Complex Human Beings


cesar_icon.gif eimi_icon.gif

Scene Title Complex Human Beings
Synopsis In a world divided by mistrust where everyone has been separated and classified, two people discuss about being more than what's merely on cards and paper.
Date March 18, 2018

Phoenix Heights, near Cat's Cradle

It's late.

Late enough that for the last few blocks, Eimi walks along the sidewalks towards Cat's Cradle rather than teleporting from one rooftop to the next. There's a paperback clutched in one hand, and she's winding a crank-powered flashlight with the other, and… not really watching where she's going too carefully, although she does try to walk closer to the wall than not.

And even though there's no official curfew, the number of people on the streets has dwindled. It's late enough that Eimi's certain that the party (any party, because the bar to some degree or another is always a party) is over, or at least winding down. Or else she'd be returning through the second floor window, sneaking in.

When he was at some point reminded that he could get free drinks at the Cat’s Cradle, Cesar took it upon himself to verify said theory. And lo, it was true. But he’s kept his “bill” within reason, not overdoing it but at least putting a nice dent in the supply. He’s not drunk, but he’s not fully sober either. A few faculties might be compromised, just enough that he’s also walking a little closer to building sides than usual. A song lingers in his throat, though it never really makes it very far past his lips, remaining mostly in the way that his body sways to an inaudible beat.

He hears the flashlight crank, pausing in steps, looking ahead to note who’s approaching. Instead of getting out of the way by crossing the street, though, he winds up leaning back against a wall, waiting for her to pass. Once she’s closer, she might hear the lyrics being sung, quietly, “Dos gardenias para tí, con ellas quiero decir, te quiero, te adoro, mi vida…

The flashlight takes a bit, and then the teen clicks it on to verify that it works. But it's dark and it's late, and both the book and the flashlight are tucked into her satchel so that she can look up.

Cesar is recognised when Eimi is about two feet away from him. First with a flicker of some expression across her face and then a flicker of her ability going off, a blinking in and out of space in nearly the same physical space for a moment, and then Eimi looks back down at her feet. Her brows dip sharply, and when she speaks it's in quiet tones. "You're that fed," it's almost accusatory, not quite angry… not quite anything. And this time, she doesn't teleport away.

Ponle todas tu atención,… huh?” Cesar’s half-sung, half-hummed song interrupts as he’s addressed, and he looks up from fishing out his cellphone to check for service, but finds no bars. Alas. The phone is slipped back in his pocket, and he turns his attention to the girl. “I’m not just a ‘fed’. I am a complex human being with a life, a family, and a little sister who’s got more sass than you, y ya tú sabe’.” The man straightens from his lean against the building a little, head cocking to a side. “That being said, you headed home? It’s not the same like before. There’s no street lights. What’s same as before is bad guys out on the streets. Stealin’ food. Stealin’ people.” He frowns and straightens more.

There's a tiny bit of a grin from Eimi, and her brows furrow a little at the last bit. She leans on the railing to a set of stairs, and watches Cesar.

"I'm staying not so far from here," she says. She pauses and then says. "I'm not sure if I'm allowed to call it 'home' yet. That's not sorted yet." It's half an admission of her lack of papers to be in the safe zone.

Eimi carefully untucks her hands from her pocket to lean them on the railing as well. The last bit gets her attention, though. "I haven't seen anything but I was walking along the rooftops. Until a block ago. Their roof is kind of unstable." She adds on to the end, a worried note trailing off to flat, "But you're a fed too. I… I'm not going anywhere. With anyone." Him included, perhaps. "But I'll… I'll talk. To you, maybe not the other feds. If you want."

From the puzzled way Cesar eyes Eimi’s cautious reaction, it’s like two cats meeting in the night. There’s the fluffing of fur, the roundabout regards, and finally the mysterious manner in which they sit (or in this case, lean) in each other’s presence, closer than one would think. “Or, you could just walk on the street? Seems like it would be, I don’t know, less of a hassle,” he notes with a glance to the sidewalk they’re currently on. That is crumbled in places, overgrown in others, needing of maintenance but unlikely to receive it while the rest of the Safe Zone is being rebuilt.

