2007-01-21: Roadside Assistance

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Margie

Summary: The highway, on the way to New York City, where Benjamin happens to be travelling toward. Cue someone on a much longer journey in need of help.

Date It Happened: January 21st, 2007

Roadside Assistance


A Highway, New York

It's the middle of winter, and in New York state, it's cold. Over a stretch of highway leading from out-of-state to the city, the sky is starting to grow dim. The sunset is hidden behind roiling clouds, its last ditch efforts to shine through only giving the horizon a dusky, dismal violet hue. Cars zoom down the highway every so often, but it's surprisingly dead out here; it's a less-used route, but one would expect more traffic. Lucky, right? No. For one particular traveller, it means she's /out/ of luck. A classic red Cadillac, a convertible with the top up, has stopped on the side of road. The hood is up and there's smoke… steam?… something that shouldn't be there, pouring out of its guts. A blonde woman is standing in front of it, one hand on the upright hood, the other on her forehead. It's obvious even from a distance that she's frustrated - and in need of help.

As luck would have it, a very old model car, one of those indestructible boats from the 70's shows up along the highway. Apparently, the driver notices the classic car pulled off at the side of the road. The car slows as it passes and pulls to the shoulder. The tail lights change color as the car goes into reverse, backing up to close the distance with the other vehicle. After a moment or two, the driver steps out of the car and a high pitched and quite elderly voice calls after, "Now Benji, you be a nice boy and help that poor lady. But be careful. It could be one of those carjacker types I hear about on television." After a pause, she says quite audibly, "Ask her if she's single!" The man pauses half out the door and a long suffering expression is unseen upon his face, "Mom. I was going to help her anyway, and she's not a .. you watch too much tv." Benjamin sighs as he rises, shutting the door behind him. Shrugging for warm inside his long coat, he brrs and jams his hands into his pockets. "Hello there, what kind of trouble are you having?" The ginger haired man smiles in an amiable fashion as he approaches the woman with the caution of strangers. Back in the car, the blue haired old woman is craning her neck to see out the back window.

The stranded woman happens to be turning away just as the other car slows down, her hands falling away and hitting against her hips. As Niki looks up at the sky, she hears the crunch tires and the two voices. She looks over her shoulder, one of her hoop earrings swinging. On any other day, if there was more traffic, if the weather was more hospitable, it would be safe to say this girl would have no trouble drawing enough attention to warrant someone stopping. In a heartbeat. Even her flashy car with its Las Vegas plates should be enough. But tonight, it's only Benjamin. (And— she tips her head slightly to glance past him into the '70s throwback car— is that his mom?) "Hi," she says with a smile; already, she sounds thankful, but painfully apologetic at the same time. "She just… shuddered and stopped, and then this started happening," she says, speaking of the car, which steps toward and gestures helplessly at, "I've had a lot of cars break down on me - I thought I could fix it, you know, maybe it was overheated, but it's been like this for…" Niki trails off and looks the stranger in the eye gently. "You're the first person to stop. Thanks."

Benjamin continues to smile amiably at Niki. "New York drivers aren't the most friendly, even on a good day." He turns his back and ignores his mother.. who is throwing looks of encouragement his way. She means well. Honestly. "Do you mind if I have a look then?" he asks as he gestures towards the front of Niki's car.

Fidgeting with her slightly too-long sleeves, pulling them down over her fingers, Niki steps off to the side to let Benjamin look at the Cadillac's engine and sundry parts. The dark blue hoodie she's wearing doesn't look like it provides much warmth; she's an implant from the desert, after all. Her main focus is obviously her car at the moment, though. "Sure— please. Maybe you'll see something I missed," she says, watching the seemingly friendly stranger closely - though not with any ounce of intimidation. She's just hopeful, if a bit antsy; she paces slightly at the corner of the car's front end. "I just… don't really want to have to call a tow truck all the way out here."

"Alright, one moment. I'm going to get a flashlight," Benjamin says as he heads back to his mother's car. Speaking of her, she rolls down the window and says, "Did you ask her yet?" The question comes just as Benjamin opens the trunk… and bangs his head on it as he startles. "Son of a nutcracker… mom!" Margie can be heard grumbling, "Just asking son. You need to date now that you divorced that bitch." "MOM. Just.. read the roadmaps!," Benjamin says with some desperate embarrassment. He fishes out a flashlight and an old blanket that was in the back for emergencies. The trunk is shut and he heads back towards Niki. "Here, it's not much but it'll keep you warmer," he says as the blanket's offered. CLearly not about to address his mother's senior moment, he flicks on the flashlight and looks under the hood of the Cadillac. "Water level's good, it wouldn't have just stopped if it was the battery.. I hope you don't either. They'll charge you an arm and a leg for the drive."

