Everyone Likes Freedom


gillian_icon.gif kent_icon.gif

Scene Title Everyone Likes Freedom
Synopsis Two free souls meet up in a crazy city and do a little sight seeing and figure out a little bit about each other.
Date October 20, 2008

Brooklyn Public Library

The library, despite recent terrorist activity, still sees it's fair share of people checking out books. There's actually a small line at the check-out counter. Luckily, for a certain goth librarian on duty, she's not working the main check out counter today. Instead, Gillian's sitting at a desk behind the counter scanning in books that have been checked in so they can be reshelved. One bar code at a time. It's tedious work, but someone has to do it, and today… it was assigned to her. The desk is near the edge of the counter, so someone could still speak to her fairly easily, but she's not paying much attention to the going-ons of those in line… They haven't asked her to switch her computer over to check out and assist, so she isn't about to do it now. The other person behind the counter is an older man, probably in his mid-thirties, with thinning hair.

Unlike Gillian's take-zap-place rhythmic menial labour, there is Kent, who truly has no rhyme or rhythm in what he does, day to day. It's a scary sort of freedom, really, but it's not like he can get a job even if he wanted to. But at the very least, this means he can go playing hide and seek.

Do you know how hard it is to find even the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library when you're not a native?

But finally, he moves through the doors and into the correct location, a light coloured trenchcoat over a dark green sweater. Jeans and sneakers, standard additions, and he has nothing on him — not a backpack, not a murse, not a messenger bag. No keys, no wallet, no cellphone. These aren't things he needs on a day to day basis. And he looks only slightly worse for wear as he moves through the library, as if he'd been jogging. Approaching the desk, his gaze flits from the older man at the counter proper, and towards where Gillian is seated a little further away. Okay. Going for nonchalant, Kent moves on over, trying to ignore the line of people who are giving him accusing looks.

The man in charge of check-out for the hour also gives the man a look. No book, so he's not returning anything, and trenchcoats in general are given a wary look since recent activity occurred. It's the jeering and the whispering that finally draws Gillian's eyes up from the menial task of scanning books back into the system and— oh hey. "If it isn't my own personal taxi cab." There's a hint of a smile, though it's been days since this man earned that nickname. She keeps scanning, one book at a time, a type of the keyboard every so often, and a hint of a smile playing on her mouth. "Finally found your way over here, I see." Her voice is a whispered tone, proper for a library, even the counter, which tends to be a little louder than other sections.

When Gillian notices him, that's Kent's cue to move on closer — the glances he was getting was enough to make him want to promptly disappear and try again another time. But now that an employee is talking to him, well, he has automatic license, doesn't he. His tension lessens as he approaches the desk, hands resting on it. "That's right," he replies, in equally hushed tones. Then, he adds wryly, "Gave me the opportunity to tour Brooklyn for a while so uh, thanks for that."

Even the other employee is waved off once Gillian notices the glances he's giving her way. She's still working. It's not like talking will interfere too much with scanning and typing. She could do this stuff in her sleep. She practically has before. "Lucky for you I didn't just tell you 'a Brooklyn Library'. After a good part of Manhattan got leveled, Brooklyn's system officially became the biggest Library system in New York City." Must have been previously held by the place that got partially leveled. Which is pretty much true. "Still working on getting up to par with what New York Public had, but can't have everything when people start blowing up in the city."

"Seems like everyone's still working to pick up the pieces," Kent says, leaning now against the desk as they talk and vacantly watching all the books that go by as she scans them. He takes one of the unscanned off her pile, looking it over with casual curiosity. It's been a while since he simply sat down and read a book. "Lots of people still don't even have homes to get back to, it's staggering. Who knew something like this would happen to New York, right? Have you always lived here?"

"Grew up in Queens, yeah," Gillian says, reaching over and holding her hand out for the book on the pile, grabbing it, but avoiding getting so close that they'd touch. "Had a couple rough months here and there after the bomb, but nothing so bad that I lived on the street, at least. Helps that neither my job, nor my apartment at the time were destroyed, though I did have to move last year because of some water damage." She says that with a hint of a bitter sound, taking the book she claimed back and scanning it in. "What brought you here, anyway? Weird place to choose to end up, considering."

