This is the Way the World Ends


tasha_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title This is the Way the World Ends
Synopsis Or that's how it feels, even though Tasha gets what she asked for when making a request of her father.
Date October 18, 2010

Vincent's Apartment

It's increasingly chilly in New York. October marching steadily into November. more than halfway there, now. Vincent is dressed accordingly when he settles to a halt in the hall, the collar of his peacoat flipped high around his neck, shiny shoes set wide apart. He's sober this time, late hour aside, coffee in hand and eyes the nearly same color drilling hard after chalk smudged subtly away from the core of his lock.

Someone's already home.

Coffee sipped and progress dawdled, he holds off a good thirty seconds before he turns his own key into place. The click of the lock is decisive. This is his apartment, he is tired and he'll be damned if he is going to be spooked away from his own bed by — whoever it is that is probably here. His daughter. Or a burglar.

He might prefer the burglar.

"So," he says to empty air once he's in and the door's closed behind him, mail depocketed and slapped down in the usual spot, "is this is going to become a regular thing?"

The burglar (with a key) sits up on the sofa from where she's fallen asleep reading her textbook, rubbing bleary eyes. This time, she isn't sitting in the dark; a lamp is on, and there is the smell of food from the kitchen — the redolent scent of something sweet and baked and chocolate lingering atop something more savory that's mostly likely Chinese food.

"Hi," Tasha says softly, standing on her sock-clad feet; Doc Martens are resting beneath the coffee table. She moves closer to him, then leans on the back of the sofa facing him. "I would have called but we don't really seem to do well with phones and this was kinda … well, really important." Her brown eyes seek his, and there is a mix of emotions in that pair of eyes that are so very like his. Hope and fear and worry and apology.

Oh, shit.

Hope and fear and worry and apology soak into wary neutrality like venom into a particularly snappily dressed and dark shamwow, leaving behind no obvious trace of influence. With the scent of food impossible to ignore as an undercurrent to as-of-yet nebulous conflict, he's hard-pressed to keep premature judgment from settling into the level of his brows while he takes her in.

His coffee rests forgotten in his hand for as long as it takes him to decide that the fatherly thing to do would be to allow her to continue. Then he says, "…Okay," a lot like he did last time, resigned despite some conscious effort made towards not being a complete dick. Tired, too. Circles are shadowed in deep around his eyes and he may have accumulated a few new flecks of grey through the close-shorn bristle of his beard in the last week. So it goes. "Go ahead."

"Can you, like, sit, maybe?" she says quietly, standing from her leaning posture against the sofa and moving around to the side of the couch. It's hard for her not to compare the stoic way he regards her worry with the more (seemingly) compassionate man she saw in Delia's memory.

She sits, even if he doesn't, one foot curling beneath her. It's once more too late for her to be cast out in the street, though he presumably could drive her home without worrying about being ticketed. She assumes, anyway.

"I'm going to be honest, all right? I hate lying to you, and I don't want to lie to you anymore. There's some things I probably can't tell you but I don't want to lie. So here goes." Finally a breath. "Do you know Delia? A red haired girl. She's tall. She asked… someone told her to ask me where you sleep so she could show you something in your dreams." She hurries to add, "I didn't show her. I won't show her. I told her I couldn't. She didn't know who I was, she didn't know I'm your daughter, but I told her I wouldn't, and asked her to show me, and then I agreed to tell you."

Somehow this doesn't sound very promising, and Tasha knows he's probably angry. "She says she's sorry by the way and that she'll do what you asked as soon as things are better, but… she has her reasons for not doing it right away. Anyway — just… just listen, okay? She showed me… she showed me people's visions. From the tenth. In my dreams."

"I arrested her," replied with all the emotive capacity of the average ash tray, Vincent abandons his coffee and his coat, the latter dropped with uncharacteristic carelessness across the back of a chair at his dining table so that he can move for the couch. There, he sinks himself down into a seat, one leg stiffer than the other on the way down. The suit he's wearing is dark. Nearly black. The tie is blue flecked with silver — it looks expensive and vaguely patriotic.

