Mischief Managed



Scene Title Mischief Managed
Synopsis After an empath disrupts a casino, one person takes the time to find out why.
Date September 29, 2018

Red Hook

Gamblers exiting the Red Hook market make their way to cars or the sidewalks, to put the red brick building and the bad feelings of the night that came with loss of cash and uninvited emotions behind them. The overwhelming sorrow that was felt within is no longer felt without — just the remnants, that leave one with a hollow ache in the gut that can't be filled with another win at the craps table or another whiskey. Some certainly stayed inside to try, of course.

Tania's target is a little harder to spot in the dark, his turquoise hair no longer highlighted by the golden lighting of the casino. Eventually, though, the lean figure of the young man passes under a street lamp, shining on their brightly colored hair for just a moment — enough for Tania to spot him, as he ducked out of her view on the way out. His friend is no longer in sight.

Slipping through the people, Tania tries to keep her eyes open for the guy she saw inside. It isn't easy, and she might be inclined to give up before she turns in time to catch his hair passing under the light. She pivots in that direction, picking up the pace to try to catch up to him.

"Wait," she says, once she's closer, "hang on." At least it isn't anger that has her chasing him down. It's not in her tone or in her expression, if he bothers to look.

The young man doesn't slow, but he doesn't speed up either. Without a glance over his shoulder, he keeps his long-legged stride even, as if he's on an evening stroll through the night and not making his exit from a crime scene — he certainly had no reason to be using his ability in public, after all.

There's a forced but graceful nonchalance to the way he walks, his hands tucked into his coat's pockets, his elbows angled outward. The suit he wears, while nice, is definitely not this year's style, or even last year. In fact, it's definitely 21st century antebellum, no doubt found it in a thrift shop or a closet of someone who didn't need it when the world began to stitch itself together.

Falling into step next to him, Tania matches his stride easily. She flips her hair over her shoulder and lets out a gentle sigh. "That's not too far from how most people leave that casino," she says, glancing over at him, "sad, lost, out of money. Not all at once, though, usually."

When she looks over at him, she glances at the suit, then at the hair. It's definitely a look, but she seems to approve— at least, she keeps a smile on her face. "What happened back there? Are you alright?" Not because of the punch his friend gave him, but rather, because sometimes these bursts of power aren't at all controlled or on purpose.

The young man heaves a sigh as unwanted company makes itself known. He keeps his pale blue eyes on the sidewalk ahead of him, but for a brief sidelong glance at his diminutive companion.

"I'm fine. Wasn't me," he says with a lift of his chin, reaching up to smooth the curled shock of turquoise hair. This close, she can see it's only the front and top that's blue, intermixed with what seems to be naturally dark, nearly black, hair. "Are you lost? I'm not. You should find your friends. This isn't a good place to be walking alone." The warning doesn't ring of sincerity nor threat, really, but sound more perfunctory, like it's the right thing to say.

Tania nods to his words, as if they are the exactly right things to say all in a line and well practiced. Her expression is the part giving away that she isn't buying it. "My friends are a little busy crying into each other's shoulders at the moment. And I'm not walking alone," she says, since technically, she isn't.

"It's alright, I'm not here to get you into trouble. Just to see if you needed help. Or if you were just bored and wanted some entertainment. I understand, New York isn't what it once was." Of course, Tania's experience with New York as it once was wasn't full of night life and parties. For her, it's this version that's more exicting.

The corner of the young man's mouth tics up into a smirk, apparently pleased with her comment about her friends. His opposite brow rises when she asks about looking for entertainment. He finally turns to look at her properly.

"Do I look like I'm in duress, miss?" he asks, both brows lifting to punctuate the question. His eyes are clear, bright, and certainly dry of any tears. "I admit, there might be a bit of ennui, so if I were the culpable person, that might be a factor. Not," he says, with a hand lifting as if to ward her off, "that I'm confessing to anything."

His eyes narrow as he studies her again. "New York hasn't been what it once was for far longer than we've been alive. What do you suggest we do to alleviate this boredom?"
"Well, you never know," Tania says, as far as him being in duress. She doesn't miss the smirk, although she doesn't comment right away. "Ennui? Well, that is serious," she says, wryly. She laughs when he makes it clear that he's not taking responsibility. "Of course. I wouldn't dare to think."

She can't argue with his point, things have been not right for a long time. But Tania isn't going to dwell on that, instead, she tilts her head as if in thought. "Well, if you like to see people cry, I know a few places. If you like to make people cry, we might have to get a little creative."

"Well, all right, then, Strangelove," he says with a laugh, turning to walk backwards a few steps while facing her, studying her face before turning back in time to avoid an overgrown tree.

