Your Conversation


tamara_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Your Conversation
Synopsis Vincent lets himself into someone else's house, gets ambushed for his trouble, and embarks on a conversation that is uncomfortable all around.
Date November 11, 2017

Brooks Residence: First Floor

The first thing seen upon entering are the stairs on the left, a small nook at the front windows just to the right of the door, and a long continuous stretch of space that runs the length of the house, all of it floored with hardwood.

The nearest part of the room is the kitchen, defined by a central island with sink and an abundance of counter space. On one side is a white wall with tiles up half its height, top and bottom edging rows in midnight blue; against it lie white stove, white refrigerator, and low cabinets also painted white with midnight blue handles. The opposite wall is an expanse of bare brick half-hidden behind a large bank of cabinets and shelves that provides storage space. The cabinets, shelves, and countertops both on the island and bracketing the stove all feature wood of a natural light brown hue.

Immediately beyond is the dining area. Here one wall is again unfinished brick, on the opposite side as in the kitchen; the other is painted white. In the middle is an unusual octagonal table with a dark, wood-patterned formica surface, clearly dated by several decades; the chairs around it are eclectic, two aluminum patio chairs pretending to be cast iron and two wooden chairs that probably used to be part of a larger matched set. They all have matching blue-and-white cushions, at least.

At the very back of the space is the living room, elevated two steps above the rest of the floor. A lightweight rattan-wicker couch with green cushions lines one wall, with endtables on either side and a heavy walnut coffee table in front of it; two chairs face the opposite side of the table, and a set of shelves rests against the wall behind them. There are bright ceiling lights to illumine the space, but more often a dimmer endtable lamp is used. The entire rear wall consists of five floor-to-ceiling windows, providing an excellent view of the garden and patio beyond; the rightmost doubles as a door, opening onto stairs that lead into the garden.

Outside: a black SUV rolled up to park at the curb five minutes ago, windows tinted dark, tires and frame bulky with armor. It looks out of place, here, gleaming like spilled ink against townhomes stretching skyward in swaths of welcoming green and brown and red. A driver adjusts his sunglasses in the front seat, and settles in for the long haul.

Inside: Vincent Lazzaro appears in the kitchen in a snarl of equally black vapor, familiar enough with the layout to place himself near the refrigerator.

He does so without sound, clean and stealthy an entry as you like — tie loose, suit lighter grey patterned in shades of plaid under a darker wool coat. It’s only 4 o’clock, but he got up before the sun, and it’s clear his work day is over.

Also, there is somebody else in here.

He looks at her across the kitchen island with the correct amount of self-deprecation to be expected of someone who is not accustomed to being the recipient half of a surprise appearance. Colette is under house arrest. Tasha is at work. Where else would the third slice of the pie be, if not here to catch him in the middle of a home invasion?

“Hello, Tamara.”

"Hello, Vincent," Tamara echoes, matching his inflection precisely, casting him a lightly mischievous smile.

She's dressed in light green blouse, tan pants, a mismatched set of black and green socks; holds a glass of water in her hand, from which the blonde takes a nonchalant sip before continuing. She was in the middle of something, even if she knew he was coming — no reason not to accomplish two simple tasks at once.

"I'd say Tasha will be home later, but you already know that," she remarks, leaning her hip lightly against the island. There's a certain deliberation to the seer's diction, care for precision of tense: recognition that this invasion is anything but casual, not merely personal. She's okay with that; more, he has Tamara's attention, her focus, for whatever good that might do him.

Still, the woman made spontaneous — albeit not surprise — hostess first nods past Vincent, towards the refrigerator. "Would you like something to drink while you talk?"

There is a greater than zero sum of alternate realities in which Vincent simply sublimates again, rather than contend with whatever this conversation is going to be. She probably wouldn’t tell anyone.

In this reality, he looks her over with her green blouse and glass of water, and commits to his continued presence in this room with a slow blink.

“I would, actually.”

There’s a cabinet near the refrigerator where Tasha has liquor squirreled away, and he takes a slow step in that direction, just a hint of resistance to resuming normal operation in the effort it takes for him to make that move. It’s fine. They’re adults.

He hooks a bottle of rum out of the cabinet by the neck and turns to plant it on the island. Against his better judgment.

“But you already know that,” he says, and just as deadpan: “Do you have Coke?”

Tamara occupies herself with another sip of water in the moment where possibilities hover, shiver, settle into place. She smiles slightly as Vincent helps himself to the liquor cabinet, as he asks a question they both know the answer to. "Of course," she replies, obliging the social formula. "It's in the fridge."

Setting her glass on the counter, Tamara steps away from the island, giving Vincent time in which to prepare his drink. She occupies herself with pulling things from cabinets on the opposite wall: a bowl, a bag of pretzels. Filled, the bowl is placed on the island, and the seer filches three more from the bag before putting it back away. Eats them, quietly, as she settles back into her lean against the island.

