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October 26th: Ramblin' Man

 
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Ben Sullivan
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:49 pm    Post subject: October 26th: Ramblin' Man Reply with quote

Wednesday, October 26th, 2012 -- late evening

"So ... at least you didn't break an ankle." It's so unseasonably warm, Ben's not wearing a jacket, and he's got the dark blue hoodie he'd thrown on over a light grey tee unzipped. Boots and jeans made up the rest -- he's really not trying to impress anyone. "That's encouraging." To the blonde at his side, and while he's trying to keep a straight face, it's obvious that he's, at the very least, holding back a smile.

"I didn't break anythin', but I think I got bar burn under m'armpit." A hand rubbed at the said spot. She was wearing a pair of black sweatpants that ended just above the calf and hung off her hips, her torso covered by a red sports bra and partially zipped camo hoodie tossed on top. Tonight the usual cowboy boots were replaced by soft black suede boots. Real flat. It was exactly what she needed after sporting seven inch heels. "Laugh all y'want. I'm gonna kick that bar's a*s."

Ben's putting his hands up, just about at shoulder level, in some kind of lazy surrender. "I never said you wouldn't." He's touching Jackie lightly at the small of her back when they get to the steps up to the porch, waiting for her to start up first, following after her. "When do I get to see you kick its a*s?" Innocent question, right? The face certainly was.

"I'm jus' makin' it clear." Said through an amused little huff. She's bounding up the porch steps and shoving her way through the front door, pressing her back to it while waiting for him to pass through into the commons. "Two things gotta happen fer that. First, I gotta leave a class without an injury. Second... Chey an' I need yah t'learn how t'install a pole in our house somewhere." Oh, she gave such a sweet smile. "I don't want wanna them cheap deals fallin' on m'head."

Ben's nodding along with Jackie's first requirement -- he's expecting that one -- but the second causes a brief falter in his step, and he's staring after her, wide-eyed, for just a second. Shakes himself out of it quick enough, though, and he's following, heading through the door, and once through it, toward the bar. "No, no, I wouldn't want that either. I'll get right on that."

With Ben's reply she was gasping in delight and bouncing along after him. "Really? Really, really? I thought y'might hem and haw or somethin'." Both fists were lifted above her head excitedly while she followed Ben to the bar.

"Really, really-really." Now he's laughing a little; Jackie's excitement was sort of contagious. "It can't be that hard. You just need to tell me where you want it." He heads right behind the bar; he's already going for coffee for himself, but over his shoulder, "What'd you want?"

"We can figure it out with Chey t'night 'fore we hunker down t'watch movies. I ain't even sure. I guess the livin' room? Is that trashy?" Pause. Laughs. "I jus' remembered I don't much care." She was still bouncing along and took up a lean against the bar, arms folding on the counter. "A Badsider, please." Grins.

Will stopped in the area outside of the inn, eyeing it casually. The cigarette in his hand was lifted to his lips for a drag. The hand shoved into his front jeans pocket was still as he surveyed his surroundings, the collar of his coat pulled up against the cold. The smoke drifted away from his mouth and into the night like little ghosts before he finally dropped it on the ground, snubbed it out, and moved to the stairs.


"Trashy?" Ben's pausing with his coffee, leaning against the backbar, studying Jackie for a moment, as though that would somehow tell him the answer. Eventually he shrugs, and he's going into the cooler for Jackie's beer. "Nah. Scandalous, maybe, a little." Swiping a nearby bottle opener to pop off the cap before setting the bottle down in front of her. "Racy?" Leaning forward against the bar, posture casual, easy, he's gesturing meaninglessly in Jackie's direction. "Mostly it's just ... it's not a bad thing," reconsidering midsentence, and settling on that safe way of putting it.

Will moved easily up the stairs and reached for the handle. Of course, that was after he laid is collar down flat. Can't be looking like a douche-bag frat boy. Pushing the door open, he stepped in and let his eyes sweep the room.

Jackie beamed brightly at Ben. "I'm alright with bein' scandalous." Surprise! "An' racy ain't a problem either." She took the beer with a grin. "Thank y', sweetheart."

"I figured you'd be alright with that. That's why I like you." Ben's grinning too, lopsidedly. "You're welcome." He'd considered staying back there behind the bar, but instead he heads back through the break, takes up a lean near Jackie.

"Y'jus' agreed t'install a stripped pole in m'livin' room without even battin' a lash. That's why I like y'too." Her hip nudged his once her took up his lean against the bar then her bottle was lifted for a long sip. Bottle in hand she was turning her body to lean her hip into the bar, angling herself towards Ben so she could sweep her gaze around the commons.

"What could I have to possibly complain about, sweets?" He puts his coffee down on the bar, and he's ticking off the things he wouldn't complain about, finger by finger. "I'll get to watch sometimes," index, "it's not my living room, so what do I care," middle, "and... I'll get to watch sometimes," ring -- and he's grinning even more crookedly now. "You just let me know when you're ready for it. You think Chey'd mind?"

It was your general sort of place. Tables and chairs scattered about, the floor just a little sticky from drinks meeting it all night. Ah, and of course the giant bar with its wall of booze. And also- what, now? A man. Light hair, lines on his face heralding someone who thought too much. But it couldn't be, right? Because he was smiling. But... "Ben?" Will raised his voice up as he began to walk toward the bar.

"Oh, we already had a big ol' debate on whether or not y'would do it. Chey said y'would do it fer cookies an' I said y'might if I whined hard 'nough." Grinning ear to ear, but it faltered when she heard someone say Ben's name. A curious look was cast towards Will, brows rising high.

"I could've gotten cookies out of this?" Feigned disappointment, but it disappears when he's glancing over in the direction of whoever'd called his name; blue eyes narrow for a couple of seconds, and then they go wide in honest-to-god surprise, edging almost into shock. "Holy sh*t." Pushing away from the bar, he's taking a couple of steps toward the other man. "What are you doing here?"

"What are you doing here, you old bastard?" He called cheerfully, moving forward to meet him. He was surprised, too, but it didn't show much, because he was more pleased than anything.