"I don't need to do either, but maybe you do. What do you propose? If your 'boredom diagnosis' is the one we're going with, of course. And which do you think it is? If I were the culprit, not that I'm confessing to doing anything immoral or illegal, is it because I want to witness pain or cause pain?"

As he speaks, the last vestiges of the sorrow that were clinging to her fade, and something much lighter wraps itself around her instead — something like cheer.

Tania lifts an eyebrow at him when he turns to walk backward, but a hint of a smile appears— if a crooked one. "If you were the culprit," she says hands clasping behind her back for a moment as she considers the possibilities, "I'm not sure it's pain you want to witness. Perhaps you would just like getting a reaction out of a crowd."

When the emotion around her shifts, it's subtler than the sudden sorrow earlier and Tania can't quite stop the smile spreading across her face. A moment later, she shifts it to something more playful, like she doesn't want him to see that it had any effect at all. Or maybe she just doesn't like to show what she's actually feeling without her say so. "As for how we might entertain ourselves— I don't need it to involve anyone crying."

The young man tips his head. "Maybe. Who doesn't like a reaction from a crowd? Not all of us can turn a head just walking into a room."

When she smiles, his smile turns a little more sincere, like he's pleased to see the effect on her, but her words bring back the impish smirk. "But you're not averse to it, it seems. Maybe it depends on who?" He tips his head in the direction of the market. "About 90 percent of the people in there are criminals. Some of them involved in human trafficking, others drug dealers, others secretly wishing the other side lost the war. I'm not really too sad to make any of them cry." He waits a beat. "If I were the culprit." He nods in her direction. "You expressive?"

His first words get a more genuine smile out of Tania and her hand runs through her hair. Flattery is accepted, apparently. And appreciated. "It does depend. There are some people I wouldn't mind seeing reduced to tears." When he explains more, she turns more serious, because she hadn't really been thinking that way— on purpose— but once he brings it up, she finds it all too easy to believe that statistic. "I suppose, whoever the culprit is might have had plenty of reason to ruin their night out, then."

The question brings back a curious expression, though. "I'm not," she says, spreading her hands helplessly. "Hopefully, that's not too disappointing."

The boy cuts off the sidewalk into a park that sits at the base of the pier and overlooks the water, heading for a rusted swing set that hasn't yet been upgraded to something less likely to give a child tetanus. He takes a seat in one of the swings, assuming, it seems, she'll do the same. "If you swing high enough it looks like you're over the water," he says, walking back in the swing a bit to give himself a hefty push-off.

"Not disappointing, though it's always fun to see a new ability I haven't. You're surprising enough in other ways, I suppose," he says, as if she exists solely to amuse him. After all, she did seem to offer entertainment. "Would you tell me if you were a SESA agent or something like that?" he asks.

Tania follows, letting out a chuckle when he leads them to the swingset. She never played in parks as a child; this may be the first time she's actually stepped into one, even. First that she can remember, in any case. She kicks off her shoes as she takes up the swing next to him, leaving them in an unceremonious heap before she gives herself a push, too.

And she laughs, although not at the illusion of being over the water, but at his words and the implication behind them. She doesn't argue the point, though. "I could say that I would tell you, but how could I prove I wasn't one, really?" Her question is teasing, because she thinks it's fairly obvious she isn't. "I was only curious why an empath might want to make a room full of people sad, even when it upset his friends."

"Valid point. You might be too smart for SESA," says the boy, stretching out long legs and showing off a flash of pink socks, to bring his swing higher into the horizon. He's quiet for a moment, maybe thinking about her question earnestly — or thinking about how to respond.

"It's not always sad," he finally says. "Did you feel the confidence that came before it? A little surge of bravery that was more brave than bravado? Sometimes it's good things. Sometimes it's humor. You're probably right. It's about getting a reaction — and maybe having some control. Because I do." He glances her way. "It's not a wild lashing out. I'm sorry though if it hurt you — I wouldn't have, if I'd known you and knew you were there. You have a name?"

"Oh, I will take that compliment," Tania says with a smirk sent in his direction. Her swing doesn't go as high as his, which affords her time to study him here and there.

"I did feel that. I just thought I was having a good night," she says. Although, looking back she can note how the others around her had that same boost that she did. Her swing slows enough to let her feet drag in the sand, and she looks over at him at the apology. "It didn't hurt me," she says, "it isn't so terrible to be sad sometimes." Her words are sincere, if a little quiet. Perhaps because they're honest. "Tania," she says, to his last words. "You have one?"

"That's something, I guess," says the boy, before realizing she's grounded herself, so he slows the swing as well. He studies the sandy toes of his shoes for a long moment, perhaps considering giving her a fake name.



It probably sounds like it is, despite being the truth.

