2007-07-10: Picket Fences


Max_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif

Summary: Max and Ben converse over cheesecake, following their session with Andrea

Date It Happened: July 10th, 2007

Log Title Picket Fences


"MMM. I told you it was delicious." Max sets his fork down neatly on his empty plate, having just finished a healthy portion of Friday's fried cheesecake. As promised, he took Benjamin out for a meal after their little visit with Andrea. "You performed adequately during our session with Ms. Neal," he says. "As uncomfortable as you may have felt, you maintained an outwardly professional appearance." That's about as close to a compliment as most people are likely to hear from him. "When you used me as a test subject, you made the mistake of letting me know you sympathized with my situation. In doing so, you gave me power. I am pleased to see that you learned from the experience."

Benjamin is leaning back in his seat, drumming his fingertips against the tabletop. "So you did.. and yeah.. it was good," he admits, and finds it difficult to talk about /cheesecake/ right now. (His arteries will not be thanking him later. Even if he did have a salad for lunch.) His own empty plates have been pushed away and all that's left is the diet coke for him to sip on. "That's because no one told me I would be having to practice on a /human/. An unsuspecting one, and a prisoner." Not that having advanced knowledge makes it any easier to take.

"We do what we must, Agent Winters." Max is sympathetic, but only slightly. For him, it's all part of the job. A part that he's more than happy to do, as it fits nicely with his research. "Right now, you must hone your abilities. Try to relax. If she survives, she won't have any memory of the experience." He pats his full belly and lets out a satisfied sigh. "No harm, no foul."

"I know.." Benjamin says with resignation as he toys with the straw in his drink. "She won't be hurt, right?" Just say yes, he'll feel better about this. "Practice, more practice, get ready for whatever they're having me do next. I can only guess it's not sitting at a computer, doing the accounting." Because that would be a waste of his ability. "I know Agents are partnered up for field work and assignments.. We're to keep our mouths shut outside of work." He raises a hand and rubs at his temple wearily, "I'm adjusting.. so don't worry. I don't have a choice, there's no going back. I'll get better at what's expected of me."

Max smiles reassuringly. "I know you will. We will do our best to release Ms. Neal as undamaged as possible. Provided she doesn't resist us, that should be an easy task." He leans far back in his seat, stretching his large, muscular frame and producing a snap-crackle-pop of vertebrae. "As for your responsibilities, I wouldn't presume to assume. Other than small excursions like this one, I have yet to receive meaningful orders of my own."

"It's still early.. this is only what, my third week? Understandable that anything more specific has yet to be assigned." Benjamin pauses to take a drink out of his diet coke before pushing the glass away. "If she were really dangerous.. But I suppose any power could be considered dangerous in the wrong circumstances.. You're right about the cooperation though. Despite how I was brought in, I had every intention of cooperating. I /wanted/ the help. I just hope she does the same." If she puts up a fight, then force might be necessary.

"Sometimes it takes more than just cooperation…" Max trails off, leaving the statement unfinished. "In any case, it's not our place to decide who's dangerous and who isn't. Your ability is very subtle, and could be uniquely useful if we can teach you to control it. So far as I am aware, our goals are no more complex than that." He picks up his own drink, a cherry Coke, and takes a neat sip. "When we return, I want you to look her in the eyes. That woman may never walk out of her cell. That's a fact you will have to learn to live with."

Benjamin listens quietly to Max, actively listening and letting the words sink in. They aren't any easier to digest, but honestly, what is there to do about it? "It's.. more comforting to think that I can help with my power.. no violence.. no force." He can look at himself as a cog in the wheel. He doesn't make the rules, he just follows them. No different than how things worked in his previous field. Sorry m'am, the IRS makes the rules, I enforce. "Kind of like how you might not have walked out.. I guess I had it lucky that I was let go.." And that he was just held in the hospital, deemed not a conscious threat, "It's just a matter of time before things catch back up."

"This is the reality of what we do, Agent Winters," Max's voice is tight and controlled. Deliberately, he pauses and lays both his palms on the table. "Neither of us chose our employer, but we must follow the orders we are given." His expression softens for the first time since the two men began their meal. "You were kind to me while I was being held. Let me be kind to you. You may think me harsh, or cruel, but I'm trying to do you favor. I'm trying to prepare you for the difficulties that lie ahead of you. You may be asked to do far worse that put someone into an unscheduled nap."

"I'm starting to realize that.." Benjamin says, fighting the urge to squirm uncomfortably in his seat. "Making someone sleep is the most.. pleasant part.. if it can be called that.. Dr. Aldric already explained further capabilities with time, such as comas.. and I already know how unpleasant insomnia is, and the dangers of it.." He trails off and looks around the room before gazing at Max with a resolute expression. "I appreciate what you're doing."

Max meets Benjamin's eyes, and there is a faint, rarely-seen expression on his face. Guilt. It passes quickly, as do most of his displays of emotion. "I regret that it is necessary. You seem ill-suited to the position you've ended up in. I'd think you'd be more at home with a mini-van full of children and a white picket fence. Mr. American Dream. Yes, this is most regrettable."

Benjamin fishes out his wallet to pay for his share of the meal, "That wasn't an option either. My ex-wife is a witch who never wanted children.. and I missed out on my only child's early years." His tone.. isn't exactly bitter.. maybe regretful and very matter of fact. "I get to at least protect her now and provide better for her future this way," he says as he lays down enough cash for his meal and a generous tip before getting up from his seat. ".. We've got work to get back to."

"I suppose we do." Max stands, also digging out a handful of bills on the table to cover his portion of the tab. As they walk out, he lays a hand on Benjamin's shoulder. "I hope you get your picket fence one day, my friend."

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