A Display of Trust


brian_icon.gif cat_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title A Display of Trust
Synopsis Brian attempts to assist with Ygraine's recruitment to Phoenix, in his own inimitable fashion. At the end, Cat arrives to deliver rather worse news.
Date December 21, 2008

Alley Cat Courier Service

What was once a small warehouse now serves a completely different purpose. From before dawn until after dark, bikes pass in and out the open doors, couriers off to pick up and deliver mail, returning to take on another task.

Although the warehouse should be rather spacious, it mostly manages to feel crowded. At the very least, busy. A row of lockers, stacked two high, covers one long wall. Bike racks for those who prefer to keep their bicycles here - or need someplace to leave them while on break - line the opposite side of the building. There are always people moving about - rummaging in their lockers, little knots of chitchat, trading experiences and advice on routes (or just the latest gossip) beneath the shouted calls for messengers to deliver this package there or go pick up something from somewhere else. There are usually two people tasked with coordinating the chaos of the Alley Cats, a receptionist who takes called-in orders and the manager who sees to the fair dispersal of jobs; a corner of the warehouse near the main doors has been partitioned off to create their offices.

Clad in full biking leathers - the set without the flag of the United Kingdom across the back - Ygraine currently presents a dark, rather wet figure, her suit spattered with melting slush. At the moment, she's just in the process of shrugging out of her reinforced jacket, her helmet and gloves already removed to rest on one end of the big orange sofa by the coffee-making supplies.

And here rests Brian. A cup of coffee, (with tons of creamer and sugar) in his gloved fingers. He's nestled in comfortably, his eyes half closed as he looks to be dozing off somewhat. The cup tilts a bit as if to fall out of his hand.

Ygraine finishes struggling out of the jacket, tossing the heavy garment onto the opposite end of the sofa to Brian. Even so, it makes a fair thump, pounds of leather and ribbing firmly jostling the cushions.

"I'm not cheating." Brian says as he's jolted out of his slumber, some of the coffee pouring onto his lap. His eyes go wide at the sudden pain, making his jup jostle again. Which increases more coffee spillage. His expression is one of extreme pain, though it is comical looking. He is quickly on his feet, trying to find something to aid his burning lap.

Ygraine hastily covers her smile with one hand, but can't wholly contain a faint giggle. She does, however, hastily grab and wet - under the tap, not in the coffee pot or kettle - a wad of paper towels, which get thrown at Brian.

The cup is set down, and the towels taken quickly, and very quickly dabbed at his crotch section furiously. Soon.. all that is left is a very large damp spot there. "Awesome." He mutters, looking up to glower at Ygraine. "Laugh it up. At least my shoes are tied." He says, pointing at her shoes. Tricks! Should she look down, the used wet paper towels will be flung back at her face.

Ygraine doesn't look down, instead just chuckling and grinning at Brian. "Are you okay? I'd be more sympathetic, I suspect, if your first words upon waking hadn't been some protestation about cheating…"

"I think I had a dream I was in high school again." Brian mutters, giving a 'what can you do' look with a shrug. "And I probably wasn't. Cheating." The papertowls are flung at her anyway in a weak form of retaliation. "I haven't seen you since you rejected me!" He says cheerfully despite the words. "How you been?"

Ygraine giggles, then yelps and half-ducks as the towels bounce wetly off one shoulder. "Hey!", she laughs, before poking her tongue out. Bending down, she wrinkles her nose but picks up the wad of soggy paper anyway, moving to chuck it into the bin. "That _was_ a while ago, huh? Me… pretty good. Met Jen's parents at last. They're impressively relaxed, fortunately. Kinda worried about a lot of what's happening. And I've been pulling some unexpected work here, taking my motorcycle through areas people can't cycle along, to make sure we meet as many contracts as we can."

