Anything But Safe


hana_icon.gif kimberlynn_icon.gif wade_icon.gif

Scene Title Anything But Safe
Synopsis Wade walks Kimberlynn home after a date. Their sojourn through Thomas Jefferson is interrupted by what could have been a tragic disaster, but a lioness chases the offending pack of jackals away.
Date June 9, 2009

Thomas Jefferson Trailer Farm

Before the bomb, this was Thomas Jefferson Park. Some of it still is, stretches of grass and trees that far fewer people visit than once did.

Some of it is not.

Faced with the sheer number of people displaced from their homes after the bomb, but too stubborn — or without the means — to move from Manhattan, this is one of the many places the city and various federal agencies have given over to shelter the refugees. As such, what was once meticulously maintained greensward has been turned into dirt road and trailer lots. The grass has been worn thin by the repetitive passing of hundreds of feet. Trailers sit all but side-by-side, with room only for a car and perhaps a few chairs to be parked in between. Younger children run around underfoot, seemingly undeterred from their games; older ones might slink behind the trailers with hungry eyes, resentful of those who have more, while the adults seem more heart-weary and worn-down than not. These are the people who have nowhere else to go; some have jobs, but many do not, surviving on as little as possible. Alcohol and drugs are common; so is suicide, for those who have passed from desperation into surrender.

Evening thunderstorms gave way to restored sunshine not too long ago, the last rays of daylight glinting red-orange from water-frosted skyscraper windows. There are no such things in the Thomas Jefferson trailer park, of course; the rows upon rows of trailers, temporary residences turned the next best thing to permanent, are far meaner than the city's trademark edifices of steel and glass.

They seem to huddle together in the damp wet, though warmth is a scarce commodity in the camp of refugees — both figuratively and literally. One would think the people who have nothing might be united by their lacks, working together to offset poverty, need, and depression, but human nature is far more base than that. Deprivation makes of them a pack of jackals, envying those who have more, hoarding what little they themselves possess, always looking for the opportunity to scavenge — even at the expense of others.

Perhaps especially so.

Walking through the trailer park often means walking past many watching, hungry eyes; the old woman seated on a ratty lawn chair beneath a torn tarp that resembles a protective awning, the small gaggle of kids playing in the shadow of their family trailer, the couple carrying laundry baskets back with clean, if worn-down, clothes. They watch, and when the subjects of their watching have passed, each and every one returns to their insular, dreary business.

The date is over. Almost. They walk under an umbrella, really not paying much attention to anything hidden out in this stormy night as their intent is to make it back to Kimberlynn's trailer before the weather gets any worse.

Pity, the night started out so well — then the rain. It certainly was a nice walk to dinner, then movies — a comedy, where they both laughed along with the others in the theater. Of course, the laughing was over when they stepped outside into the rainy weather. A quick stop at a convenience store got them an umbrella and then it was the lengthy trek back to the trailer park.

"Sorry about this. I should have checked on the weather. This is my fault." Wade admits to Kimberlynn as they hustle along. He glances down side streets hoping for a short cut — at least to shave a little time off their distance out in this weather.

"Oh, it's okay. I like walking under an umbrella," Kimberlynn grins. She lets Wade carry the umbrella, admiring his chivalry. And lets him be chilly, as he has given her his jacket for warmth. She doesn't mind that too much, as she gets cold easily — the jacket is a welcome thing. She shoves one hand into her pocket, and tucks her other hand into Wade's elbow. Her attention is pretty much only for him. "So…if it's your 'fault' I'm under this umbrella, I guess I get to thank you. I don't mind being out in the weather. Not having a car, you get used to that sort of thing. Thanks for the date, I really had — and am still having! — a great time, Wade."

There aren't really any short cuts worth the name in Thomas Jefferson — the neat and straight lines of the original planners have long since been eroded by the habits of everyday traffic, grass beaten down to bare mud in innumerable ant-trails that mark the places everyone's agreed can be walked upon. Straying off the paths might just find a person being chased away by some territorial elder — or a kid with his dog. Like the one leaning against a trailer corner, narrowed eyes watching the pair make their way into Thomas Jefferson from the world outside. His light brown hair is slicked with rainwater, the hems of faded and frayed jeans splattered with mud; the German Shepherd sitting by his feet is just a little skinnier than it should be, but looks to be in good health otherwise, neither old nor young.

"Don't thank me yet. When you end up sick tomorrow, you'll be far from thankful." Wade smiles, meaning it in jest — it's one thing that he hopes truly does not come true. He would feel pretty badly if something happened to her because of his carelessness. He sure is happy to have her on his arm, however. "It's not too much further." He announces as if it were something she didn't already know. It is her place they're walking to. He almost regrets not insisting on calling a cab. "Next time I'll be more careful." he says. Hopefully, there will be a next time.

