1963-11-06 - Beni Buys A House
Summary: Beni negotiates for the purchase of a building next to her proposed nightclub. Sergei says no, but he'll be back. She engages Oliver to pick her up a little something at the Met.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
olivercheng beni 


Beni is awash in paperwork and schematics. The city is being difficult about the renovations — Beni can't expand the way she'd like and she needs room. Bedrooms, to be specific. Right now, she's sitting in her booth at the Black Cat across from the severe-looking Russian who owns the building next door.

"Housing prices are too high for me to relocate, Miss…"

"Beni," Beni says patiently. "And I will make it worth your while, Mr. Konovich."

"No, it is too much inconvenience." Konovich rises and Beni is just a heartbeat behind. "I regret refusing you, Miss Beni. I like making beautiful women happy. But the rooming house is not merely a business. It is a sort of fam — " He trails off when Beni catches his hand.

"Family is not a place," Beni says sweetly, turning him to face her so she can look into his eyes. "It is people. And that building. It's not safe."

"It…it isn't?" Konovich stammers, blinks owlishly.

"The wiring, Sergei," Beni murmurs. "These old buildings are unsafe. Your family could all burn in their beds. All those people who came so far, who trusted you to give them a safe home…"

"Nonsense," Konovich says, shaking his head. "I have inspector. Wiring is all intact. Good day, Miss Beni."

Beni watches him go, smiling a little. "He'll be back," she says mildly.

*

As Konovich is on his way out, Oliver is on his way in. He takes a small step to one side to clear the Russian's path, politely inclining his head to him in passing before he continues on his way.

A moment later, he's sliding into the seat the other man just vacated with a small smile on his face.

"Good talk?" Oliver asks, clasping his hands and resting them against the edge of the table. "Or is it too soon to tell?"

*

"Excellent. I have approval for a period-appropriate passage between the buildings. Second floor, over that little alley with the roses. It'll be very discreet. Very sexy," Beni says cheerily. "I'll have worked out the financing by the time Sergei comes begging me to take that building off his hands. Do you think a passage into the subway system is too last century?"

She makes her way up the few steps to the level her booth is on, then sprawls out on the soft, velvet cushions of the wrap-around bench. Today, she's wearing white, a dress too long and too lacy for the era, but she makes it work. "I think not. I do like having a way out of any situation. I only regret that we don't have room for a stables. I miss horses. They're so much more reliable than cars."

*

"That does sound very nice," Oliver muses, staying put where he is. It gives him a good vantage point from which to watch Beni walk, after all, and he drops his chin into his hands while he watches her go. Sue him. She's a very easy lady to appreciate.

He only regains his feet once she's settled down at her usual booth, taking the steps two at a time to catch up. But Oliver doesn't sit without being invited first, just lingers nearby with his hands clasped behind his back. "Honestly? I think a passage into the subway system would be rather nice. Convenience does a lot for business," he notes, lightly bouncing on his toes.

*

"I agree. I'm very good at this," Beni says without any modesty. "I think the secondary business will be a good one. This town needs livening up. It's so grim. Someone get me some champagne?" She looks around for someone but the bar is relatively busy at the moment and her boys — the bodyguards — are reluctant to leave her side.

"I hate asking, darling, but if you would?" She blows Oliver a kiss. "Then come tell me what you've been doing while I've been working."

*

Oliver is moving before Beni can even ask, but that doesn't stop him from tilting his head as if to catch the blown kiss with his cheek.

He's been with Beni long enough to know precisely what champagne to fetch, how she likes her glass — everything. Oliver is very much dedicated to keeping her happy. He returns to the booth quickly and gets everything arranged — a glass poured for her just so and a far less picky one for himself, then the bottle tucked into a bucket of ice.

His own glass in hand, Oliver at last claims a seat for himself. The invitation was implied, and it's good enough for him. "I almost hate to say it, but I've been… helping." There's no 'almost' about it. He does hate to say it. "Someone was attacking the clean-up out at the park and I stopped their ice from coming down and smushing people. But I did get a coffee date out of it."

*

"I'm so proud, darling. There's no fun in running the business in a city that can't go a day without a disaster." Beni raises her glass to Ollie, then takes a sip. She could live on champagne. It's not quite as sweet as the water in the Otherworld, but it's close. The bubbles tickle her nose, lighten her spirit. "Who's your date with? Are they pretty?"

*

"I didn't catch her name, but I am sure she's very pretty when she isn't covered in concrete dust and debris," Oliver reports with a sunny smile, raising his glass before he takes a sip. Mm, bubbles. "She can fly and punch hard and has a mouth on her, so I thought it might be fun. Would you like me to bring her by?" he asks curiously, already twisting to look back towards the bar. "There's a coffee machine here, isn't there?"

*

"They'll make coffee," Beni says easily. "If I ask. How on earth will you find her again, or did you agree to meet here? I don't know how you young people court these days. I haven't courted anyone for about fifty years."She sips her champagne, looking pensive.

"All these powers around, Ollie. Makes you wonder what the world is up to, doesn't it? I wonder how long my kind will be welcome in this world, before we seem too weak and too strange to exist here." She's rarely melancholy but she does strategize. It looks the same sometimes.

