Odd Ball


astor_icon.gif kincaid_icon.gif

Scene Title Odd Ball
Synopsis Kincaid goes looking for an illusive friend, and said friend finds him.
Date December 31, 2010

Astoria, Queens

"I remember him. Handsome young man. Kept to himself," the young woman says, smiling with big lips and wide eyes, hair held back out of her face with a scarf.

"Do you know where he might live?"

"No, sorry, Happy New Year, though!"

That is how much of the day has gone. Kincaid stands in the cold staring at the Greek Restaurant that's has a sign 'Open for New Years Eve' still plastered to the front door. The warm air and the smell of food would be more inviting…

If Kincaid wasn't trying to find someone in the cold that is a winter in Astoria, Queens. Pulling his coat tighter, he moves away, eyes scanning for more open buisnesses or people who he can ask, but the holidays and the cold mean more people are inside than out. In for the warmth, in for the family.

With a quiet mutter, cold hands shoved into pockets to give a chance to warm, he turns a corner.

At the corner, there's a sleeping drunk wrapped up in inscrutable layers of clothing seated beside a dog with a black patch of fur over its eye. The animal raises its head and lets out a querying whine, flaps its stumped-off tail once, and passes its spotted tongue over its chops. It barks once and then looks up the street a short ways, where Astor is standing, watching the dog with a dent in his brow that probably isn't intended for a canine he barely knows. Doesn't know.

"Come around here," the young man informs the other, gesturing a wider berth around the animal. He doesn't say it with the manner of a man who's particularly accustomed to being followed, but one who tends to be listened to, easily. "I don't like the way that thing's looking at you, and even if you're not supposed to be here, I can't send you anywhere with rabies." Dark eyes lift under strandy shadows, search Kincaid's fairer features for just a moment, and he adds, "Self-destruction is boring."

Fairer in most ways, except eyes, at least at the moment. Kincaid's eyes are so black it's hard to tell if that's all pupil or if his irises are just that dark— His hair's been allowed to grow out, sticking up in a few places in rough shagginess, though he did take the time to trim his beard into scultpted stubble. He definitely does not look Greek, though.

"Self-destruction's in my blood," he says in a whispered voice, backing away from the dog and averting his eyes lower. That's about all he knows of dogs and how to avoid getting attacked. Not looking at them can help, he thinks. As he moves around toward Astor, he keeps the animal in his periphery, just in case.

"Does it really have rabies?" he has to ask, though he doesn't expect an answer, when his eyes flick toward the younger and only slightly taller man. "You're a hard man to find, you know."

"I don't know. I don't have dogkinesis," is a ridiculous answer, but the one Astor gives anyway, dryly. He looks tired around the edges, his hands fisted in the pockets of a shabby coat that fails entirely to detract from the gift of good looks, which are as they've always been even with the faint smudges under his eyes and the leanness around him. "But I'm not really interested in finding out, or finding out whether or not you want to. Come on." He glances up at the Walk light instead of meeting the other man's darker eyes, and then takes a long step across the snow. The cuffs of his trousers are gummily wet from impure slush.

His boots leave oddly asymmetrical prints below, but it'd take a few looks for anybody to realize that they aren't of the precise same make. Undifferentiated black rubber, thick-soled. Astor advances toward a narrow wooden door to the right of a barber shop, a wedge of grimey window visible on the building above it. Tables up there, no patronage; possibly a restaurant. "Blood is a great excuse," he remarks— always the pleasant young man. "All of your friends are fans. You'll probably be able to get away with that one for a long time."

"Rabies isn't on the top of my list of things to try before I'm thirty," Kincaid says quietly, as he keeps backing away, util he decides he's at a safe distance to follow to the wooden door, finally looking over at the slightly taller man with raised eyebrows. "And I somehow doubt my girlfriend would approve— she likes it when I nibble, but I don't think she'd like it if I bit." It may be an inappropriate thing to mention at a time like this, but— Gina's good at making him a little inappropriate these days.

"I was trying to find you, and you found me…" In time to save him from rabies. It's almost enough to laugh at, despite his recklessness and self-destructive streak.

"I need some help. I need to find some people," he explains in a softer voice, not wanting it to carry even if the streets themselves are lightly populated.

Astor draws the tiny brown door open and moves in with the obvious expectation that Kincaid will follow. He starts up the narrow stairs inside, ignoring graffiti and the ambient stink of mothballs and mayonnaise and wood oil, moving instead toward the establishment upstairs. It's a pool hall, it turns out; a small one, no bigger than the seating area of those tiny backwater carry-out Domino's. Half a studio apartment, maybe. There are three tables, an AC unit hanging its ass out of the window, an area heater on the floor. It's a little warmer in here than it was outside.

