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Who: Ben and Dale
Where: Ben's place
When: Afternoon

Dale had raided the grocery store for whatever she could find, and to split it up evenly between herself and Ben. Except there hadn't been anything there at all. That was a bit of a shock, but when she turned it over and over in her head, she realized that she wasn't surprised, really. Food stock had been getting smaller and smaller as time passed. She examined her lean, lanky frame in the mirror for a couple moments when she got home, and then put some of her own food in a bag for him - he'd need them more than she did, and she, at least could go out and... do whatever it took to get supplies. Y'know, to survive. Work for it, beg, whatever. Ben wasn't equipped for that. Dale wasn't even in his experiment and she could tell that. Maybe she'd go hungry, but she could still help, right? Right.

Dale took a deep breath and knocked on Ben's door.

The door swung open under Dale's knock, gradually yawning wide and revealing an absolute mess in the house beyond it. Glass littered the floor, DAT tapes scattered in a trail from the hall back to the main room, and up the hall just at the threshold of the kitchen lay Ben himself. He was sprawled out on his stomach, feet towards Dale, with a dark smear of blood on the wall surrounded by a spiderweb crack in the plaster and paint. She couldn't know, and he couldn't say, but yesterday had been Ben's first breakdown since he'd come to town. The news of Bekah's removal had sent him into a blind rage; flipping his mixing boards, smashing his plates and glasses, and destroying almost everything else he could until Ben had finally started drilling his own head into the wall. It had been enough to knock him out cold, giving him the longest stretch of sleep to come in years.

"Oh, shit." Dale put down the groceries - not very carefully, but she didn't cast them at her feet either - and went over. "Ben... Ben, can you hear me?" Anything she remembered from first aid training from when she first had Marley was completely gone from her. No, that wasn't true. She didn't start shaking him because she didn't know what had happened. Lightly, she touched his shoulder instead. "Ben, can you wake up?" And I bet they don't have an ambulance. Huzzah.

As she got closer, it was obvious he was breathing. In fact, he was snoring. The snores were quieter with him face down, but once Dale was close enough? Yeah, he was sawing some proverbial logs. The contact made him snort in a breath, cutting off the snores as Ben rolled a little, revealing a nasty dark bruise on his forehead that framed a pressure cut. "Can but won't mom," he muttered, squinting his eyes shut, then flinching as the squint pulled the skin of his forehead. "Augh, use an anvil as a pillow? Haphaestus filling in for Morpheus?" Ben groaned, opening his eyes a little more and giving Dale a startled look. Yeah, it was weird for her to be here. But Ben was used to weird things as part of his daily life.

Since she wasn't up on her Gods (she recognized Morpheus, not so much Haphaestus), Dale decided to ignore that part. Very lyrical, not very helpful. "You alright? You look sort of like what I've always thought a robbery victim would look like." Dale stood up from her crouch and picked her way through the mess to the fridge and freezer, then rummaged around in it until she found the ice cubes, and then rummaged around the drawers until she found a tea-towel. And thus a make-shift icepack was made for him, and she handed it over. "Do you want to see a doctor?"

He'd taken the ice pack and pressed it against his head with a low growl, torn between relief from the cold and pain from the contact, when Dale's question registered. "No!" he snapped, rolling over and scrambling back to put his back against the wall. "None of them! Sterile floors and white light, bedpans needles catheters pills clean-pressed uniforms restraints!" He sucked in a deep lungful of breath, eyes wide and panicked as Ben felt the blood rushing through his body again. How long had he been asleep? What time was it? Where were his pills? Ben lurched to his feet with an unsteady grumble, pressing a hand to the wall to steady himself. "Bathroom," he rumbled in warning, staggering towards his bedroom, "Clozapine and quetiapine before things fly so far south they circle the globe."

"Alright." Dale took pace beside him, watching his progress and ready to lend a hand if he started heading towards the floor again. "Do you want a hand? I could get those medications while you sat, if you want." She doubted he would, just because he looked so determined and most of the way off the edge of panic. At least if he was walking he probably wasn't paralyzed from the neck down. Of course, Dale wasn't a doctor, but she was pretty sure it worked that way. She picked her way over a bit of broken glass, brushing it out of the way of Ben with her shoe-clad foot.

Ben didn't reply, or if he did it was nonsense. It was low mutterings, rambles to try and keep him focused past the steady pounding in his head as he picked his way through the wreckage, cresting his bedroom door and turning to the bathroom. He didn't bother with turning on the lights, grabbing his pill bottles and popping two of them open. The first pill was popped right into his mouth, crunching under his teeth as Ben coughed at the bitter taste. he dropped the ice pack heedlessly, twisting on the faucet and leaning in to slurp at the water, then tossing in another two pills. Swallowing, Ben gripped the sink in both hands and breathed deep, shoulders rolling. What had she said her name was? "....Dale?" he murmured after a long moment, "What are you doing here?"

"There's no food left in the grocery store or places like that; it's been disappearing for days, and hasn't been replaced." Dale leaned against the the door frame, examining the knee of her jeans. It was starting to fade to gray and would probably have a hole in it by the time it finally snowed. She pushed her glasses back up her nose. "And I didn't know how much you had left, so I brought you some of what I had. It's not much."