Well, that just made her look even more surprised. Ben knowing someone around RhyDin wasn't a surprise, but the fact that Ben seemed just as shocked as the other man was what had her attention now. She shoved off the bar, leaving her open bottle of beer on the counter. Even after her movement she was hanging back, watching the two make their greetings. And considering everyone had an odd accent to her unless they were from Georgia, the similarity between the two wasn't missed.

"It's a really long story," about as cheerful, though there's still a measure of disbelief in his tone, in his expression, and it doesn't really fade much after he grabs Will in a brief, back-thumping hug and lets him go. "But holy sh*t," one step back to give him an assessing sort of look, like he thinks this might be some kind of trick, and then finally, he shakes off that disbelief. "It is you."

"It's me," Will said with a big grin, gesturing toward himself easily after returning the hug with gusto. "Here and in the flesh. In this weird a*s place," he added.

Okay, 'weird ass place' got a laugh out of her. Considering the pair seemed to be friends it put her more at ease. It wouldn't be the first time for 'what are you doing here?' to be followed by a swift right hook. Hands were shoved into the pockets of her camo hoodie and now she was taking a few steps forward to come up alongside Ben's side. "Evenin'." Offered up to Will with a friendly smile.

"Evening," he said, turning his eyes onto Jackie with an appreciative look for the pretty blonde.

"Yeah, this weirdass place, right?" Echoed, and the laugh is a little weak, though it's genuine. "Really, what are you doing--" And he's swearing under his breath, sort of rolling his eyes at himself. "Sorry," not clear whom he's apologizing to, probably both of them. "Uh, Jackie, this is Will Savage. I know him from back home; we used to work together." When his attention ticks back to Will, his head is tilted just a touch in Jackie's direction. "Jackie Daniels. My girlfriend."

"You always get the good ones," Will grumbled good naturedly. "Must be the luck of the old." Of course, he was pretty much the same age. He grinned over to her though. "It's good to meet you, Jackie."

"Didn't mean t'interrupt." Gesturing between the two. There was a blink at Ben's explanation. "Oh holy hell, y'don't say!" She took a step towards Will, grabbing him in a hug probably similar to the one Ben gave him with a pat on the back. "It's mighty nice t'meet you, too, Will." On his release she was stepping back and grinning. "I been t'Canada once. I was dissapointed in the lacka penguins." Beams. It was her official opening line with any Canadian.

He didn't even seem surprised when she hugged him, instead taking it in stride and returning it before he was straightening again. "Penguins?" A look to Ben.

There's something just a tiny, tiny bit smug to his smile when Will mentions that Ben gets the good ones, but he's dropping his head forward and rubbing at one side of his nose, trying to hide the silent laughter. "Yeah," after a few seconds, clearing his throat and lifting his head, composed. "She was really broken up about it. You want a drink or anything?" Changing subjects not at all artfully. He's already clapping Will on the shoulder, steering him toward the bar. "When'd you get here? And if you're here on purpose, what the hell for? How long? Where are you staying?" Cop-mode, apparently.

"I jus' think y'all push yer penguins a lil' harder than what y'all got is all. I mean, least we got peaches in Georgia." She was following the pair back to the bar and lifting her beer. "Anythin' you say can an' will be used 'gainst you in the court o' law." The words were said rather sing-song. Apparently Jackie felt Ben's tone sounded a little familiar. A snicker was doused by a sip of her drink.

Will was used to the rapid fire cop questions and went right along with it, and where Ben led him. "Sure, a beer. Got here about half a week ago. I'm staying at some hotel in the West End. And I'm here for a job." He wasn't sure if Ben knew what he was up to these days. He wouldn't be surprised if he didn't. Will sort of had the knack of steering clear of people sometimes. He grinned over at Jackie. "Maybe they were just shy? And you sound like a court show. I like it, girl."

"Asking for it," a little bit of warning in his tone for Jackie, but he's teasing, and that much is clear too, from the little bit of a grin. He's filing away the information Will gives him as he's heading behind the bar to grab a Badsider, pop the cap off before plunking it down on the bartop. "Job, what kind of job?" Will had a knack of steering clear of people, and Ben had a tendency to fall right out of involvement with friends until they became strangers.

Jackie squints at Will. "I can't see no one bein' shy 'round me. I'm very easy t'get along with." As easy as making friends with a speeding train. A tip of her beer at him. "Thank y', guy." Her gaze shifted aside to Ben, her expression turning innocent. "I didn't even do nothin' yet." A wink his way and she took a lean against the bar, simply sipping her beer to let the boys catch up while she took in the details for herself rather greedily.

"Yet," but there's a ghost of a wink back to Jackie.

"Yet." She repeated the word, but in her tone it sounded sort of like a threat? Another beaming smile and she sipped her beer.

Will picked up the beer, taking a swig before even bothering to glance at the label. "I don't think you give people chances to decide to be your friend or not," he said to Jackie, clearly teasing, before he looked over to Ben. "Tracking a man wanted for murder. They think he came here."

"I don't think mos' people could handle that decision on their own if I trusted 'em to it." Possibly joking. Probably not. Though, her expression grew sober when Will explained the job. A glance was sent between the pair.

Ben can't decide if that's the kind of threat he likes or not, so he just shakes his head a little, laughing quietly; he sobers considerably when Will goes on -- less so than Jackie, because it's just business, right? If he got that affected by talk of murder, he'd've been out of a job ages ago. "Really. How bad is it? You got any good leads?"

"I know who I'm looking for. His name, his face. It's just finding him that's the problem." He lifted the beer, taking another long drink. "He's killed three young women in the past three months in Vancouver. No rape, no burglary. But he's taking the hearts and the eyes." That was a little rough to say.

Her jaw dropped at that. "Oh Jesus." Fist fights, cussing, general mayhem. Jackie could handle those things. This was not something she was used to. Her shoulders hunched and she leaned more heavily against the bar, her gaze pointed down at her beer bottle now.