"Are they people your girlfriend would want you to find?" Astor hands off a few wrinkled bills to the balding man who steps in briefly from the office in the back, and then stares at him until the stranger dissipates like a wraith. Turning back, he tracks slush to the middle table of the three in their row, and then offers Kincaid a long, pale cue.

"Don't know, I haven't told her about it," Kincaid admits, shrugging his shoulders as he tilts his head at the dissappearing man. There's likely a temptation to ask, from the way he chews on his lower lip and gives a hesitant and crooked kind of grin. It's only when he gets next to the table, that he stop trying to grin at all. At least it is warmer. His hands come out of his pocket and are rubbed together still. For someone with temperature adaptation on his card, he doesn't use his ability for it often.

The scars on his right hand and wrist are the main things he's using it to stop— using most of his ability to stop, for that matter.

"I need to do a little research, for my job. I'm going to produce a show on Humanis First," he explains, though there's a hint of things unsaid in the way his eyes move to the table, to his hands. "I was thinking a first hand experience may help the show."

Maybe Astor misses having friends. Maybe he should realize that this sort of behavior is precisely why he has a hard time keeping any.

The dark-haired man shoves the pool cue into the other's hands rather bossily, then lifts the triangle from the little balls in the middle. The triangle stays in his own hand, tipped to and fro for a moment like his fingers and palms aren't quite sure what to make of the shape (this just in: it's a triangle). "That's risky," he says. "And I'm not just talking about your neck." A beat. "But mostly your neck," he admits, after a moment, setting the triangle down on the edge of the table.

His eyes sleek briefly toward the window, brow lowering after a second, maybe two. Blinking levels them again, and he draws a breath through his closed teeth, releases it again with a slight shift of his shoulders. "Why Humanis First?"

"Well, it's topical for one thing, it would get great ratings," Kincaid says with a shrug, as if ratings were the most important thing in the world. A slight lowering of his eyebrows gives rise to a full grimace, and he pulls something out of his pocket, a pill bottle, and drops one of the pills in his mouth and chews it, rather than swallowing it. There's a label on the bottle, showing them to be caffiene pills, which don't seem to taste very good at all.

But better than what would have happened if his ability slipped.

With them swallowed, he takes the pool cue and steadies his hand, leaning over and squinting at it. The grip of his right hand isn't great, but—

It manages to hit the triangle, even if none of the balls go in on the first hit. Setting the cue down, he steps back and looks at it curiously. "You're probably much better at this than me," he adds, tilting his head to the side. Doesn't mean he won't play.

"I know it's a risk, but— everything's pretty much a risk…"
Astor glances at the other man's off-hand for a moment. A long moment. The next, he lifts a shoulder; drops it again, some combination of indifference and disapproval.

Instead of answering immediately, he picks out a pool cue of his own, finally and rather belatedly if you think about it, aligning it between his hands, along the fold of his arm. He lopes around to find a likely angle and stoops over the edge of the table, balancing the shaft atop his other hand. "I'm odds," he says, a little unnecessarily. Click-clack, and the cue ball slicks neatly across the velvet to meet the yellow 1.

It doesn't ricochet off the edge of the table or anything fancy— that's Walter's gift. It does, however, shrug against the edge of the hole then drop neatly into the pocket, bobbing once in the bag below. "So you'll have pinhole cameras and shit?" he asks. "A bulletproof vest? A likely alibi for the blood test? Does anybody else know this is what you want to do?"

"I'll make sure some people know about it," Kincaid says, though there's a passing wave of his scarred hand as he watches the first of the odd balls sink. "You would choose odd," he says with a sideways grin, a teasing sense to it, from the way it's halfway there, and halfway not. "I'll figure out the rest, how to handle cameras." There's a pause, as he chews on his lip again.

"I could beat you on an icerink I bet," he simply says, with a shrug of his shoulders. A subject change, and also something quietly posturing about it. Quietly, at least.

"I know it's dangerous, Astor. But so's looking for them without having a good lead, and you know I'm not going to give up on this if you send me away. Unfortunately giving up is not something that's in my blood."

There's a faint curl to Astor's lip, disbelieving. It's the kind of look that normal people would round on, demanding, Why do you care, anyway? in that harsh register that operates coarsely on the assumption that the answer's going to be I don't. They're past that, though, Kincaid and him. They have a few things in common. Enough. And they have each other, or so's the idea. So has always been the idea. "Maybe," he answers. "But I'm not the one going to play with Humanis First!, and you probably aren't going to need a pair of skates for that."

