Benjamin entered, unsure why Percival was being so accommodating. Not that he was complaining, it just… wasn’t what he had expected. Percival and Marcus together had seemed very no nonsense, and this… well, it was a little bit different. He gave a small nod and a quiet “thank you,” then looked up as Percival moved towards what he assumed was the kitchen. He wasn’t that hungry and he felt bad taking food from someone, but he also knew it was impolite to turn down someone’s hospitality. Supposedly. And Percival seemed rather scattered anyway, so Ben didn’t want to risk offending him on top of that. “I’d like to help,” Benjamin replied, just loud enough to be heard. “If you have a job… well, if you have something I can do to help, then I’ll gladly do it. To help protect people.” He eyed Percival as the man reentered with the water, and he took it after a moment. He didn’t comment on the strange quality to Percival’s voice. When people were struggling, you didn’t ask. If they wanted to tell you, they would. If they wanted it to remain their private business… well, usually they were a little bit better at hiding it, but Ben wanted to respect whatever Percival was feeling.
Post by mintedstar/fur on Jun 11, 2021 2:59:35 GMT -5
A job. It seemed like Percival's head was not moving at the speed which he wanted it to. He'd had something in mind for Benjamin, but he couldn't work out what it had been ... Oh ... "Would you come with me?" he asked. "To talk to someone?" There it was. That had been Percival's intent. His shoulders relaxed a bit, though that didn't stop his head from spinning a little bit more over all of this. This was ... well. It seemed like he needed reminders to just do simple tasks. Like talk to a witness. File reports ... he'd filed a report. He'd sent it. He felt sick to his stomach to admit what had happened to Aliissa, but it had been the only thing he could think to do. It was ... it was what he had to do. Even if it meant making it real. "It would be useful," he continued, even though there had been a long pause. "To help me ... keep track of the details." Admitting he needed help. That was a new one.
“Oh,” Benjamin replied, blinking a little bit at the request. “Yes, of course. Anything you need me to do.” He realized a few seconds after he said it that ‘anything’ was a bit of a dangerous offer, but he was serious about it. Percival had been nice. He and Marcus had been willing to have Benjamin help, and even if he hadn’t found anything yet, he still wanted to do them proud. The fact that Percival was considering him for an actual job… well, it felt good. It felt like he might actually be able to make a difference, no matter how small. “I can… I can bring a pen and a piece of paper and I can write down everything the person we’re meeting says,” he offered, giving a shy, uncertain smile. “I mean… if you think that would be helpful. I’m very good at writing quickly, I think.” The point was that he wanted to be helpful, and Percival was giving him that opportunity. He didn’t know why Percival needed his help, but he figured it wasn’t really his place to question it. Not yet, anyway. “Who… do we have to talk to?”
Post by mintedstar/fur on Jun 18, 2021 1:11:03 GMT -5
"I would appreciate that," Percival agreed. Maybe the conversation with Benjamin was helping, but there was slightly more focus in his words. Slightly more attention being paid. Not more capability, admittedly, since there seemed to be a struggle on Percival's part to actually get his thoughts in order, but at least it was something. "Ah ... yes ... who ..." He moved to the table and shuffled through the papers, his hands fumbling a little but eventually finding the written records. "Here." He pulled out a scrap of paper, on which was just a barely readable scrawl. "Mariela Robertson. 42. Address and so forth." He stuffed the scrap of paper into a pocket. "She ... she saw one of the fires and came forward with information. She didn't give much hint to what the information is though. So I ... that's our job. Does that sound like something you can do?"
Benjamin could tell that there was a difference in Percival now compared to how he had been when the conversation had begun. He couldn’t tell what it was, and it wasn’t so much that Percival seemed like he was in a better mood, it was just that… perhaps he was a little less disheveled? Not so much in appearances as in… behavior. The way Percival held himself. The way he looked around like there as something important he had forgotten, where the gaze had just been listless before. “Mariela Robertson,” Ben nodded, then looked back up at Percival. “Yes, I can do that. I’m happy to accompany you… any information is better than none at all, right?” He wasn’t sure if that was actually true, but it sounded true. “Thank you again for letting me help,” he added, trying to force a smile. Something had happened to Percival. Ben could tell, but he also couldn’t do anything more than to just… be there, so long as Percival wanted him. Whatever had happened, Benjamin wanted to make sure it never happened to anyone else. He wanted to ask where Marcus was, but something told him it was related to Percival’s despair. He decided to wait.
