2007-01-31: I Thought You Would Be Cooler


Benjamin_icon.gif Rose_icon.gif

Summary: A very unexpected visitor shows up at Benjamin's place of employment.

Date It Happened: January 31st, 2007

Log Title I Thought You Would Be Cooler

Anderson and Associates, Accounting Firm

Tax season is starting to gear up, and that means accounting firms (and rapid refund scams) are in full swing and business is brisk. The higher end accounting firm on the Avenue of Americas is no different. Its employees are enjoying the 'downtime' before the April crunch weeks. Those days mean no sleep, families missed and high stress. One employee of this particular firm is hoping for a tax season as good as last years.. but without Todd going to the hospital for that meltdown from insomnia. That employee in particular would be Benjamin Winters. He's in his glorified office of a cubicle on the phone with a client. (You know those cubicles, higher walls than the others to give the feeling of an office but without the prestige of a door.) "Yes Mrs. Sachs, we still have you down for.. uh.. you .. yes m'am. I hear him. You want to what? I'm sorry Mrs. Sachs.. but.. no.. according to the IRS rules that I have.. Yes, he's got quite the vocabulary.." One hand occupied with the phone, the other rakes through his gingery hair in some minor frustration as he seems to be having trouble getting in a word edgewise.

One by one, little heads pop up over the edge of the other cubicles as a short, slender brunette walks past. Her footsteps make no sound as she navigates the path between offices; the only sound is a persistent squeak coming from the wheels of the small suitcase she pulls behind her. She's dressed in a pleated skirt and a black top, the neck too low and the material too tight for an office full of dweebs. There are knitted wool legwarmers tied just below her knee, protecting her lower legs from the cold outside. Two long scarves, one striped and the other a solid red, have been looped around her neck, hanging hazardously low. She divides her attention between the tattered papers clutched in her hands and the floor in front of her, dodging other employees as she passes. She's honing in on Benjamin Winters' cubicle. …but then, maybe she'll walk right past it, right?

"Mrs. Sachs.. yes.. but still.. your African Grey does not count as a dependent. I know he's like the son you wish you had had, but.. I'm sorry.. He speaks Spanish? What did he.. nevermind." Benjamin's free hand moves to pinch the bridge of his nose as he turns around in his chair, facing out of his cubicle. "Again.. I understand these birds live to be 70 or so, but they still don't constitute a minor child as a dependent. So no, you won't need to bring that paperwork with you on Monday when we go over your filings." His hand drops, along with his jaw and is momentarily speechless before blurting into the phone, "I can't believe he just said that.. no nononono… we don't allow animals in the office, please don't bring him on Monday. Right. Okay. I'll see you then Mrs. Sachs." There's a look of immense relief on his face as he hangs up the phone and turns to the papers on his desk. The young woman walking through the office is given a brief glance. He's not a gawker like those pigs he works with. It's quite possible the young woman's got an appointment.. that requires a suitcase to be brought in.

Not unless that appointment is with Benjamin himself. At first, she saunters right on past him, barely sparing him a glance. But the squeaky wheels pause shortly after, then slowly start to turn again as she backpedals. When she reaches the gap in Benjamin's cubicle wall, she stops and tuuuuuuuurns around to face him slowly. There she stands, silent, her brown eyes flicking between the sweatervested man inside the cubicle and the faded, torn object in her hand. What first might look like paper is, in fact, a photograph. An old one. "God," she says flatly, stuffing the photograph into the pocket of her coat. "I really thought you would be cooler."

Benjamin reaches for the phone to make a call, already dismissing the young woman as having passed by. He stops in the motion of picking up the receiver as he turns to face the door. "Excuse me?" he asks, looking genuinely perplexed by the comment. His hand retracts from the phone as whatever call he was going to make is forgotten. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

"No." She folds her arms, regarding Benjamin with the kind of bitter indifference only a teenager can manage. "I'm selling Girl Scout cookies and the guy down the hall told me you're, like, hella into the thin mints." She makes absolutely no move to procure a box of said cookies from anywhere on her person. She falls silent for a few seconds - a few remarkably long seconds, given that she's blocking the door, giving him no chance to escape - and simply stares at him. Finally, she unfolds her arms and says, "This is painful. Let's just rip the band-aid off, alright?" One hand dives into her pocket to procure the photograph again, and she extends her hand, showing him the photo. "That you?"

The photograph shows a much younger, much less sober Benjamin Winters with no pants on, a tie fastened around his head, several empty shot glasses piled in a pyramid on the bar in front of him, and a bottle of beer in each hand.

Benjamin looks confused by the.. well teenager-y attitude and the sarcasm. "Thin mints?" Well, the guy just looks confused very much in general. His brows knit and his mouth hangs open just slightly as the young woman speaks. "Huh?" is the quite intelligent reply given as he rises up some to peer over his desk at the picture. "……" That would be his mouth dropping open further as he stares, the confused expression still there, but he's flushing with embarrassment, ".. Uh.. how did you get this?" He looks past the young woman to the office beyond, aware of some eyes staring his way. "Because.." and no entertaining excuse spills forth, because he can't think of one. "Yeah. Look, I was in college at the time, it was a party I got dragged to. No one told me they were bringing cameras. Did my ex-wife send you here with this? Because we've already settled the alimony issue, and I'm babbling. I'm babbling aren't I?"

