Office Japery


aman_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif

Scene Title Office Japery
Synopsis Aman and Faulkner kill some time at work and compare misadventures.
Date February 3, 2020

Pigeon Courier Services


With a swish of fabric, a ball is bounced between legs and taken in a spin.

"It's all down to this— Celtics are down by two, but what's this!— Here comes Ray Allen, barreling down center court, no one to defend— the clock is ticking, will he make it?"

A muted thump of rubber on carpet sounds as the ball bounces once more.

"Look at him go, he's going for three!"

Like the best of the best, this shot is accompanied by feet lifting from the ground, hand arcing over wrist in a graceful swing as the ball soars toward the net… and sinks just as feet hit the ground and fists are raised in jubilation.

"And the crowd. goes. wild!" Aman cheers for himself, imitating the hissing static of a crowd seen only on TV. The basketball— the tiny, office-sized basketball he'd pitched through a plastic hoop hanging from the back of the manager's door hits the ground with a hollow sound, hardly bouncing on its own before rolling away. The wild wave of his arms as he imitates the crowd becomes less enthusiastic as he turns back to his office mate for the day, seeing that his japery is going underappreciated. His arms half fall, hands still raised, now in a gesture of placation instead.

"Dude." he implores Faulkner. "You got nothing for that? Really?"

It's only at the last that Isaac Faulkner comes back from the haze of reverie that he's been drifting in and out of all day; his eyes flicker to Aman, mentally replaying what just happened. Ray Allen, Celtics, going for three, swoosh, cheering, much enthusiasm, et cetera, et cetera.

"You were doing enough for two, I thought; didn't really see the need to chip in my two cents," sounds like something Isaac would say, but he's not able to muster the enthusiasm to really go with it; the delivery feels a bit flat, the cat-like smirk that would normally go with it coming out as more of a grimace.

He recognizes how flat he sounds immediately after he's spoken; his grimace twists into a momentary scowl of annoyance as he scrabbles for something a little more… on-brand for him. "The Celtics, though?" he says, twisting his lips into that familiar little half-smirk. "Really?"

At this, the pop of Aman's arms flips angles, palm tilted the ceiling. "Hey, I was going for historical accuracy there… and I've got a love for trick shots." He grins, but it's with half the usual verve it might normally have. "Nothing corny, like Globetrotter bull, but… you know." He's trying to pull Isaac out of his funk, but if he barely blinked at that performance, something serious must be wrong indeed.

"And let's face it, the Knicks drive a hard game, but there's just something beautiful about that man's shot." Once more for effect, Aman puts on a vaguely convincing imitation of it, popping onto the toes of his running shoes before he sinks back to the floor. When he does, it's with a sigh that sags his shoulders down.

"All this talk about sports is making me miss the old game, the old league…" Madison Square Garden was behind the partition of Manhattan now, and last he heard, Barclays had been through hell, and then was used to store FEMA goods when they were still staking the fence around the Safe Zone. The league might slowly be making a comeback, but unless Yamagato or some other billionaire savior was willing to put up for it, New York was…

Aman flicks his gaze back in Faulkner's direction, chin jutting upward. "So that's my excuse for having a long face. What's yours?"

The old days. Isaac hadn't really been a fan of the sportsball back in the day, but whenever he had been bored enough to watch basketball, he'd always rooted for the Knicks; even if he hadn't been born in New York, he lived there, and he was sure going to root for the hometeam.

For a moment, the gloom shrouding Faulkner lifts a bit as he thinks back to saner times —

— and is completely blindsided by Aman's question.

His eyes come back to Aman, and he blinks. Then he sighs. "Shit. Is it that obvious?" he murmurs, then grimaces. Of course it's that obvious, because if it hadn't been, Aman wouldn't be asking. "Ugh. Don't answer that," he mutters, rubbing at his head. God. As if this tire fire of a week hadn't been bad enough, it's turning him dull, too; talk about adding insult to injury…

Well. He can brood on his own time. For now, he's been asked a question. What's his excuse for a long face? Good question, that. He thinks on it for a bit. "I'm… fine. Just a little distracted," he says… and then his mouth runs away with him a little bit, his frustration bubbling up. "My life spontaneously combusted and now I'm living in the middle of an ongoing dumpster fire. That's all," he grumbles sourly, shaking his head.

