1963-11-02 - What Is Real?
Summary: Sean just wants a quiet place to drink but nowhere is quiet when Beni's holding court. She's happy to see her little protege, after all these years, and she gives him a gift he may or may not regret.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
sean beni 

Beni is holding court in The Black Cat, quite literally. She's ensconced in a booth in a far corner, champagne and glasses on the table in front of her, along with the requisite crystal ashtrays and silvered cigarette cases and a lovely wrought cigar box. The arrangement is slightly confounded by the paperwork associated with running an empire that's building up in front of her. A cadaverous-looking lawyer with coke-bottle thick glasses is seated across from her, poring over yet another contract.

"Good heavens," Beni complains with an elaborate wave of one jewelled hand. "Who do I have to murder to get a burger around here? A proper one."

The nearest waitress looks slightly terrified but inches around one of Beni's boys to squeak, "What would you like on it, miss?" Someone may have been on a bit of a rampage earlier today. The terror might be warranted.

"An egg and hollandaise and bacon, a slice of ripe tomato, lettuce. Nothing more. And I want it bloody." That's a given with Beni, if you've known her long enough.


Having been spending so much time at the office Sean is ready for a night out, but he's not exactly taking a night off. Dressed a bit fancier than normal, Sean is heading to another spot that is known for being mutant friendly. He's already hit up more than a few places in mutant town, so he figured he may as well try this Black Cat to see if he can catch any more rumors or contacts about this so called Mutant Brotherhood.

Isn't it funny the stories we tell ourselves? Honestly Sean is looking forward to getting sauced somewhere that no SHIELD agent would admit to being. Sure it's possible he could run into someone, but it's pretty unlikely that they would talk about it.

Entering the club Sean looks around and is not phased by any of the less traditional aspects of the clientele or space. He heads for the bar and orders a whiskey with ice.


"And another bottle of whatever this is," Beni calls after the waitress. She hasn't been paying attention. "It was acceptable." She tosses the empty bottle to one of the brutes that flank her booth. "Go make sure she gets the right kind, will you?"

The man — dark-skinned, nearly seven feet tall, and not remotely human-looking with those fangs and the pointed ears, lumbers down a few steps from Beni's table and heads for the bar.

"Miss Llewelyn would like more of this," he says, in a bizarrely delicate and fluting voice.


The hackles on Seans' neck raise, maybe from the voice he just heard across the room, or maybe it's another type of sense altogether. Whatever it is, he suddenly gets the sense of being almost like prey with a predator around. He forces himself to finish the sip of whiskey that he paused mid-air and slowly starts to look around the room to see what is setting off his alarm bells.

Now one might think it's the seven foot tall fanged beastie dude, but Sean looks him up and down and doesn't think so. Instead his eyes are drawn to the woman seated on an apparent throne on the other side of the room.

Before he even realizes it Sean is standing and staring, bewildered. "I knew it! I knew ye were real!" He is not speaking loudly enough for her to hear, and actually didn't even mean to say that out loud but now that he has been actively pondering his childhood "dreams", this is near proof that he's not just losing his mind.


Here and now, Beni still looks otherworldly. Her wild halo of golden curls shines like a crown, her long white dress is too daring to be angellic but it is certain that she's not local. The man across from her says something and she laughs — it's like a handful of silver bells being shaken. That's a faerie laugh, no question.

"You have business?" That comes from somewhere down below shoulder-height. There's a grey gargoyle there in a chauffeur's uniform, hat tucked under its arm. It sniffs the air, then looks Sean over with a very stony gaze — literally and figuratively. "Yes, I think."


Walking across the room purposefully Sean isn't even sure how to process this. It's been haunting him since Wanda started talking to him about magic and he started rethinking what he thought about his experience with the fae as a kid.

"Oh I have business." Talking gargoyle? Yea that seems right for what Sean remembers. It started out all fun and innocence but it turned much darker.

