hana_icon.gif nora_icon.gif

Scene Title Lazy
Synopsis Nora isn't paying attention, which of course gets Hana's notice.
Date February 10, 2011

On the Periphery of Midtown

The ragged perimeter of Midtown Manhattan is like being on the edge of civilization; the streets surrounding the ruins and wreckage show the worst of both possible worlds. The buildings here are scarred and scorched and in ill-repair, but they are lived in by the desperate and the stubborn. Graffiti here is not painted-over as quickly as it would in neighborhoods further away, because here, no one cares about the property value. The gang members gather on street corners without too much worry of police interference. Cops only come if the situation is dire; though it could be argued that dire applies to every moment of every day, here.

This is basically where the sidewalk ends.

Perched up on a cinder-block wall surrounding an abandoned elementary school's playground, the smallish and lean figure of a teenage girl seems to study the space ahead of her — Midtown itself, as opposed to its periphery. Her head is tipped slightly and her dark eyes are narrowed as if in concentration. After a few moments of that musing posture, she jots down something on an index card with a chewed-up ballpoint pen. These get shoved into her pocket, and Nora pulls her feet up to balance in a crouch on the wall's ledge, before hopping down, knees bending as she lands to absorb the impact. As she begins to walk, her path is to continue down the invisible boundary line.

Hana is partial to the edge of civilization. There's a different kind of invisibility in such places, an oft-welcome isolation — and more importantly, a reduction in variables. Less chance for collateral damage, if something goes south. Less possibility of interference and obstacles.

But not, unfortunately, no odds of encountering people she knows.

That profile, that posture, has been in the sparring ring with her twice; even seen from a distance, she couldn't miss it. Soft-footed, Hana stops still with the awareness of another presence down the road; dressed in her usual style, she blends into a building's shadow. Confirmation takes some moments to catch up to suspicion, during which time the Israeli observes, accumulating necessary information.

Only after does Hana step out around the corner of the low wall, gravel grinding small, scratchy noises underfoot as she follows in Nora's wake.

The younger woman's familiarity is of course contradicted by the novelty of the fact this Nora can see — and while she's unaware of being followed, she does seem cautious as she moves along the buildings. She too keeps close to the building's shadows, and checks around corners before crossing the paths created by the alleys that intersect the alley she walks along.

Her journey takes her a couple of blocks further along before Nora changes direction, turning a corner to the front of what was once a more major street instead of the byway she had been on; this one is less occupied, closer within the bounds of Midtown. The building at the corner boasts a stairway of some twenty concrete steps — Nora climbs these and settles herself on the top for a vantage point, once again taking on that thoughtful, studious expression.

Hana pauses as Nora does, watching her climb the stairs in profile, folding her arms loosely across her chest — not quite crossing them, but laying one atop the other. There's no discernable change in the woman's expression as she tips her head, regarding the girl; and none as, a few quiet moments later, she straightens her arms and lets them fall. The fluid motion seems to pull her shoulders down, segueing into a stoop. Hana hooks a bit of crumbling pavement from the road's edge before straightening back up.

No one who knows Hana would be surprised that she proceeds to adjust position a bit and lob the fragment of asphalt at Nora's shoulder. Not when the girl is just sitting there, being a convenient target.

As it's winter, Nora is insulated from the cold in more layers than she likes to wear normally; thermal and sweater and finally a coat; thus, the clod of asphalt startles more than hurts, but there will definitely be a bruise. The sudden attack has the teen scrambling up, her booted feet slipping once on the icy steps before she manages to get to a crouching position, head low, eyes narrowed as she seeks out her assailant.

Once her gaze has fallen on Hana, Nora rises, reaching for the metal rail to help her keep her balance on icy steps. One foot moves as if to step down, but then rises back to the top step. "You want something?" she calls down to Hana, brows knitting together. Her eyes flicker out away from Hana a moment later, and her hand moves to her pocket she'd stowed her writing materials in, though it stays there for the time being.

The woman shifts as Nora's hand drifts towards her pocket, hands dropping to rest loose at her sides. There's an edge of tension in her posture as she walks forward, but neither aggression or menace; at some level, and it isn't a conscious one, she doesn't inherently trust Nora to be harmless.

She also looks distinctly annoyed, which could relate to the rock — or maybe to Nora's lack of recognition.

"We can start," Hana says, and if nothing else her acerbic tone is eminently familiar, "with what the hell you're doing out here alone — and not paying attention to your six."

