2007-09-07: For A Rose


Benjamin_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif

Summary: Ramon handles what he knows in the only way he knows how: bluntly.

Date It Happened: September 7, 2007

For A Rose

Benji's Apartment

Sunday afternoon, it's as down a day as Benjamin gets. Meaning, he's got the afternoon to himself. For awhile anyway. Rose is out of the house, Alice might be coming by later. He's not sure. The apartment is tidied up as best as he can make it, what with Rose's careless housekeeping skills, or lack thereof. The tv is on, tuned to Discovery with the volume down, while Ben is lounging on the sofa, paying the TV little mind.

Only Benjamin would think frogs doing it is awesome t.v. time, but that's ok. Ramon knocks thrice on the door. He stands on the other side, waiting, his arms crossed and an expression on his face that doesn't give anything away. He's got his suit on—when he goes out, he just wears the thing, figuring that's what all the other business big wigs do so he'd probably better.

Hey, it's a Mythbusters marathon, thank you! But point made, taken and well.. yeah.. At the knock on the door, Benjamin shuts off the tv and makes the short walk to check the peephole. Seeing his friend Ramon on the other side, he opens the door and greets with a smile, "Ramon, come on in! Working today?" While Ramon's dudded up in a suit, Ben's all casual.

Ramon steps inside and closes the door. "Yeah," he says, though the answer may not be to the same question Ben thinks it is. He pauses, looks around. Then his single eye swings back on Benjamin. "Thought I'd come catch up." He pauses again, leaning against the door for a moment. Then he smiles faintly. "How's life as a Company Man treating you these days?"

"It's been awhile, yeah, how have you been doing?" Benjamin gestures for Ramon to help himself to a seat if he wants to sit down. "Can I get you something to.. Huh?" The question throws the man for a loop clearly. "Work's been fine. I can't really complain much. Work is supposed to be work right? You still trying to get me to break my non-disclosure agreement?" He says this with a grin, getting some inkling of where Ramon might be going with this.

"I don't have to," Ramon says, coming into sit down. "I didn't get it out of your head," he says at last, "but I've got the proof, and I already suspected." He leans forward and drapes his elbows over his knees. "I'm reasonably certain your job is to spy on Cass right now. For the time being, lets assume I'm not here to break your nose or bust your balls for it, because I'd do anything for my family too. But lets also assume I'm not stupid, and have good reason for bringing it up."

Benjamin stares at Ramon, trying not to frown in thought, and trying to remember his mental exercises. How.. he's been so careful. No one was supposed to figure out his employer. "Who told you this?" Ben is trying to find a way to cover his ass, but it doesn't seem possible.

Ramon smiles faintly. The smile is grim, regretful, worried. He looks up at his friend with a single dark, haggard eye. "I got a message from two years from now, Benjamin. The confirmation was included on the message. Look—I'm bringing it up because there's bigger things at stake here than this choice you've made. So settle down."

Benjamin eases down into a seat across from Ramon and frowns some, it's a thoughtful frown, not an angry one. Two years in the future? He's seen a lot in the past few months. "A message from two years in the future? How does this.. nevermind.." He shakes his head, pondering how good a drink sounds about now before focusing on Ramon again. "What's going on here?"

"I know it sounds crazy, but someone's been to the future." For obvious reasons, Ramon's not slinging names around here. He leans forward. "And it sucks, Benji." He lets that hang in the air for a moment, and rasps, "Here's what happens. Someone tampers with a kid with the power to stir up tornados, and ultimately makes it worse. She goes from having good control of her abilities, to no abilities, to no control at all. She doesn't remember anything, which could point to your people. The tornado destroys half the city. The man who becomes president is so hurt by the events that follow that he goes mad, and he turns the United States into an xenophobic genocidal society of Evolved vs. Unevolved. He partners up with a project that I believe may be linked into some serious issues I've been having here and now and starts putting normal people into concentration camps to try to graft evolved abilities into him. A lot of people you and I both like die, and in fact two of my children do. Your Company apparently dissolves, but some of it gets absorbed into the facist government. Now, knowing me, as you know me, ask me if I'm shitting you."

Benjamin raises a hand, raking it through his hair and exhales noisily as he listens to Ramon. Glancing away from his friend, refusing to meet the man's eyes, he's quiet. There's a shudder as he tries to take in what he's told. This is a lot of information, what does he do with this? Inform his superiors? Then what? He trusts some of the people he works with.. but this? "No.. I trust you to tell me the truth of this." His head is reeling, and probably not too much fun to listen in on.