That's why it was rough. Because he forgot he wasn't amongst other enforcement personnel... he needed a date. All he was doing was talking about murder all the time. "Sorry," he said to Jackie.

Snap, point. "I know that case. I wasn't working it, but I was on scene for one of them. One of my old partners was primary on it." After the initial 'hey, small world' feeling hits, subsides quickly, the harshness of it sets in; there's a little bit of tightness at the corners of his eyes, and he looks more like his age. And then-- "Oh, Jackie." Ben reaches across the bar, touches her on the shoulder. "Sorry," echoed. "Got a little caught up."

Will tipped his beer up to his lips, though he was looking at the two of them, keeping quiet about the case. For the moment.

A hand lifted to wave off the apology from Will. She wasn't really the type who wanted people to see some talk getting to her, no matter how heavy it was. "Yer fine. Don't worry 'bout it, Will." Her gaze lifted to Ben with the touch to her shoulder. "I'm fine. Sorry, y'all. We jus'... I guess I jus' ain't used tah alla that. I'm fine." Assuring them both again with a nod. "So, how long did y'all work together?" She was fine, but she was still going to try to shift the conversation.

"Four years," he said to Jackie, willing to let her shift the conversation. He gave Ben a look that said he wanted to discuss the case more later.

"Four long, painful years," and while his expression is mostly a faux mournful one, the eye contact he makes with Will makes it clear that he understands.

"Ah, you loved it," he said, blowing the comment off. He looked over to Jackie. "He loved it."

"Like a root canal."

"Does that mean yer a detective that gets all sortsa uppity when someone calls y'a cop, too?" At least she managed to find her grin again to go along with the playful question. The moment the boys were sharing wasn't hard to miss, but she was fine not commenting on it. The idea of a man running around RhyDin removing hearts and eyes from young girls wasn't really her topic of choice right now. She snickered at Will. "Sounds like y'don't let people decide t'be yer friend or not either."

"They can't help it," he said, still grinning. "They're just... drawn to me. Like moths to flames."

Ben's actually pursing his lips a little -- not for Will's answer, but for his avoiding Jackie's first question. Not that Ben really blames him. "Yeah, we spent our first four years as detectives together. Robbery, assault, arson. Not too glamorous."

"Nope." Will shook his head and skipped over the 'this is why I left' story. "I'm doing something else now."

"And I don't get uppity," tacking on, belatedly.

Considering Ben answered the question for Will, Jackie doesn't seem bothered by Will's lack of answer. Instead she's just chuckling at his moths to flames statement. "Yeah, I got that goin' on, too." A nod, sipping her beer with her hand on her hip. Who wouldn't want to be friends with that? A look between the pair. "Another detective. I'm gonna have t'up m'game 'round both of yah." Who knows what she was plotting? She probably barely knew. But she seemed pleased all the same. "Y'got uppity when I was callin' y'a cop from the git. An' y'said 'that's Detective'. I even got y'as Detective Ben in m'phone." Patting her hoodie pocket with said phone in it.

Ben's about to protest again, but instead, "Are you serious?" A mix of incredulous and amused.

He grinned. "It's alright. I'm a crime scene investigator now. So you only have to watch your game around this guy." He jerked his finger toward him. "DETECTIVE Ben."

"Detective Sullivan," and he's slugging Will in the shoulder.

"Sh*t yeah." She pulled the cell out. It was still the destroyed flip phone number that was being held together by worn camo duct tape. She flipped it open, punched a few buttons, then brought up their ongoing text conversations. The phone was extended to Ben to show the title. "Bein' an investigator sounds impressive. Investigator Will an' Detective Ben."

"Hey, watch it! You break it you buy it," he said to Ben for the punch, then turned to peer at the phone as well.

"That'd be a waste of money," as he's shaking out his hand, as if he'd hit hard enough to need to, looking down at Jackie's phone at the same time. "You know what, at least you took it seriously when I told you that. I earned that title. Officer," sort of a scoff. "And I really need to get you a new phone..."

"So have y'all always flirted like this or is it jus' 'cause yer excited t'see one 'nother?" She asked so casually. Like talking about the weather. "I took it serious 'cause y'got uppity." Grinning she flipped the phone shut and stuffed it back into her pocket. "I'll get m'own phone. I jus' ain't had time t'go out lookin' fer one."

"Stuck with him for too much of the time, huh?" to Jackie, sympathetically. "And I've always had a crush on him."

"Can you blame him? And I did not get uppity," he's laughing, but it's a little more defensive this time around.

"Tendin' bars an' pole dancin'." Yes, she was obviously going for that 'girlfriend of the year' title. Snickering she shook her head. "I can't. Now I'm jus' worried 'bout my competition fer yer attention. How can I compete?" Gesturing to Will. "Yer text had a tone." Nodding to Ben.

He's chuckling at the two. "Ok, my turn. When did you guys get together?" He didn't seem at all bothered about the age difference.

"Texts can't have tones," matter of fact, before moving along, "How can you compete? I'm sure you can think of something." There's just a tiny little twitch of a smile at one corner of his mouth; he's surprisingly able to keep a mostly straight face. He's looking at Jackie to field that question though, because he's not quite sure how to. "And by the way, before you get any ideas, it's a pole dancing class she's taking." That was an important distinction!

"Moi?" A feigned gasp, hand to his chest. "I would never assume she was a stripper!"

Really? says the flat look Ben gives Will.

He held up his thumb and pointer finger about an inch apart to signify he might of assumed. Just a little.

Laughs. "I jus' wanted t'paint the picture like y'had the worst taste in women. An' texts can have tones." She looked back to Will and started silently counting on her fingers. "Well, we met back in August. Uhm..." Squints. "I guess we jus' sorta fell into seein' each other. Can barely even put a date on it." She's looking at the pair with their silent conversation. "Oh, I'm gonna show y'all how stripper I can be if y'keep it up." How was that a threat? No idea. But she sounded serious.

He just widened his eyes slightly. "I would never, ever want you to get naked." So sincere!