Brian steps forward after she dodges the towels and throws them away. Goes to give her a hug before retreating to the couch. "I look like I pissed myself." He gives a shrug. "Oh well. Now I can, and I can say it's coffee." Smile. "Right. Jen. Girlfriend. Guess what?! I know her. It's a crazy small world."

Ygraine is clearly startled, but somewhat awkwardly accepts the hug. "Be glad you had someone to hand to help you get cool water on it in time. Reddened peeling skin _there_ might pose you problems of more than one kind", she teases. She tosses some coffee into a mug and sets the kettle to boil, then props her rump against the counter. "You know Jen? Amn't I lucky? I still can't believe it!" A wink, then she grins again. "I'm glad. She's a really nice person."

Brian gives a little shrug. "I probably won't ever use it anyways." He says in a not a big deal sort of tone. "Okay. Easy, still kinda makes me feel weird." He confesses, giving wide eyes for a moment. "But yeah. She is really nice. She actually asked me if I would talk to you.." He says, his eyes darting around the room for a moment. Making sure they really are alone.

Ygraine snorts, then lifts a brow. "What makes you feel weird? Someone as beautiful as Jen liking girls? And… With you in a second." She turns back again, as the kettle boils, taking the couple of moments needed to add milk and water, walking over to sit beside Brian on the sofa, stirring gently. "Of course, if you want _real_ privacy, we should step outside. But your crotch might freeze."

"Ew.. just.. let's just ignore that for now." Brian mutters, looking around. "No outside is way too cold for what I'm about to show you." Yeah, that doesn't sound weird at all. "Listen, I know this will sound creepy. But come into the bathroom with me. I promise I'm not going to do anything.." Well.. "Bad. Just come on." He says, going to stand.

Both brows go up now… but after a moment - and a sip of her coffee - Ygraine nods slowly. "Okay. We can step into the showers, or something, I suppose", she says somewhat warily, rising to her feet.

"Kay, come on." Brian says, gesturing with his whole arm as he goes for said location. Oddly enough, his jacket is taken off as he goes. Opening the door he slides in, and holds it open for Ygraine. "Jen really trusts you. So I'm going to, too. So if you're going to be a weirdo and betray me, please give me a heads up so I can move to a different country." He says sweetly.

Ygraine lifts her brows once more, taking a sip as she accepts the jacket with her free hand. "I'd hope that Jen trusts me", she says, tone still somewhat cautious.

The dor is closed behind him. "Alright, just hold the jacket up.." He gestures towards his waist, "Like right here. Right beside me." The young man says, watching her closely.

Ygraine glances around, finding somewhere safe to set down her coffee, before obliging Brian, expression curious.

And just like that, a naked man is present. The new person just kinda.. slides out of Brian. He is naked, but completely identical to Brian, save for the clothes. Luckily though, Ygraine is holding up a jacket to cover him up. The jacket is then taken by Brian to cover himself up. "Please don't freak out." The new Brian urges.

Ygraine does stare, looking rather stunned. Then she laughs and shakes her head. "Wow. So… ahhhh. _How_ is it that you know Jen, exactly?"

And as quick as he came, he's gone. The new one melding back into the first clothed one. "So.. that's why I'm so awesome at courier-ing." He gives a little shrug. "I always have help." He then gives a little smirk. "We're in the same club. She told me you might be interested."

Ygraine shivers a little at the sight of the two merging, then moves to reclaim her mug. "You cheating git. So - I take it you don't actually have any siblings, or at least not here? When I've seen people who look like you, it's been all you?"

Little smirk. "Yeah, no twins. I have a lot of brothers and sisters. But.. Yeah. It's all me." He grins a little bit. "Neat, huh? I'm awesome at three legged races." He grins a bit, going to fold his arms over his chest. "Are you mad?"

Ygraine laughs softly at his joke, then looks startled at the query. "Mad? Why?" She frowns quizzically, cocking her head. "If you're using this to take contracts away from other riders, I would be… but I haven't had the impression that you've been pushing others out of work or anything…."

