Parlor Tricks


brand_icon.gif edgar_icon.gif katya_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif melissa_icon.gif

Scene Title Parlor Tricks
Synopsis Random Run Ins Gone Wrong
Date September 20, 2010

The Rookery

The sun has yet to set, at least entirely, which means that the Rookery is clearly visible in all of its dingy glory. Luckily, it also means that the worst of its residents have yet to emerge to get on with their less than pleasant business. Not that it seems to bother all of the people left wandering around the area.

Melissa's in black cargo pants and a tee-shirt, hair pulled up into a ponytail as she wanders down the street, perfectly sober today, unlike her visit to this area the day before. One hand's in her pocket, the other holding a cigarette, newly lit, which she lifts to her lips every so often. A thin white cord runs from one of her pockets up to headphones tucked into her ears, but luckily she's not singing along with whatever she's listening to.

It's taken Tania a while to get the courage to get out of the Sweat Lodge and do a little exploring. But now she's wandered quite a distance and… might be a little lost. Wups. But her curious nature has kept her from being too worried, at least while there are new sights to see. And for a sheltered gal like her… well, everything's a new sight.

Calling herself Katya out here on American soil, she makes her way to the Rookery, her eyes more on the area than where she's going, which is how the young girl ends up running smack into Melissa.

"Oh!" she says in surprise, thick Russian accent quite clear, "I am… so sorry. I was not looking." And she seems genuinely sorry, too. With these big doe eyes.

In the dangerous region of the Rookery, only the brave may tread. Normally Brand isn't a paragon of bravery, but for some reason his wandering sneakers have drawn him to this crime-ridden zone. Feeling threatened by the oppressive sense of danger, his Ability is keyed up, saving him a lot of hassle.

He steps across the road, crossing to the corner where the two girls are colliding. His steps slow, his head turning as he looks towards the accident. He pulls his letterman jacket tighter, as if it were armor.

Luckily Melissa doesn't seem to really mind being run into, and she tugs her hand free of her pocket to try to steady the girl, her other hand pulling the headphones from her ears and letting them drape over her shoulders. "Hey, it's okay. No harm done," she says with a smile. Then that accent is noted and her head tilts, the smile lingering. "Long way from home, aren't you?"

Realizing just where this girl is, Mel gives a quick glance around the area before looking back to Tania. "And not exactly in the best place for a kid to be either. You lost?" she asks, frowning in concern. She can't help it. She has a mothering instinct. Even if babies do scare the hell out of her.

The first question gets a soft, brief chuckle from the girl and she nods her head. "It would be a very long walk to get back there again, da," she notes, the last with a little, crooked smile. "I am afraid that may be the case," she says more seriously, "I only meant to explore the island a little, but I think I have gone farther than I meant to when I set out."

Brand zips his jacket up to the throat, and turns in a slow circle to look all around. Checking to make sure this isn't an ambush. It shouldn't, he know it - he can feel the thrum of his Ability cloaking his presence. Still - he is paranoid, wary of this being a honeypot trap. He leans against a wall, and waits another moment, to see what happens.

Nodding, Melissa gives a sympathetic smile. "Yeah, it is easy to get turned around. Want some help getting back to wherever you're staying? I'm Melissa, by the way. Perfectly harmless, I assure you, though I'm one of the few people around here who is. You really should be careful. This is so totally not a safe place."

"I will remember. It would not be so good, staying lost up here," Tania says as she rubs the back of her neck sheepishly. "I am Katya," she says, and it's even a smooth delivery. She's been practicing. "And am glad to run into someone harmless." It's more than a little naivete, how she just believes Melissa is what she says she is. Which is all the more reason for her not to be hanging around this area. Hmm. "I would appreciate some help. I stay on the southern part of the island…"

Brand steps forward away from the wall, putting himself closer to the two of them physically. At the same time he puts forth the effort to tamp his Ability down to the levels where he can interact with other people reasonably. "Don't trust her." He says, his slate eyes turning to the older woman. "She's just trying to get your guard down. So she can kill you I bet."

Melissa winces a little as Tania just trusts her, despite the fact that she really doesn't intend the girl any harm. But before she can caution the girl, Brand's speaking up and Mel glances over at him, arching a brow. "Why the hell would I do that? She's just a kid. Exactly like you. I make it a point to not hurt kids," she says in a dry, annoyed tone.

Looking back to Tania, she nods. "Southern part of the island. Also not fun, but for different reasons. Still, I'll help you get there. And keep the jackasses away from you while you're in this area," she says, giving Brand a pointed look. Clearly she's putting him in the jackass category.

Blinking as the new voice enters the conversation, 'Katya' turns to look at the boy, her brow furrowing some. There is a thread of worry, now that it's been pointed out, but it's perhaps for her own lack of care, rather than any distrust of Melissa. She's just been so nice!

The slang term, though, seems to go a bit over her head, and she turns to give Melissa a quizzical look. "This is… word for criminal?" Because she's just got to know. And she looks over at Brand, because she doesn't miss Melissa's pointed look, her head canting to one side. "He does not look like much of a criminal."

Brand certainly doesn't look like a criminal. He's all clean, and neat, and is wearing a letterman's jacket! With academic and sports patches, so obviously he's a good student! Though he is broad-shouldered and all kinds of beefy - he could be a criminal. In some kind of bizarro universe. He glares daggers at Melissa. "A lot of people don't mind killing kids half my age in this city. Much less this neighborhood." He frowns, darkly, before turning to the girl his age. "Yeah, you could use that word I guess." He asks her something in another language, briefly.