Her latter words get her a definite curious arch of the brows. “What do you mean by that? ‘But you’re a fed’?” Cesar’s gaze is pinning. He’s had years of practice to give that discerning kind of look. His buzz already low and slowly fading, he continues, “What’s me being in SESA - an agency with your rights and safety in mind, at that - have to do with talking to me?” His arms cross over his chest as he leans back against the wall, coolly assessing the girl. “That’s just my job, you know? Not my whole person. Anymore than only your special ability defining who you are.”

Inherent and learned distrust of authority is hard to overcome. It shows in her posture, it shows in h no matter where she looks a little bit of her attention is on Cesar, and the first answer under her breath is teenaged attitude rather than a real one. Some small amount of squirming under that gaze happens, too. "Because," but she shakes it off, and the real answer follows. "Out there," she says, "there's not really rights or safety. And most time people wanted to arrest me first and talk after."

She pauses, and adds, "Plus I kept hearing or overhearing, in the markets, about that they were looking for me to ask some questions." She pauses, "And you followed after me outside the market." After she almost bumped into him, but that's clearly beside the point.

She regards Cesar for a moment longer and then looks at a stoop and the steps leading up to it that's between them, and she sits down. It's a tacit invitation for him to do the same. When she does, she adds quietly, "I'm tired of being out there." Her teeth catch her lower lip for a moment and she lets out a breath, and watches him warily for his reaction. But somewhere in all of that was an admission from the teenager that maybe, she's in some amount of trouble, and just maybe, she's willing to accept help.

Pushing off the wall as she comes closer, Cesar stands in observation, recognizing the invitation. He slides down to the step beside her, hanging his arms on his knees, hands loose. And he listens, quiet for a good bit as she talks. “Yeah, I get that,” he says after she speaks her piece. “But you know, there is a system in place. It’s kind of patchy, sure, but people - most people - are doing their best to do good. The war… if anything, it’s peeled back the masks, the corruption from the past. That doesn’t mean there’s not some weird shit going on, or that there’s not bad out there. But you know, you can look around and see people still trying to do right.” He gestures at her with an open, friendly palm. “The Safe Zone’s got people willing to help you out. And you’re not alone in here. The market? The Citizen’s watch? And you know, yours truly now too.”

He turns, fully facing her with a smile. “And to be real honest with you, if it does turn out that you’re somehow one of the conspirators that managed to steal the food from the Red Cross depot and market storage? Well… it’ll be a short matter of time before justice, karma, whatever you want to call it, catches up.” The smile turns a little crooked because he’s only half-joking there. “But you’re not the teleporter thief, are you.” It’s not like he’s expecting her to just outright confess to anything, of course.

"I couldn't have stolen that," Eimi says, matter-of-factly. It leaves out what else she has or has not stolen, entirely. Doesn't mention the petty thievery in the markets, never anything bigger than an apple, a sandwich, a book. "That's more food than anyone needs themself. And I… I need to see where I'm going." The earlier assurance, though, is rewarded with what might be a bit of a smile from the teenager, and she falls silent to think.

"It's a lot though. Compared to being out there. And it's hard to… know where to start." A long breath out, and then a slight bit of manners is remembered and she says, "My name's Eimi, so that you have something to call me other than teleporting t— girl." Thief apparently could have been the word bitten back.

Followed by, "Thanks."

Still smiling, if a touch crookedly as she states that she isn’t the thief of the food and why, Cesar schools his urge to grin only a little when he gets her to smile a little more. Her re-introduction prompts a reach out of his hand for the social contract of a hand shake. “You can call me Cesar instead of ‘that fed’,” he says. “As for where to start?” He pauses to think, then continues, “How about your friend, Brynn. Ran into her at the market not too long ago and we had a nice chat.” That last word, ‘chat’, gets a knowing turn of the man’s mouth about the other girl’s condition.

There’s a longer pause before he ventures, his tone obviously cautious when approaching the next topic, “Maybe look into getting officially registered.” Hands go up, not wanting to spook her into porting away. “Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m going to snitch on you. Chesterfield made sure everybody knew registration was voluntary now, you know. And as far as I know, they’re still putting out the money incentive for people to come live out here.” Even though the dollar isn’t strong right now, prices being skyrocketed by more demand than supply, and barter being the key currency, Cesar sounds like he still puts value and faith in the overall economy. Because he has to believe in some parts of government being functional, like everybody else.

