Like Magic


jim_icon.gif seren_icon.gif

Scene Title Like Magic
Synopsis On the way to the market, Jim encounters Seren and animal friends who are a little something like magic.
Date February 18, 2019

Red Hook

New York in February isn't usually that pleasant, but there are still days where it's less cold than other days. Today is one of those days — the sun is out despite the chill, and the snow on the ground is getting a little bit slushy, in preparation for the next day that's below freezing to make very nice ice for everyone to slip on. New York in the winter is the worst.

However, right now is probably a good time to get some shopping done, and that seems to be what Jim is doing. He's carrying a couple folded up bags in one hand, and the other hand is stuck in his pocket, since it's not that warm. Just warmer. He seems to be moving in the direction of the market, so that would cement the impression that he's going shopping.

"Coyotl, come on!" Jim can hear called out behind him. There's a rush of footfalls back that way, though a rush of wind surges past him in a whirr. A large dog the colors of dark twilight turns back to look at whoever he's fleeing from, a red ball in his maw. The dog — coyote has piercing ice-blue eyes that turn up toward Jim to consider him, the motes of light centered on its head and running down its back shimmering. No lines connect them all, but white dots like constellations of stars run down his form.

He lets out a distinctly human snicker before he turns and darts ahead again after having taken a moment to take Jim in, claws scraping on concrete as he takes off.

The human that had been shouting after the coyote finally catches up to Jim, panting. A bright red knitted cap with black embroidered letters covers the young person's head, a darker red scarf around their neck. "Sorry… about him," they say, slowing in order to make the address. Their cheeks are flushed with color, either from the chill or the exterion. They smile regardless. "It's always a game with him." They turn to look to where the large dog has paused again, looking back their way with a slight wag of his tail, ball still in mouth. "Can't ever just go out for an afternoon without it becoming a whole adventure, now, can we?" is shouted more at the coyote than said to Jim.

Jim doesn't exactly whirl around, but he does turn around more quickly than he might had he just been responding to a greeting or something like that. He sees the coyote just as it flashes past him, and that does get a startled blink, though before he can do much more, the animal is staring at him. There's a moment of stillness, before Jim nods his head slowly to the creature. It isn't a full bow, but it does give the impression of one.

He straightens up again as the coyote scampers off, just in time for Seren to have made their way to him as well. "No problem," he says with a lifted hand and a vague wave, dismissing the apology. He smiles at the new arrival with another nod, though this one is a greeting, rather than respectful deference as the first one had been. "They have to get out their energy or else they'll take it out on the rest of us, right?" It sounds like a joke — at least, it's said with humor — but it also seems to carry somewhat of a deeper meaning.

"I tried to get him to stay at the park so we could have him get his energy out there, but he had other plans." Seren still sounds apologetic, even though Jim's waved off the first apology already. They huff and look back to the coyote the color of night and stars, who drops down onto his front paws. In response, Seren leans forward and claps their hands down onto their knees in a similar reaction, grinning. The act reveals they have a companion also on them, one that crawls forward onto Seren's shoulder now, peering at Jim with interest. The small gryphon-like creature clings to them with the birdclaws of its back feet, pawing for attention with the wide paws of its front.

"There you are, Baird." Seren says to it with a fond smile, lifting a hand to brush bare fingers over the side of its feathered face. Like the coyote, it bears an unnatural, shimmering color scheme, all oranges and red and purples — like a sunset compared to the twilight of the other creature. "Thought you'd fallen off." And in reply, Baird only purrs.

The coyote on the other hand, seeing he now has to compete for attention, whuffs and begins to pad back over to the two, dropping the ball so it bounces and rolls back to Seren's feet. "Now look who's jealous," they remark with a grin, carefully adjusting their crouch to avoid unseating the creature on their shoulder as they reach for the ball.

"Don't they always," Jim says with a little chuckle, looking back at the coyote for a moment before he turns back to Seren, just in time to see that other little creature crawl out. His eyebrows raise and he leans forward just slightly to get a better look, though not too close, of course; certainly not anywhere near too close for giving Seren personal space. "Hello there," he says to the little thing, and his smile widens a little bit, giving the impression of childlike wonder, though he has not been a child for some time.

He looks up to Seren again, and after a moment extends a hand. "I'm Jim," he says. "Jim Clarke. Nice to meet you. Any friend of animals is probably pretty awesome." Even if the animals are not necessarily animals that someone else might have. Or maybe especially!