"D'ye remember me? Miss.." He can't quite remember her name or what they used to call her. "We met in your lands.. when I was a wee lad." He's probably not supposed to talk to her but he doesn't exactly care right about now.


"Sean! My boy!" Beni stands up before any of her people can get in Sean's way. She looks delighted to see him, sweeping out from her booth and down the steps between them. With the light behind her, she's ethereal, a piece of faerie realm right here in New York City. "Look at you. So grown." She hasn't changed a bit. Even as she draws close, Sean can see that there's not a line on her face, not a blemish, not even after all these years.


A forced smile comes to Sean's face as she recognizes him, but it doesn't reach his eyes. He's not happy that he's right. He's glad that he's not crazy but that means he has a whole slew of things he needs to process.

"I am. Grown. An' ye look like perfection itself.. jus' like I remember." Flattery was usually safe. Sean tries to get his head around how to relate to fae folk, but he certainly wasn't expecting to run into any here in America.


"Flatterer. You were such a lovely boy, so clever. I couldn't forget that. Come." Beni gestures for him to follow, waves the lawyer away from the booth. The man is already gathering papers to vacate the area. "You look upset. Let Beni help you." She sweeps back up those steps.

"Someone get my guest a bottle of whatever it is he's drinking," Beni orders. "If it's swill, get him something better." She takes her seat again and waves to the side of the booth across from her, inviting Sean to sit.


Yes! Miss Beni, that's what they called her. It's so strange to have to remember a series of dreams from childhood. "I am.. havin' a spot of trouble tha' I think ye can help me with Miss. Beni." He follows her, with a bit of trepidation.

He wasn't mature enough to be fearful as a kid. He mostly remembers how fun and amazing it all felt. He finishes off his glass as apparently there is a bottle on the way. Yea, apparently he isn't mature enough to be cautious now at least when it comes to booze.

"I need yer help. I seem to have forgotten our.. adventures. Is that normal? Like do all mortals have trouble remembering yer kind? Or yer land..? Or did something happen?" He is fully aware that she might be the reason he can't remember, but it's not a bad place to start the investigation as it were.


"It does happen. Especially with children." Beni waits until her champagne is poured and Sean's glass refilled before continuing. Her man — monster — leaves the bottle of scotch in front of Sean and slips the champagne bottle into the ice bucket on the table. "Many people choose to shut the memories out of their own accord. But for you — things became difficult. I was afraid they'd be painful for you. So I suggested that you forget."

Beni does not seem at all apologetic about this. She sips her champagne and regards Sean evenly. "Only the pieces you wanted to forget, of course. It would have been a shame to waste everything you learned when we were together. You do remember all your little tricks and games, don't you?" All the little bits and pieces of mischief, all the tools of being a criminal, if only a benign one…she would have left him that.


Pouring himself a glass of whiskey, almost without having to look Sean nods. When she admits to having played with his memories, Sean actually breathes a sigh of relief. He doesn't react to the part about them being painful, he certainly notes it but he is sure to not react as much as possible.

"I do. I remember those games.. and I will say, I c'n make trouble with the best o' them.." It certainly has helped him slip into his undercover roles and also put himself into a criminal mindset. "Thank ye for tha'."

He puts his best charming face on, with a genuine looking smile as he says "But if'n ye made me forget.. c'd ye make me remember? 'm 'ardly a li'l boy anymore, I t'ink I c'n handle those memories.."


"It's easiest to do while you sleep. But that can be arranged." Beni's eyes glow golden and her voice drops to something sweet and low and hypnotic. "You remember the green hills," she says, with that lovely lilt in her voice. "The way the stars glow in the faerie realm and the flowers shine back at them. Sleep, Sean. Sweet little mortal child."

Sleep is instantaneous, deep, and peaceful.

In the waking world, Sean sits, glass in hand, eyes closed. But, in sleep, he emerges from a fragrant fog to stand on a green hill next to a barely clad woman with glorious wings of light and hair as wild and shining as the sea that rages at their feet.