"Huh, food," Ben echoed with a weak laugh, "Ghost came... yesterday? Two days? Took some, reminded me to eat. She was thin and frail, limbs on a bare tree in a strong wind. Silent. No words wasted on me, waste enough already." He waved behind him vaguely, back the way they'd come. "Still cans and bags behind doors. Can't guess at what or where, but I don't eat much."

Dale's eyes snapped fire, since the first thing she assumed was that someone just came in and took food without even getting permission. "There was still food in the grocery store two days ago - not much, but there was some. She didn't have to come in and take yours." She'd 'adopted' Ben, and she didn't like the mental imagery of someone doing that. "Do you know who? A name?"

"Wasn't real," Ben reiterated, a deep frown forming as he looked back to Dale finally, "Was she?" He wasn't interested in how bad the cut on his head looked, Ben was a man with little to no use for mirrors. He was interested the idea that the person he'd seen hadn't been a figment. "Looked like... someone who's gone," he murmured in a weak attempt of description, biting his lip hard to fight the fluster of emotion he felt. Rebekah was gone, Kaylin was gone, and the ghost girl? She hadn't been back since that one day. "White skin like gossamer, hair like milkweed, short. Teetering in her eyes between tears and rage. Recognize that look."

"Be damned are you poetic." Dale said dryly. "But if she actually took your food, she might be real." But she couldn't tell whether or not his 'ghost' was, so Dale decided to leave it alone for now. Though if the 'ghost' came back, Dale was going to be very, very pissed off. "I don't know if she was real or not, I wasn't here."

Ben sighed, digging a hand into his beard to scratch at the cheek beneath it. "Don't know, lost the ledger with the tally of the cans and bags and boxes," he said, as close to a joke as Ben really got. "Real people... they have noises? Screams and cries and secrets they whisper and word after word to fill up every day without feeling so alone." He took a deep breath, scowling at a flash of pain as his brow knotted and he focused through the ramble. "She didn't. Not one word to spare. No shoes, no sounds, no smiles or cynicism or anything at all. Pillowcase and cans, disapproving looks like mom gives to say 'finish your vegetables'."

Dale really wasn't sure if his 'ghost' was a real person or not, now. Still, the idea that someone was stealing his food really got her back up. "Well... if you saw her again, would you recognize her? I mean, that way we'd be able to figure out if she was real or not." And then, Dale figured, she could punch the little brat. Assuming she was a corporeal entity and not a figment of Ben's imagination.

"Couldn't forget," Ben told her with a quick nod, leaning under the faucet again for a quick drink, then turning to leave the bathroom. "Keep what you brought, still have food. Share some? Forgetful has it's soft edges that just reaffirm instead of cut," he said with a little grin in spite of the pain in his head. And if Ben was more mindful? He'd include the pain in his scraped and split knuckles, not to mention bruises from throwing himself around bodily. But he was paying them no mind, stepping around the strewn mess of his home as he moved back to the kitchen, the fit that had caused all the havoc forgotten entirely.

"Would you like a hand cleaning the place up?" Dale asked, looking around and picking her way through the debris again. "It's a bit of a mess."

He shook his head wordlessly, putting his back to Dale as Ben tossed open the cabinet doors, digging out cans of vegetables. "Green or orange?" he asked, holding up a can of peas and another of sliced carrots, "Mess'll vanish, hyperfocus comes just like a ghost. Drifts in without a word, does what it needs, slips back out." He'd probably remember as little of cleaning up as he did of trashing the place, but as long as his sound boards and guitar were okay? Ben would get by. Still, the company was nice, headache or no.

Canned carrots weren't all that high up on her list of delicious foods. "Green, please, if you don't mind." Dale would've preferred fresh food, either way, but it was better than nothing and beggars couldn't be choosers, right? "How've you been, besides on the floor bleeding?"

Nodding, Ben grunted wordlessly as he tugged open drawers to find his can opener, seizing it with a little laugh of accomplishment. In his world? It was all about the little victories. "Existential," Ben answered, twisting open one can, "Here. Aware. Trapped and hearing and reading as each one out there trickles away like water in cupped hands. Less ships in bottles, new ones brought in. Don't recognize them. But... I'm here." Even that first-person word was a good sign, his medications were working. Ben took both cans to the sink, holding the lids in place as he drained them, then offered the peas to Dale.

She took the can and really wasn't sure she'd like unheated canned peas, but she went to find a spoon. And with that, she leaned against the wall to nibble daintily. "Thank you for the peas, Ben." Dale grinned at him faintly. And she lifted up the can in question. "Cheers."

He smirked tightly under his beard, shaking his head a little. Cheering with cans of veggies, what sort of world did that happen in? Mine. he speared a carrot and wiggled it Dale's way, leaning on the counter as he ate the first one. "Salutations for the first day of the rest of days," he muttered as he swallowed. "From here there's only tomorrow." And fear, uncertainty, everything that filled every other day of Ben's life. But maybe he wouldn't be facing it down alone. They could take away the people he trusted, but if he tried? Maybe he could find new ones.