Luckily, right now, Ramon is not listening in. He decided to come in as he was, man to man. "I have come to you because I think you're in a position to help, Benji. I don't know who tampers with the girl, but if I were to put percentage chance on it, I'd say there's a 60% chance it's your people. The future version of her doesn't remember what happened to her. Her powers mysteriously switch off and come back. Control is like a muscle as you well know. Fail to exercise it, and it dies. You can convince them to back the hell off of her. And if I'm right, then you will be responsible for turning the tide and keeping so much of this from coming to pass. I know you don't have much rank yet or trust. You haven't been with them long enough. But I have faith in you, and you're the only Company man I know. And you must have seen something in them worth preserving, or you wouldn't be doing this, Rose or no Rose."

"What? Me?" Benjamin's head snaps up and he's giving Ramon an incredulous look. "I know about having to work with an ability, to practice, to get better, like anything. But.. look.. I can tell my superiors about this. Take this information to them. Do what I can to convince them to help this girl so that she doesn't cause an accident." He pushes up to his feet and paces a little. "I mean.. it could be that she's tampered with by.. but it's possible she's not." Moving to stand behind the chair he was just sitting in, he grips its back with his hands and looks down. "They can help.. they helped me. I wouldn't have known about what I can do if it weren't for them… and.." then he's looking back at Ramon, "How do you know they threatened Rose?"

"Because in the future you apparently confess," Ramon says dryly. He puts his head back on the back of the chair and closes his eye. It's almost like a wolf showing his neck. He came unarmed, he's not listening, he's not attacking. Benji could, at any moment, put him to sleep and ship him off to his superiors, and Ramon would have no defense. He came so vulnerable because there is trust and friendship between them, and if he can't rely on that, than anything he asks Benji to do could fall apart. Also cause he didn't want to spook Benji into any of the above courses of action. "You become a part of the corrupt government and one day you get fed up as Hell. You manage to convince me not to kill you, and apparently that's kind of a feat by then cause apparently I get a little trigger happy after my two youngest get slaughtered, you help rescue Cass from the self-same government. You admit to being sent to spy on Cass at that time."

Benjamin could very well put Ramon to sleep, or try, but he doesn't. If Ramon didn't want to spook him, well, FAIL. Ben is spooked. This is hard to digest, and he's had a lot of information hit him hard the past year alone. "I need to sit down," he announces before slinking into his seat once more. "Why would I.. " Sure he signed on with the Company, but that's different. Right? "Me with a corrupt government?" Unfathomable at this time. "I think I want a drink."

"Lets go get some." Ramon stands up and says, "We'll get tequila. Its the only thing strong enough. From what I gather the government gathers up some of the Company's remains. They just kept using your daughter, holding it over your head. I never got the impression it was…is…oh fuck it. Lets go get drunk."

Benjamin blinks and looks at Ramon, color fading from his face some. "I signed on, with the agreement she wouldn't be touched." Ben feels the need to explain this. "About Cass.. I'm not asked to do anything but see what she's up to. That's it. They're worried about her operation, her clinic. I'm telling them so far there's nothing to worry about. She's just helping, which she is. I didn't think they would have me .. I know I was used, I just.. she's my only daughter. What was I supposed to do?"

"Do I blame you? No." Ramon says, shrugging. "And good. You did what I thought you'd probably do." He relaxes a touch as he opens the door of the apartment. He's silent and says, "I don't think they're the grand bastards everyone says they are. They're just one faction out of a lot of factions, and like any faction they get about half right and they fuck up about half. They're wary of us, we're wary of them, but if we can all co-exist, great."

Benjamin breathes a sigh of relief at Ramon, but the man still looks pretty well, miserable, in a corner, and still trying to wrap his brain around what he's been told. "No.. they aren't evil or bad. They're methods are questionable at times, and I see a lot I don't agree with. Ultimately, their goals are good." Grabbing his keys and wallet, he's actually eager to go hit the bottle.

Ramon takes him down to the Mercedes. He gets in the driver's seat and says, "There's also a bit more you can do." But this he says slowly. As if less certain. He has yet to even give the contact information for the girl he wants Benji to protect, but that will come.

Benjamin buckles himself in after getting into the car. Looking a little shocked, he turns towards Ramon, "Like what?"

Ramon pulls in a breath. Expels it. "Do you remember the guy I asked you to do the tax audit on?" He pulls out of the parking garage and starts down to the street, single eye focused on the road instead of on Benji. "John Carter. Remember him?"

Benjamin inclines his head in a nod. "I do.. and I have the audit info waiting for you."

"Thank you. I'll take it." Ramon still keeps his eye on the road. His fingers tighten on the steering wheel. "He was the man who killed my wife," he says softly. "He's dead now, but I found out an awful lot about him, and the kidnappings he participated in. He seems like he was directly involved in the precursor to the genetic experimentation going on in the future. The people he worked with are still out there. In my investigation I learned he was with the Company at some point, but he split off. There may be information about him and his people somewhere in the Company's files."