"Come, love." She offers him her hand. A narrow path of stone leads down the hill and out into the treacherous waters.


Realizing that he may have just gotten in way over his head Sean starts to say "Oh shhh.." right before he's out.

Coming to in the other world. He looks to the woman next to him and smiles a dreamy smile. It's pleasant here. It feels like revisiting a dream, a good one so far. He takes the woman's hand and starts down the path. "Where are we? Is this your land..? Or my mind..? … You look great." Yea, Sean was too little to appreciate those types of things as a kid, but he's certainly not a kid anymore.


"Both. What is 'real' anyway?" Beni gives his hand a little squeeze. She's very strong, it radiates from her, the way her hand supports his as they walk the slippery stones out into the sea. Waves crash against them, suck at Sean's ankles as though the sea wants to eat him alive, but Beni is unmoved by its appetite. Out at the end of the stones, a black chest gleams on a squat pedestal.

"You put what you wanted to forget here," Beni explains. "This is yours, love, all the pieces you needed not to carry. Be careful when you pick them up, for you will feel what pained you then. Take up a dagger and it may find your heart. But you may also cut your enemy with it."


Canting his head to the side, Sean smiles and nods. Right now that question makes perfect sense. He holds her hand a little tighter as the waves hit and crash. He's not afraid per say but he does not relish the fact that he feels powerless here.

When he sees the chest, he knows before she even explains that it's why they came. "I did. You helped me put them here…" Or at least that's how it felt, or feels? It's that funny dream logic where memories get instantly built and exist in the present all at once.

Sean kneels to open the chest, only half sure that he wants to know what he tried to forget.


"I know you." Beni's hand is gentle on his hair. "You will only come back to open it later if you leave it. Best to open it now while I'm here for you, while you have plenty of drink in the waking world. You were always such a curious boy, Sean. So daring, yet with that spark in you — just enough good to light the dark."

The sea growls and the wind whines. This world at the intersection of Dreaming and Faerie can be a cruel place for those who have forgotten how to navigate it. The waves hold the glint of wolf eyes and the rolling clouds flow like serpents.


Her words make sense, but is that because he's under a spell? He's not so trusting as he once was. He knows more about the world now, both the human world and the faerie world.

Opening the chest, he moves slowly and opens up the chest to find hopefully his memories. He's not sure how they'll be represented or how he will absorb them, but he tries not to find a balance between going with this and maintaining his own health sense of skepticism.


Trinkets. Little things they pilfered, lifted out of pockets. Crooked, rusting, homemade lockpicks. A slingshot. The skull of a rabbit. A smooth stone. Coins, silver and gold, worn with time. A musket ball. And a knife, a boy's pocket knife — open, rusted, brown with blood decades old. The initials TC are barely visible, scratched in the horn handle of the knife by a boy's awkward hand.

"Take what you will," Beni says soothingly. "Not all the games you boys played ended in laughter. Not for you, anyway. You laughed little toward the end, so I let you go. Both of you."


Tom was there. He couldn't remember if that was real before, but as soon as he sees the knife, it becomes crystal clear. Of course. There were games, little competitions between the two of them encourage by Miss. Beni. They were always trying to do something more daring, maybe a little more naughty than the other.

The others were minor trophies, little trinkets to prove who was better, except the one. Picking up the knife, Sean shudders and closes his eyes. Oh yes, the last game. It was supposed to scare her.. Tom always took it too far. He wants to drop it as he feels the memory coming. It's worse than he thought and before it even forms in his mind he knows why he didn't want to remember it then.

"Oh God… Oh God.. Tom what've ye done lad..?" Sean's eyes brim with tears at the revelation. The rumors surrounding what happened to that little girl.. Sean looks up and nods at his guide. "Thank ye.." and then more softly and a little less convincingly, ".. thank ye."