This time, that punch to Will's shoulder is quite a bit harder.

"Wait," Hands lifted. "I ain't sure that's what I meant." Okay, good, now she looked properly confused. "Dear Lord, y'all are rough with each other." She mouthed the word 'love taps'.

"Ow!" He looked over to him with a sad little frown, rubbing his arm. But he looked over to Jackie. "Protective of you, eh?"

She smiles proudly. "I'm worth it."

"Probably more than I need to be, most of the time. She's got a mean hook." As he's shaking out his hand for real this time, maybe wincing a little.

"You seem like it." He said to Jackie, then looked at Ben again. He knew about the divorce. It was nice to see him with someone else. "See? That's what you get for punching a man in the prime of his life."

"Yeah, but it gets m'heart racin' when y'start hittin' guys." A pat to her chest and a wink to Will in a silent thanks. "Hug it out, y'all."

"You know, I'd crack some joke about 'prime of his life,' but..." Trailing off, because the rest didn't need to be said. Jokes like that don't work so well when he's about the same age. "She is worth it," more seriously, earnest.

He smiled into his bottle. Not only did he find Ben here, but Ben with a girlfriend. Would wonders ever cease?

A lift of her hands and they were waved. "I was bein' a smartass, not lookin' t'have m'ego cuddled on or somethin'." Even if Ben did earn himself a sweet smile from her, she didn't want Will thinking she was really that full of herself.

Ben's just shrugging, but Jackie gets a little quirk of a smile from him, too. He's finally picking up his long-forgotten coffee, but he's not even trying it; he knows it's beyond tepid at this point. A sudden look of remembering something, then, "Will, I need your number. You got any time in the next couple days? So we can catch up."

"I do," he said with a nod. "Always time for you, my friend." He waited until Ben had his phone open before giving the number.

Her lean against the bar was taken up again and she was steadily smiling between the pair. She was so used to being surrounded by family constantly, she was more than excited that Ben had something from back home to grasp onto. The remainder of her beer was drained and the empty was slid aside along the counter.

"Lunch tomorrow?" Without looking up from his phone; he's tapping out a quick text first. "Jackie, you want a little company in the afternoon?"

"Always!" Smiles at Will. "Yer gonna love the Busted Knuckle." She pulled out her phone and passed it to Ben. "Stick his number in there fer me, too, will yah?" Will was cool with that, right? Right.

Of course he was. "Sure, lunch sounds great. What time?" He assumed The Busted Knuckle was a bar. Or Jackie was a dominatrix.

"Maybe Vicki Lee can finally mend her broken heart and get over me. You should introduce them," solemnly, as he's taking Jackie's phone to enter in Will's number. "Two-ish?"

"Two's perfect. And who is Vicki Lee? Is she attractive?"

A bartending, stripping, dominatrix. Her mama would be so proud. "Oh yeah, I'm sure she's jus' cryin' intah her beer between alla her dates t'get over y', sweetheart." She leveled her gaze on Will. "Bossman is strict with what sorta girls he puts behind the bar. He's got a type. The type that make money."

"So in other words, yes," as Ben's handing Jackie's phone back over to her.

"Then we can proceed with the introductions." Oh, he sounded so lofty.

"Thank y'." The phone is shoved back into her pocket with a grin. "That's fine. The only sorta warnin' I'm gonna give is that if y'meet a girl 'round here with the last name Daniels? Proceed with caution."

"Dually noted," he said with a little salute, then killed his beer. "Well, I should let you two get on."

"There's a 'dating a Daniels' support group," he's mentioning casually, and he's moving to head back through the break now. "Yeah, don't let me keep you from your much-needed beauty sleep, Will."

She nodded to Will and looked back to Ben. "We better get back home an' see if Chey is ready fer our Dead movie marathon."

"Chey? Dead movie marathon? You kids." He chuckled and stood.

Ben shrugs a little, something sort of helpless about it, but he's grinning. "It's a thing with them, I don't know." Already headed for the door.
Jackie laughs. "It's a badgea honor to wear, bein' in that support group." Looking back to Will. "Chey, Cheyenne is m'cousin. Jus' onea 'em 'round here. Her an' I live t'gether an' we like watchin' horror flicks. It's alright t'be jealous." That's all he needed to know for now. She was on the move towards the door.

He followed along after. "Poor baby." For Ben. "Is your cousin hot?" he asked Jackie, the question floating back into the inn as he stepped out.

"She's too young for you." Oh, Ben. When he gets the door, he's holding it open for both of them.

"Hello, pot. Meet kettle." And Will was down the stairs.

"Sh*t yeah m'cousin is hot." There's a blink at Ben in passing when she walked through the door. "Mr. Kettl-" A thumb towards Will. He said it!

"Alright, I got nothin'." He knows when he's been defeated, at least. Grabbing Jackie by the hand, he's headed across the porch and down the steps too. "Two," calling after Will as a reminder.

"Nice meetin' y', Will! I'll make sure yer bartender has the lowest cut shirt in the joint." Waving after Will with her hand not captured within Ben's.

He held up his two fingers. "Night, Jackie. I'll hold you too that." He watched them go with a grin, then shook his head and started to walk off toward his hotel.
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Ben Sullivan
nothingman
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 01 Aug 2012
Posts: 793
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Bullet Catcher
Can Be Found: until he can't be
28780.38 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben's still in a mild sort of disbelief as he and Jackie walk along, away from the Inn -- he never would've dreamed that he'd see somebody he knew from back home here. Never in a million years. And especially not somebody like Will -- somebody he's got a lot of history with. "If he ever gets to be too much for you, you just tell me, alright? I've got no problem taking a swing at the guy." It's amused, though -- but unless Jackie asks further about Will, Ben's lapsing into quiet for a moment. It's not an uncomfortable silence, but the outwardly good mood fades, and there's a certain sort of energy from his end, something mildly fitful, though not quite anxious. Eventually, he's breaking the quiet, nudging her in the arm a little without letting go of her hand. "So, do you still want to have that little talk?"