A little shrug of his shoulders. "I work other jobs. All at the same time." He gives a grin. "So. Evolved-ness. How do you feel about all this?" He asks, tilting his head a little bit.

Ygraine blinks, then chuckles. "About… your being Evolved? Your telling me that you are? Or the socio-political status and possible theological or millenial significance of the Evolved?"

"What the hell did you just say?" Brian asks, tilting his head with wide eyes. "I don't speak British." He mutters, frowning a little bit. "And I dunno, about all of it.. in general. I guess."

Ygraine laughs merrily, shaking her head and taking a longer sip of her coffee before replying. "That wasn't so much British, as book-worm. What exactly did Jen want you to talk to me _about_ Brian? I think it's safe to say that she knows my opinions on the Evolved and the pointlessness of bigotry or the oppression of any minority group."

"Well fine. Here it is. We're Phoenix." Brian says plainly, tilting his head at her. "Some call us terrorists. We're not. We're trying to help people, while obtaining rights for Evolved. You can call us freedom fighters if you want. That's my favorite term." The young man indicates. "We've had our eyes on you."

Ygraine nods slowly, frowning a touch. She darts a glance towards the door, then refocuses upon Brian. "How… how long ago did Jen ask you to speak to me?", she enquires curiously. "I had a brief chat with a former Alley Cat about this, last month…"

Ohshit. His mouth opens slowly. "It was a while ago.. I've been kinda slow." Ohshitohshit. "Umm.. I can also erase memories." His hand goes to her forehead, and his eyes squint as if in the process of erasing her memory. "Forget about thisssss" He compells.

Ygraine does frown as he announces this supposed second power - finding a low laugh only after a few seconds. "Mmmmm. Well. Was your… suggestion to me that we date meant as some sort of test? To see if I was loyal to Jen and therefore trustworthy, or something?"

His brow arches. "Yes. Exactly." The young man lies, his eyes widening and his hand retracting from her forehead. "Uh, no. Not at all. I liked you. I hadn't met Jen then yet.. Well I had. I just didn't know you knew each other." His face screws up a bit. "Shit."

Ygraine giggles, shaking her head as she studies Brian. "Okay… I believe you. And I'm glad. I… wouldn't like to think of people playing with emotions like that. You'd got me worried, just now…."

"Jen did me a favor. I wanted to help her out. I was supposed to give.. another one of ours a reminder to talk to you." Brian tilts his head back. "I thought I'd take things into my own hands and try to help Jen out. So.. If you like don't want to talk about this or anything, please don't say anything? Everybody's really pissed at me already." He gives a little shrug. "Whoops."

Ygraine laughs softly, then offers Brian an amusedly sympathetic look. "What've you done that's got them upset?", she asks gently.

A deep exhale. "I.." He stops himself. "I mess up a lot. Like right now, about to tell an outsider how I've screwed up." Brian indicates. "I try hard. I guess sometimes I'm just the loveable fuck-up." A little shrug. "Whatya gonna do?"

Ygraine shrugs gently. "I'm not exactly an outsider, but… yeah. I probably shouldn't have asked. I apologise. Since you've been - mostly - honest with me, I'll admit that part of the reason I've not pushed for more action is that I've got my doubts. I wanted to be at least moderately sure that Phoenix really _had_ left behind the habits of its predecessor organisation. I trust and adore Jen, but that doesn't mean that what's right for her'll necessarily be identical with what I can whole-heartedly support. Or that I think she'll always be right. So… I wanted to be persuaded. Impressed by what happened. The Day of Miracles project was certainly a great move, as far as I'm concerned."

"I agree." Brian pipes. "I'm trying to push for more of that crap. We've got to be like the hope of New York City you know? Like solving crimes and crap. Superheroes." A little shrug. "I mean, I know we won't be like the comic books. But, we've got to be protecting and serving the every day man and what not. Trust me, if we did that bomb shit, I'd be straight out the door." He tries to smile assuringly.