"Yow, someone's a play-a," the girl chirps, taking a step backwards now and tucking the picture back into her pocket. "An ex-wife, too? Down, boy." She leans against the side of the door, one hand on her hip. "Nice boxers, by the way. Very classy." It's beginning to look like there's not so much a point to her being here, but after half a second of hesitation, she tips her chin back and says, "I got the picture from my mother. Rumour has it that the guy who knocked her up is in it."

"What? Play.. a? What does that mean?" Benjamin asks to no one in particular. Sorry, he's behind on the 'hip' terms these days. Groovy is still a new one to his vocabulary. Ahem. "Yes. Ex-wife. But I'm not bitter. Much." Still sort of half raised from his seat to look at the picture, he moves back to sit in his chair… and completely misses it on cue with the statement. Ass meet ground, hello! Silence reigns as he stares up at the young woman in dumb shock. There's a delay, then a weak sounding, "Ow," as he shoves himself up from the floor. "I think I went momentarily deaf on that last statement…There's only one guy in the picture and that's.. oh.. fudge."

"Fudge? Seriously?" Rolling her eyes, the girl pushes away from the doorway and steps into the office - which is really just so that she has enough space to make wide, sweeping gestures with her hands without hitting the wall. "I tell you that you're supposed to be my dad and you say /fudge/? No wonder you two hooked up." Slamming the handle of her suitcase back down, she uses it for a chair, leaning forward with that same look of indignant look of disbelief. "How did you two even reproduce? I mean, Mom pretty much thinks the world is made of fluffy kittens and lollipops, and I was /really/ hoping you were gonna be more hardcore."

Benjamin drops backwards.. into the chair this time. He stares at the girl without really looking at her. Silence again is the way to go as the man digests the information. "No.. no. This isn't possible. I think I would have remem.. Okay, no, I wouldn't have. Everything got fuzzy after the second shot of.. I forgot what it was." Both hands raise to rub across his face as the man looks more and more distressed. Quite frankly, he looks ready to hyperventilate.

"Yeah, well, I'm pretty sure my mom's been celibate since the night that picture was taken," the girl says, forming words around the hair clip held between her teeth as she fights to get her hair away from her face. Once finished, she plants both hands against her knees and pushes herself up to standing once more. "I guess six months of having me in her face all day, every day, finally got to her, because she gave me the boot-" She even punctuates her remark with a mock-kick the way one might hit a football. "-and told me that I was your problem now."

Benjamin leans over and sticks his head between his knees. Clearly hyperventilating. Sorry. Can't talk. Trying to breathe properly. "My.. problem..?" he manages to squeak between wheezing. A young intern pops in the cubicle opening, "Mr. Winters.. are you okay?" The intern looks concerned and hesitant, but /everyone/ is curious as to what's going on. Benjamin raises his hand and waves it frantically at the intern. "Fine.. just.."

The intern garners a sideways look from the girl, a smirk turning up the corner of her mouth. "Just getting some good news," she finishes for him, flashing him a grin totally lacking for innocence. "Hey, big shot." She extends a hand to the intern, intending for him to shake it. Whether or not he breaks through the stunned, concerned act long enough to notice is another matter. "Rose," she tells the intern, but a flick of a glance over her shoulder ensures that Benjamin, too, was listening. Forward though she might be, she's not about to embarrass him in front of this guy by blurting out that he doesn't know his own daughter's name. "Rose Madison. Now scram." She nudges him gently out of the cubicle, then turns back to face Benjamin.

The intern looks between Rose and Benjamin, as if he's being left out of juicy gossip, but is nudged and shooed from the office. Benjamin slowly straightens up and reaches for his cup. He takes several steadying gulps of water as he works on composing himself. It seems for the moment, the panic has fled. "…Madison.. the name.. How do I know for sure? Who is your mother?" Perhaps this is a mistake! Yes. A mistake. As for how Rose got that picture, well there must be a suitable explanation for that.

"Elizabeth Madison," the newly-named Rose replies, rolling her eyes melodramatically. She grabs the handle of her suitcase, yanking it out as if she might be preparing to leave. "Look, you don't know for sure, alright? All I know is that when I was sixteen, my mom got sick of me asking who the hell my dad was and told me that her sorority sisters got her boozed up for her birthday. Nine months later, Avery Rose Madison - that's me, for those playing the home game - came screaming into her life. A week ago, she shoved this picture in my hand and told me to come looking for Benjamin Winters. Guess she wasn't as drunk as you were, huh?"

Benjamin pushes himself to his feet, looking like he just might fall back over. "Elizabeth…" He mulls the name over, mumbling it and just as something starts to connect, Rose has his attention again. "She named you.. but why didn't she say anything? I mean.. presuming.. I think we should do .. y'know, what's that called.. DNA test. That's it." There's still denial there, but he's looking more dazed now. "I need to.." call his shrink. That's always a good thing to do. But instead of the phone, he grabs his coat and briefcase. "Let's go somewhere more private, I want to call your mother. And we need to.. talk."

"No can do on the mom front." Wrapping her scarves around her neck twice more, Rose casts an apologetic look to Benjamin with a helpless shrug of her shoulders. "She skipped town on some cruise for hyper-moral church freaks. I can give you her cell, but I think they're in cult territory or something, because the reception sucks. But I'm kinda famished. The bus from Hartford totally wrecked my appetite before - that bus is /rank/ - but now I could eat a horse. Possibly even an elephant. You eat that here, right? Elephant? Because my mom told me this story about that night you two hooked up…" She's already leading him out of the cubicle, talking away, her squeaky suitcase trailing behind her.

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