Jackie still has a bit of a bounce in her step, though it's no where close to as much as when they first arrived. It's been a good night, an amazing night really. Sure, she might barely know Will from Adam, but it was fantastic that Ben had a little piece of his past here in RhyDin. Jackie had so much family here it was mayhem at times, and now she was thankful that Ben had something of his own from home. His assurance got a chuckle. "Are y'gonna give him the same warnin'? That if I ever get t'be too much for 'im t'let you know so you can handle me?" A wide smile. "Careful, I might say he is jus' 'cause I like the idea of you defendin' my honor here an' there." She's still beaming when she looks ahead, unbothered by his quiet. In Jackie fashion she's unaware of the shift in his mood until he's nudging her arm, her gaze moving back to his face. The smile dims considerably and after realization strikes she's nodding. "Right, absolutely. I'm sorry, I jus' got a little caught up in the whole night, but I'm all ears. An' open minded." A flutter of fingers from her free hand beside her temple.

He does laugh a little at her teasing questions (and truth be told, he was considering giving Will that warning, if only mostly-jokingly), and the idea of defending her honor does make him smile, even if it's brief. He does glance aside to her when she says she's sorry, though he waits until she's finished to tell her, "Don't apologize. It's fine -- it was a crazy night." Looking at her for a couple of seconds longer, but then he's facing front again as they walk along, because it's easier. Clearly he's thinking over exactly how to say what he needs to -- that furrow between his brows gives him away -- but after a moment more, "So, I told you everybody's been quiet since that first chance at shotgun. And that I was trying to figure out how to talk to them..." A vague little gesture of his own next to his head, before he presses his hand into his hoodie's pocket. "All in there." A quiet sigh, because this is where it got a little weird, and even he started to doubt the method. "I'm supposed to, somehow, be able to find everybody in there -- you know, interact. Actually see everybody. I don't know. Like a dream or something, I guess, but something I'm supposed to have a little more control over. Does that make sense?" Another glance aside to her, brows lifted a little, something just a little bit self-deprecating in his tone, "If it doesn't, that's okay, because it hardly makes sense to me either."

The bounce in her step has calmed and her free hand in being shoved into her hoodie pocket as well. Her pace is staying in line with his and she flicking little looks at him here and there. The creased in her brow mirrored his. It had been a while since they had a talk, any sort of talk, and especially an in-depth conversation about all of this. They had touched on it during their date but moved along to lighter things. Now it was his time and she gave him her full attention. "Well, when y'try is it like that meditatin' stuff people do? Where y'sit all still an' quiet with yer eyes closed and try t'... find inner somethin' or another?" Even without him answering her question she's nodding a little. "It makes some sorta sense."

He's nodding after her questions, her attempt to explain it back to him, and he actually looks a little relieved -- even more after she says it makes some sense. "Yeah, like that." For a second, he's almost surprised that Jackie even thinks of the example, just because she doesn't seem the type to even think to sit still and find inner something or another. But it's a faint surprise, doesn't register on his face, barely even registers internally before he goes on. "So that's what I've been trying to do these past few weeks. And ... pretty much every time, I don't get anywhere. I feel like I almost do, but it's just dark and it ... doesn't feel great." There's a little smile then, but it's one of those that has his eyes narrowed a little, looks like it's mixed with a wince. "And then I wake up, hours later. --not like I just accidentally fell asleep waking up. Like..." An abbreviated shrug. "Checking out waking up." He's realizing that he'd told her that he had actually made some progress, and none of this sounded like progress, but he doesn't go on just yet.

Jackie could never imagine sitting in one place silently with her eyes shut. But considering how many people she talked to day in and day out, she had enough useless knowledge to fill quite a few books on anything and everything. People loved talking about themselves, especially girls who were trying to sound impressive with all their new age voodoo hoodoo health crazes who accidentally stumbled their way into the knuckle looking for a new batch of men to pick at. They could manage a few rounds of 'it like, totally cleanses the soul' before realizing they were barking up the wrong tree and leaving.

Her brows continued to knit in though. "So, is it like... they're givin' y'hell? Bein' stubborn 'bout it an' then when y'get too close someone pulls the plug an' takes over." Her shoulders pulled back. "I bet it's Sam. That a*s." A little huff of disapproval then she's looking back to him. "Is that why y'been checkin' out so much then? 'Cause yer tryin' alla that? Losin' so much of yer days? Y'were doin' real well there fer a minute."

It's times like this that Ben forgets that she's so much younger than he is, and that he's glad he trusted her that first night he explained everything to her. He should be used to it by now, and maybe he's getting used to it, but that she's so perceptive sometimes, that she's understanding this, always starts to take some of the edge off, no matter how difficult of a conversation he'd anticipated it being. "Yeah, that's exactly what it's like. It feels like they don't want me there -- like they don't trust me." An absent fidget with her fingers, just burning off some of that excess energy. Her little disapproving huff does get a hint of a smile out of him, though, even if she's not meaning for it to. "Maybe it is. I don't..." Trailing off oddly, all trace of that faint humor gone; when he goes on, he's serious again. "Yeah, that's why. But I need to just keep trying and it'll pay off. --it did pay off, yesterday, for a minute. I finally saw something, the, uh..." Growing slightly withdrawn, tone quieter, most of that anxious energy seeming to still (or at least get reined in). "The house I grew up in. When I was a little kid."

"But I don't understand why they wouldn't trust y'. They know y' more than anyone else does. I mean, right? An' if they're all jus' hangin' out in there it ain't all that clear why it would be sucha big deal fer you t'be there, too." At his fidget she's tightening her hold on him just a little. Maybe worried he was going to pull his hand back from hers? She gives a blink and a sharp look his way when he tells her what he saw. "Yer house?" There's some drawn out silence before she's looking ahead again. "If y'go in there with 'em. It's sorta... jus like bein' in a lil' room with 'em maybe, right? I mean..." Now she's the one with a little bit of a nervous edge to her tone. "Goin' in there with 'em ain't gonna make y'remember everythin'... will it?"