Leaving behind the office basketball to roll around on the ground as it will, Aman makes his way closer to Faulkner, leaning against the back of the front counter. Arms crossing while he waits for his coworker to make up his mind about what was wrong with him, it's hard to tell anything's different about him compared to normal.

Except for the small laugh that's conjured from him at hearing the vagueries of Isaac's current life problems.

Aman's brow is creased in genuine sympathy, but still— he laughs. "Dude," he repeats with gravity. "I don't know if you can believe it, but— same?" He shakes his head now, too, in disbelief at his situation as much as what he's admitting to.

"Like, I don't know what to do except pretend everything's normal at this point. So I just came to work instead of skipping out on my shift. But it's been a hell of a few days, man…" He looks over at Faulkner, whose woes are clearly weighing him down. Maybe hearing about someone else's troubles will help him feel less bad about his own, maybe it won't. "I picked up this side gig that— oof." All Amanvir can do is wince at his own luck, and his own lack of wits.

He looks back to Isaac, though, because this isn't about him and he's gone on long enough about his own problems. "Girl troubles?" Aman asks sympathetically. "Rent troubles?"

Isaac scoffs. "I don't pay rent. And my girlfriend is A-OK, thanks," he says. "No, it's…" he trails off, considering. Where does he even start?

…maybe he doesn't. His eyes settle on Aman, considering. "Tell you what. Tell me about your gig, I'll tell you about how I woke up in Elmhurst the other day. What I've pieced together, anyway," he says, giving Aman a grin. Maybe this story'll be hilarious and give him time to get his thoughts together.

Aman's brow arches. That dare, though. And that intrigue. He lets out the rumbling beginning of a groan as he realizes he's been beaten at his own game, looking away.

He looks, unlike himself, a little nervous.

"All right," he concedes anyway, putting on a winning smile and looking back to Isaac. He tries putting on his usual airs, light and suave. "So my side gig, right? I decided I wanted to pick up a little extra cash before Valentine's… get me a nice suit, take a girl out to a nice dinner…" He shrugs openly, trying to downplay his motives all too late. "You know— get me something going that's a little nicer than what this all is."

The manager's office is empty right now, and he knows it, but Aman looks over his shoulder anyway, half-expecting some aerokinetic mischief from Ande to come swiping at him. Or, to be taken low by some possibly-well-deserved quip. One or the other. The moment of worry is brief, and then he's turning back to Faulkner. "So guess what ability I picked up last week." To that effect, he waggles his fingers before him, both eyebrows arcing upward in a dare for him to go wild with his guess as much to indicate he's still got it, whatever it is.

"A guessing game. Oh, what fun," Isaac says sardonically… but despite his snark, his expression is thoughtful as he mulls over possibilities. "I'm fairly certain it's wrong, but I'm going to guess… telepathy."

He peers over to Aman, raising an eyebrow.

Aman scoffs openly at the guess, disappointment eminent. "Come on— you really think I'd be asking you what's wrong with you if I was carrying that?" He tuts, shaking his head sorely. "You really are off your game, man."

And then he simply disappears.

Less than a blink later, he reappears on the other side of the counter, close to the door with no fanfare, save for the lifting of his arms in a show of jazz hands, grinning wide. "Guess who?" Aman almost sings.

With only a slight displacement of air, he suddenly reappears only feet from Isaac again, arm outstretched before him in the beginnings of a dramatic retelling. "Imagine this— a young father-to-be with a fiancee having a difficult pregnancy. He wants to be supportive, wants to be present, but he has this bad habit where at any point in time…"

A snap of his fingers later, he's back by the manager's office again, a devious flicker in his eyes. "So in enters me." Aman's arms come out from his side. "Do you know just how many people would kill to hire a teleporter, Isaac?"

He looks a little less pleased with himself after he gets his question out, second-guessing that particular wording with a paling of his excitement. Or maybe it's just because he regrets double-dipping on his side gig.

"That's why I was certain it was wrong," Isaac replies drily. "But if I was going to try to get ahead fast, that'd be the power I'd go with." Seems Aman went with something else, though. Teleportation. Huh. Useful one, that.