Hostess or no, Tamara doesn't offer Vincent a seat. Instead, she simply lingers there in the kitchen — and once his preparations are finished, offers an inquisitive prompt, head tilted and brow raised. "This is about Colette."

“Thank you.”

Glass, ice, rum, coke — Lazzaro blocks the parts out one at a time and mixes them for himself on autopilot while Tamara sees to snacks. The cola is last, cracked open and poured over liquor with a snap and a hiss. Ice fractures and shifts under the foam; he waits for it to settle before he tops it off.

“Did you tip her off about Epstein?”

Casual, as inquiries into complicity go. He already has his suspicions, leveled at her over the bowl of pretzels with the kind of bleak honesty her already knowing he thinks so entails.

Of the two possible truths, he’s not especially heated about either. Resigned, more like. This is the type of shit that can’t be controlled for without locking the Tamara Brookses and Eve Mases of the world away. Nevermind the Benji Ryanses — seers motivated by politics. This is the type of shit they traded for when they opted for the softer system he’s a part of now.

He just wants to know, in the privacy of this kitchen, with a drink under his hand. Not yet touched.

Ah. They're having that conversation.

She would have preferred one of the others.

Tamara folds both hands around her glass, presses its rim to her lips, looks down at the curve of glass and shimmer of liquid as if they held answers. She closes her eyes, draws in a breath, lets it out again, water shivering as air passes by. The sigh carries a different flavor of resignation, the kind that comes with knowingly stepping into a trap.

The past is a foreign country to Tamara. It takes only a few questions to determine that — a few questions, a few nonplussed looks and hesitant responses, a single helpful explanation from one of her partners. She could give him a lie, an act, an answer that serves whatever purpose she chooses to prioritize, one delivered with all the sincerity he requires. That would be easy, cost her little, possibly change nothing. Instead, the seeress reaches, draws pieces together that, like magnets, do not willingly fit together in certain orientations.

The past is a foreign country to Tamara, beyond her ken… except.

"No," she answers at last, lifting her head to regard Vincent with dark eyes, only the thinnest sliver of blue left encircling dilated pupils. "I did not."

Vincent watches her intently, maybe a little too interested in her answer to be entirely polite in the silence he takes on to match her. He can recognize effort without comprehending the nature or the scope, steady in his patience opposite pretzel island, with his palm rested over the fizzle of his glass.

The answer is no.

He’s still looking at her, his own eyes a murkier mix of crude oil and tar. His next line, theoretically, ought to be would you tell me if you did? It’s in there as part of a natural line of questioning, turning itself over at the back of his mind. But he draws it away on his own after a beat, doubt discarded like a loose thread.

“Okay.” He believes her.

Just normal father-in-law-one-step-to-the-side-removed-and-not-in-law-either-exactly visit things.

He hefts his drink, and tips it back for a sip that is more ambitious than is wise, given everything else he’s on. As a motion, it’s the lead into him taking a pair of steps along the countertop before his knee can cement itself into a lock.

“What kind of conversations do you normally have with visitors who appear unannounced in your kitchen?”

There's a moment of poised patience as the second question looms unspoken, choice and reaction and choice again layering over one another, interwoven branches casting shadows on the figurative forest floor. In the end, only one of them matters, and just as the words Vincent might have said fizzle out, so too do those Tamara could have answered with.

All that lingers is acceptance, to which the woman nods once. She takes a sip of her water, sets the glass down on the counter. Looks idly at it, at the interplay of light and vibrations slowly fading from the water's surface. She looks back up as Vincent speaks, giving him a lopsided, wry smile. "Lighter things," Tamara answers. "Gardening. Dogs. Lost keys."

Serious things, too, but she doesn't mention them. And on the scale this conversation defines, even those topics still count as lighter.

A moment later, Tamara pushes herself away from the island, pads around to Vincent's side, to the coffeemaker sitting on the counter by the stove. She busies herself with readying it — grounds, water, queueing up a very delayed start.

"On another day," she says after, leaning her hands on the counter and looking sidelong at Vincent, lips tugging back in an amused smile, "we could talk about those things, too." Or not, as the case might be.

“Well I don’t have a dog. Or a garden.” At least, not one that he’s stopped long enough to make note of anywhere in the novelty of residing in an actual — house. Back in Kansas City.

“Yours is nice, though.” Reassuring, on that count, he leans back against the counter at her side, glass weighed in his hand. “Very cozy.”

It’s hard not to keep an eye on her, now that he’s settling into the surrealism — the same way someone unaccustomed to cats might want to keep tabs on a strange one wandering the house. Not nervous, or fearful. Just not sure what it might get up to. Like if left unattended, she might start pushing tea leaves around on the counter, or throwing bones.

Her sidelong smile seems innocent enough.

“Did you want to talk about Colette?”