Ben's not answering her questions right away -- he probably could have addressed the first part easily enough, but he hesitates, and once she goes on... After she asks that last question, there's another drawn out pause, and even after that, a few seconds where his mouth moves but he's silent -- like he's got to work out the words. But eventually, "No. It won't." He sounds confident about that -- sounds it more than he feels it. "It's just the place that they knew first; that's the only reason that that's where it is." His tone doesn't change, but his hold on her hand does tighten, barely. "So the next time I get there, I'm going to go in, and ... we'll just talk. It'll be fine." He's not at all sure of that. He looks like he believes it, there's no tell in his face or his voice that gives him away, but there's this tightness in his shoulders that just might be able to be seen, and maybe the way he doesn't look at her at all is sort of telling too, that practiced avoidance.

"They don't trust me because they do know me, Jackie -- but me from a long, long time ago. They all have jobs to do because I couldn't-- There were those things I just couldn't cope with. Maybe they still think I can't, or maybe they just don't want to be useless now? I have no idea. But things have been working out so far, right? As far as they know, they're helping me still." A little pause, before, "I don't really even know what I'm missing out on when I lose time, right? I don't really know what they do for me. So who am I to go in there and tell them to do it different after all these years?" It's something he's thought about for weeks now, and made complete sense (and sounded completely normal and rational) in his head -- now, it doesn't, and he's actually cringing a little afterward, but when he recovers, "I just need to show them that I'm not trying to get rid of them. I'm not trying to change everything. And maybe after I get to know them, they'll trust me enough to believe that."

When his hand tightens on hers, she responds in a similar fashion to give him a squeeze in return. That little extra nudge to remind him she's right there for him. "Jus' seems like a scary thought. Yer seein' that house, a house well... they know that house." If they were there for protection and that was the first place they remember, even Jackie could figure it out. "An' then yer jus' gonna go walkin' inside it t'find... y'don't really know what exactly yer gonna find. D'yah?" A shake of her head. "I ain't tryin' to be negative 'bout it all, I jus'... Y'know I worry an' I want y'to be okay. Maybe this jus' scares me a lil' more 'cause... I ain't there. I can't help y'with it like I did before. It's jus' you." Her lips curled downward. "Not sayin' y'can't do it on yer own, but y'understand me."

She's quiet and contemplating the rest of what he had to say now. Working so hard to piece it together and understand that her pace had actually slowed somewhat. Her gaze is aimed ahead, staring at nothing. "I see where yer comin' from with it. But yer right. They've known y'since y'were a lil' boy." There was a pause, almost a thoughtful little pop that knocked her head back once it struck her. "Holy hell, it's the same way m'brothers act 'round me. Don't matter how old I get, they're always gonna look at me like the skinny lil' blonde baby girl chasin' 'em all over Georgia." She looked back up to him, almost mystified by herself and how she picked out those similarities.

It's actually a good thing that Ben doesn't respond to anything that she says until after she makes the connection. That realization didn't just put him at ease because he knew she understood it -- but it even helped him understand it a little better. He's actually laughing a little, a wry thing tinged with some disbelief, but he's looking over at her when she tips her attention up to him. "Yeah, I guess it's exactly like that. So now imagine if you never really talked to your brothers or interacted with them, and then all of a sudden you told them to stop looking at you like the baby. How do you think that'd go over? Especially if they had been somehow able to stop Jackie Lee Daniels from getting into trouble all those years. Do you think they'd really trust you if you told them you could take on anything alone, without ever really having tried?" He doesn't really expect an answer -- they both know what it would be.

He actually slows their pace down a little more, though they are almost at her home. Turning to face forward again, he's contemplating her first comments and questions for a moment, and while he's certainly not as rattled by them as he had been at first, he's still sort of solemn when he finally speaks up. "No, you're right. I don't really know what exactly I'm going to find." If she's still looking at him, the look on his face is mostly composed, jaw set, brows drawn together slightly, but it's a forced sort of composure, something fragile in it -- he'll fake that fear away in front of her still as best he can, but it isn't something he can erase entirely. "I know," more quietly. "I understand what you're saying. Would it help if I let you know when I was going to try, and then when I ... you know, when I come back?"

"Well, I been interactin' with 'em an' they still treat me like a goddamn baby, so I can jus' imagine how bad it would be if we added in alla that 'long with it." She knew it was a hypothetical situation, but it seemed she even had to save the ego of her hypothetical self. "Nothin' an' no one could stop Jackie Lee Daniels from raisin' hell." A glint of pride in a smile, it was there and gone just as quickly when their pace slows.

She's looking up at him again. As composed as he's trying to come off it doesn't help her in the least. It doesn't feel like the actual relaxed Ben that she knows. She knows it's just for show and that's what worries her even more. "Y'can let me know when yer goin' an' comin', but it don't help the inbetween. When someone's gettin' mad at y'fer pokin' an' they're takin' off 'round town t'give y'what for. Losin' yer car an' God knows what else." Now she was openly frowning again, looking straight ahead. "Yeah, lettin' me know will be fine." It really wouldn't be fine. She'll be worrying the entire time, thinking the worst, waiting and wondering. "I can't hold yer hand through it. I can't do a thing t'help in alla this." And that's what was worse. When she felt useless to him.

He'd actually been debating on whether or not he should offer that, because he knew, even before she said it, that it would only make the in between time worse. After she said it would be fine, though, he bites his lower lip, and after she goes quiet, he only takes a couple more steps before stopping completely -- and after a few seconds, he turns to pull her into a sudden hug, a tight, fierce one. "It doesn't sound fine," pointing out to her, and though it's meant to be part joke, the humor in it falls flat. "You're right, you can't hold my hand through it. But that doesn't mean you aren't helping, Jackie. You are."

