2007-02-28: How Large are Her Antlers?

Starring:

Benjamin_icon.gif Hector_icon.gif Stefanie_icon.gif Sydney_icon.gif

Summary: Sydney's frantic search brings her to Central Park, where she asks Benjamin and Hector if they've seen a girl matching Kellie's description.

Date It Happened: February 28th, 2007

How Large are Her Antlers?


Central Park

Afternoon in Central Park is a busy time of day, even with the weather as wet and cold and drizzly as it is today — and while the sky is overcast, there are a select few beams of light that are strong enough to pierce through the clouds and illuminate the park's vast freshwater reservoir. It is along the edge of this reservoir that Sydney has been looking for her missing houseguest, though she isn't checking for bodies in the water; for the past two and a half hours, the disheveled blonde has been grabbing random passersby off the path and asking them if they've seen a thin, dark-haired girl with blue-eyes and an anxious expression. So far, no luck.

Umbrella in hand, collar of his overcoat turned up, Benjamin picked a heck of a day to take a stroll, or at least it didn't start drizzly when he set out. Basically, he's just trying to take advantage of the free time before he has to return to work. Hopefully relaxed and remaining in a better frame of mind. His path through the park takes him past the reservoir.

Lacking an umbrella, and so rather damp, Hector paces the reservoir's fenced border several paces behind Ben with his scuffy head bowed and his hand pushed deeply into the pockets of his shabby overcoat. His breath clouds at a steady pace, and he seems healthy and wary enough despite the weather, with glances cast up infrequently to mark his progress along the path, and to take note of any interesting activity in the park around him. Sydney's harried questioning of random strangers is enough to earn a pause and a slight frown, though he's not quite close enough to make out every word.

Stefanie makes her way home from school. She takes her usual diversion though the Park, however today being gloomy, cold and wet does not bring a bright smile to the teen's face. She walks through, idly glancing from person to person, and not paying much attention to the hibernating vegetation of the Park. She makes her way by the reservoir as well, not paying much attention to people's behavior. She's wearing a jacket, but isn't afraid of wet hair. Red tresses are soaked and stringy, falling straight down the center of her back.

Like a scene straight from the Discovery Channel, Sydney — vaguely wolf-like with her dark, darting eyes — tries to select the easiest and least-intimidating target. Woman pushing twins in a stroller while trying to walk a golden retriever at the same time? No. Businessman with no concept of volume yakking away on his cell phone? No. Unremarkable-looking guy with umbrella? Target acquired. For a brief moment, it looks as though Sydney's about to mug poor Benjamin; she lurches out onto the path and seizes him roughly by the arm, but rather than stick a knife in his kidney and start rifling through his pockets, she turns her face upwards and hoarsely asks, "Hey, man, do you have a minute?"

No real attention is paid towards the people in the park by Benjamin. They aren't bothering him, so he won't bother them. Besides, there are always people in the park. Wait, they aren't bothering him? He takes that back. A startled yelp is made as Sydney seizes him by the arm, "Take my wallet! There's not much cash or even a credit card in it, but you can have it! Just don't…" In the midst of the panicked plea for his life, he shuts up and blinks, "Uh.. a minute… sure.. you're not trying to rob me then?"

When Benjamin stops, Hector does not, which means that the soggy tramp is nearly upon the umbrella man and the wolf before he's had time to register that they've merged into a single obstacle. "Probably just rape," he suggests, with any luck, before Sydney has time to answer. "Woman on man domination. It's the latest craze, according to the Times."

Stefanie looks up and, seeing the woman make her way quickly up to umbrella man, she stops. It's early in the day, lots of people around. This doesn't look like some violent crime. It could be some nutcase escaped Bellevue, or perhaps another bum getting a bit handy in their panhandling. She takes a moment to lean up against a tree as she watches. Somehow the tree seems to make a decent canopy over the girl, preventing the rain from falling onto her.

"Rob you?" Both of Sydney's eyebrows shoot straight up, incredulous, her forehead furrowing. "Not right now—" Screeeeeech! There goes her train of thought — right off the rails. Did someone say 'woman on man domination'? There's a faint flicker of recognition in her eyes when they settle upon Hector, who she recognizes from their brief conversation at Starbucks, but where she knows him from isn't what matters. "Look," she croaks, "have either of you seen a girl? About my height? Dark hair, blue eyes — could pass for a deer in a set of headlights."

It's good that Benjamin forgot that he now has a weapon, one with tentative control, otherwise he would have used it.. and that's just not good, given Sydney's motives are harmless! Hector's passing comment provokes a look of sheer horror and embarrassment on Ben's face. Well, he just doesn't know how to respond to that! So, he'll focus on trying to reclaim his arm from Sydney's grip, "What do you mean, not right now? You might try later? Okay, the muggers are going crazy.. er.. in this city." Rambling speech rolls to a halt as he processes that Sydney is running a description by him. He shakes his head, "Sorry, that's kind of vague.. I probably saw a few girls matching that description?"