Also, he's watching her and listening without saying much of anything else, which would be unnerving under circumstances wherein they weren't discussing fugitives and mind manipulation. But it's hard to tell if he's actually angry. She says 'just listen.' He listens.
Vincent has reconnected.

The lack of anger is at least a good sign. Maybe. With Vincent it's hard to tell. Tasha's brows knit with worry, and she swallows. Her other foot is brought up, folding in front of her so that she can wrap her arms around her shin and rest her chin on her knee. "Th- there were two people's visions. D-do you know who Gillian Childs is? She used to work at the Lighthouse, like, when I was staying there, and she was in the Institute before they broke them out." They.

Tasha's eyes look away, scowl deepening with worry and anger at a future that hasn't happened. "Her vision had something about the Lighthouse — a news report, talking about it being raided, that they found weapons and Refrain and that they had arrested Brian — Brian's her brother, and he's a nice guy. Dad, those kids need him." Her eyes fill with tears with empathy for the children she knows, the children she took care of. "I know these people, Dad. I love those kids. The broadcast said that there were unregistered kids and that they were unsafe, with drugs and drug paraphernalia and weapons, but I know it's not true. I think it's a lie, or that someone planted it, I don't know why, an excuse to take them in, to arrest them."

She blinks, trying to be mature, not emotional. Her father doesn't respond to emotion. She takes a deep breath. "Then there's Kaylee — do you know her? She was … she was taken by the Institute too I think for a little bit, I don't really understand all that. It was when I first got here. But she was trying to protect the kids in — Red Hook, I think. Brooklyn, anyway — and she … she saw herself get killed. Trying to protect kids, Dad. I think they tried to get the kids away from the Lighthouse, away from the raid…"

She finally pauses, breathes, looks up, and lets him react. She still hasn't asked for anything yet. Except for him to listen.

The vast majority of whatever energy Vincent's managed to retain this deep into the day seems to be going into looking exhausted. And a lack of anger is not necessarily ideal when the alternative is the overall impression of one stuck on the subway with a friendly, talkative schizophrenic. He slouches back, a box of cigarettes produced with a lighter to match in between spans of brackish eye contact.

"Nice people can have weapons," reminded without much confidence in her confidence, he taps out a smoke and lights up without bothering to open a window. Joanna isn't around to care if stale tobacco stink has begun to sink into the furnishings. "I have weapons." He also has drugs, but that hardly seems worth getting into unless she's done more rummaging than she looks guilty enough to have done. "Do you know for a fact that he doesn't?"

Lighthouse, raid, kids, people dying. Only two drags in, he stops to pull at his face, eyes shut.

Her eyes narrow a little, and she shakes her head. "They live on Staten. They'd be dumb not to have weapons, to be honest. I mean — kids got attacked by dogs during the winter. Really, why there's an orphanage on Staten I don't even understand, but whatever, I'm not Linderman." She knows there's weapons there, yes, but why the raid?

"I don't think there's unregistered kids, and I don't know why — I mean, why that day, with the other things people saw, too? Why is it all on that day, Dad?"

Her hand rakes through the short ragged layers of her hair and she looks at his cigarette a little longingly. She didn't like the taste, but she liked the buzz. Maybe she should take up Nicorette.

"I was in Queens in my vision, and it was on fire, too," she says softly. "It can't just be coincidence, can it?"

But that conversation is too close to another that made him angry, that made him turn to vapor and slide out of her life for weeks. The bridge built over that troubled water has yet to be worn away by the elements and time, still rough wood that can splinter.

"They wanted me to ask," she whispers, more to her stripe-socked foot on the edge of the cushion than to him, "if you might … if you might let us move the kids out of there, before that day, and like, look the other way."

"Coincidence seems unlikely," is a pretty narrow response in the face of so much information. Everything from kids previously attacked by dogs to they wanted me to ask if.