He nods along at Aman's explanation. "Sounds like a good deal for both of you," he observes… then he smirks. "I assume you didn't actually kill anybody," he says dryly.

There's just long enough of a pause before Aman laughs. "Of course not," he reassures, but he still doesn't look entirely comfortable. He glances at the front door to make sure there's no one approaching before turning back to Isaac. "But the people who pay crazy money to hire a teleporter… apparently they're into crazy shit, man." His discomfort shows as he admits, "Criminal shit. As in, teleporter-as-a-getaway-driver shit."

He holds up his hand in concession to how ill-advised all this was, just as much as a plea for Isaac not to rat him out. "I had no idea what I was getting into and I'm washing my hands of the whole fucking thing… but talk about a one-way trip to having your life go up in flames." Aman lets his arms fall. "I'm like 90% sure I'm gonna be fine, but the 10% of me is like…"

Coming up with the words is a struggle, so he rubs the back of his neck instead. "Never gonna let myself get shanghai'd like that again. Shit like this is exactly why I get front-loaded with demonstrations and as much of a how-to on using an ability before I pick it up. But greed got me, and I wanted to do a little service for myself instead of just for someone else's sake for once." Realizing he's said entirely way too much aloud, his glance back to Isaac is an awkward one. "Anyway…"

"Whatever's up with you can't be worse than that… right?"

That pause. That's the kind of silence in which a number of things are nevertheless said, and the nature of those things is such that even Isaac, contrary to his usual unflappable attitude, actually looks mildly taken aback. He sucks in a deep breath, then lets it out slowly. "Well, imagine that," he says, but it's nowhere near as sarcastic as it would usually be.

"I hope you at least got a good cut," he says a moment later, looking somewhere between doubtful and concerned. "I hope you're being careful about how you spend it, too. It's the numbers that always trip you up, eventually. Or… so I've heard," he adds a moment later.

But now it's his turn, isn't it? Hmm… how to put this. "Well… apparently I was abducted by evil old rich people, drugged, and forced to participate in super-powered bum fights."

He nods. There. That should cover it.

Oh. Wait. "Also I ended up flaking on some plans with my girlfriend because of it."

There. That covers it.

Aman looks mildly relieved at first that Isaac's first instinct isn't to go reaching for a phone. He knows his coworker isn't one of those sorts, but at the same time? Everybody's got their limits. He lets out a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding, lifting a hand to rub at the side of his nose. "Yeah, when the money comes in from it, it's gonna be a hell of a time trying not to spend it all in one place."

For the briefest of moments, he even manages a grin again.

Then Isaac goes on with how his weekend went, and the grin slowly slacks in tension before fading entirely. "Wait…" Aman blinks once, and after a pause blinks again. "Wait, what the fuck?" Shock shifts rapidly to concern, though.

"Dude, are you fucking okay?"

Isaac smirks. Surprise. "Some burns — thankfully not the face — but other than that, yeah." The smirk doesn't last long, though. "But apparently the drugs they hit me with…"

"I don't remember it. Any of it. I just remember being out running, and then… everything just kinda futzes out." He grimaces. "SESA apparently busted the place midfight, arrested a lot of very rich people, and… I guess shot me with some horse tranquilizers or something. I don't remember that, either."

"They say that the first few times I woke up, I forgot everything. The agent watching over me had to introduce herself, like, six times; I must have been insufferably dull," he quips, but it's not hard to tell that it's just his way of whistling past the proverbial graveyard.

"And I think they want me to testify or something. About what, I don't know, because I don't fucking remember any of it, but…" he trails off, in sheer frustration, shaking his head.

"Jesus…" Aman's own situation suddenly takes a backburner to all of that, his smugness and his worries both forgotten as he watches Isaac. His shoulders droop own as he shakes his head, unable to fathom what that experience had been like, even with the unbelievable things that had happened to him this week. Something dawns on him that adds an extra layer of chill to the revelation.

"Just… how? How did said rich assholes even know to pinch you for that? You're not even…"

You know, open with that stuff. His stuff. His ability stuff.