Benjamin nods his head, he had a feeling that Ramon would still want this information. "I know where to look. I may not have the access I need, but I can find a way to get it. What do you need?" The genetic experimentation comment earns a shudder. It's.. it smacks of Nazism.

"Everything you can get, but specifically any associates. Whether they were also people who were with the company and left with him, or people he was known to associate with—I know they probably keep pretty close tabs and would know. That gives me a starting place to look for the puppet masters." Ramon relaxes, even as he finds his way to Queens, and from there to the rowdiest Mexican bar he can locate.

"Alright. It might take me some time. I can't talk about what I do, but they keep me busy." To keep him out of trouble and to whip Benjamin into some semblance of shape other than 'round'. "So I'll use downtime, maybe even see if Angie.. well she goes by Alice now .. see if she can help. I'm still the new guy and low on the totem pole, but I think I can get some help."

"I believe you can," Ramon says. And with that he shuts off the car, activates the alarms, and gets out. He has one of those automatic locking things now too. The music of the bar: loud Mexican music, is spilling right out onto the street.

The bar is given a dubious glance by Benjamin, but not wanting to offend.. he gets out of the car and follows in. "Like I said.. I'll do my best. What you're telling me, it's going to affect everyone. We should work together to try and circumvent what we can."

Ramon nods, and mission accomplished seems intent on the drunken part of their day. He orders two tequila, straight, in shotglasses, and passes one down to Benji. He himself is already bringing the little glass to his lips, and he downs the whole thing.

Benjamin settles down in a seat next to Ramon. The glass isn't eyed for very long before he downs the contents and grimaces. Ugh.. the lemon and salt might be needed to help the taste. Then again another one of the shots and he won't be tasting anything.

And there's Ramon, ordering up two more. At the very least he doesn't start his campaign about the women, if only because Benji mentioned Angie again. He doesn't really want to come back to Angie's attention—the woman promised him some dire things, or at least hinted at them, and Ramon doesn't really want to know if that's changed or not. "Now I'm feeling better," he grunts.

One was enough to bring on the warm fuzzies for Benjamin. He's still a lightweight about alcohol. Shot #2 however is downed as quickly as the first. "I think.. in a way I'm glad you know about.. all of this.. it's a relief. I hate lying and keeping secrets," he admits.

"Didn't seem like your bag," Ramon says gruffly. Now he slows down, though he sort of waves at the bar, indicating Benji should order more if he wants more. "I understood it was about your kid. You said as much the last time we talked."

"No.. not really.. it's different from my last job. The change has been welcomed. I didn't realize how dead or suffocated I felt before." Benjamin actually asks for a third shot, one he downs as eagerly as the first two. "I.. well.. I can pay for her college now, no problem, but it was about her safety. Not the money. I don't care about that."

"I know," Ramon says. He orders a third as well, not to be outdone, but he's slower with this one, contemplating it. "We're both the same, man. Whatever it takes for our families." Its one of the reasons why he ultimately came alone.

Benjamin doesn't order up a fourth. Yet. Otherwise, he'll be on the floor sooner than anticipated. "I never thought I would have a child.. yeah she came fully grown but still.. What was it like.. raising your children?" He's curious, he was denied that.

Ramon thinks about it before answering. "I'm still doing it," he says. "It is the greatest joy I've ever had. It is more terrifying than anything you've ever done. They exasperate you, anger you, shock you, surprise you, and then they throw their little arms around your neck, smile at you like you're a hero, and make everything in your world make sense. They will badger you, exhaust you, soak up every dime you have, make you insane, and you'd kill or die for them in a heartbeat. They'll make you see the world all over again. Their smiles make you feel amazing, their tears make you feel insane. As they start growing up, you are hopeful for the man or woman they become, and fearful of the trials they'll face. You try to figure out when to hold on, when to let go, when to fight them, when to step aside and let them make their mistakes. When they move out, even though you'd joked a thousand times that you can't wait to have some peace and quiet to take a nap already, your heart breaks, because you're going to miss them, and because you're so fucking proud of them."

Benjamin has nothing to say in response to Ramon.. He asked.. he kinda wishes he hadn't now. Rose isn't very emotionally attached, and she has no reason to be. Emotion shows in his eyes as he signals for another shot with an instruction to leave the bottle.

Ramon leaves him alone to drink. Every man has to sit and grapple with his own ghosts and choices and consequences, good, bad, indifferent. He's getting the idea Benjamin has some heavy duty grappling to do. He downs his own shot, but turns around on the barstool to watch the accountant drink. Someone has to get them home, and 'leave the bottle' pretty much indicates it won't be Benji.

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