Book is grabbed, and Kent allows it with a flicker of a smile, arms folding again. "Then you're one of the lucky ones," Kent says. He talks to a lot of people, really. At her question, he tilts his head a little. "Not so weird if you think about it. This place has so many problems to deal with, who's gonna care about some guy who can pull really, really convincing disappearing acts? I'm happy to fall between the cracks, you know."

"Lucky in comparison for hundreds of thousands of dead and even more left homeless, and millions of destroyed and ruined books…" Gillian says, dropping off the procured book into the 'checked-in' pile. The books don't really matter much in the grand scheme of things, but there's definitely a flash of distaste and anger in her eyes. At the people killed and buildings destroyed or the books? Who knows… who knows… "So you basically just… disappear. Go from place to place and don't look back?" Her voice is still whispered, since this is a touch subject, and an argument about a book that wasn't returned breaks out with the other employee so there's certainly distractions to keep people from listening in.

"I haven't gone very far since Wisconsin but yeah, you could say that," Kent says, not really looking at her. This is certainly not a topic he's discussed with anyone before, but thought long and hard over. "I've been doing it more often here, though." A twist of a smile, typically smirky but perhaps only to disguise a trace of anxiety. "Like I'm not even supposed to be here." Here, as in the city, he seems to mean — not just in this library. "It gets into your head. Speaking of which, I've never been able to do what I did that night, when I met you. I can't go that fast and that far without fainting like a southern belle."

At the mention of 'that night', Gillian glances up sharply, bangs shifting on her forehead to slide against gravity as she does, moving around her forehead and out of her eyes. There's a cautious look as she regards him. "How long ago did you first find out about your— thing?" she asks, waving her hand at him, and then going back to what she was doing. One book at a time. A ample distraction. With arguing in the background. "I mean before you could do that, I'm guessing it was a surprise when you suddenly could. Maybe something about that night made you better at it."

"I was looking out the window," Kent says, with a slightly more genuine smile, "and then suddenly I was outside. Kind of a bitch because it was raining at the time and I couldn't get back in so easy, but those are the breaks, right?" He shakes his head. "You don't understand. It scares me, doing what I can do when I can't see where I'm going. And believe me, I'm not that starved of love and attention that the touch of a pretty girl suddenly gave me the confidence to do anything I set my mind to."

"My sister's like you," Gillian suddenly says, checking in another book and avoiding eye contact, and topic as well. "Not exactly, but sort of. She controls water, I guess— makes things wet. Got herself registered when that act came into effect. Especially after she flooded my old apartment. Now her name's on a database somewhere— while there's people out there who broke into this very library and tried to take hostage and threaten all those people forced to carry cards around— and I'm not talking Library cards, either."

It's a diversion, but Kent listens anyway, forehead crinkling a little as he frowns. Ah yes. Registration. Kent snorts and shakes his head, and says, a little quieter, "That would be why I'm not a card carrying teleporter." He smirks anew, back straightening a little. "What're they gonna do? Fine me, I guess, except I have no money. Throw me in jail, but I can sort of take care of that issue. But that doesn't mean I'm going around boasting about it. Doesn't mean I'm going to boast on behalf of other people either."

"You didn't exactly strike me as the type to go down to the courthouse, or wherever they're supposed to go, and say 'sign me up.'" Gillian says, glancing back up at him after she adds another book to the pile. It had been a diversion, but one with a purpose… "Don't even strike me as the type to offer a taxi ride to any girl you meet— unless something else happened." There's a hint of hesitation, but then she types something into the computer and stands up, "My fifteen minute break." It's a rather sudden interruption while the man at the counter tries to explain, for the fifth time, that this person needs to pay a late fee and return the book before they can check another out. He waves a hand and sends her off. There are many impatient people in line.