Aman rubs at the side of his neck, trying to make sense of it all. "And shit, testifying about that kind of thing? That's definitely a way to let the whole damn world know about what it is you can do." He frowns deeply at that. A lose-lose situation like that would put him on edge if it were him in Isaac's shoes.

Isaac raises a hand and points to Aman with a flourish. "Ex-actly," he says, giving a sour glower in Aman's general direction. "You have hit the nail on the head, my friend."

After a moment, he lets out a sigh, the glower fading just a bit. "I've no idea how they knew. Maybe they had people out combing the streets and caught sight of me doing one of my night tours through the Slope. I can get… a little creative on my night runs," he admits… though that doesn't seem particularly likely to him. Park Slope's not the sort of place where people tend to poke around after dark, himself notwithstanding. "Or maybe it was something else," he admits. What that something else might be, though, he doesn't have a clue, and that's one more thing to trouble him.

"And yeah. That's the kind of famous I don't want to be," he says, slouching against a wall, arms wrapping tightly around himself.

"So now," he says quietly, his voice taking on a detached, thoughtful sort of tone, "I have to figure out what, exactly, I'm gonna do."

"They've gotta have, like, witness protection or something." In this, Aman sounds certain. "That way if only a few knew, all of them won't. Maybe you just give written testimony and don't actually show up in court about it? Maybe, ah…" He closes his eyes for a moment, struggling to think. There had to be options, and he racks his brain for them. "There's gotta be ways you can protect yourself while still doing whatever needs done so assholes like that stay locked up. If they're not being helpful, let me know, I can look some stuff up for you and see if it helps. Find a good lawyer for SLC shit."

It's not much, but it's all he has to offer, and he nods to himself before opening his eyes again. "Don't worry, Batman, we'll figure out a way for you to keep your secret identity." he says with the flash of a small grin.

"And in the meantime, sounds like you've got to both make it up to your girl somehow for not being there— even though it wasn't your fault— and then have a night off to blow off steam. Do something to forget about it all."

Isaac lets out a small laugh; he's a little skeptical, but… it's good to know there's someone in his corner.

"Yeah. Yeah, that," he says, raising a hand and rubbing at his eyes. "I've no doubt she could make me forget about it all," he says and for a brief moment that smirk of his returns.

Only for a moment, though. "I told her I had an emergency pop up, but… I haven't had a chance to lay it out. Kinda shitty of me, but… I don't feel like that's the kind of thing you can really explain over the phone, you know?" Isaac says, and for once his expression actually shows how troubled he's feeling.

Oof. Aman grimaces in sympathy. "I mean…" he sounds that word out at a higher pitch, drawing it out. If he were in Isaac's shoes he'd probably have been a little more forthcoming, but then again, he doesn't know Isaac's girl. "I'd not let it go too long without telling her, man. If it means you gotta go to her place, might as well bite the bullet and get it over with. Better for her to freak now so you've got someone you can talk to about all this sooner rather than later."

His head lilts to the side as he adds, "And so that way you don't get any lashback later if you guys go out and have some fun only to follow it up with 'by the way, here's what happened the other day'… chicks don't seem to like that." Aman slants a look back at Isaac. "If something shitty happens to them, they hold onto that shit, and they expect everybody else to do the same."

He bends over to scoop up the basketball from where it's stopped, lobbing it underhand back in his co-worker's direction. "Anyway, you're up. Think you can top my shot?"

"Yeah," he says somberly… then, as Aman passes the basketball, his lips curl up into a smirk. "Maybe," he says again, this time sounding a bit more like himself.

He snags the ball one handed, only cheating a little to keep his grip on it; he rolls his wrist and starts lazily bouncing the ball against the floor. "If we're being honest… I never really watched basketball all that much. But… here's a little secret, just between you and me. I can't hate on the Knicks… but when it comes to basketball…" His grin widens, a fiendish gleam in his eye. "Jordan was The Man," he says, and now he's moving towards the basket; he jumps, spinning to face away from the basket, and tosses the ball up and over his own head; the ball hits the backboard and sinks neatly through the hoop, hitting the ground only a moment after Faulkner does. He gives his best, most diabolical smirk, reveling in his unrepentant heresy.

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