Convenient Friendships


anna_icon.gif khalid_icon.gif zach_icon.gif

Scene Title Convenient Friendships
Synopsis Anna James wakes up to the beginning of her new life, however short it may wind up being.
Date November 29, 2010

Red Hook

Crammed between a parking garage and a derelict mill building, the Pine Hill Apartments building has seen better days. The brick-faced tenement building has a condemned notice pinned to the front door, though that hasn't stopped squatters from moving in. Only a handful of people live here, and according to Zach Becker, they're all "friendly" to people like him and the tenement building's newest resident, Anna James.

How the two of them got lumped together is anyone's guess.

The third floor apartment facing the street — just as Zach said — is a apsrsely furnished one. A ratty old sofa that looks like it was pulled out of someone's garbage, a recliner that doesn't match and is more duct-tape patchwork than fabric, it all juxtaposes into a picture of comfortable poverty. Food, at the very least, doesn't seem to be in shortage here.

While the meal Anna was given for her first dinner as a free woman amounted to a heated can of Raviolli, she has her own room, own bed, and no violence in the home waiting for her. Just Zach and his obsessive late-night guitar playing to keep her up. There is some discomfort, that first night in a strange home, but efforts were made to — at the very least — keep her comfortable.

Dawn is when things start to fully sink in for Anna, what she's done, the choice che's made. When sunlight creeping through the curtainless windows reaches her face and wakes her up, it's to a largely freezing cold apartment outside of the blankets and sleeping bag she's wrapped up in on the bare mattress. It isn't glamorous, it isn't a home, but it might just be better than nothing.

Outside of Anna's room, the distant murmur of voices too hard to hear indicate a conversation being had while she's not around. That Zach has anyone to talk to other than himself could mean one thing, the man named Khalid he wanted her to meet may have arrived.

If nothing else, it means someone is awake to cook breakfast.

Bleary and tired, Anna stretches herself out so she can wake up properly. She slept in her clothes, and she looks the part. Glancing around the apartment, she gets up and looks out of the window, seeing the cold outside. Then, the teen leaves her room, or whatever passes for it, and she starts to hunt for good, glorious coffee.

Bleary eyes regard the apartment with a caffine hunter's scrutiny, spotting a bag similar to the one Zach left behind at the subway station sitting by the apartment door. "You can't get much better fucking press than this, man." Anna recognizes Zachary's voice the moment she hears it, and rounding the corner from the hall that leads to her room, she spots him sitting cross-legged in the recliner, a steaming cup of tea held fast in one hand, the other throwing a newspaper down onto the ramshackle coffee table.

"Front fucking page," Zach adds, looking up to an unfamiliar man sharing the room with him. Tall and dour looking, Anna's first impression of Khalid Sadaka is his bad side, where fine scars trace up and down his face, larger ones cutting near his mouth and one that cuts down from his forehead, over one eye and down his cheek.

Dark eyes flick towards Anna's narrow frame as she comes into view, and it's all Khalid can do to try and remain neutral looking in the presence of her. A demanding stare is turned towards Zach, who is already extricating himself from the tangle of blankets around his legs to get up out of the recliner.

"Anna," sounds a little surprised as Zach gets up, "hey cool you're— up early. Ah, this here's my buddy Khalid, the one I wanted to introduce you to." He's easily in his thirties, dusky tan skin and a distinctly arabic appearance. From the military cut olive-drab sweater to the digital camouflage pants, he looks like someone who regularly shops at military surplus stores.

He also looks like he got to know the wrong end of a knife, intimately.

"Uhm… Hey, Khalid." Anna says a little nervously, "And good morning, Zach." A forced smile, "I'm Anna, sorry if he didn't tell you about me…" She offers, following it up with the simplest of questions, "Do you have any coffee somewhere, Zach? I think I could use some… I might be up early, but I don't think I'm awake yet/"

"Nah, sorry. Don't drink coffee, but there's some hot water on the stove, teabags in the paper bag on the counter. If you want we can go grab a coffee later." Zach eases back into his seat when Khalid fixes him a look, ever so briefly judgmental. "But— ah," ever so damaging to Zach's composure. "C'mon and pop a sit on the couch, or just keep an ear open. We got something important to talk to you about."