"All paths fork," Beni says, stroking Sean's hair. "And no one can choose any path but their own. You ran yours and he ran his a little while and they were the same until that one moment came and then you parted. You could have caught up to him, Sean, run that path behind him, but you did not. You still have not. Remember that, if you ever feel regret. Are you ready to wake up?"

The sea is boiling away into the sky, the world is fraying at the seams. The clouds part like silk tearing but there is no sun behind them, only stars too distant to give any comfort.


He listens and mostly catches the meaning, still trying to process all of the memories and put them back into their proper place in his mind. He stands and looks at her now, with a more clear understanding of their past, her part and his. He nods and says "Yes, I believe I had a whiskey that I sh'd get back to…" with a hint of mischief in his eyes.

Looking around at this world he tries to take a mental photograph, to be more mindful of his experiences. Apparently magic isn't done with Sean and so he'd like to know as much about his history with it as possible.


"That whiskey and another and another." Beni faces Sean — he's taller than she is now, she used to seem so old and so wise — she puts her hands on his face, tenderly. "At least, that's what the look of you says. I will keep the uisge beatha flowing for as long as you need it." She stands on her toes, floats a little, wings gleaming, to kiss his forehead.

"Wake up," she says clearly. Waking comes on her words. There's no tiredness, just clarity, when Sean comes back to the world.


Smiling as she moves closer to him Sean realizes even as a kid he found her attractive, but as a kid didn't know what to do with that. Heh, that's innocence for ya. He accepts the kiss and then he's awake.

He glances around to get his bearings and again wonders if that really happened? Reality didn't use to be so hard a concept. But sure enough he can now not only remember where they were, but he can remember specific episodes from his childhood.

"T'anks. Ye helped me.. I don' know if I c'd a borne that weight as a child." He knows he could have. He also knows he chose not to. He doesn't regret it, but he understands it now. "An' t'anks.. for tryin' t'help Tom." She did a lot of damage, but who knew how screwed up Tom was, it was mostly harmless for Sean.. not so much for Tom. He's already adjusted to keeping things positive, after all, it's common knowledge that you stay on a faeries good side. Even people who think they're just stories know that.


"Nothing brings out the truth of a person like a game," Beni says easily. There is no regret in her. She is, after all, a faerie. Even the good ones are dangerous. "But I think you know that. You owe me nothing, Sean." Something in those last words is like a bell being rung — she is speaking not just to him but to whatever strange laws rule her universe.

"It is good to see you again," she says, as though nothing had occurred. "When I open my club, you must join me there for an evening. I would enjoy your company, now more than ever, I think." There's a golden sparkle in her deep brown eyes and a smile tugs at her red lips.


Duh. The rules of the game, favors and owing things. It hits Sean like a ton of bricks that he asked her for help earlier. The relief on his face as she says that he's clear is palpable. Not wanting to make a big deal out of it, he nods graciously and lifts his glass to her.

As she invites him to her future club, he smiles. "I'd like that very much.. Beni" He's not a little kid anymore, and the Miss now seems out of place. He finishes his drink and despite her earlier mention of another and another, he doesn't trust himself or her enough to keep drinking here. "If it's okay, I'm goin' t'take my leave.. I need to think a bit about some old times an' .. well I don't want t'spoil yer party."


"As you wish. Your path is your own." Beni gestures and that funny, lumpen little chauffeur stumps up the stairs, offers her something in a wooden box — not cigars, it's too small. It looks like a pen box.

"This belongs to you," she says, passing it over to Sean. "Since you were the first to claim it. Do with it what you will, Sean. You know where to find me, should you ever have need of me."


Accepting the small token, Sean narrows his eyes at it but takes it. "Thanks." He has no idea of what it is, but it looks familiar.

"And thank ye again. I needed this." What? Another reason to drink? No, Sean has plenty of those. But it's nice to have a bit of his life back that had been missing. And it oddly helps with other areas, maybe it explains why he took certain actions, or maybe not. Either way Sean smiles and though he is obviously going to get more drinks somewhere at least for tonight it's not because he's trying to forget something.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License