2007-09-06: Someplace That Takes Birds


Benjamin_icon.gif Mariska_icon.gif

Summary: A very helpful Benjamin assists Mariska in her apartment hunting and encounters an unexpected inquisition.

Date It Happened: September 6th, 2007

Someplace That Takes Birds

Downtown, NYC - Noodle Heaven

Being the helpful and nice guy he is, Benjamin is helping Mariska find an apartment at a cost that won't rip her off. It's a big city… it can happen. The woman can take care of herself, but still, a safe and reasonably priced neighborhood is still a goal here. After taking her to a few places, armed with brochures for price comparisons, it's time for a break. "Hope you don't mind this place, they've got some good sandwiches here." Despite the establishment's misleading name.

A few hours spent on her feet, roving from one brownstone to the next, and Mariska is ready for a little slice of sit-down food in good company. "I do not mind," she replies, her enunciation dragged deep into the ditch of her Russian accent, especially after playing translator at that last place. She follows along behind the man, eying up the establishment with an appraiser's scrutiny before asking, "Do you have recommendation?"

"Just about anything here is good. I haven't had anything bad yet. They have all kinds of breads and combinations." Benjamin gestures up at the menu, "It really depends on what you like. There's this turkey sandwich on tomato basil bread that I always get. I like it too much to try a lot of other sandwiches." In fact, that's just what he's ordering.

Mariska skims as swiftly as she's able but when it comes time for her to order, she lingers at the counter and can't seem to make up her mind. A loud sigh from a woman in absurdly high heels behind them prompts Mariska to go with, "I'll, uh, have the… green wrap." Fast forward to the table, and there they are, munching away happily; slurping soda (or whatever sort of beverage they bought) and generally, you know, eating lunch. The Russian woman inspects the small library of brochures they've collected thus far and asks Benjamin, "So… which do you think?"

"Prices have definitely gone up since I went apartment shopping. I've been in the same place for… maybe ten years." Which was another source of discontent with the ex. Benjamin sets his sandwich aside to leaf back through the brochures… "Well this one seems a bit pricier, but it has on-site laundry facilities, which comes in handy. There's a locked access main entrance and elevator. Not that you need it." The last is said with a grin and nod towards what the woman can do. The deposit seems pretty reasonable. It really should go back to what features you want, we narrow it from there to look at pricing."

The Russian woman seems to put a great deal of stock in what advice Benjamin has to offer and she nods vigorously a few times to emphasize the selling points that interest her. A little grin cracks the crease of her lips at the 'wink-nudge' moment but she doesn't acknowledge it verbally. "I want toilet of my own and room enough for bed. Maybe with kitchen. That is all I need." Not a very long list there, is it? Great. She's narrowed down the list to… all of them. "I don't have now but I am thinking about getting bird, so… someplace that takes bird." She says this while setting aside the flier from the second place they looked at. NO PETS it proclaims in angry red lettering at the bottom of the insert. All minus one.

Benjamin flips through his stack, and promptly discards those that don't meet Mariska's criteria. "There's a lot of housing that have shared toiletries, not fun." So he doesn't blame Mariska there. It can get a little gross. "I'd recommend my building, but it's not in the part of town you want, hey, this one looks good." He glosses over the details on a charming little brownstone as he sips at his diet coke. "This is well within your price range. I'm not going to ask how much you're earning, but I can guess that it's as generous as my salary." He hands over the flyer to Mariska.

Not to mention, let's be honest… a woman with access to any place at any hour may very well be sitting on a small hoard of ridiculous loot already. Then again, that's probably not something that would have occurred to Benji… until just now. Mariska doesn't look the part, though, if she's rolling in dough. She leans over to give the brochure Benjamin's touting a closer look but then asks something pretty non sequitur: "How long were you married?"

Benjamin doesn't leap to the worst conclusions about people. Even with Niki's issues, for example, she's still a very nice lady to him. Her MPD? It's not her fault. "And… this place here… well I was about to point out how close it was to a bus stop and a train station, but that's not really a concern. Hmm? Oh… Fifteen years." If Mariska likes it, he'll start a pile of places that might make the cut. He's already carefully assembled the discard pile, which is in the seat next to him.

"No," Mariska says, tapping the flier with a finger. "That is important. This place is good." After all, just because she can come and go in the blink of an eye doesn't mean everyone else can. With accessibility to the rail stations and subway lines added to the 'want' category, she goes on to quiz Benji about his disintegrated marriage. "You have children?"

"I think we have a winner then," Benjamin says, as he moves the other flyers and brochures to the discard pile. "We can go there after we're finished eating and get you started on the application paperwork if you're sure. I'll make sure they don't try to rip you off or anything. Sometimes that can… not from my marriage. She didn't want children. I had this thing in college; I have a daughter from that."