This time in the afternoon is usually one of the busier periods for Alley Cat, but the recent heavy snows have forced the bicycle couriers to abandon many of the routes they might otherwise take. The main room of the former warehouse is liberally decorated with multi-faith symbols of festivity and good cheer, provided by both the company and the more artistic or generous of their eclectic employees.

Behind the counter, the bespectacled manager talks into a radio head-set, offering advice and warnings on ice, snow, and freshly-gritted streets to those of his subordinates still willing to venture out into the freezing cold. A large, middle-aged African American woman tackles a mound of paperwork - much of it water-stained - while another stack dries before a radiator nearby.

There are few couriers in sight, with two of those who _are_ present are currently holding a conversation within the privacy of the small shower-block.

"I'm glad", says Ygraine to Brian, eyeing him thoughtfully. "Both on the morality and the lack of desire to wear your underwear on the outside…. Still - we've probably been lurking in the showers long enough. I promise I'll give it some more thought, and see what I can come up with." She gestures an invitation towards the closed door that stands between them and the main area.

"Okay.. just maybe.. Don't tell anyone. About this." Brian says with a little grin. Before pausing, "I should probably get back to biking.. or whatever I do here. Umm. We should hang out some time." He pauses. "I'm not asking you out again, I'm just saying.. we should do something. As friends." He gives a little shrug. "You laugh at my jokes. That makes you special." He brings up one finger and gives a little "boop." on her nose. Of course it is accompanied with the falsetto word.

In the main area of the courier operation a solitary female makes her way across, without speaking to anyone. She's been in here before, one occasion when she was brought to meet with Helena and a few others. They'd been on break at the time, and so on not seeing Ygraine anywhere Cat heads for that part of the building to wait and watch. It could be she's just out on a run; she'd been told the Briton was working today when she called earlier.

Clad in muted colors, dark jeans and winter boots with her coat hiding the hooded sweatshirt beneath it, she waits.

Ygraine goes slightly cross-eyed, tracking that finger to her nose, before offering Brian another grin. "Sure. I don't exactly have an over-abundance of friends here. And if you know Jen, it'll be easier, certainly. Being able to include her in things seems like a good idea to me, for some reason." She winks, then moves to open the door, passing back into the capacious main chamber.

Heavy foot-falls precede the Briton's return to the break area - the rather lurid, four-seater orange sofa that faces the coffee-making facilities her goal - since Ygraine is currently clad in the lower half of her motorcycling gear, her torso protected against the chill by a loose woollen sweater. Upon seeing the visitor, however, she clumps to a halt, staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed at her. "Cat?", she half-squawks, upon managing to find her voice, then immediately looks around for somewhere to set down her coffee - though Brian might well have it handed off to him - so that she can dash over to the other woman without drenching either of them in hot liquid. If permitted, she's quite intent on delivering a warm and clearly relieved hug.

Following Ygraine out, Brian does take the cup. Though he is wary of it. The wet mark on his crotch is evidence of that. He goes to set the cup down. He gives a weak and slightly awkward smile to Cat. "Heyy.." Then he goes to mount his bike. "Well.. Seeya later Ygraine. Cat.. Good to see you." And with that he hurries on out.

Her eyes lift when she hears the voices of people approaching and sees them come into view. Cat stands and remains there as the Briton hands off her coffee to Brian so she can approach and deliver the embrace. Arms open to permit it, and while wrapped in it the eyes close. She remains still as long as the contact is held up. There's no speaking, just thinking.

Ygraine delivers a rather warmer hug than might have been expected, though fortunately the years of competitive training weren't for a sport that required her to build up her biceps. "Oh, God, Cat. I've been so worried. I… sorry." She coughs, and pulls back, blushing. "You've probably found out I've been trying to track you down, haven't you?", she asks quietly. "I… I hope you're not offended."