Despite her current predicament, When Benjamin goes back to his car for a moment, Niki can't help but smile just a little bit on hearing his mother. She covers the flicker of amusement (much needed amusement, granted) with the back of her hand politely, however, as the man comes back. "Aw, thanks, that's very sweet of you—?" she leaves an open query, searching for a name, as she takes the offered blanket. "I have a warm jacket in the car… somewhere. I guess I was just so focused on trying to get somewhere that I didn't think to find it." She unfurls the blanket carefully and wraps it around herself. Then she points out with a touch of guilt: "I don't think I've ever had this car for a tune-up. I probably should have done that before travelling three thousand miles…"

"Sorry.. she's.. it's her weekend out of the asylum," Benjamin says apologetically in regards to his mother's embarrassing words. "Oh.. sorry.. My name's Benjamin," he says as he looks up from under the hood. "It's understandable.. Mmmm. Tune ups before long trips sounds like a good idea." He ducks his head back under the hood, checking the belts and more fluids. "Not that I take many long trips myself," he says, then an 'a-ha'. The flashlight is held in the crook of his neck as he uses both hands to make some adjustments to a cable. "This got loose, it might be your problem. Try starting it up?"

The excuse Benjamin makes for his mother doesn't exactly inspire comedy in Niki, but she just smiles it off. Biting her lower lip - likely without realizing it - she leans over the car anxiously (no pressure or anything, Benjamin!). Her brows lift hopefully as he seems to find something resembling the culprit. "A loose cable? God, why didn't I see that?" She's not as much self-deprecating as she is wondering, but only by a hair. Jogging around to the driver's side, she opens the door and falls into the seat. Leaving the door open, with one high-heeled boot on the road, she tries the engine. As it fights to start, she calls out, "I'm Niki, by the way." Cough, sputter, cough goes the engine, until there's a healthy vroom from the fine-tuned engine - lack of tuning by its owner and the loose cable aside. There's a triumphant shriek from the driver's seat.

Benjamin stands up and backs away from the car. "Nice to meet you Niki," he says politely. The flashlight is shut off and his hands are rammed back into his pockets. He stamps his feet to get the blood flowing again as he shrugs. "Happens to everyone. Sometimes the simplest causes are looked over. Something psychological I'm sure." Or so his therapist would tell him. He smiles at the shriek and steps forward to shut the hood of the car. "Looks like you're ready to hit the road again. Although, you might want to have the car serviced anyway since you've driven from Nevada."

All this time, Mama Margie Winters has kept quiet. However, she hasn't found something to keep her busy. No. She's fallen asleep in her seat. Head lolled back against the headrest, she's having a nice little nap.

Psychological? Niki eyes the hood as she steps out of the now purring car. "Yeah, I'm sure it's something like that," she says quietly, her pleasant demeanour shifting to into cynicism for just a second. "Once I get to NYC, I won't be needing it for awhile anyway," she says, then holds out the blanket over the door of the car. She smiles at Benjamin gratefully - not just for the blanket, but for his fix-it help, of course. The blonde looks incredibly relieved now that her car is running again, but the reprieve seems to show just how tired she is. "Thanks Benjamin. I wish I could repay you somehow."

Benjamin takes the blanket from Niki and he shakes his head, "Don't worry about it. I couldn't have just driven past seeing someone in trouble. Just, get some rest when you get to the first exit with a motel? You look exhausted." And deep down, he hopes it's not his fault. He's cursed somehow! Despite his inner fear that he's having that effect on people again, he seems happy to have been of some help. A friendly wave is given to Niki before he retreats back to his mother's car to put the blanket and flashlight into the trunk.

It's never a good feeling when someone tells you that you look exhausted, but Niki manages to smile at Benjamin nonetheless. "Guilty as charged! I will. Have a good night." With that, the traveller slides back into the Cadillac, splays a hand on the roadmap on the passengers seat, and gives it a look. Blinking away that exhaustion, which has nothing to do with her roadside savior, she starts to urge the car back onto the road now that night has struck. She gives Benjamin a wave around her steering wheel as she goes. Time to find a little place called Hartland, New York.

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