Kimberlynn smiles into Wade's face, and then looks toward the stranger. She gives him a nod, then returns her attention to Wade, not even giving the other guy a second glance. "Did ya know ya can't get sick just from bein' out in the rain? Seriously, ya get sick from germs. If I get sick tomorrow, it'll be because of the cold one of the kids I tend has. Don't worry, Wade, it'll all be okay. I just hope I don't get you sick. Will ya hate me if I've given ya germs?"

Wade is not the only one thinking about 'next time', though the shadow who has been using every trick she ever learned to keep discreet tabs on the pair has a slightly different take. He'd better be more careful, the shadow grumbles silently. Not close behind, nor even following their direct path, she walks through the dripping rain and occasional glints of sunlight with the air of an irritated lioness; not even the people who have nothing to lose look too closely at her, just in case she decides to vent that irritation on them.

Not a day goes by that Hana Gitelman doesn't curse the implicit promise she made, particularly when that promise is the reason she's here. Against her own personal wishes.

The young man watches as the pair walk past, then straightens, stepping out from the meager shelter of the trailer and into the drizzle. The dog pads beside him, together blocking any easy route back. "Next time?" he echoes with mocking scorn. "What're you going to do about this time?" The youth, it seems, isn't alone; the sound of his voice rousts others from their idle pursuits, the remaining four of the pack coming out into the open, regarding Wade and Kim with malignant avarice.

As she turns to look up at him, Wade is almost tempted to go in for their first kiss, but then she's distracted by someone — and curious enough he turns to take a look at who she's nodding to. He's about to respond to her comment, then he speaks. The two stop walking, as he immediately turns towards the voice, putting himself between the stranger and Kimberlynn. Had he been on the net, he'd have seen this coming a mile away — not so much when the physical is involved. "What do you want?" he asks — at least trying to sound brave. His voice only cracks once. Really. "Stay behind me." he warns Kimberlynn. He's completely unaware that he's being watched — well, at least by anyone other than their confronter. Make that contronters, as he notices there is more than one.

Wade's date is troubled, as she doesn't know this crew. Kimberlynn is more than happy to stay behind Wade, but she leans, so she can peek out from behind him and see what's going on. She chooses not to keep quiet, but to try to talk them down. Stepping out from the safety of "behind Wade," she speaks up, "Hey, guys, listen, I'm one o' you. I live here. There's no need for trouble." But that's about all she can come up with, so she shuts up again, and scooches closer to Wade, taking hold of his arm.

"She lives here," the youth with the dog echoes, a mocking sneer. "Well, then, we'll just all be going home and having tea like good neighbors, won't we?" Picking up on something in his attitude, his tone, his scent, the shepherd barks twice.

One of the others in the pack steps forward. "You think you're better than us, girly? That you and your boyfriend can just waltz on by without a care in the world? I don't think so."

"What do we want?" the first one repeats. "Let's just start with everything and go from there."

Stupid, stupid boy. Thomas Jefferson is not a safe place. So few parts of the city are. He's lucky she identified him, last time — or else he would be in a very sorry situation right now.

Keep the girl close, is Hana's brief instruction to the younger technopath, as she creeps through the rain, a dark shadow with deliberate intent. Right… about… here should be good…

Wade shakes at the voice seemingly in his ear — perhaps he's imagining it. Perhaps not. He steps back, feeling Kimberlynn pressing against his back. "Whatever you do, just stay there." he whispers backwards to her, while he keeps his eyes on those around him. So many — it does seem hopeless. "Not trying to do anything except escort the young lady home. We hadn't intended to be out so late." Maybe if he keeps talking, it'll stay on that level. He has zero fighting experience — so he's going to get his ass handed to him, but if he can keep their attention off of her — then he's done what he can. "If you get a chance to run for it.. run." he whispers, hopefully not loud enough that they can hear it.

Kimberlynn's whisper hisses fiercely, "I won't leave you here alone with these guys!" She's like a miniature terrier, fiercely protective, but for all intents and purposes, ineffective. Oh, if only she'd had a sense of them before they became so aggressive, if her stupid empathy had worked at the right time, she could've known what they were up to, and changed course, and maybe saved some trouble. She keeps her eyes on the aggressive strangers, completely unaware of anyone hiding in shadows. She squeezes her fingers around Wade's arm, the beginning nigglings of fear showing behind her eyes.

The faint whistling sound of steel slicing through rain and air is incongruous, unexpected; if it's even heard at all. Certainly the first notice the pack appears to take of it is when one of their number claps a hand to his neck with a startled cry, fingers coming away wet with blood. "Wh—" He looks at his friends. They all look really hard at Wade.

A voice comes from the rain, female, but too cold to be called feminine. "You only get one warning," Hana states, as she steps out from between two trailers, across from the youth who got stung. A second blade rests ready in her right hand, the woman's dark eyes level upon the one who seems to be the head of this little gang.