"Cesar, then," she agrees. There's a pause as she returns the handshake, a little bit uncertain still. "Voluntary unless you want to live in the safe zones and you're Evolved, doesn't really feel very much like a choice as much as an ulti… ultimatum," Eimi points out, and this has that flatness to the words again, and the haltingness that comes from conversation being a somewhat neglected skill. But the smile doesn't fade even when her tone suggests a hint of upset, and that's progress.

"And I… I kinda do." She pauses and then asks, "To get registered, do I have to go into an office or anything?" She lets out a breath. "Are there windows?" Pauses, continues, "Or background checks." These seem to be given equal weight, and then the teenager pulls her knees to her chest and leans on them. "If one of my friends wanted to come with me that'd be okay too, right?" Because going in, to an office, might just be more than she wants to do or can handle on her own.

Nodding slowly, Cesar takes a moment to think on his response, the conversation now having sobered him to the point that he’s not just saying everything that comes to mind. Nor in Spanish. “I know it sounds like what the government used to do, but you really don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. And let’s be honest, it’ll be a while before us feds get our shit together enough to be going after anybody who hasn’t gotten a reg card.” Tapping a finger on his knee, he continues with a slight tilt of his head as he looks over Eimi. “All you got to do is walk into one of the SESA offices around,” he indicates with a broadly gestured wave of his hand, “and they’ll ask you some questions. What you can do, how’s it work according to you. Pretty sure they try to figure out your background a bit, but the agency tries to do that for the sake of paperwork more than tryin’ to put everybody who doesn’t have the right social security number behind bars, you know what I mean?”

He moves to rubbing at his chin as he recalls further, “You don’t got to show it, if you don’t want to. Your power, that is. Don’t need to give a blood sample.” Key differences there between Chesterfield and Linderman Acts noted. “So long as you got some way to show you are who you say you are, you’re set.” That may be a bit nerve wracking, and Cesar seems to recognize this when he looks back over at the girl. “And there’s no reason why you can’t have a friend along for the ride.” He tries a reassuring smile there. “Tell ya what though, if you do feel like walking in, you can call me. And we can set something up.” Here, he fishes through his pockets and pulls out a billfold that contains a business card, putting the card on the step between them. An official SESA logo, a phone number, his name Cesar W. Diaz, Field Agent, Class N.

Leaving that there for her to pick up, Cesar then has an afterthought as he adds, “You could also hit up the education center if you want more info. Down near the market. There’s a teacher, he’s Evolved too. Ask for Mr. Smith.”

Once again, Eimi listens, and at the end she picks up the business card, tucking it into an interior pocket of her jacket. She pauses at the end of that and furrows her brows. The reassurance seems to help though, she doesn't lose the slight smile, doesn't teleport away, just sits there and thinks.

"I don't have that, though."

Pause, and she skips a beat and asks, "What's a social security number?" Some things might have gotten skipped over in terms of basic knowledge. "I don't think I know if I have one." She sighs, shrugs her shoulders and nods again. "I'll… I'll think about it. Call you in a few days and see about it. Thanks."

“What’s a social secur— actually, nevermind,” Cesar, staring at the girl with a sense of incredulity, then dismisses his thought openly. “There’s other ways to make sure you are who you are. Assuming you aren’t one of those people with just a single name, like Madonna… we could look up your family.” He glances away and down the street for a second, though it seems more like he’s recalled yet another potentially touchy subject and slightly regrets the turn of the conversation.

He’s quick to remark, open palm coming up to reassure, “Don’t feel like you have to tell me everything right here an’ now, okay?” And when she mentions calling him in a few days, he smiles and nods to her. “That sounds like a plan.” Upon that note, he levers himself up from the steps of the building and stretches out his back in a slow upward roll that shows off his tall frame. “You goin’ to be alright getting… where it is you’re getting to?”

The word family gets a swift shake of her head. But at the end, there is a brief nod, and Eimi offers another tiny smile. "Yeah," she agrees, standing up and adjusting the bag on her shoulder. If there's anything about family it is put off and held at bay by the comment, and what she does offer is a very quiet, "My… my full name is Eimi Faith d'Arcy."

Enough information for him to look up when he's back at work with a database available.

That said, the teenager nods once, and then there is a slight pop as the air closes in around where she was, and she teleports down the street once, then disappearing again and out of sight.

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