He studies the 2 ball where it lays on the green of no man's land. "Blood, blood," he says. "What good is blood going to do with you if you pour all yours out on New York City's sidewalks and end your line where you're standing?" a sharp glance at the other boy, and then he straightens with a sigh. "You're a lot moe than the son of your parents." From anyone else, that would come as a compliment. Even from a friend of rough-spoken demeanor, it would have been something like that; hard-won but fair, flattering.

From Astor, it comes with all the clout and grit of a fact. The sky is blue also. He stares hard at the other man for an instant, as if trying to bore into his brain, but the overall effect is likely just rather unsettling. His brow relaxes and splices green back into the irises of his typically scowl-darkened stare.

"I know where to find someone they're hunting, and she's been making mistakes. Watch her, and you'll get them. Who knows? Maybe you'll be able to save the girl, too." Astor probably should have a wry edge or patronization to that, teasing familiarity at Kincaid's theatrics, but it's as colorless as anything else he's said.

"You never know, Humanis First: Gene-ism On Ice," Kincaid says, though the words are nearly thrown away in that same joking tone he'd used when he practically called the darker man an odd-ball. Which is still thinks he is. Odd in many ways— but that doesn't necessarily mean an insult. With him, if he doesn't joke a little, then he really doesn't like the person—

Astor he at least gets, even if they have as much different as they do in common.

"Watching someone that they're looking for and liable to find… now that is a much better plan than anything I could have come up with," he says, without the same bland tones. He's much more animated in his voice, and he leans over the table again, deciding to give the two ball a try. A grimace of his hand as the cue slides, before he knocks the ball. It hits a little further on the left than he might have wanted, and the ball bounces off the side. Once upon a time, he may have been better at it. Hard to control the cue with one numb hand.

With a sigh, he straightens and rests the cue on the tops of his shoes, which do match, unlike some people. "And if I can help someone at the same time— I think I'd like that." There's a pause, and that lopsided grin again. "And it would definitely make for a good show."

Astor twists his mouth into an expression that probably Walter is the only living person who has a decoder-ring for. "Yes well," he says, a little testily, "whatever you need to do to make yourself feel better." Most men their age would have made that into a size joke, but the sentiment is the same without the rudeness. For some people, it's the rush, the crunch, the adrenaline. For others, it's the justice in safeguarding, perhaps even saving the girl. For yet others, it's making a breakthrough on national television.

God knows which of these ambitions Astor thinks that Kincaid is afflicted with. The oddball comment likely went over his head. "Well, I'll leave you to it," he says, setting his own pool cue back against the wall. "She went across the street to get something to eat about twenty minutes ago. You'll know her when she comes out. Red hair, teenager, a little fat." He nods his head toward the window, and settles his hands into his coat's pockets. The back of his hand shows briefly where there's a hole worn right through.

"Don't try to move her," he suggests. "You'll find yourself wanting to, but she'll run, and it'll be bad for everybody if she loses control. Good luck. Don't let that get too stiff." He juts his chin at the other mans' afflicted hand.

"I'm sure there's worse things I could be doing to feel better, As," Kincaid says, as he looks toward the pointed at wall, putting the description of the girl into his memory. No moving her, so he'll have to follow her, find out where she is keeping herself, then he can go and get the cameras and other supplies.

And with a glance at his hand, he idly wonders why that part is so important.

"I'll do my best not to make her run… Thanks for this. It— well, like I said, better plan than I could have come up with." There's likely temptations to ask more about what he's dealing with there, but maybe that will come in a moment. "Do we got time to finish the game?" he asks, nodding towards the balls, odd and even.

Astor seems surprised by the invitation; probably, he is. His eyes coast across the table for a moment, thoughtfully, then the corner of his mouth twists again, something humorous. "Okay," he answers, and there's a rare smile, sudden, lopsided, goes right to the hazel of his eyes even though it doesn't properly last. "Sure. I don't want to take too much of your attention from your work, but we can go fast." His long fingers select the cue again, and he reaches to hitch his sleeve out of the way before thinking the better of it.

There's gratitude in it somewhere, the stoop of the dark-haired man's shoulders, the concentration that changes the straight lines of his face, takes years off it, and none of it has any marked association with pleasure taken in his opponent's handicap. For one whose negligence often appears like avoidance, it's probably surprising. But he's happy to be here. Right now. With a friend.

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