Once she grabs her bag and rounds the counter, joining the unregistered teleporter, she gestures for him to follow her, moving around to the door. She takes her fifteen minute breaks outside, it would seem. "I'd keep your hands to yourself in public if I were you." It could sound like a threat, kind of an 'I'll kick you' and it is toned as a warning, but… the way she glances at him, she expects him to figure it out.

Warning accepted, and understood. Kent rather pointedly puts his hands in his pockets with a faint smile, and after glancing around, he follows after the gothish girl, moving to stay in step with her. "You're right," he says. "Not that type at all. Guess you got me figured out. High time it's your turn to be figured out, I don't even know your name." This isn't really said in a challenging way - it's a jab, and one that doesn't expect to yield results.

It's not the warmest day outside— moving into late October and all, and Gillian pulls a black sweater out of her bag and pulls it on before they step outside. The reason she's taking her fifteen minutes outside comes clear, when she pulls out a thin black clove cigarette and lights it up. "Gillian Childs," she says, finally giving the man her name once she settles in a little away from the entrance to smoke. "Would've got the first one if I was actually working check out— when we have to actually talk to people we have to wear the name tag. When I don't, I put it in my bag." Which is actually more of a murse, just without the man-part.

"It's nice to meet you, Gillian," Kent says, wrapping his coat further around himself against the chilld of the outside world. And because he never gave her his last name, he adds, "I'm Kent Wisdom." And that name always draws a look, so before she can even react, or maybe even not react, he follows that up with. "It's a long story. Or a series of short ones. Or, I had hippie parents, I mean, whatever makes most sense to you."

"Wisdom sounds like a better name than Childs," Gillian says with a note, before she takes a rather long inhale from her clove and holds it in for a moment, as if to savor the taste. "Unless Kent's short for… Kentucky or something stupid, sounds like a normal name to me," she says, not seeming to get why the name, or the combo, would come off as something he'd need to explain himself over. Maybe she's weird. Or it could just be the fact Wisdom is much nicer to go by than Childs. "Anything else you want to know?"

Awesome, no mockery. Kent actually relaxes a fraction, and moves to lean against the wall. Maybe she is weird. Maybe they both are. "Kent's just Kent," he confirms. "As far as I know. It'd better be." He shrugs a little. "I guess I wanna know why I can go anywhere I want if I hold your hand. But I guess that's just it, right? It just works that way." He's watching her, for confirmation, for denial.

There's a twist of a smile around her clove, before Gillian takes another inhale and holds her breath for a time. When she lets the spicy smelling smoke out of her mouth, she looks back up at him and says, "It's mostly you— and I'm not sure how it works. People around me— people who can do things— seem to lose control and get stronger. Especially when I touch them. Not something I've ever really explained before, so excuse me if it sounds stupid. But in the end, I don't do much— it's all you." There's a pause. "On steroids. And I happen to be steroids."

Well that's certainly in keeping with what Kent had already deduced. He nods a little, gaze shifting from her to the rest of the street. "That must suck," he says. "That you can do something that'd get you discriminated against, only it doesn't benefit you. Or even anyone else for that matter." Because Kent can't see how powers going crazy would be of any use. "Although, I mean, right now we could spend your break anywhere in New York City, so that's cool."

There's a shrug from Gillian as she lets her clove sit in hand for a few long moments. "I don't know if it sucks— seems to suck more for other people than me. There was this guy who's hands caught on fire and he started going completely nuts— and I didn't even have to get that close to him. Kinda glad I didn't get much closer, honestly." But— he said something that interests here there. "Anywhere in New York City, huh?" She looks down at her watch, analog, ticking quietly. Nice watch, really. "Still got most of my fifteen minutes. Did you have somewhere in mind? No where radioactive, please."

"I'll try my darndest," Kent promises, glancing around them. It's New York. Who's gonna pay attention? And does it even matter? Rubbing his hands together a few times, as if to warm them, he lets out a puff of a breath, visible in this cold weather, before reaching for her hand. "Here goes."

Barely is there time for fingers to even link together before both twenty-somethings disappear without ceremony. Perhaps people notice, but it doesn't much matter, as Gillian and Kent are long gone, not first the first time. The scenery flickers about them wildly, many rooftops go by, spots in Central Park, inside stories, in the middle of streets, before they finally land somewhere tranquil, Kent abruptly letting go once they do, shaking his head as if to clear it.