*

"She works for Damage Control. I was just going to go find her there," Oliver replies easily, as if it's the easiest thing in the world. But… courting? He can't help but look amused. "I don't know if I'd call it courting, Beni. Asking her to coffee just seemed the right thing to do in the moment, and she seemed to agree."

The musing does get him to hum thoughtfully around another sip of his champagne. "Anyone who thought you were weak would be in for a rude awakening, Beni," Oliver tells her in a sincere tone of voice, with a very small shake of his head. "And there's no such thing as too strange. You and your kind will endure."

*

"Damage Control? I suppose this town does need that kind of maintenance." Beni purrs thoughtfully, tapping one crimson nail against the rim of her crystal glass. "Is that anything like being a cleaner? In the less savory sense, I mean. Anyone who can get blood out of the flooring is worth keeping track of. I could use a good telepath, by the way, dear. If you meet one, do let me know? There's only so much 'cleaning' I can do myself."

*

"I'll keep an eye out," Oliver promises. He leans back in his seat, lightly rubbing the side of his nose with a fingertip. "And they're a bit like cleaners, yes. They were out there helping clear rubble and bodies, though I don't think they're a for-hire sort of business," he notes sadly. "But I can enquire, if you want."

*

"Everyone likes a little work on the side, darling," Beni says with a laugh. "Especially if the pay is good. And you know I pay well. I miss my old network in New Orleans. It was so easy back when my people were the children and grandchildren of, well, my people. But there are some old friends here in town. People I haven't seen in years. Decades."

*

Oliver doesn't seem surprised to hear this, but he just assumes Beni has friends everywhere. "Good friends?" he asks lightly, head cocked to one side. "Or ones I need to keep an eye on?"

*

"Good friends." Beni's smile turns soft and fond. The diamonds on her fingers glitter when she reaches for the champagne bottle. "I hope we're good friends. I knew him when he was but a boy, in the Other Country. He was such a gentle little boy. Clever and a bit wicked. But far younger than you were when I found you. I meddled. Perhaps I should not have done but nothing brings out the truth of a person like playing a game with them, does it?"

*

Ahh, someone specific, then. Oliver's brow furrows slightly and he gives a slow shake of his head, setting his glass down. "Depending on the game..? No, I suppose not," he admits, settling back and folding his hands in his lap. "You've seen him since, I gather."

*

"Quite incidentally. Here, in fact. He's grown so much. I forget how you humans age so quickly. He's a man now." Beni sighs wistfully, a little smile dancing on her crimson lips. "I expect he has a woman already, looking the way he does. The women here in this city can't all be foolish. Ah, he was such a scoundrel. I do love a bad man. Unfortunately, we all know how those things end." Broken knees, at best.

*

At best. There is the briefest little flash of unhidden jealousy in Oliver's eyes that isn't squashed or hidden, not exactly. But he takes a breath, blinks hard, and it just seems… less. For the moment, anyway. Most notable is that he doesn't say anything, though, and instead just takes his glass back up long enough for a quick drink.

*

"There's been a great deal of chaos in this city," Beni says quietly. "And one would hate to add to the confusion. But there is a little something at the Met, I've been informed, that I might like to have. The Astrolabe of Umar ibn Yusuf ibn Umar ibn Ali ibn Rasul al-Muzaffari is apparently in their hands and I, for one, would like to see it again. It was useful. That wretch Edward had the worst habit of hoarding all the good bits."

*

The sudden change of topic does not, after all this time, catch Oliver by as much surprise as it once would have. He simply listens and gives a crisp nod, returning his glass to the table. He doesn't bother asking if they're both paying the Met a visit to see an exhibit. Context suggests not. Instead, he simply smiles at her. "I'll see if I can't arrange something. I've always liked museums."

*

Broken hearts and bad men inevitably bring Beni back to her seafaring and smuggling days. "You're such a good boy, Ollie," Beni curls up on the velvet seating, elbow on the back, chin resting against her knuckles. "I've been very fortunate. I think you and I should take a trip, soon. Perhaps the kind you take without going anywhere at all. Perhaps if you find me my trinket, you might have a reward for your troubles. I know how you do hate to work."

*

Oliver is far from immune to praise from Beni, even when it's phrased in a way that, if anyone else had said it, he'd find it condescending. From her? He simply accepts it at face value, his mouth immediately curving into a warm smile. "When you're the one asking, it isn't work," he notes, and he sounds like he means it.

*

"I really am fortunate to have you, darling," Beni murmurs. "If I'd known how sweet you are, I would have simply stolen you from the start instead of you going through all that unpleasantness. I don't forget." She blows him another kiss, across the table. "When Sergei gives over that building, dear one, you shall have your pick of rooms. I insist. I want you near me, and living as you should."

*

"If you'd stolen me from the start, I wouldn't have been as useful to you," Oliver notes, raising his shoulders in a helpless shrug. It's true enough. He doesn't know why he has powers now… only that he does because of something that was done to him. If Beni had taken him before then, would he even have them at all?

His smile quirks slightly at the blown kiss and he ducks his head, almost looking bashful. "That's very kind of you, Beni. Thank you."

*

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