She's so focused on staring straight ahead, on trying to get her wandering expressions under control, that she doesn't automatically realize when he stops walking. There's a moment when her hand is tugged behind her because she continues walking an extra step or two, then the rest of her follows when she's being pulled into that tight hug. Her automatic reaction would normally be to keep saying how it is fine, she's okay, stop worrying. But she can't hold up those sorts of lies with him, not when he's being so very honest with her. Her arms slide around his torso to return the hug just as firmly, her cheek pressing against his chest. She's taking the extra time to calm her voice for when she speaks, letting his words sink in. Whether it's meant as a joke or not, she can't take it as one. She can't find the humor in it all right now. "Y'shouldn't have t'worry 'bout me while yer workin' on alla this is all. Worryin' 'bout me worryin'. Y'don't gotta call me beforehand." A little shrug, lifting her gaze to his face now. "Maybe one after? I just like when I know yer around an' yer okay." She gnawed at her bottom lip, trying to figure out exactly how she was lending a hand in all this. She was coming up short, but she wasn't sure it was wise to press him on it or tell him he was wrong. "I jus' wish I could do more." That was honest enough without pushing buttons.

They'd promised honesty, hadn't they? That was very, very much on Ben's mind right then -- it had been for most of the evening. When her cheek is pressed to his chest, he sinks one of his hands into her hair; when she turns her head to look up at him, his fingers curl just a little more into her blonde. "Okay. Then I'll let you know after." An easy commitment.

He knows what she's getting at when she says that she wishes she could do more, and he sighs a little. "Jackie..." Letting go of her, but only so he can frame her face in his hands, hold eye contact with her. "I trust you with so much. So much. Much, much more than I've ever trusted anyone else. I used to have to do this all on my own." Leaning in to kiss her, and while it's brief, it's still tender. "You talking to me about all this, trying to understand... Maybe you feel like I need to go through this alone, but I don't feel like I am."

At least that was easy enough for him to agree to. Did it solve a world of problems? Not really. But she really did like when she got a text or call from him, something to let her know that he was somewhere in RhyDin even if it wasn't with her at the time.

Her lips pursed somewhat at the way he sighs and says her name. She was almost heading down a path towards being worried over it if it weren't for the way he cupped her face like that. The way he was so intent on making her understand. When he kisses her, hands are moving up his torso, fingers curling into the collar of his hoodie. Yes, he pulls away from the kiss to continue speaking, but the hold on him makes it clear she doesn't want him to go far. "An' I don't want y'thinkin' I ain't thankful that y'trust me with so much. I know y'never had to. I know it ain't usually how y'are. But..." She took a deep breath, a slow exhale. "So long as I'm helpin' y', Ben. It's all I care 'bout. Y'know better than I do what y'need. Even if it's jus' an ear, I got that for y' plenty. I'm still learnin' how t' handle this sorta thang. It ain't the sorta trouble I'm used to is all." When she's finished speaking she's leaning up onto her toes, pressing a few stray kisses along the line of his jaw. Making some much needed contact right now.

He's certainly not about to complain about the kisses she's smudging to his jawline. His eyes close partway, and he's dropping his hands from her face to loosely put his arms around her waist. "You don't need to thank me for that, for trusting you. It's the other way around." An absent curl of his fingers into the back of her hoodie, just for a second. "So thank you. For being somebody I can trust. That's what helps the most, to finally have someone like that." And yes, the implication is that he hadn't had anyone like that before -- and maybe then it makes a little more sense, his reaction to their breakup at first, his inability to accept it, difficulty in letting go.

Even though he doesn't really want to, he does pull back a little then -- just enough to see her. "You're doing great, sweetheart. I don't know what else I could ask for. I mean that. And you're-- well, it seems like you're doing okay with ... everything. Are you?"
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Ben Sullivan
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even with his grasp hanging loosely she's leaning herself just a little further against him. There was one last kiss before she drew back slightly to counter. "Then we're both thankful as hell." One hand unwrapped itself from his collar, lifting to comb fingertips through his hair along his temple. "I'm sorry y'never had someone y'could be honest with like this before. But if it's gonna be someone 'round here, I'm happy it's me. I really am."

He's backing up more and it's drawing her hand from his hair which then sinks to his shoulder instead. Her brows knit at the movement, at his look. Oh, and then it was on her again. How she was doing. It was so much easier to focus on him. "Things have been... calm fer me." Her expression made it clear she wasn't sure if that was the right wording. "I know y'been losin' time an' I worry like hell over y', but it ain't like it was before. When... we was runnin' into Lyla at the bar or I was focusin' too much on the heavy an' things I couldn't control." The hand on his shoulder sank lower to press her palm against his chest. "These days I focus on you, on us. Helpin' you when I can. That's what helps me through these days. An' it makes me okay." A small shrug followed. It all sounded so good, but it didn't mean she didn't worry for the inevitable bad days.

Even for Ben, it was, in a way, easier to keep the focus on him than to shift it to her. There was still that little part of him that worried that if she thought too much, she'd leave again. But he knew that if she only stayed because she ignored the reality of everything, that it wasn't fair -- to either of them.

Quiet for a moment, he's pulling her hand away from his chest -- but just lifting it, pressing a kiss to her fingers before lowering her hand, though he isn't letting go. "Well, I'm glad you're okay." The smile he gives her is a little subdued, and it's fleeting, but the conversation probably justified something like that anyway. "I wish you wouldn't worry, but I know that isn't reasonable." A little bit of humor there, even if it's short-lived. "But, speaking of the, uh ... the heavy things. Lyla, stuff like that. We talked about being honest with each other. Is that... You don't want to know things like that, right?" It seems like a hypothetical; there's nothing off in his posture to indicate any kind of pressing anxiety or indecision, no extra tension, no avoidance -- no over-engaging attempts at counteracting avoidance. Maybe he's just thinking ahead. "Just planning for the worst, you know?" Quiet.

There was a similar part of her that worried about it. Not so much leaving, she was set on not pulling an encore of that move. But she worried that if she stopped and thought about it all a little too much, a little too long, that it would become too much and swallow her whole. She wasn't sure what would become of her if she didn't have him telling her it would be okay. To have so many good moments to grasp onto.