"I'm not," she replies solemnly. "I've been busy lately, I should have come around sooner, I… you were looking for me, Debater?" Cat seems surprised by that. A deep and slow breath is drawn in, then released. In the silence that follows her mind calls up the image of that hamburger wrapper in her pocket, visualizing the words written on it again. In so doing she seems perhaps distant for a moment, the eyes focusing on a wall before returning to the woman's face.

Ygraine cocks her head, then nods slowly. "You… no messages…? Ummmmm." She darts a glance around, then further lowers her voice. "I found out about the two of you being taken off in an ambulance. I even asked a cop to see if he could find out where, after that, since you weren't listed as patients at any hospital I could get to talk to me…."

The words are met with a slow nod as she listens. Her features become steadily more solemn. And Cat's answer begins with a question. "Which policeman was it?" Consideration is given to how she might proceed from here, when and what to say. For all she knows Debater may desperately need to finish work today and not suffer loss of pay, because what she has to report, well, it may preclude working more. This thought process, of course, causes the kind of silence which begins to betray what needs to be shared before it can actually be said.

Ygraine frowns a touch, eyes flickering to and fro over Cat's face, studying her rather intently. "I…." A second's pause, then she clearly concludes that Cat has a good reason to ask. "An Officer Trask. He's either a better liar than I am a reader of people - which I admit might not be too hard - or he's actually a decent guy. And he seems to be involved in more than a "normal" beat cop would be…. I've even asked him questions about corruption in the NYPD and not had him laugh at me, stonewall, or get angry. Why do you ask?"

"Do you have much time left in your shift today, Debater?" Cat asks her question in a subdued voice, as she thinks it over more. If she needs the money, it can be made up. Funds aren't a problem for her. "You… you should sit down, please." While she remains standing, and her features start to cloud over. Because it hurts. This is the first person she's told from outside that group, and they didn't have to be told by her. The word just spread. Her eyes close, she rests her face in a hand for a moment.

Ygraine darts a glance towards the counter at Cat's query, though her expression turns to one of confusion and worry as Cat continues. "I… Officially, I'm not even working today. I came in, 'cause I'm a lunatic, and have a motorcycle and all-weather gear. I've been picking up some of the deliveries the cyclists can't manage, but I'd been thinking of knocking off about now…." It's clear that her thoughts aren't on her words, even as she says them. "Cat - should we go somewhere more private? You've got bad news of some sort, and I can offer you somewhere warm, without people watching us…"

"It's your call, Debater," Cat answers, lifting her head to make eye contact. And it is bad news, the pain that's entered her own is unmistakable, the loss they show. She doesn't say more, leaving that for after she hears the response or they go elsewhere.

Ygraine frowns worriedly, reaching up to give Cat's shoulder a squeeze. "I… you have your own transport? Or d'you want to ride pillion? If it's dry out, you should be okay. I've got a spare helmet." She's already moving to the sofa, on which rest a helmet, gloves and a reinforced biker's jacket - this one without the flag of the United Kingdom across the back.

"I've got the car," Cat answers, as her eyes close again when the shoulder is squeezed. She moves away a few seconds later, feet moving to carry her outside at a not rapid pace.

Ygraine completes her armoured coverage as rapidly as she can, detouring to exchange a few words with the woman behind the counter as she confirms that she is indeed heading home. Then she slips outside to take a large, powerful Triumph out of cover, gunning the engine into life with a throaty rumble. Making sure that Cat's ready to follow, she then swings out into the road, guiding the other woman to her home.

She had hoped to say what she had to right here, in the cold, it felt right. Cold news in the cold for delivery, but she had turned one way to make use of a wall while Debater turned in another direction, there to mount her bike and take off. The decision thus made, she trudges to her own vehicle, enters, starts it, and follows.

Continued in Steamingly Rancid?.

December 21st: In the Midst of Heaven
December 21st: Steamingly Rancid?
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