It's the latter that hardens at the bridge of his nose and clamps violin-string taut through the bite of his jaw, tell-tale tension affording her a beat or so of warning before his cigarette is plugged a little too roughly back into the flat line of his mouth. The back of his hand is broad across the movement, narrow scar curved from knuckles to wrist blanched pale. Just one more part of the picture.

"Why?" seems obvious, apart from the gravity of supposed threat. Plants and raids and visions and fire. "Why did they want you to ask? And why," she knows what he means when he asks why, he has no doubt, "are you so certain that there are no drugs. Or only legitimate weapons. For dogs. And bad people. Have you searched the facility?"

"Some of them know who I am. Not most. I — I tried to keep it secret. I haven't … I haven't talked to them since Delia asked, but it came from someone else," she whispers, and her eyes narrow, her chin lifting in a way that lets him know she is angry at the situation as well. "I didn't volunteer, Dad, and I didn't … I would have just said no except that it's little kids, and also because if I just said no —"

Tasha closes her eyes and looks away, a deep breath through her nose and back out, her jaw clamped tight as she tries to match his stoicism. It's one of the ways she's not like him. One of few, her mother would probably say. One of many, Vincent and Tasha would probably say.

"If I just flat out said no, I figured someone would do it anyway. They'd find a way. And I didn't want someone in your head without you giving them permission. I … we have issues, I know, but…" she swallows, and her voice grows small. "You deserve better than that."

There's another pause. "I thought maybe you might want to help. And no, I never searched the facility. Do I think maybe there are guns? Yeah, why not. But I never saw drugs. There's teens there, so is it possible they get some? By November 8th? Sure. Whatever, that doesn't mean they should be shot in the streets, does it?"

Vincent is silent for a beat that nearly seems promising, the black of his eyes unblinking and the rest of him still behind the listless smoke of his cigarette jutted slack through the cage of his right hand. "We shouldn't be having this conversation," muttered at length, he's slow to push himself up onto his feet. Drowsy, almost. Misery doesn't show on his face so much as it's written resigned into the slope of his shoulders once he's up and smoking again.

Short, bald, muscular in build under the calculated cut of his monkey suit. "I will need to know where they are being moved. And when. And I want you to have your name changed. Legally." She might be able to guess what he means before he clarifies, from the way he's looking at her. Sideways. "Natasha Olivia Renard. Okay?"

Her eyes lift in something akin to hope and gratitude when he makes the first of his stipulations. Her breath catches and her lips begin to curve into a smile.

Until the second stipulation comes.

It's not like she hasn't been going by Renard since she was what, twelve? Having a hyphenated last name is a pain in the ass on school forms, where bubbling in on standardized tests took her longer than anyone else, and she always ran out of circles, making her name something like Natasha Renard Lazza It was easy enough to drop Lazzaro at that age, when she was hurt and confused by the lack of her father in her life. Easier to spell. Easier to erase the reminder that one half of her family was all but missing.

But him asking her to change her name, to legally deny her heritage, to deny his paternity — her mouth opens as if to say something and then snaps shut. It's too late to go, but it's impossible to stay.

Tasha is up on her feet, grabbing her shoes and her book bag, nodding blindly in agreement though she can't see through the film of tears. "Yeah. I'll let you know," she mutters, thickly.

Doc Martens are too hard to put on in a hurry so she just shoves them into her bag as she heads for the door.

Cigarette snuffed into a tray near his television, Vincent doesn't watch her go. He glances to see that she is going, shoeless, even, his expression closed after her. Inscrutable. Breaking curfew is hardly the most significant risk she's taken even today. If there happened to be a bug in his apartment, for example, they would both be done.

But he says, "I love you," anyway, firmly and before she can make it out the door. Just in case, you know. They don't see each other again.

The door is about to close when the low but firm statement is made, and it stays her for a moment. She glances back over her shoulder, eyes liquid with tears, face contorted by grief, clearly broken hearted despite the fact he's given her what she asked for.

But at what cost?

"Me too," she whispers tremulously, salt running into her parted lips before she turns away, closing the door behind her with a quiet thud.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

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