Live Once


elaine_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Live Once
Synopsis Elaine wanders through a Glasgow park and is approached by a stranger who isn't actually.
Date January 12, 2010

Glasgow, Scotland

Parks in Scotland were much different than parks in New York. While New York had plenty of paths for walking and benches, Scotland had green expanses as far as the eye could see—smack dab in the middle of a city. Petershill Park was, for the most part, used for it's field for sports, but there was plenty of green still around and paths that could be walked, though a little sparse on benches.

Elaine found herself with a camera which was another odd purchase she'd made while abroad. Peering around the park as she meandered slowly, she occasionally snapped a picture of someone walking, or her own feet, or got in really close for a blade of grass. She's trying to be artistic. Or something. She continues walking, eyes scanning through the photos already on the camera as she deletes a few less-than-successful attempts.

There are plenty of opportunities to be artistic in a setting like Petershill Park, and although she might have better luck when the flowers are blooming in spring instead of the drab gray of the Scottish winter, the linnets in the trees appear as splashes of red and pink if they can be caught flitting between the branches. It's a safe place for a girl of Elaine's age to be; there is no bloodshed here, no martial law or curfew to cage her, no oppressive government monitoring her movements or danger of leading it back to the people she cares most about.

There's a reason the Ferrymen network exists, and it's to give as many people as it can the chance to have what Elaine has found on this patch of green.


"Hey there," says a voice from behind her, and it drops the h. 'ey there.

The redhead isn't entirely sure, at first, that the voice is talking to her. Elaine, after all, managed to blend in. The accent, just enough of a knowledge of Scotland and various social norms in the United Kingdom… she blended well enough except when she wasn't trying to blend. At the moment, Elaine wasn't entirely sure what she was trying to do, but the voice catches her attention. She's a little surprised, looking up from her camera as she turns to look towards the sound of the voice.

"Hey," she replies, Scottish accent and all, "I'm not… in your way or something, am I?"

"Ah, no," says the voice, which belongs to a tall, lean man with hair a few shades lighter than Elaine's with naturally golden highlights woven throughout, but shorn short and swept back by the wind and misting rain. He wears his leather jacket with the collar turned up to protect his neck and zipper cinched all the way up to his chin. Denim jeans are torn at one knee while leather workboots caked in a watery layer of mud leave prints on the path in his wake as he approaches her, one hand reaching into his pocket and the other curled at his side, the attached arm in a makeshift cast.

It must not be that serious of an injury because when the hand comes out of his pocket, it's holding a package of cigarettes that he requires both to flip open, selecting a long white stick. "I was wondering if you had a light. I seem t'have lost mine."

What luck! Elaine's new smoking habit had turned out to actually help. "Ah, 'course. Justa sec." She shoves the camera into her pocket, then fishes in her other one for the lighter and her packet of cigarettes. Pulling both out, she palms the pack in one hand and the lighter in the other, which she then offers in the stranger's direction. "Pity you lost your lighter… though I guess it's one way to go and meet people."

The man, Walter, responds with a low huff of laughter as he steers the cigarette into the corner of his mouth and graciously accepts the lighter. "Thanks," he says. "Got a hole in my pocket, see." A flame flickers to life, a callused hand curls protectively around and he purses his lips, waiting until the first threads of smoke are rising before he surrenders the lighter back to its rightful owner.

"Really appreciate it, Miss."

"Not a problem. You're clearly a lucky man. I don't normally have a lighter," Elaine laughs, fishing a cigarette from her own pack and pulling it out, tucking the pack away before she carefully works on lighting her own. She's still a little clumsy, but she's a little better at it than she was when she first bought the lighter.

"No?" he asks with a lift of both his brows, and when his hand drops from his mouth his lit cigarette goes with it, dangling between two of his long fingers. "You just pick it up or falling back on old habits?"

Elaine shoves the lighter back into her pocket. "Just picked it up. Kinda thought I'd try it, always wanted to try and I'm over here and I said… why the fuck not? You only live once, right?" She brings the cigarette to her lips.

"Live once," Walter agrees, "die once. I knew a guy liked to smoke. Pretty spry for how old he was. Throat cancer a year shy of seventy, and he'd been through all sorts of shit. Fought in a war, got shot. Broke every bone is his body once, or at least that's what he used to say. And: Yours too, kiddo, if you don't leave me th'fuck alone." He turns the cigarette between his fingers in grim contemplation. Sniffs. "Anyway. Don't start. That's my suggestion. Take it or leave it."

The redhead looks at her cigarette, puffing on it lightly. "I'm not a serious smoker anyways. I don't think I'm the smoking type. Frankly, I think smokin' is just another of a series of hats I'm trying on right now." Elaine flicks the ash off her cigarette, breathing deeply. "Sorry if I'm gettin' a little too much into my head right now. Don't mean to bear down on you or anything. What about you? Smoker for a while? You've kinda got that whole… rebel look going on."

Walter's mouth splits into a toothy grin at the word rebel, but there's something almost malicious about it, even if there's no unkindness in his pale Teodoro-blue eyes. "Guess I started at fourteen, maybe fifteen," he says with a shrug. "Kept it from my mum 'til I was a little older so she wouldn't box my ears, y'know, but I don't think she was real surprised seeing how I grew up. 'Round smokers, I mean."

"Ahh… I should've picked up smoking back then. Lost my parents when I was fourteen, so… would've been a great excuse to start. Blame my habit on teenage anxiety and grief. I think I just felt too bad about disappointing them or something, even after they were dead. Guess that's why I'm trying 'em now. No one I know's around so it's like… I dunno. I feel less guilty." There's a tiny chuckle from Elaine. "I'll 'kick the habit' once I'm done with this pack. Might as well finish it off, after all. Get all my rebellion out in one fell swoop."