Guan Gong Temple in the Lower East Side

Though it is situated on a busy portion of Broome Street, the Guan Gong Temple is a place of incomparable peace and serenity. It has been well kept through the years, and there are several exquisite works of Chinese art housed within. Stairs on either side of the common room lead up to a lofted dining area that's set for roughly a dozen. Carved woodwork and lovingly tended plant life makes up much of the decor here, as well as in the modest kitchen and living quarters.

They stand in the courtyard, thankfully emptied, and the noise of traffic seems to have died down. Trees, foreign and local, old and freshly planted, sway in the breeze, almost utterly bare of leaves. "Here we are," he says, looking back at her.

It's like the world's weirdest rollercoaster. Gillian's come to the conclusion that he could charge for this shit, because she knows a few people who experiment in things beyond what she does that would find this more than just a trip from one place to the next. When the world has settled down, she stumbles back a few steps, a little dizzy, but doesn't fall to her knees this time. Just a few slow breaths and she looks back up, and then casts a glance around. "Wow, what is this place? I've never been here before." She's rather amazed at the sight of it, the temple in the middle of a city. She knows they're still in New York from the visible skyline, and in a place closer to the bomb than her library. She can't help but look at her still smoking clove. "I somehow doubt I'm allowed to do this here." But that doesn't stop her from taking a long drag from it.

"It's called the Guan Gong Temple," Kent says, then gives her a sheepish shrug. "I'm guessing on the pronunciation, but that's what I was told it was called. No one'll stop you while we're outside." On the subject of smoking, that is. A small stone bench is situated further from the entrance, and this is where Kent goes, sitting down and huddling in his jacket. "It's probably my favourite place in New York, so far. Which might be saying something, seeing as it's about as un-New York as things get."

Following to the bench, Gillian settles down on the edge, not too close to him, but not so far that she's hanging off of the bench. A comfortable distance, while she continues to work on her clove. The bag she carried out gets set down in her lap. She turns enough to face him, bangs hanging into her heavily make-up covered eyes, "This does look pretty nice. My favorite place in New York City is over on Governor's Island— Fort Jay. Or it used to be, but I haven't tried to go there since the world went crazy. Used to love the Natural History Museum, too." She takes another slow drag, looking away. "This place would be a nice place to just sit and draw, though."

"You draw, huh?" Kent says, elbows resting against his knees in a customary slouch. At this end of town, the sound of traffic isn't particularly obtrusive, and the tranquility instilled in this place seems to lessen it even further. It's not hard to imagine people stopping by for that purpose alone. "What sort of things do you draw?"

"Doodles really," Gillian responds, reaching into her bag and pulling out a sketchpad with her free hand. It's set on top of the bag and flipped open a couple pages and held out. On the pages there's mostly, as she said, doodles. Mushroom people, dragons with smoke coming out of their noses, dead trees with branches spread wide… No people on that page, but there are sets of eyes every so often. Eyes and eyebrows. "It's just a hobby to pass the time." Her art isn't bad, but she probably won't be making money off of it without more training than she has.

Kent picks up the pages, carefully not to touch her during the exchange, and obligingly flicks through them. "These're cute," he says, shooting her a slightly teasing smirk. "I kinda wouldn't have thought you'd have it in you." Not all of the drawings are cute, of course, and he pauses on one image of the dead trees with reaching branches. "I dated a girl who painted. Zombies, mainly. I'm not much of a drawer, I write."

Usually bring up exes are taboo, but since he did it first… "One of my first boyfriends was a tattoo artist— he did a lot of sketching to get himself ready, you know? So he wouldn't fuck it up when he put it on your skin," Gillian takes another long drag, and he'll find another couple of drawings— the next set being tribal designs, specifically one in a form of a yin/yang. It looks almost identical to what's on her wrist. "So I started to sketch too, so I could make my own designs— but I only really designed a few of them myself. No mushroom people on my body yet, though." That's definitely the cutest of the things she's drawn.