He might have said something more, but the coyote's antics have him looking that way again, and he laughs in earnest this time. "Poor guy," he says, and the other hand that's not being offered to Seren is extended toward the coyote, slowly and with care.

"Seren Evans, pleased to meet you." is said in return with some relief when they stand back up, Jim's hand shaken firmly. The creature on their shoulder tries to nip for the red ball in their other hand, to which they yank it back with a knowing look. Not for you. Seeing Jim reach out to the coyote, their expression turns slightly more wary. "Coyotl, be nice," Seren warns carefully.

In reply, the coyote tosses his head in the young person's direction, the white motes down his form shimmering yellows and reds like distant stars for a moment. Seren scoffs with some amusement before nodding sideways at Jim. "He's fine to pet, you just have to be very gentle with him." They smile afterward. "I love my friends, it's great to see them when I can. Baird's almost always with me, but this is the first time I've seen Coyotl since moving to the Safe Zone. I guess he felt comfortable enough to come out today, which is great. We always have a good time."

Once the handshake is finished, Jim takes back his hand and turns his body a little bit more toward the coyote, though slowly. He has no supernatural abilities involving animals, but it's pretty clear that he has some experience with animals. Though not whatever these are, because when he is able to touch the creature, his eyebrows raise again in vague surprise. He doesn't jerk his hand back or anything, but it's clear he can tell that there's something strange about it. Of course, has he touched an actual coyote before? Possibly not.

He is very gentle, though, and doesn't take advantage of the situation too long, pulling his hand back after a few seconds. "Thank you," he says, directed at the animal before he turns back to Seren. "Nice to be able to hang out with them," he says, his gaze shifting to the other creature briefly before moving back again. "I wouldn't mind having a coyote friend. Though it would keep me on my toes."

The fur is stiff like spines, providing no real comfort to touch and discouraging any firm pets. An otherworldly shimmer is visible under Jim's hand before he pulls away, pools of white appearing around his hand that dissipate as soon soon as he's no longer touching it. The coyote is calm the whole while, back to studying the man with eyes almost human. When he receives thanks directly, his maw pulls back into something like a grin.

"Yeah, he's definitely a challenge sometimes, but I'd not change him in a heartbeat. I love all my friends and the ways they've turned out." Seren says with a warm smile, tossing the red ball at the ground and catching it as it bounces back up. The sound it makes as it hits the pavement is off by just a split second, like a video just barely delayed. They pitch the ball down the street and the coyote takes off after it in a flash, the ball not even making it fifteen feet before it's caught in a chomp.

Seren looks back to Jim, their brow arching slightly. The expression of the creature on their shoulder is similar — both expressing interest. "I've only just moved to New York. Are you from around here? I've been trying to get out a little each day, see a bit more of the sights."

"I bet," Jim replies, sticking his hand back into the pocket of his coat to ward off the slight chill that's blown down the street, as though just reminding them that it's there…waiting. He turns to watch the coyote run after the ball, and another little laugh escapes him, the sort of thing that springs from happiness at seeing something fun. "I'm glad I didn't come across him in the dead of night, though."

Seren's question brings his eyes back to them, and he shakes his head, continuing, "I'm not from here, but I've been here a couple of years. I'm originally from South Dakota. This is a bit different." That is said with some amusement, because it's a bit different even from itself, twenty years ago. "How are you liking it far?" he asks. "Finding everything you need?"

"Oh, you know," Seren quips back conversationally, "I made the trip seeking purpose, good company, unexpected adventures. I think I'm doing well so far." Their grin is warm and unabashed at that admission. The breeze that cuts down the street causes them to pull the red cap down around their ears and short-shorn hair a little more firmly, the embroidered lettering for 'Raytech Industries' more visible as it's adjusted.

"South Dakota?" is circled back to with interest. "Wow, that's way out there, these days. I'm from Nova Scotia, myself — a bit out there in the other direction." They chuckle, shrugging their shoulders. Baird's feathers on top of its head ruffle and change hues at nearly being unseated, following the quick popping movement before settling back down. It's surprised, but not entirely unused to the movement, after all. "I came out here for work. There's a lot of rebuilding needing done, and instead of going and designing some high-rises for the rich or something to get my hours in so I can be a certified architect, I figured…"

They turn away with a shrug, not noticing that Coyotl has vanished from the spot he was moments before. They're thoughtful, in the moment. "Why not do something worthwhile? Sure, I might not be able to design things exactly like I'd like them out here, either, but this seemed more fulfilling. Going where help is needed called to me first."