Khalid makes a soft sound in the back of his throat, arms crossing over his chest. "I was just telling Zach about something I saw while I was in Manhattan yesterday. There's this Deli out on east 34th, owner openly says he's one of them." Khalid's voice is decidedly clear, no accent to speak of despite his visible foreign heritage.

"The Deli owner, his whole family, all flaunting how they're… you know, like those psychopaths that caused the riots. So he tells me when I go in to buy a sub, that I have to wait because some friends of his are ordering. They walked in behind me, they came in later. I overheard 'em talking, about how his friends, they just got a job working for some construction thing that's going to happen in Midtown. How they got hired because they were Evolved."

Khalid's brows furrow, a dark-eyed stare fired to Zach, who leaps in to the conversation. "Those shit-head freaks ain't got any right to be taking out jobs from us, or pulling shit like that in a restaurant. I was thinkin'… y'know, after everything you said on the Advocate, maybe you'd be cool with going down to that Deli with me, maybe spraypainting the place up?"

Zach's brows rise slowly. "I'll buy ya lunch."

"Sure." Anna responds to the question, her brows furrowing at the discussion as well. "Damn Evos. Damn discrimination." She sighs, and does not look at her registration card, "Oh, uhm… Zach told me you guys could possibly get me a replacement reg card? To avoid police attention and stuff… since I've probably been reported missing by now and everything." She scratches her head a little, "Or will that take somewhat longer still?"

Khalid and Zachary exchange dubious glances before Zach seems to offer to take up the slack there. "Well…" his eyes shift to the side, "I told you I could get you another Reg card, but mostly for swiping thorugh automated shit. As long as nobody looks at it you'll be fine. But if a cop stops you and checks it… I mean…" Glancing to Khalid for help, Zach finds absolutely none of that.

"I steal 'em, basically. They're usually good till they're reported stolen or, you know, whatever. You want something more permanent, it's gonna' take a couple weeks. I have someone I can talk to, but he's not usually very fast with those things."

"I'm leaving," Khalid abruptly states, starting to turn for the door even as Zach scrambles to step in front of him. "Woah— hey— dude. You're gonna hold up what we talked about, right? I mean— shit, you're not backing out." Khalid's dark eyes stare down at Zach, then as he turns to look over at Anna, there's a thoughtful expression crossing his face.

"No," Khalid softly states, "no you're good." When he looks back to Zach, it's very fleeting. "We'll be in touch, stay safe." Looking eager to get out of the chilly apartment, Khalid glances back at Anna one last time before heading to the door. It's almost as if all he wanted to do was confirm that she was here, more so than meet her.

"Okay, so that was pretty pointless." Anna comments idly before sitting down somewhere, "Okay, so you know where this Deli is? If that's the case, well… spraypainting it up should be easy, no?" Clearly, she has no idea how these things go, "How old are you anyway, Zach..?" She asks suddenly, "How much experience do you have with this kinda stuff?"

Casting a crooked look to Anna, Zach waits until Khalid has actually left to settle down on his chair again and note, "He's kind'a a prick." Dragging his legs up beneath himself again, Zach curls his hands around that steaming mug of tea, taking a sip, before glancing to the backpack Khalid left behind, then back to Anna again.

"Yeah, like he said it's on east 34th. I know theo ne he's talking about, it's a shit-hole. We just gotta be quick about spraying the place down, run in, do our thing, run out. Maybe bust a couple of windows too because those fucks deserve it, y'know?"

Creasing his brows, Zach glances towards the kitchen, his stare becoming a bit distant for a moment. "I'm…" his head shakes, distractedly. "I'm twenty, and uh…" there's an awkward timbre of his voice at the last bit. "What… exactly d'you mean by this kinda' stuff?"

It's a sheepish smile that crosses Zach's face there, uncertain how best to address that loaded question.

Anna nods, considering the whole deal. "Yeah, that sounds reasonable." The teen eventually states, shrugging, "Well, the whole 'inconveniencing the lives of those monsters' thing, I meant… I'm fifteen, by the way… will be sixteen in a few months." She shrugs, following Zach's gaze, "So anyway, when are we leaving to do this thing?"

"What, you in a rush?" Zach exhales a snorted laugh. "Not today, probably not tomorrow, I have to go uptown and make a delivery to somebody in the Bronx," and that elicits a look to the backpack. "But hey, look at this shit." Zach motions to the newspaper on the table between the two of them. "We got outta' that subway just in time, somebody set off a gas attack there…" Dark brows pinch together, and Zack carefully keeps an eye on Anna's reactions.