"There's the spirit." Walter gives a playful wrinkle of his nose and takes another pull from his cigarette. He gives a glance over Elaine's shoulder, searching the trees behind her, then runs his tongue over his front teeth behind his upper lip as smoke leaks in twin streams from his nostrils. "I'm Reynard, by the way. Should'a introduced myself sooner. Apologies. And you— you seem t'me like a Rose. Or— a Rosie. Roselyn? No?"

Elaine laughs heartily, blowing out smoke as she looks bck over. "Reynard. Nice name. Good guess, but you aren't even close. It's Elaine. If you think I look like a Roselyn or something, feel free to rename me. I could try the name on for size. Whatcha think, Elaine suit me or should I go for something else?"

"I dunno," says Walter. "T'be perfectly honest, I like Elaine. It's a good name. Nice and Arthurian. Town in Arkansas, too. Not that I'm saying you should visit. Arkansas' not much unless you like rolling green mist mountains. Open plains. And, anyway, between you and me, Miss Elaine — America? Total bust."

"Oh, good, you got the whole Arthurian thing. People don't really pick up on that. They always try to find some celebrity to try and match the name up to." Elaine can't help but snort at the mention of Arkansas, and even more so at the mention of America. "I have to agree with you there, I think. Been there before. Flew to New York when I was fourteen." It's not a lie. She did. She just neglects to mention that it was because she was returning. "It's not like it is here. People can be shitfaces."

"People are shitfaces no matter what side of the water you're on. Douchebaggery — that stuff's universal." Walter is watching Elaine's eyes when she speaks rather than her mouth or the shape it makes from her cigarette when she closes her lips around it. Her other features receive only marginally more attention, searching. "You live around here?"

"No. I'm in town on holiday. Needed to get away from some people, things in my life. Kinda wanted to make some choices while I could have a clear head, away from the people who'd make it hard to choose. Just givin' my life a little direction, s'all." Elaine nods a little. "What about you? This your home?"

"Not the park, no," and there's slyness in the stranger's voice, "or the country even. Home's a long way off in every direction you can imagine. I'm here on a special assignment."

There's a snort, and Elaine takes another puff of her cigarette. "I didn't mean the park, but it's nice to know anyways." She peers over at the red-haired man with a slight bit of curiosity. "Not from Scotland, huh? And special assignment?" She's grinning now. "What kinda assignment? You on a secret mission?" She taps the ash off her cigarette. "You a… secret agent?"

"Or an investigative journalist. Private investigator. Your pick." Walter tips his head to the side in response to Elaine's peering, his eyelids growing heavy with apparent amusement, though his tone remains light and facetious. "I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on this woman. We'll call her 'Trouble Magnet'. For the sake of secrecy. The top kind."

"You're in Scotland chasing around a woman. Mmmhm," Elaine muses, pursing her lips before she drops the cigarette, putting it out with a twist of her foot. "Trouble Magnet. So you're keeping an eye on her because she's doing something suspicious or you're afraid something suspicious is gonna happen to her? Sounds like the latter, if you're calling her a magnet for trouble, Reynard. You sure you're a private investigator and not a jilted lover?"

"I strike you as the jealous type?" Walter wants to know, arching both his red-blond brows. There are more wrinkles on his forehead than on a Shar-Pei's face. "Somebody's been jilted, sure, but it's not me. She's a friend of the family. Mum'd be heartbroken if anything bad were t'happen t'her, so here I am." He glances down at the crumpled cigarette on the ground, crushed under the Elaine's toe. "Your people are probably worried about you, too. You even tell them where you were going?"

"Jealous? Nah. I just figured it had to be that since you don't really strike me as the private eye type," Elaine points out, though she suddenly frowns a little bit. "Left a note. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself just fine. Hardly know I'm gone." She peers over at him. "But I'm not jilted or anything, thank you." She says, defensively. "So why're you talking to me if you're supposed to be looking out for this trouble magnet, huh?"

It is because he's looking at her right now, but Walter does not say this. Instead: "Figured I deserved a quick smoke break."

He drops his cigarette to the ground as well, producing a wet fizzle that dies out before he can step on it. Smoke break's over. "Glad I did," he adds. "Was nice meeting you, though I gotta say that a note maybe doesn't mean much. You care about somebody, no piece of paper's gonna make your heart arche any less if they just up and go. When you headed back?"

"I'm not," Elaine says. It's the first thing that comes out of her mouth, and she frowns a little. "Well, I mean, I dunno. I didn't make plans. I just came here. Gives me time to figure myself out." She shrugs. "Maybe I don't even want to go back. I could just stay here. Not the park, I mean. But.. here, Glasgow."

"Well, give it some thought. You don't seem t'me the kinda lady who'd hurt the people she loves — not on purpose, anyway." He leans in to peck a kiss against her cheek. "And you sure as shit know what you're doing, yeah?" His mouth does not linger near her ear any longer than necessary, however, and he's drawing away in the next instant, one hand raised in farewell with fingers splayed. "See you, sweetheart."

Elaine blinks for a moment at Reynard, reaching her fingers up to offer a little wave in response. "Yeah, I'll think about it. Um, good luck with your trouble maker, alright?" She didn't really buy the full story. But she didn't need to buy it. That wasn't the point. "See you."

Walter turns, showing Elaine his shoulder and then his back. His hand not in the sling finds his jacket pocket.

He sets off.

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