Sheer horror is met with half a smile, and at Ben's shoulder (where he smells about as dank as one would expect), Hector takes a moment to eye Sydney before he inquires quite seriously, "How large are her antlers?" The glance that Stefanie gets is no less grave, if somewhat more along the lines of warning that she'd better be staring at the crazy woman and not him.

Stefanie listens carefully. The man is right. That kind of description is vague. She keeps it in mind and realizes she should get home, before her dad put in a missing persons report. The gaze from Hector gets a 'whatever'-type raised eyebrow. She heads down the path leading out of the Park, somehow finding cover from the overhanging trees as she walks down.

Sydney doesn't need Benjamin's arm so much as his attention, so when he tries to pull free she's quick to release him and let her own arm fall back to her side. She ignores his question about mugging him later — if they ever run into each other again and she thought she could get away with it, she very well might try. "Her name is Kellie," she explains in a voice that's much louder than necessary, partly to be heard over the wind in her ears, and partly to reach out to Stefanie, "and she's hurt. You'd know if you saw her."

Benjamin takes several steps back, in case she tries to make another grab. He tries to be polite and not make a face at the lovely aroma wafting from Hector's direction. (It fails.) "Sorry.. I don't know anyone by that name. But I did see a girl with dark hair back over that way, she had a broken leg, but that's probably not what you mean."

Stefanie makes quick note and decides to be a bit active in her searching, taking in the few blocks between the Park and Greenwich Village, since that's her way home. Coming up empty, she heads home.

"Kidnapped or a runaway?" Hector asks a little more genuinely at specification of her injury. "Lost in the park or elsewhere? You've got a long way to go, if you intend to find her by asking everyone in New York individually." The face Benjamin makes is neatly ignored as the drizzle starts up again, and he is rained upon.

Unless Kellie has miraculously gotten herself into more trouble since she left Sydney's apartment, there's no way that Benjamin's dark-haired damsel in distress is /her/ dark-haired damsel in distress. She reaches up and drags her hand down her face, growling throatily in frustration. "This is a goddamn disaster," she groans, peering out through her fingers at Hector. "She was staying at my apartment, but when I got home she was just — gone. No note, no nothing."

Benjamin gives Hector the wary look one tends to give a bum in a large city, and keeps his distance. "Uh.. sorry about that. I hope you can find her soon then." The words are genuinely apologetic. "Sorry I wasn't more help. If I happen to see this Kellie, I'll tell her that you're looking for her?"

Hector stares Ben down a bit, hardly blinking until he's turned back to Sydney, and the dilemma of a missing Kellie. "Do you have a photograph?" See? He is a /helpful/ bum.

"/Yes/." Sydney could not be any more firm with Benjamin. "Tell her to call Hiro." It's a long shot, but doing something is at least doing better than nothing. Besides, it's not Kellie's welfare that Sydney is looking out for. It's her own — and everybody else's. If the Company gets their hands on her again, and she tells them what they've been up to… "Huh?" Hector snaps the blonde out of her morbid reverie. "No. I hardly even know her."

Benjamin ducks his head, backing away from that stare down given by Hector. "A.. alright, I can do that. If I see Kellie, tell her to call Hiro. I'll remember that. Good luck." As both Sydney and Hector unnerve him, he promptly walks off at a hurried pace.

Now Hector is merely a suspicious bum, in addition to being belligerent and smelly, though he doesn't manage to look it until he's watched Benjamin flee and narrowed his eyes back at Sydney. No comment, apparently.

For awhile, all Sydney can do is stare back at Hector, saying nothing. When she does speak, it's much more softly than before. "If you thought the world was out to get you, where would you go?"

"The last place anyone would expect to find me," says Hector, evidently disinclined to elaborate on precisely where that might be. His bandaged hand lifted to wipe water from his face, he sniffs and looks aside to focus upon the rain hitting the water, and eventually Ben moving off into the distance. "Or the pub. Which is probably the first place they would check. Depends upon what sort of day it's been, really."

"Thanks." Sydney's hand goes into her pocket and comes back out with a fistful of one dollar bills and various change. "For your next no-fat caramel macchiato," she says, shoving it up against Hector's chest, but not waiting to see if he takes it before turning and hurrying off in the opposite direction as Benjamin. She can't think of the last place she'd expect to find Kellie, but she's desperately hoping that the answer comes to her before she's out of Central Park.

A scattering of pennies and dimes manages to tumble through the long splay of Hector's fingers even once he's snagged them up after the main crumple. He watches them go, and in a most unbum-like manner, leaves them to rest where they lie once he's made sense of the bills and folded them out of sight. A short look flickered after Sydney's exit, rather than head in his own direction, he points himself to a nearby bench under a tree and sinks down there to wait out the rain.

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