"Good. I hope you've found at least two of those things," Jim replies, though his tone sounds a little bit joking there. He may note the embroidery on the hat, or he may not, but either way he doesn't comment on it for the moment. Instead, he nods. "Pretty far," he agrees. "I traveled around for years before, and after the war it made more sense to come here. Rebuilding, like you said.

He can't help but look at the little creature as it moves, but even as it does he's still paying attention to the conversation. Hopefully the slight distraction can be forgiven — he's probably never seen something like this before, after all. "An architect, huh? That's cool. And necessary for sure. Maybe I'll live in one of your buildings one day, huh?" It's said with an accompanying smile, but unlike before, he doesn't sound like he's joking now — the words are sincere.

The distraction isn't taken offense to at all, Seren's attention swiveling to the Baird as well. They pop the shoulder the gryphon clings to again, the wings folded against its body rustling and resetting as it's toyed with. It tilts its head to the side, nibbling at the side of Seren's face with its beak to give as good as its getting. No dismay is had there, even though they lean away to try and avoid being nipped. "Okay, okay," they whisper in a hush before turning back to Jim. They needed to be serious and in the moment. Or at least not check out on the conversation.

They're humbled instantly by Jim's comment, giving a timid shake of their head. Even Baird turns in interest, like it understands what's been said. Tinges of purple have started to streak through its coloring where there was only reds and oranges before.

"Y-yeah, wouldn't that be something? I'm not sure about all that, though." Seren says, suddenly sheepish. "I'm not sure what company would agree to build half the things I come up with because I go big with being artistic, but I'll keep at it. Maybe one of them might change their minds." They volunteer with a shy grin, "Though, my dream is to help design a theme park. So definitely go visit it when it opens!"

There's a laugh that escapes Jim at the interplay, though it's short, and he refocuses quickly enough. "An amusement park, huh? That sounds like exactly what I want to go visit. I'll have to keep an eye out for that when it comes. Seren Evans," he repeats, as though he's committing it to memory so that he can follow their career trajectory.

"You work for Raytech?" he asks then, nodding to the cap with the logo. "That seems like a place where you'd get to be creative and they wouldn't mind it. At least, from what I know about it." Which may not be much, but one hears things, of course.

"Yeah, Raytech finally said yes where a handful of other firms said no, some in more colorful ways than others." Seren only looks a little off-put by that, focusing more on the opportunity ahead than the naysayers of the past. They knew their vision had value. They shake their head. "Raytech might not be an architecture firm outright or anything, but they need architects on those projects of theirs."

A grin comes to them as they add, "And some of them are way more out there than I would have ever expected. I'm still getting settled in, but I can't wait to get knee-deep in a project of my own."

Jim gives a decisive nod there, replying, "Good for them. What did the kids used to say? Fuck the haters?" Maybe they still say it, who knows! Or maybe they didn't say it at all in this version of reality, but we can pretend they did. "I hope you enjoy it. That's the most important thing, right? Especially now." Life's too short and all that. He doesn't say that, but it's probably implied.

He tips his head toward the market, his eyebrows raising slightly. "Are you going this way?" he asks. "I need a few things, but I'd like some company for the walk if you don't have anything else to do." And maybe see another exciting creature, but he also doesn't say that. And it is also less implied, except to the reader.

"Oh." The note of surprise shifts into an upbeat, "Sure!" quickly enough. Seren slides their hands into their pockets. "All right, Baird, settle in." The creature on their shoulder needs no further instruction, adjusting its grip on the coat, which surely should be more scuffed than it actually is given the claws that dig into it. Then Seren looks off to where the coyote surely must have been, brow furrowing. "And.. Coyotl…"

A nose bumps at the back of their leg, knee knocking forward. When the coyote walks out from behind Seren, it's as though the beast appears from thin air, because he surely couldn't have been behind them this whole time. He lacks the ball from earlier, icy eyes intent on the path ahead. No tricks at the moment.

"So what's it like out in Dakota? Now, before…" A description of either or seems to be fine with Seren. They've never been, after all! And perhaps the current state might be less pleasant to describe. That was pretty far west, wasn't it?