"I'm still sorry if it ruined your evening," he says, not looking at her; there's enough light to see his flush, most dominant on his ears. "But not sorry if it got you to say hello."

Tania accepts the name— fake or not— with a gentle smile, even through he's looking elsewhere. "I wouldn't say ruined," she says, apparently letting him off the hook, "not what I planned, but not ruined." She laughs softly, amused despite the fact that she's going to have to try to cheer up the Ryans sisters all over again. But then, she assumes she'll be doing that often enough even without his influence. "I didn't think of that as a possible motivation, but if this is how you get a girl to talk to you— it's elaborate. I like it."

He looks over at her, raising a brow skeptically, like she is probably making fun of him, but seeing nothing malicious, he laughs, a low sound. Sincere and unaffected, unlike his prior declarations of ennui.

"My 'friends' were being assholes. And they're probably not really my friends, if I'm honest. At least, not good ones. So yeah. I guess I did it to ruin their night, a little. Usually I just do it to liven shit up. Make people laugh when they shouldn't. Make them want to fight when we should be good upstanding citizens. I kept my power down for a long time because I lived with a lot of people and it's… what's that thing with the Amish people, where you get to go live in the real world for the first time and see if you like it? I think it's sort of like that." He lifts his shoulders. "You're easy to talk to."

"Sounds like you need better friends," Tania says. Although, there are some who would definitely say that about her friends, too. Some of them. "That can be hard, I imagine. Keeping your ability down. Living with a lot of people, though, I don't know that it would be fun to know what everyone's feeling all the time." A mixed blessing, at best.

"Nothing wrong with testing the water a little," she says, even if she's not quite sure what it is the Amish go through. "How are you finding it? Having space to use your ability some?"

His last words get a chuckle. She's been told that before, in days when she didn't do much more than listen. But it's easier to take as a compliment these days.

Salem lifts his shoulders, turning his swing slowly so the chains twist above his head. "I like seeing it affect people. Knowing I'm the one making them feel a certain way. I don't know what sort of job would let someone do that on a regular basis that would be okay with people, you know? Anything that affects minds or feelings, people get touchy about. They don't want to be manipulated. And I know it's manipulating, but I can't help that that's the ability I got, you know? And it's not fair that it's not seen as welcome or as useful as… I don't know. Someone who can put out a fire or fix something, I guess."

He lifts his feet and lets the twisted chains turn him in a circle, until the momentum starts to twist the chains in the opposite direction. "I used to not be able to control it, when I was younger." His expression is grim, while that warm, happy feeling still clings to her.

"Why would you need it to be part of your job?" Tania turns, but only enough to look over at him, rather than twisting her chains up. "I actually agree. If you're going to accept abilities, you have to accept that some of them will be more intrusive than others. Some of them will be more painful than others. Some of them will be scary. It's a shift in perspective. Sadly, that's a harder war to win."

Leaning against the chain, Tania watches him as he talks, that grim expression. She feels that odd sort of warmth and knows it's not fitting the moment, but she's not planning on chiding him about it. "That couldn't have been fun," she comments. "It's a lot to handle, for a child."

"Oh, I don't mean I have to do it for a job, but I like to do it. Of course, I probably wouldn't like it if it weren't a bit mischievous," he says, a smirk returning to his face, before he straightens out the links again.

"It was a long time ago," he says, as if he's well into adulthood as opposed to on its cusp. He stares out at the water for a long, quiet moment, before turning back to her. "Anything you'd like to feel? I can scare you better than a horror movie or haunted house, without even leaving our swings, if that's your thing. 'Tis the season and all. Adrenaline rushes are always a fun ride, if you know you're safe in the end. I don't usually take requests, but I'll make an exception." He smiles her way, before looking back out at the water.

"Day care." Tania supplies this career suggestion with a crooked smile. "Your ability would be useful and there's plenty of room for mischief. You could make them all upset just as their parents come to pick them up."

Her expression dims as he goes on, though, and she lets out a bit of a sigh. She knows what it's like to feel older than you are. She often forgets that she's actually still quite young herself.

Instead of answering him, she stands up and takes a few steps forward, arms stretching for a moment. Truth is, her emotional existance tends to be sedate and calm, something he likely noticed. Or is likely to, at some point. "You know what I'd like, Salem?" she says, looking back over toward him and returning his smile. "Someone to walk me home." Him, the implication seems to be.

He laughs aloud at the suggestion of day care, shaking his head, but the smile lingers a little longer after the laugh fades. When she stands, he glances up at her, not moving, brow lifting. He looks like the cynic he seems to want to be — until she speaks, and he looks surprised.

His cheeks color a little, and he glances down, as if the answer might be written in the sand at his feet. He nods, once, before standing up.

"I can do that."

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