He seems to be a little surprised, if so, brow furrowed sidelong back at her, but she’s the one who invoked the name first. Maybe he shouldn’t be.

"Thank you," politely acknowledges the compliment given. Moving back around the island, fingertips brushing idly along its edge, Tamara pauses halfway, casts Vincent a mildly bemused look. She lifts her hand, gestures open-handed in his direction. "This is your conversation," she points out with a slightly wry smile.

Tamara resumes walking, moves past the island and into the dining room, glances briefly over a shoulder. "It's for whatever you need to talk about. At least for a little longer." Continuing on, she steps up into the living room, opens the back door. Misty comes padding in as if she knew dogs had just been spoken of, tail wagging and ears high, whuffing a happy breath against Tamara before fixating her attention on the guest.

For all her obvious interest, the dog stops in the dining room, waits with polite dignity for an invitation to approach. Tamara doesn't — stop, that is, moving back into her original place, adopting her prior casual lean, taking up her water glass. That nonchalance is tempered by the hand that comes up to rub at her eye, fingertips then tracing the ridge above and resting briefly at outside corner.

After, she shakes her hair back, sips from her glass — and gives Vincent an inquiring glance, a prompt unspoken.

“I’ll take that as a ‘no.’”

The drift away, the back door. Vincent takes Misty in for what she is (a dog) and trails Tamara part of the way around the island — from 9 to 6, or noon to 9, or however anything is polarized in this place that doesn’t belong to him.

“My conversation,” echoed late after her unspoken prompt, and a second swallow, he stirs his drink with a roll of his wrist. There’s a long scar chipped in over the bone, similar in age and intensity to the one that traces back over his ear on the same side. Any less subtle and he’d be leaning into Bond villain territory.

“Did you see The Bachelor last night?” She didn’t. Neither did he. “Raymond watches it. I read the episode summaries so that I can stay relevant.”

Tasha please, God.

“Everything going well, here? With you?” He’s genuine, at least, in his desire to know, and his hope that it is, free hand finally held out beneath the island threshold to Misty to invite a sniff, if she’s so inclined. His eyes are still dark, naturally so, expression and inflection having changed little from one line to the next. “Apart from me giving you a headache.”

That glance turns distinctly amused as Vincent resumes speaking, presenting her with the smallest of small-talk queries. Tamara grins in the moment before she takes a drink, and is still grinning after, her air good-natured rather than that of being at his expense. "I don't watch much," she informs him, sounding faintly wistful.

Invited, Misty crosses the remaining distance separating her from Vincent, the tip of her tail happily feather-dusting empty space. She snuffles at his hand, then imperiously sticks her hand under it, the better to have her ears scratched.

Above the countertop, Tamara takes another pretzel, turning it idly between her fingers. This time, when she looks to Vincent, the smile given is small, close-lipped; she nods once. "Yes. I'm well, we're both well," she assures him. Looking down, she puts the pretzel back in the bowl and reaches out to tweak the very end of the dog's tail. Misty ignores her. "It's quiet here for a while," Tamara continues, no longer quite smiling, but no less sincere for it. "Months. Just little everyday things. You won't need to worry."

At the last, she lifts her hand in a little, dismissive wave: not your fault. A faintly apologetic glance follows. "I do need to go," Tamara informs her guest. "But Misty can keep you company while you wait."

Misty is oppressively adorable — fluffy and lion-faced in a way hard to resist even for someone who primarily associates dogs with muddy paws, stink, and shedding. The fact that she’s polite helps. Vincent turns his hand over to scruff around her ear, and under her doggy chin, accommodating while Tamara assures him of mundanity.

“You know I will anyway.”


He looks up from the dog to meet her dismissive wave with a skeptical slant of his brows, not quite smiling back. Not sure if he believes her, on that specific count. He causes a lot of headaches.

“It was good to see you,” he tells her instead, his own inability to cope with her Entire Deal aside. “Misty will make sure I don’t get into anything.”

Misty leans into the attention, tail wagging, otherwise remaining dignified in her enjoyment. She mouths a soundless whuff as Tamara moves past, glass in hand. "Of course," the woman says, as aware as he is of the nature of worry, the shadows it casts. The glass is emptied, placed neatly at the side of the sink, and she moves on…

…to pause at the far corner of the island, one hand just resting on the angled edge. There are things she could say, things that in some purely social respect she should say: assurances, politenesses, courtesies. Most of them slip like water through figurative fingers, glinting darts that flirt with capture only to flit just out of reach at the last moment. Tamara stifles a weary sigh, casts a glance and an affectionate smile to the dog who is not on guard in any way whatsoever, and waves to indicate the room at large. "Make yourself at home," she finally tells him. "She wouldn't mind."

Exactly which she that means is left an open question; the seeress removes herself from the conversation and from the floor alike, disappearing downstairs into her own demesne.

For sake of four words, she won't reemerge until well into tomorrow.

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