Dark brows jerk upwards in response to something that Benjamin says early on and remain perched high even as she replies, "Why didn't she want children? What sort of thing?" Oh, good. She's become an inquisitor. "…application paperwork?" Is this an alien concept for Mariska or is she just a little bit… apprehensive?

"She was just a selfish…" Benjamin refrains from calling his ex-wife a bitch. "It's okay. I'm over it. I found out I have a daughter, and she matters to me. The ex-wife, she's gone and I'll be happy if she stays that way." He doesn't sound bitter and depressed about this anymore. It's just become a simple fact. He's now made his peace with the divorce. "… yeah… you have to apply for apartments… Don't worry. I'll co-sign for you if you don't have good credit." Oh silly Ben. Applying for apartments is such a normal concept for him… he has no idea. Unless… "Uhm… you do have American identification… right?"

There's a little bit of Mariska (or, more accurately, Felix) in Benjamin's story and while he explains things, she discovers the bottom of her iced tea with an abruptly noisy slurp. She then performs the same action that nearly everyone else on the planet does by shaking the cup a little, ice crashing against Styrofoam sides, removes the lid and goes for the last little bit of watered down beverage there is to be had… plus one melty ice cube. With an ice cube between her teeth, she replies, "Neh." Crunch, crunch. She mulls over a polite and publicly acceptable way to break it to Benjamin that she's actually in the country by less than legal means. This might take a while…

"Uhm… look… I've done enough tax paperwork… it's…” Benjamin's seen faked documents and fudged facts and he knows where Mariska can get some damn good documentation. "Talk to Mr. Bennet, or Mr. Bishop. They'll get you taken care of," he says in a low voice for Mariska's ears. "You work for them now; they'll want you to stay close by. We'll finish here, go to Hartsdale, get what you need, and then I'll go with you to the apartment." It's not legal, and this is something he'd positively faint over a year prior.

There's still a third of her sandwich left to be eaten but Mariska pushes the remains to the side and instead tries to change the topic of conversation to something more palatable. "Tell me about your daughter."

Benjamin picks up his sandwich and takes a few more bites. He may be a very nice guy, a softie, but he's still male. It takes a lot more than this to dampen his appetite. He does wipe his hands on his napkin after setting his lunch down when Mariska asks about Rose. "I… try to not talk too much about her. For her safety. I'm not sure how many people at work know about her. She's nineteen; she can handle herself, but not this. I had our bosses' word that she'd be left alone if I agreed to work for them."
"Is she like us?" Mariska queries, unabashed in her curiosity, complete with moderate headtilt. She fiddles idly with the brochure of the apartment that seems to be the front-runner, fingers folding and unfolding the tri-fold flier in absentminded activity.

Benjamin nods his head once in an affirmative nod. "She's all I have… well next to Alice, but Rose is my only child and I'll do what I have to do to keep her safe and unharmed." Determined, yes, and it's a point to easily manipulate him with. He's aware of this. Somewhat.

Mariska can't help it. She's full of questions and sometimes utterly incapable of keeping them to herself. "Who is Alice?" On the bright side, this is probably a sign that she's interested in getting to know Benjamin because he's such a nice guy and she's attempting, however intrusively, to develop some sort of rapport.

"She's a coworker… we started seeing each other before I started working at my new job." Benjamin takes care to avoid words like Primatech, and The Company. "She… we met under less than desirable circumstances." He refrains from telling Mariska what a nice person Alice is under her rough exterior. That could earn him some pain.

"Will I meet her?" Geez! Still with the questions! Lay off, lady! Mariska fishes out another ice cube from her cup and crunches on it quietly while awaiting Benjamin's reply.

"Uhm… probably. The building can seem pretty small at times. She's heavy in the field though." Benjamin tries to keep this vague while satisfying Mariska's questions. "Sometimes I can go for a few weeks without seeing her. But that's okay. It works out for us. The relationship isn't something I thought I'd have, but, it… it makes me happy." And he actually looks surprised as he admits this aloud.

Mariska smiles a small but genuine smile. It comes and goes briefly, though for the few short seconds she allows it to linger it remains a profoundly expressive gesture. And, oddly, it almost makes her look a little sad. Wistful, maybe. Something. "Come on," she says, heaving a little sigh as she slips out of her seat. "Time to go."

Benjamin doesn't know what he said that could possibly have upset Mariska, but he nods to the request. "Alright. Let's go get you set up with the paperwork you need. I'll go with you to ask about it. I know that our bosses know what they're doing, but I'm kind of… fussy that way. I used to be an accountant."

Surprisingly, Mariska vetoes this course of action with a little palm-flat hand gesture and a headshake as they head for the door, "No. Not yet. There is something else I need to do." Once they make it back on to the street, she makes to part ways with the man. "Thank you for your help. I will talk to you soon."

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