The dog knows a losing proposition when he sees one. He scoots back.

There's the feeling again. The same one from the park before. A small tingle that seems to be buried inside his brain. It's not loud or annoying or strong — just there. His eyes turn to the first fallen thug, then at the words, Wade turns to look at the woman. Why he feels he should know her, he has no clue. But she's here and he's at least thankful for that. Hopefully, she'll be able to save their backsides. Not that he's going to be any help at all, which is going to nag him for a long time to come. He hushes Kimber. Now is not the time to be talking, it seems.

The girl frowns, and keeps quiet, her eyes traveling from the aggressors to the woman who just might turn out to be their rescuer. She watches intently, and almost goes to the fallen baddie, but resists the urge as that would put her in a pretty dangerous position. All she can do is hope he's down until she and Wade and this other woman are safely away, and that he'll be okay. Or…at least not suffer. Well, maybe SOME suffering is in order.

He's not fallen, just sporting a new scratch. It seems words have deserted the hecklers; silence reigns instead, the kind that tension makes almost tangible, particularly with the thick humidity of the air and the backdrop sound of rain pattering against trailer roofs. The kind of silence in which one can imagine the scales being tested, weighed, assessed…

A pack of jackals might take on a lioness, but not do so and come out unscathed. The scavengers, after due consideration, remain true to their nature; they fold back into the wet shadows, surrendering the ground, though not without several narrow-eyed, hateful glances being cast in the direction of Wade and Kimberlynn. Glances that say this is your fault and there will be a reckoning for this, just you wait.

Hana watches them retreat, ignoring the way rainwater rolls down her hair and drips inside the collar of her jacket; it's been doing that for a long time now. Once they've gone, she slides the knife back into its sheath. Wade is given a sidelong glance, the woman's lips pressing into a line; if he were one of hers, she'd give him a scathing rebuke. A lesson, in its way, on how to not have this happen again.

He isn't. And she's supposed to play nice.

Gitelman turns away and goes to retrieve the blade she threw earlier instead.

The close call is one that has given Wade — no, Taylor — a feeling he has not felt in a very long time. Fear. Mortality. He could have died, but maybe not permanently as he has the capability to move into his phone or nearly anything electronic if it were closeby. Kimberlynn on the other hand — would have died. This is what causes him fear. Not for himself but for what could happen to her. He watches the woman as she moves about getting her things. His arm moves around behind Kimberlynn. "Looks like we're going to be okay, for now." His voice was a mere whisper. He raises it louder towards the woman. "Hey. Thanks." He offers no more than that — because, really — what could he offer her. They are lucky she was around.

Kimberlynn just stares, wide-eyed, realizing, too, how close that was to danger. How tenuous her situation is here in the trailer park. She bites on her bottom lip, but does not cry. Instead, she leans into Wade, and watches the woman, who just saved them from a mess of trouble. it was stupid to not call a cab when she knows that it's not the best place at night. She blames herself for this trouble.

She finally speaks, her voice just above a whisper at first, just for Wade's ears, "I'm sorry." Then, she raises her voice so their rescuer can hear her. "Thank you."

Wiping the retrieved blade off first on the grass, then on her black jeans, Hana slides it back into its sheath. Straightening, she walks back towards the pair, a brief nod given in acknowledgment of their gratitude. There isn't, however, the formality of you're welcome in reply. Because that isn't precisely true.

Dark eyes rest on Wade. "Try not to forget where you are, next time. 'Almost home' means anything but safe." That's Hana's advice to him for the day. She offers Kimberlynn a more polite nod — then walks away into the rain, black jacket, black jeans, and dark hair blurring into the gathering gloom.

Those eyes that look at Wade give him cause for a shiver that runs up the length of his spine, unbeknownst to his companion. As he watches the woman walk away, he turns to Kimberlynn and offers a small. "I should have known better. I'm sorry." He slips his hand into hers and tugs her a polite tug as he holds the umbrella in the other hand. "Let's get you home before they decide to come back." Of course, as he leads the way out, he can't help but look off after the direction of the woman who saved them. He can't pinpoint what it was — but there was something.

As they reach her home, he leaves her there. That first kiss will have to wait. He hadn't really even earned it tonight. With the promise to call the following day, he takes a cab back to his apartment. He spends several moments alone with his thoughts, as he sits down in front of his computer. Tiny icon in the task bar indicating that he's online blinks at him. He has never felt so helpless in all of his life. Of course, he recalls that not to be the case. There was one time. When he watched his parents die in an incident that has not yet occured, yet he was there all the same. It was the same day that Taylor Reed truly died. Innocence taken away at that precise moment — and in his place, a criminal was left. But no more.

He places his hand on the keyboard and without typing a single key he reaches out.

I'm ready now.

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