There's a fleeting tick to her lips and cheek, the most of a smile she can manage right now. It was a draining conversation and she was hoping they had passed over the largest hurdle of the evening so they could wrap themselves on the couch with Cheyenne and watch mindless movies the rest of the night. No, there was a but. Even worse it was followed by the words 'heavy things' and 'Lyla'. Her heart sank along with her lips into another deep frown. She was listening intently, trying to patiently take in everything he had to say, but he barely finished the sentence when she was already quickly shaking her head back and forth. Just a little bit of panic seemed to rise up in her and it worked its way into her tone before she could catch it. "No, please no." Even with it being hypothetical she already had that hurt expression that always seemed to take over when Lyla was previously around, before the rage managed to bubble up. But there was no anger to follow this time. "I might not get y' all t' myself, but I don't wanna know 'bout it. I wanna think 'bout you an' me an' somethin' I can cherish. I don't wanna know what everyone else is doin'." She gripped him a little harder now, at his collar and his hand.

Ben wasn't really sure what answer he was hoping she'd give, but at least this is miles away from what Ella would have said -- had said to him, plenty of times. But even if it's better than that, that isn't saying much, and he still looks sort of hurt. Not injured, not like she's done anything to him -- just a little sad, a little sorry. That panic in her voice, even as slight as it is, affects him, hits him hard. "Jackie, you do get me all to yourself. You get me. But I know it's..." Trailing off, taking a deep breath and letting it out in a sigh. He doesn't pull his hand out of her grip, but his other hand moves to her cheek again. "If anything happens, I won't say a word. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page there, sweetheart."

She's automatically regretting what she said even if it is the truth they keep talking about between themselves. But at the same time her lips are pursing because now that it's out he has to understand. "Then maybe I worded it a lil' wrong, but y'know what I mean, Ben. Y'gotta know." The hurt expression is being relaxed into something much calmer since she's sure it's not helping anything. "I'm a work in progress." Maybe it was a good idea to remind him of that now and then? She wasn't going to be perfect. She couldn't always react how he wanted. Hell, majority of the time she was surprised and impressed with herself over how well she understood what was happening.

Her hand follows his, cupping the one against her cheek to keep it in place. Then she was free to turn her head and press a soft kiss to his palm, mumbled words following along behind it quickly with lips so close they're still brushing his skin. "We're on the same page. Thank y', sweetheart."

"I know what you mean," softly, and he really does. He never actually apologizes, not verbally, but it's in the rest of him right now -- his eyes, his tone, the gentle way he's treating her right now. It's tricky, to be incapable of feeling any real guilt about something because as far as you know, you haven't done anything wrong -- but knowing that you may as well have, for the pain it brings you and the people that love you. "And I know you are. I told you -- how can I complain about that? You're putting up with me, the biggest work in progress there is." There a slight lift in his voice then, trying to lighten the mood a little.

His palm must just be one of those spots that gets him, because when her mouth is against it in that kiss, his eyes close, and when she's murmuring those words against his skin afterward, he only opens them partway, watching her lips against the palm of his hand. "Alright. Good." A light, barely there press of his fingertips against her cheek. "That's good." He's shaking his head a little then -- not in disagreement, but like he has to break the little bit of a daze, fix the suddenly limited vocabulary. "We should get in to your place," though he doesn't make an effort to move. "Movies are waiting. Poor Chey is waiting."

It was fine to her that he didn't apologize. While she could understand it wasn't his doing, it would imply emotions getting in the way of any sort of logic Jackie had going on about the subject. The understanding was much more important to her anyway, above a simple 'I'm sorry'. Not that she would turn down the way he was treating her right now. Very rarely, if ever, did Jackie want to be treated like glass. But there were moments with Ben when she could let down all her defenses, be small and vulnerable, and he wouldn't even think of holding it against her or hanging it over her head.

The small lift in his voice as well as how close they are, the content close of his eyes, draws the corner of her lips back into a light smile that actually manages to linger just a little while longer. But it's with the reminder of Chey that she's keeping his hand in hers, lowering them between them and lacing fingers together. "Yer right. She's gonna give us hell. More than likely cookies afterward, but first hell." Not that she really seems that interested in moving either. Instead she's leaning up to press a firm kiss against his lips. The entire conversation was begging for it.

Holding a moment like this against her has never even crossed his mind. Knowing that she trusts him enough to be that vulnerable, and to let him be extra-careful with her, even if just for that moment -- it just reinforces his trust in her, strengthens his ability to come clean to her when he'll need to in the future.

She's kissing him, delaying them from home for longer, but he's not doing a thing to persuade her to go, just holding tight to her hands, tipping his head into the kiss. Even after he breaks it, he's not going far, and his mood had shifted again; he's grinning lopsidedly, a touch sly. "It's a nice night. How much hell would she give us if she caught us making out on your porch?"

When he tips back from the kiss she's giving a small relieved exhale. A little of the weight that had gathered within her chest and over her shoulders was slowly being relieved and giving her more of a chance to revel in him.

His question paired with that sly smile gets a faint snicker from her. "Knowin', Chey? She'd start hollerin'. An' if we kept at it? She'd probably come back out a lil' while later t' dump a bucketa water on us tellin' us t'get a room." A squeeze was given to his hand. "Sounds like it'd be worth it in m'book."

That was about the answer he'd expected. "Sounds like it'd be worth it to me, too." That's one way to get him moving again; he's squeezing her hand too, giving it a light tug as he resumes the walk to her house. "I mean, you did tell me we need to take advantage of the nice weather while we can, right?" Though when she'd told him that earlier, that probably was not what she had in mind!

The bounce from earlier never found its way back into her step, but the cloud that hung over her head throughout so much of that conversation seemed to be left behind. At least majority of it and at least for now. By no means were all of their problems solved in that one conversation, they were still both very much a work in progress. But for now she had others things to focus on and grasp at, those good moments they cherished no matter how small. "Y'know damn well yer twistin' m' words, but I can't find it in me t' tell y'that yer wrong." And it was with another snicker that she followed him back home.
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