The teen chews her lower lip as she begins to move down the steps, dark eyes large in her face as she stares at Hana. She swallows and casts a glance over her shoulder — nothing there but the looming double doors of the building. Too late to check now — the damage is done.

"I didn't recognize you," Nora says, her voice a little uncertain and apologetic, as she gestures to her eyes. "Sorry."

Immediately, there's a twitch of her mouth before lips press together — the apology for her rude 'greeting' isn't what she should be apologizing for, and Nora knows it.

There is no answer that will satisfy Hana for the second of the two questions, so Nora pushes that one aside, instead tackling the first. Her hand comes out with the card and pen, and she jots something down quickly in an untidy hand. "Listening," she says softly. "I had the idea before, but then everything went to hell and I got sidelined."

She nods out to the street. "They're talking. The robots. There's three of one type, and two of another — I'm trying to pinpoint their locations. I thought maybe if we know where they are at rest…" she waves a vague hand.

The girl's reflexive glance elicits a brief snort from Hana, but no comment. None is needed. The apology slides off the woman as the irrelevance it is; direct and focused as ever, it's only the rest of Nora's reply which is considered in her ensuing moment of silence.

Dark eyes flick towards the street leading inwards into the desolation of Midtown; whatever goes on behind them is mostly masked by a flat expression. "How much more do you have to do?" Hana finally asks, looking back to Nora.

Nora steps down the last couple of steps to stand in front of Hana. "They emit at regular intervals; I think I have the locations, but I was checking to see if they were moving or not. They aren't — yet. I imagine after curfew they will, but," she tips her head toward one shoulder, lips curving into a smile, "even I'm not that stupid to hang around and see if that's the case. I figured I'd come back on another day, see if the locations I have are the same or if they've changed. That'll tell us if they go to the same resting spot each day or not, right? And if it's always the same…"

Again, she leaves the rest to Hana's imagination. Her dark eyes flicker as they study Hana's face. "I got lazy, I guess… forgetting to check my back because I couldn't for so long," she murmurs, as if there is some urgent need to come clean and confess and answer all questions.

The teen offers the card with coordinates scribbled on it — five locales — to the other woman to show her work. "What are you doing out here?"

One dark brow arches as Nora talks her way completely around the actual answer to Hana's question. It's enough to try anyone's patience, and this particular listener isn't known for much of that. The other brow joins the first when she inquires into Hana's business, and Hana looks a long ways down at Nora.

She does glance at the card, but it's brief.

"Lazy will get you killed," the woman states flatly. A slight gesture of her hand directs Nora to the street, towards the periphery of Midtown, the return to (more or less) functioning civilization. "Don't do it again."

The teen takes the card and nods, eyes dropping as she is reprimanded. She takes a step back in the direction she's nodded toward before she looks up. "It was good to see you," she says quietly, an edge of something else alongside the deliberate politeness that tints the words.

She glances at the card before shoving it back in her pocket. "H-Hana?" The name is tentative on her lips, but somehow just calling her Gitelman seems rude. "I planned on coming back — to see if they've moved at all. I can see if someone else can come with me, but they're… probably not much better in a fight than I am. Do you — do you want to meet me?"

Hana waits for Nora to walk past her — and waits more as the girl pauses, tendered farewell segueing into an invitation. Raised brows descend, in neutral fashion, and the woman seems to consider the teen for a passing moment; though her expression remains inscrutable, perhaps overly so. The nod which follows is brief, even curt, the slightest dip of chin. "I'll come."

The silence that stretches between them has Nora surveying the toes of her boots for a moment. The nod is missed, though dark eyes lift at the sense of motion a second later. When the verbal assent is given, Nora's lips curve into a smile that transforms her face for a moment. The scholar's concentration, the fighter's intensity, the blind girl's frustration are all expressions Hana has seen — but this is just the unexpected happiness of a teenage girl for a split second, before Nora returns to business.

"Okay. Meet at the corner by the school?" she nods back the way she came from. "Same time, maybe on Saturday?"

"Fine," Hana agrees impassively. This time, the gesture of her hand is a shade more emphatic: let's move. "And if we're finished standing around?" Not the most gracious of prompts, but rude isn't something the woman often concerns herself with. She waits for Nora to move on past, watching the teenager with that same inscrutable expression as the distance between them widens, step by step.

After a short time, Hana casts one last, narrow-eyed glance into Midtown, lips pressed together into a thin line; then she, too, resumes progress outward, shadowing Nora.

Once upon a time, she could've done this very same thing without the girl.

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