Jim grins as they start down toward the market, his pace easy despite the slight chill — if he's from South Dakota that probably makes sense that he's not in a hurry, though she might not know that. "I haven't been back in a while," he admits. "But when I was there, it was beautiful. But stark, you know? Lots of open space. Desert. I lived on a reservation, and there was a lot of poverty, you know? It was hard for people. But the sense of community was really strong."

He turns onto another street then to head them in the right directions as he talks, his steps practiced enough that he doesn't have to pay a whole lot of attention to where he's going. "How about Nova Scotia? I've never been to Canada."

Seren's fingertips trail down Coyotl's back while they walk, milky white streaks following after the points of contact like the tails of meteors. Getting closer to the market, there's more foot traffic, and the coyote gets his fair share of notice. Perhaps walking with a large, unleashed dog might pass immediate scrutiny if he weren't shades of deep purple and blue along with the encroaching black of midnight. The glowing stars along his form also didn't help.

The young person walking next to him seems oblivious, either willingly or for not paying enough attention.

"Well, certainly it's no desert." Seren shakes their head thoughtfully. "Halifax kisses the water and is pretty lively — lots to do, lots to see. It doesn't help that it's the capital of Nova Scotia. Outside of town there's… lots of nature. Lots of green and hills and forest to get yourself lost in, if you let it happen."

They don't seem to know how to address the admission about what it's like living on a reservation. It's far removed from their own way of life. Seren almost interjects some sort of comment, even a positive one about the state of the community, but shies away from it. Yes, it was good he came from a strong community … but it was strong in spite of hardship facing them all. Instead, they ask, "Do you miss it at all?" One shoulder tips up as they confess, "I'm working through some homesickness. New York is … way different than I thought it would be. It's nice out on Raytech's campus, but life out here is…" There's a tinge of hesitation as they sum it up as, "Well, different. Very different."

Jim is not oblivious — in fact, he looks over at the coyote more and more often, that sense of wonder returning to his expression every time. It's really a beautiful thing to behold. He's paying enough attention that he can still carry on the conversation, though, especially when they're holding up most of it by answering his question.

"I do," he says after a few moment's consideration. "I do miss it. It's home, you know? Even though I haven't been back there in a long time, and even if I went back it wouldn't be the same. I like New York, I like my life here, but yeah, I miss it sometimes." He nods in agreement to their assessment, "Exactly. It's different. There's nothing like New York. Sometimes it's good, and sometimes it isn't quite as good. But it's really never boring, at least."

"I'm looking forward to that part," Seren remarks with a grin. "The not boring part."

Though, startling people by walking with a wild-looking beast is a kind of not-boring they're not hoping to have to entertain. And they have noticed pedestrians avoiding their path now. "All right, buddy." is said softly to the coyote, who turns up at the shift in tone, an ear flicking back flat. "It's about time to head home, I think." In another odd gesture, Coyotl nods, turning to Seren as they crouch by his side. "We'll catch up soon. I'll have to start thinking of some pranks to pull off with you the next time you're by." A human-sounding hmph comes from the coyote as he settles into a sit.

Seren leans their forehead against the coyote's, whose form shimmers and becomes translucent. All of him seems to be bound up into the specks of white light, and when nothing is left but the motes, they float into Seren's person before they stand, a faint smile on their face. A hand is lifted to stroke Baird's side, seeking comfort in the friend they didn't have to just send away.

"You know, I think that'll be hard, but I'm looking forward to it. Seeing how everything's different when I get home, and finding my place in it. I plan to be out here for a few years, at the very least." The thread of conversation is picked right back up a bit sheepishly as they follow along after Jim. There were probably a few things they could pick up at the market.

Jim might have said something more, but when Seren stops to dismiss the coyote, he stops, too, to watch their interaction. His eyes widen as the animal begins to dematerialize, his lips parting just slightly as his face is illuminated by the light of the creature dissipating into nothingness. He takes in a little breath as the last swirling flecks disappear, the slightest smile pulling the corners of his mouth upward. "Wow."

When it's all through he blinks, shaking his head a little bit as though to clear it. "Well, there's at least a few years of exploring you can do here, if nothing else," he says with a laugh, though there's still that sense of wonder in his expression even as their conversation turns back to the mundane. It never really leaves him, either, even long after the light has faded.

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