"Humanis First, I mean, is what the newspapers are saying. I guess they're trying t'make a statement about this shit, about them." There's a hitch of one of Zach's brows up slowly. "You're pretty young, I mean, younger'n you look." He glances down to his lap, then back up to Anna again. "You know much about Humanis First? I mean, outside of the name I guess…"

Anna's eyebrows widen at that news, "Oh fuck…" She mutters. "Glad we got out when we did, good on them though, for making a point that needs to be made." Anna considers the question, then.. "Humanis First… I've heard of them, they're… like, that group that hates Evos, right?" She tries, "Dunno much more about them… to be honest."

Brows furrowing together, Zachary breathes in deeply, then exhales another deeper breath. "Yeah, that's… exactly who they are. I… know a little bit more, but really that's the large an' small of it. They all got their reasons, though, it isn't just blind hate. The world's a shitty place, and Evo's just make it worse for everyone."

Zach glances down to the newspaper, then back up to Anna. "Most people think they're terrorists. Maybe to freaks, but t'me, I think… I think they're pretty cool, y'know?" Zach's brows crease together, then lower as he looks down into his tea.

"Thursday or something, we'll go fuck over that Deli. Me'n you," Zack's eyes lift back up to Anna. "I haven't had a friend t'go around and break shit with in a while. It'll be cool, y'know. I'll teach you how to tag things, make it look good. Maybe some other stuff too," he admits reluctantly, "you know, if you stay cool about it."

"Sure, that dounds good to me." Anna responds, grinning as she leans back. "Just smash some windows and tag the place, then get the fuck out before the police arrives, right?" She asks, "Doesn't sound all that difficult a job to me, really…" And a faint chuckle, "Let's give 'em what they deserve, shall we…?"

Surprise is written across Zach's face, it's a pretty easy agreement to things, and he couldn't be any happier that Anna seems to have been going along with all of this so far. "Yeah well," cracking a smile, Zach dithers away from his original statement, sliding off of the recliner with a touch of his booted feet to the floor. "Yeah, it'll be pretty damn cool."

Scuffing a few steps away from the chair, Zach scratches the back of his head, looks to the door, then back to Anna. "I left some money on the table in the kitchen under the empty coffee can. S'only a hundred bucks, but it should get you through the week." Zachary forgets what it is like to be fifteen. "I ain't hard up for cash, I mean, despite how it looks." There's an awkward laugh at that.

"Like I said though, I gotta hit the Bronx and make a delivery, I'll be back by dark. You… pretty much have the run of the place. Don't get arrested and don't bring nobody back here. Other than that, do whatever." Do whatever. It's a stark difference from Anna's life up until just a few days ago.

Anna nods, grinning at the prospect of sweet merciful freedom. "Thanks, Zach. I'll see about getting us some coffee soon." She says, getting up, "So, let's see what else… hmm…" She pauses briefly, "Ah, I know… something real to eat, I can cook it myself if I have to."

Halfway to the door, Zach pauses dead in his tracks. He sharply turns, one brow raised and eyes squarely focused on Anna. "You— " he almost sounds out of breath by the time he's finally speaking. "You can cook?" Both his brows shoot up and a look of exasperation crosses his face, followed by a mellowing out into a pleased smile.

"You know what, now I'm doubly glad I dragged your ass outta' that place." Maybe tonight, there won't be lukewarm raviolli from a can. Maybe this little freak can be of some good after all. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

"I'm not a great cook, but it's better than what you gave me yesterday." Anna responds, chuckling, "And it's the least I can do… for getting me out of that place." A faint chuckle, "How about some chili tonight, does that sound good to you?" The teen offers, "I'll buy the ingredients myself."

"How does that sound?" Zach snorts out a breath and shakes his head, crouching down to pick up the backpack and sling it over one shoulder. His answer is purposefully belated, specifically because he's quite obviously working up a sarcastic remark. "Sounds like somebody's designated cook from now on."

This may not be the kind of life Anna has been used to, and it may not be the life she's being told it is, but at least for a little while she's going to be able to experience what it's like to be on her own, free. But save for one person five years her senior, Anna James is also going to experience once again a more familiar lesson.

What it's like to be alone.

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