gillian4_icon.gif samuel_icon.gif

Scene Title Monumental
Synopsis The best offers are the ones you can't refuse.
Date September 27, 2010

Coney Island

Despite it's name Coney Island is a peninsula, and only formerly an island. This small piece of real-estate is the southern-most point in Brooklyn, with beachfront property abutted by the Atlantic Ocean. A neighborhood of the same name is a community of 60,000 people in the western part of the peninsula, with Seagate to its west; Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east; and the Gravesend neighborhood to the north.

This area was once a major resort and site of amusement parks that reached its peak in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity after World War II and endured years of neglect. Since the bomb, Coney Island has fallen into a tragic state of disrepair, most prominently evidenced by the closing of the amusement parks on the island, notably Astroland and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. The latter of those two serves as a rusting and monolithic ferris wheel that overlooks the decrepit state of the island. It's once bright carnation red paint peeling to reveal rusted steel.

Much of the amusement park areas surrounding the beach are now closed off by chain-link fence, though some portions have been battered down by vandalism and portions of the closed amusement parks are now used by gangs and other unsavory figures as meeting sites. With the NYPD stretched to its limits, police rarely have the availability to respond in a timely manner to this small and remote penninsula, making it a relatively dangerous part of Brooklyn.

The later it gets, the less likely that people will be off the streets before too late. The ferris wheel still runs in the background, the creaking of metal not nearly as scary as it may have been when it first started up. Not everyone got to go on it, but there are some still wishing to. Instead of moving around with her small flock of young children, Gillian's off by herself, checking the time on her phone again as she wanders around looking for the blue and white rocket that still bears the broken Astroland logo. A old rusted car lays on it's side not too far away, as if it got flipped. No doubt it got even more rusted during the Blizzard.

It's a little quieter here, but the sounds of merry making and beer drinking and general fun can be heard.

Thumbs type in a few short words, to Juniper:

Is everyone still there? We need to leave soon or else we'll be staying in a hotel.

They should have left a while ago, but instead, she wanted to see if this place still existed. It looks different when it's not raining… With the phone shining in her hand, she waits for a response that doesn't immediately come, as she stares off into the air.

It's probably going to rain soon enough. It's New York City, in the fall — if it's not raining, then the air is thick with water in a less tangible way. No puddles form in the dust and grime of the abandoned theme park floor, no rivulets of water run down the scorched cylindrical shape of the Astroland rocket, but clouds hold heavy and pendulous above them, blotting out stars as the city struggles to be its own nebula of lights, from a view. Before light pollution happened, the sky probably resembled Vegas.

Scuffing foot steps manage to pick at Gillian's better instincts before anyone speaks, so she might well be turning by the time she hears, "Wanderin' a little far off the beaten trail, ain't'ya?"

An accent well traveled if there ever was one, from Ireland by way of Scotland with a decade of American. Samuel has his hands shoveled into the pockets of his jeans, his shoes wingtip patterned and a scarf tied pirate-style to knot in the hollow beneath his Adam's apple. There's a shrug, to communicate he means no harm. Behind him, the carnival carries on brightly.

There's a small buzz in her hand in response, but the text message only gets glanced at before Gillian tucks the phone away into her pocket as she speaks in husky tones that might sound as if she's got a cold, "I just needed to get away from all the lights and people for a little while. And I've been here before." This place specifically. Practically a lifetime ago.

A hand goes up to her dyed red hair, tugging on a strand that falls into her face, and wrapping it around one of her fingers, as she watches him, until she realizes what she's doing and pushes the strand behind her ear instead. "It's not very much like I remember it, though." It could make it sound like she had been here before the bomb, and the park closing, but that hadn't been her last visit… Visually it's not that different.

But things look different when the person looking at them changes instead.

He is probably assuming she means when Coney Island was alive — when the whole city was alive, and what a difference a fatter population can make, what a difference it makes when there is less tape stretching across condemned buildings and road guards to block off streets that lead into irradiated blocks, whole blocks. Because it's a sympathetic kind of smile Samuel cuts at her, wandering closer if unobtrusively circular, keeping a distance as strangers should.

"Been having the same thought myself, really. This here— "

He turns on a heel, jutting his chin up towards where the ramshackle carnival sprawls. "My home used to be this, y'know, we had a traveling carnival — my family. Some of the ones y'saw peddling their wares tonight, but most've 'em are new. It used to be better. Bright. There were rides of our own — we didn't have t'hijack someone else's ferris wheel." The old ride is still, now, no longer glowing, although the young men who had gotten it to work initially sit near it and talk. Their conversation drifts close enough to be heard, without clarity of actual words.

Samuel's arms fold against the chill. "The same without bein' much the same. You'd think that in this day and age, a carnival full of— " His lips twitch. "Full of Evos would be quite successful. But really I think our outin' just took the magic away — seein' the tricks."

"When you take away the wonder and the mystery, too many people get cornered by their own fears and jealousies," Gillian comments quietly, looking back toward the dark Ferris Wheel, and trying to imagine a whole carnival full of people with abilities. All shapes, sizes, and skills. And she thought the orphanage she helped with had potential to make people attack it out of fear.

"When I heard this was going to be 'Evo-friendly' I was half afraid that there'd be a raid to make sure everyone who showed up had their cards on them, ready to wave and prove they're not a bunch of illegal Evo-lien." No, that's not a word, but it slides off her tongue easily enough, and from the dimples that form on her cheeks, she's amused by the way it sounds.

