct safehouse.

In answer to the invitation to breakfast, "I had an english muffin before… but I could go for more. So much walking makes me pretty hungry."

Moving to walk with Delia, Benji sinks into grateful silence, glancing back over her shoulder as if to check — one last time — that there aren't any particularly malicious gingers steering around the corner. "Do you know what's terrible?" she says, after a moment, in hushed conspiracy, the quirk of an only semi-joking smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. "I lied to Calvin, back there. I think I have shown him exactly what I can do."

Yikes, says the raise of shaped eyebrows, before steering the way towards the nearest place that offers waffles.

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