Post by mintedstar/fur on Jun 20, 2021 4:04:32 GMT -5
"Of course," said Percival, though it made it sound like he hadn't actually heard. He moved toward the door though, which seemed to indicate the fact that they were leaving now. With everything given to Benjamin, including the information, it seemed like this was indeed the possibility. He opened the door again, looking back once, then headed out. Still no sign of Marcus. And no explanation. But very briefly, as Percival left, there was a slight wisp of the smell of smoke. Then it was gone. And Percival was on his way, expecting Benjamin to follow and close the door behind him.
Benjamin blinked, nose lifted to the air as the smell of smoke permeated it for just a moment. He was about to ask Percival to stop when the smell faded out just moments later, leaving Ben standing there wondering if he, perhaps, needed a little bit more sleep. It was probably just a neighbor burning something they were intending to cook. It didn’t smell like the chaos of a fire with enough voracity to take down an entire factory. At the very worst, it smelled like a kitchen fire. Benjamin couldn’t begrudge anyone that sort of fire. It was a hazard, sure, but fewer people died from that than the big fires he was trying to help Marcus and Percival solve. “Is it… far?” Benjamin asked, closing the door behind him and bounding ahead so he could keep up with Percival. It wouldn’t work for long, given his much-shorter legs, but it would get the job done.
Post by mintedstar/fur on Jun 23, 2021 1:52:19 GMT -5
Percival kept his speed for several more moments before he slowed long enough that he could match Benjamin's. "It isn't," he said. "It is perhaps several blocks or so, nothing more than that." He turned so he was looking down at the much smaller boy. To which he would have liked to ... what? Pick him up and carry him, maybe to protect him from the harshness he'd just pulled the boy into without though for how this might effect him. It was selfish. So selfish and Percival knew that. But he couldn't bring himself to do anything else. He couldn't bring himself to leave behind the only resource which he had that didn't go - that didn't seem impossible to reach. "I'll show you the way and we will do it together," he said, with a show of team spirit that he hadn't seemed to show before. Not to Benjamin, at any rate. "Here." He indicated the direction, once they had gotten onto the street, continuing to follow along it until he had to make another turn. It was only then that his steps seemed to strengthen with just a touch more confidence and he was able to walk along Bejamin with some of the same energy that he'd had before. The house that they were going to was not that far away, but still looked like it had been downgraded a bit in class. Percival did not seem badly off (or Marcus, for that matter), but whoever lived in this house might very well be living meal to meal. Percival lightly opened the door and turned right, climbing a set of stairs before knocking on a door, third to the right, when they reached the top. "Try and think of any questions you think might be relevant," he told Benjamin softly. It was after a while that the door opened, revealing a woman suspiciously peering out at them. Her eyes didn't lose the look, even after she said, "Oh, it's you." In fact, she looked at Benjamin with what might have been even more paranoia. "You're not one of those are you?" Percival looked slightly embarrassed (and tired). "No ma'am," he said. He also tried not to look at Benjamin. "And him?" she asked, squinting at the boy. "Neither is he," Percival said quickly, hoping Benjamin wouldn't ask. "Humph. You might as well come in then ..."
Benjamin wasn’t really sure what to make of this all. For one, Percival seemed different. From the beginning, Ben had felt that he and Marcus were dismissive towards him, and he’d had a suspicion it had been in an attempt to protect him. It seemed as though Percival still wanted to protect him, but had decided that he couldn’t, for some reason. Secretly, Ben was grateful. It meant he could actually do something to protect his family. He took a deep breath, hugging his arms close to his chest. In truth, he wasn’t sure why exactly they were going wherever they were going. He knew they were paying someone a visit, but he didn’t really know what ‘relevant questions’ might be. He decided it would be a good idea to compile every question he could think of regardless of their relevance. “Together,” Benjamin echoed, not quite able to keep the pleased tone out of his voice. He wanted to help. He wanted to be useful, and it seemed that this was his chance. He wasn’t going to mess it up. There was something… odd about the woman who opened the door. It wasn’t so much the suspicion… most people who were living paycheck to paycheck were like that when it came to strangers. This seemed like more than just that, though. Ben wasn’t sure he liked her very much, especially since he had no idea what ‘one of those’ meant. He made a mental note to ask Percival later. “Thank you,” Benjamin whispered, crossing over the threshold and looking back at Percival. He needed the vampire to take the lead here. He at least seemed to know what he was doing.