"But, no helicopters, no spotlights, no big vans— so I'm glad I came. I don't get to do this very often."

That gets a rough chuckle, small and genuine in his throat, Samuel bringing up a hand to rub his jaw as he watches, from here, the play of crowds amongst the fire buckets and fairylights, some glimmer of wistfulness that isn't really for Gillian's sake. This used to be better. Could be better. "I figure we got a couple more nights in us before we start seein' some unwanted attention. Driven off for tresspassin', or the like. But it probably won't be anything like the first time.

"Back then, it was helicopters, spotlights, big vans. Guns, too, they had those. This was back in the early days, when Homeland Security was assertin' its dominance over the Evolved threat. They ran us down, scattered my family to the four winds. This will be the very first time since then that we've ever had a taste of the past, and not all of us are here t'enjoy it. I'd give anythin' to have it back.

"Giving what I can, in fact. Someone such as yourself is like to understand desiring to turn back the time, am I wrong?"

That sounds like something she's come to expect of the government, but she's paranoid on many levels. Being taken in twice by two different parts of the government had something to do with that… But the question, the statement. A recollection of the past.

"Turn back time?" Gillian repeats the question, though not because she doesn't understand the words so much as— it's why she came to this particular location in the first place. Her eyes shift away, to fall on the flipped over car. Even a year and a half ago things were so different. An unpleasant memory wrapped in a potentially pleasant one, shattered by worse things. It's a desire she had more than once in her life, and she missunderstands him when she looks back.

"I don't want Refrain or Flash, or whatever new cut you're selling. Been there, done that, went through the withdrawal enough times I'm not intending to do it again. It doesn't really make anything better. It feels better, I guess, but it's not better."

This time, mirth manifests as a bark of laughter, sharp. "Refrain. There's a new one. I ain't ever tried that myself, though I've seen it in play. Gives to you your happiest memories. But y'know the problem with that." Samuel's back is again turned to the two-bit freak show winding down in the later hours, his gaze sharp on Gillian. "What happens after. You come back to the present to the devestatin' realisation that everything that is awful in the present is exactly the way you left it.

"What if I told you, Gillian, that I could take you back to your fondest memories— no, earlier that that, even— and by the time you come back, the present is somethin' else? Somethin' better than what it is now?"

And that would be the thing that made Refrain a bad experience in the end. Gillian touches that lock of hair again, fallen out from behind her ear, and ends up looking quietly at her left hand for a few moments instead. Change the present into something else. "I've heard of futures changed, but— never the present." Always things that hadn't happened, changed so they never would. One future where almost no one existed, a future of death. One future where she had a husband and a son.

Both changed, to the point where that they'll never be. One thankfully, one mourned by a few, and not by others. Who mourns what they never had?

And if she changed things, no one would mourn it if they never knew it was supposed to be, either. Dropping her hand, she looks right at him, a kind of quiet determination in her eyes. "What would I have to do?"

"I knew you were special." Isn't an answer, but out loud observation and satisfaction from the ringleader, thin dark hair ruffled in the wind coming up off the river, teases the lapels of his shirt, but Samuel remains still in his quiet assessment of Gillian. "You go back to the very beginning and you remove that part of you that has defined your whole world. Now I am not one that advocates the denial of what makes people like you an' me unique in this world, but we both know it was nothin' that God graced you with."

He rocks a step forward, but leaves her her personal space. "You stop them from making you powerful. You'll never be used for your talents again — not by your friends nor by your enemies. You can keep your parents, your family. You wouldn't have gotten your heart broken. You can look after those kids back there with the knowledge that they won't come to any harm because you're just another girl.

"And so many, other… monumental changes. And all you have to do is— think about it. Then come talk to me."

Monumental changes. Especially for her.

"Usually I expect a catch, some— thing that you'll get out of this," Gillian says in a softened voice, hesitant, as if she expects an interuption, that catch she's mentioning. There's always always a catch. "But what you're offering me— it's almost like you're denying everyone else ever the 'catch.'" The catch that everyone always seems to have.

Who would she be without her ability? It's something she discussed with someone, a long time ago. It's hers, she owns it— and it didn't matter where it came from. But would that man had spoken to her, had cared for her, if she hadn't had it?

"How— will I find you to talk to you after I… think about it. Who are you?"

"No catch, I promise you that. This is all I ask of you. It's all you ask of yourself." With the same fluidity that he stepped forward, Samuel is retracting it again, two steps, three, a saunter backwards. "You think about it, and decide when you're ready. When that day occurs, go find the Ichihara bookstore on Roosevelt Island, and tell the Painted Lady that works there that you seek Samuel. I'll meet you anywhere, anywhen."

He turns completely, then, and begins his walk back towards the carnival, arms out in gesture as he adds, tosses back over his shoulder, "Take your time. There's plenty of it to go around."

"I will," Gillian says in the same whispered tones, perhaps even having made up part of her mind already, for the reasons he's stated. So much would change. So much would be new. And the world that's left behind wouldn't even know the difference. A buzzbuzz of a vibrating phone pulls her out of her thoughts, and she reaches back into her pocket.

Plenty of time to go around, but until then— she has a few obligations. Like making sure the pack of Lighthouse Kids get back to their home, before she returns to her own form of hiding.

Hiding that she'd never have to do in the world that this man wants to make, with her help.

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