"I like that there's a 'yet', there," Kent says, handing her back the sketchpad before resuming his slouched position. Here, the Chinese coin pendant hanging at his throat might make a little more sense, as he brings a hand to unconsciously fidget with it. "Like maybe they'll invade eventually. I guess it's not exactly shocking to know I don't have any ink on me, huh?"

"Don't seem the type," Gillian says, looking him over, and focusing on the coin for an instant before she takes her sketchpad and puts it away inside her bag again. "For one, it'd make you easier to identify— And if you like laying low…" Her voice trails off. She takes another drag from her clove, finishing it off, really, and smothering the end on the bench. She holds onto it, though, as she looks over and adds, "I won't ask you why you're hiding— or what you're hiding from. Other than— well— the obvious."

"I didn't even really occur to me to lay low from Homeland 'til I got here," Kent admits, eyebrows raising. "Then those murders started happening, and those terrorist acts— seems like a good idea now, yeah." He brings a hand up to settle his glasses better on his face, more a nervous gesture then completely necessary, and he shrugs. "Why, because you don't wanna know or because I won't wanna talk about it?"

"Soon as they started putting people on the internet like registered sex offenders I knew it was going to turn south— it's just a matter of time before they start using the information listed to take them out one by one," Gillian says, shaking her head in disgust. Not really fear, but… "It's not my place to ask, honestly. Everyone likes their freedom— I like mine, you like yours. It's pretty much that simple. The reasons why don't matter quite as much as the idea behind it, you know?" She glances at her watch and mutters, then starts to stand up. "Looks like you should get me back. Having a schedule to follow may not be complete freedom, but the library beats retail."

As Gillian moves to stand, Kent does the same, glancing around the otherwise empty courtyard in case anyone has happened to wander in. He comes here too often to draw attention. "You're right, everyone does," Kent agrees, with a rueful smile. "God bless America. Ever think the world's changing too fast for itself?" Even as he asks that question, he offers out his hand for her to take. "At least you know you won't be late."

"It certainly stopped being boring when the city blew up," Gillian says with a shake of her head, casting a glance toward the buildings visible between trees, just barely, squinting to see if any of the skyscrapers are broken and destroyed. When she looks back to let him take her hand, she adds, "take me back, taxi-cab." Knows his name, but she seems fond of the nickname anyway.

Zoom zoom. Kent smirks at her, palm meeting hers, and as soon as skin to skin contact is established, they vanish only to flicker in and out of existence through New York again, sounds whipping by and there's even a moment where it looks like they've appeared inside the library— before landing where they'd begun, to the shock of a passing by Brooklynite who simply stares at them as they appear just inches away, and takes off at a quicker pace. Kent quickly moves his hand away from Gillian's, wincing. "Sorry! Sorry," he says, but the man is long gone. "That was a close one." He's never landed in someone or something, half the reason he doesn't do this without a boost of confidence, so to speak.

Did they just get spotted? "Shit," Gillian says, though she looks as if she handled this trip a little better than the last few times. "Well for that, you're not getting a tip," she says, sounding as if she's joking, but she does glance toward the doors nervously. She has to go back in there. And she's kind of easily recognized. "Maybe we'll see each other again, Kent," she adds, before she starts to break away, tossing the finished clove into the trashcan as she goes.

It won't be the first time Kent's been spotted. But for an unregistered runaway, he's reasonably cocky — he can disappear, right? Right. Kent nods once as Gillian makes to leave, then hesitates. "Gillian!" he says, to get her attention. "I still need to buy you that drink, remember?" And once that last word leaves his mouth, he vanishes once more — not far, down the street — but gone again in a flash.

When she turns around, Gillian doesn't even have a chance to get a word out before he vanishes. She gives her head a small shake, but she's smiling, watching him teleport out of sight. "Yeah, guess you do." She says, to no one, before pulling the bag up on her shoulder and walking back to the menial task of scanning books and punching numbers into a computer.

October 20th: Concerning Miss Childs
October 20th: What Do You Want?
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