Post by mintedstar/fur on Jun 30, 2021 2:47:18 GMT -5
The woman still looked at Benjamin with a distrustful expression. As if she expected him to grow two heads. Percival too, for that matter, but it seemed to be a different kind of distrust. "Sit down if you like," she said, shuffling around as Percival entered right behind Benjamin and lightly closed the door. There were plenty of places to sit down. The living quarters didn't have much, but it had a good number of chairs. An end table here or there, but that was all. In all, Percival counted five chairs, though one was quickly occupied by the woman. As if she was worried they'd steal it. Percival politely dipped his head again, though he already felt his patience fraying as well as his resolve. This was something often handled by Marcus, not him. "I'm Percival Regimald," he explained, leaving out the peculiar lengthy version of his name. He indicated Benjamin. "This is Benjamin." Then he jumped right in, only realizing after the woman frowned that this was not the welcome response, "We're hear to talk about the fire. What do you know?" The woman looked annoyed and didn't respond for a while. "You'll have to be more specific," she finally said gruffly. Percival felt himself bristling. Then he glanced at Benjamin and breathed in slowly. "Would you like to take on the first question?" he said, only just avoiding gritting his teeth.
Benjamin looked around, trying to get a feel for the woman based on the space she occupied. His mother had told him once that you could tell a lot about a person based on the state of their living area. If they were cleaned up, the person was used to guests being over and wanted to make a good impression. That, and they had secrets, usually. Something to hide. If someone’s space was particularly messy, they invited you into the same home they lived in. They were essentially inviting you to be part of that life, if only for a few moments. The more lived in homes in general were the better ones to visit, because the rules were set out right in front of you rather than implied. The implied rules were awful – you had to be in certain social circles to know them. The woman’s space didn’t really seem to be either messy or clean. There were just… a lot of chairs. Ben didn’t know what to do with that. Perhaps she was used to hosting company a lot, so she needed to have plenty of spaces available to sit down? That made the most sense to him, but she seemed to be the opposite of personable, so he didn’t see who would willingly be visiting her. She didn’t seem too happy about having visitors now, but maybe that was just because of what they were visiting about. Ben paused, eyes widening a little bit as Percival asked him to take the lead. The fire… this woman knew something, but she wasn’t going to give it to them that easily. “The fire… the most recent one that was in the paper,” he began uncertainly, glancing at Percival to make sure he was saying the right thing, “Were you there? Did you see what happened?”
Post by mintedstar/fur on Jul 12, 2021 0:04:05 GMT -5
The woman didn't say anything for a while, even to Benjamin's statement. Though that didn't stop her from watching him, looking over the young boy from the top of his head to what passed for shoes. Then, since there didn't seem to be any more silence that she could muster, she eventually said, "I wasn't." Percival blinked. He'd expected that there would be a different answer to that, not whatever he'd just heard. The woman ignored his reaction and seemed to be continuing to talk to Benjamin. "It was my twelve year old niece. I spent a length of time being completely unaware of what had happened until she came home in the evening." Percival settled back in his chair, debating the merits of looking puzzled or not. He opted for not letting his expression waver. It seemed like the woman wasn't inclined to really talk to him anyway. "She had soot on her hands and quite an entertaining story. Do you know what that story might have contained, child?" Percival thought he could hazard a guess, but from how she was talking, she seemed to be dramatizing a lot of things.
Benjamin didn’t like it very much when people were condescending. He thought there were very few people who did, but most people didn’t seem to have to deal with it. Ben didn’t really think that he was more mature or capable than most people his age, he just figured that people tended to underestimate people his age. Still, the tone of the woman’s voice was grating at him, and it took all of his self-control not to snap at her and make her very aware that she was impeding a very important investigation. Ruining this seemed like a good way to get more or less “kicked off” Percival’s team, and that was the last thing he wanted. It wasn’t really a team, but it was the closest Ben had ever been to one. He felt like he was doing actual good, here. He didn’t want to ruin that. “Did she see anyone set the fire?” Benjamin asked quietly, hoping to steer the conversation into a more useful direction. Hyperbole could be fun, but it wasn’t particularly useful here. The woman seemed like the sort who would string them along detail by detail instead of getting to the actual meat, and when she did, it would be bloated by exaggeration. If that was how they received the story, it was going to be much more work to parse anything useful out of it. It seemed better to guide her towards the sort of answer they wanted now. Hopefully, Percival would agree with his approach.
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