Melissa blinks at Tania, before she grins. "No, not a criminal. A jackass is an insult. Like, a jerk, or bastard, or something like that. Sorry I don't know the Russian term for, but the one Russian I know hasn't taught me any Russian insults yet. And he is a jerk if he thinks I want to kill you."

Hands settle on her hips as she looks back to Brand. "You're right, but I'm not one of them. Besides, most serial killers are men and you could just be getting an early start," she shoots back.

"Oh, I see. Like… ah… ublyudok," Tania says, although her tone doesn't much sound like she's swearing. It just doesn't come naturally.

It's clearly not a bizarro universe, since Brand doesn't have a goatee, but Tania puts her hands up as they others go back and forth. "You two, you bicker like… like old married couple, da?" She smiles, though, because she's just poking fun at them. "What if we all go? Just until there is something familiar. That way, everyone can watch the other and make sure no one is pulling a gun." Because that is how you know good guys from bad guys, in Tania's world, by who pulls a gun first.

Brand shrugs his broad shoulders, not breaking eye contact. "Sexist." He mutters, kicking at a chuck of discarded concrete. It ka-thunks across the sidewalk mournfully. His vision flickers over to the girl almost his age, but then snaps back to the woman. "I don't know her. Much less married to her." He frowns, a bit darker, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "I guess. But she might not need a gun. Maybe she has laser eyes."

"Ublyudok…" Melissa repeats slowly, as though trying to memorize the unfamiliar word. "And trust me, I don't know the little twerp. I just don't like people insinuating that I'm a murderer." Even though she has killed before, but that's not the point! "Nor do I have laser eyes. Now c'mon. Sooner I get you home, sooner I can get away from the twerp," she says, starting to head southward.

"No, it is not a very kind thing," Tania says, with sympathy toward Melissa, "But it is no longer a very… kind time, yes? Very dangerous times." And that is said with understanding for Brand. But when Melissa starts walking, Tania starts after her, waving Brand along with them with a charmingly sweet smile.

The delicately thin girl seems a little determined to get the tone of the conversation a little lighter as they go, too. "That jacket, it means you do sports, does it?" She's read some young reader books, lettermans jackets are a firm symbol of American high schools in her estimation.

He walks with them, continuing to frown. "Calling me twerp isn't helping your case any, lady." He stuffs his hands into his pockets, trailing behind them. As they walk, he keeps his eyes darting left and right, watching for more danger. He is a wary teen. "I was just trying to caution her is all."

At her remark about his jacket, he nods. "Yeah. I do sports. Sports are good for your mind and body, you know. Don't you? Figure skating or something like that, maybe?"

"Considering I don't particularly care what you think of me, I think I'll keep calling you twerp," Melissa says with a shrug as she continues walking. "You walked up to us having a conversation and all but accused me of wanting to murder her. So tell me, why should I call you anything more pleasant?" she asks without looking at him.

Tania, however, gets a nod. "Unfortunately, you're right. It's not a kind time. Which is why I offered to show you back home. Kids really shouldn't be wandering around this area, much less by themselves. And if I'd just left you alone and saw on the news tomorrow that you'd been killed, I'd have kicked myself at the very least."

"Now you will not have to kick yourself," the young Russian girl says with a little smile, "Everyone goes home and is happy." Tadaaa. Of course, the other two are still snipping at each other, which gets a frown and a little sigh.

But as the trio makes their way out of the Rookery, Tania looks over to Brand, "Ah… no, I do not… I play music. Ah, piano. And violin, I am learning. I am not very athletic."

Brand shrugs his broad shoulders again. "Some of us kids can take care of ourselves." He lets the issues drop, showing the edge of his good-natured heart. He walks along, no more sniping coming from his direction. "Well that must be nice. I bet you're really good at it, aren't you?"

"Everyone goes home anyway," Melissa mutters, obviously still irritated with Brand. Another cigarette is pulled out and lit, and one of her headphones is placed back in her ear, but just one so she can continue to listen. Just in case.

As much as he wanted to carry Lydia through the place, she insisted on walking. While he would have normally ignored such a request, this is the one woman that Edgar cannot say no to. For any reason. He's tense and very on edge as he escorts her through the streets, toward the church steps. She had things for the homeless of Staten Island, apparently the church here had some sort of drop box.

"I dunno why y'couldn't'a jes' given me the things an' I'da run 'ere an' back… Y'know I don' mind." His left eye twitches at odd intervals, a tick he developed in the time the two had been apart.

As they round the corner, the speedster's eyes widen and he places a hand around Lydia's arm. "Melissa!" he calls out toward the petite blonde woman. "Wha— "

Quickly turning to Lydia he gives her a very grim expression, "Follow me, don' wander away. This place is dangerous."

That's when he turns back to Melissa, jogging rather than running to catch up with her. "Melissa! Wha' are you doin' 'ere! This place ain't fi' for a lady such's yourself."

Even in this place, her steps are weighty, smooth, and altogether what Edgar wouldn't want them to be: even-paced, and likely too slow for this space. "I need to connect to them. There's so much disjointed and disconnected with life outside… It's not just about giving the books, it's about caring for people and living in community." Her dark eyes shift from the road to him.

While Lydia doesn't always comply, here she's inclined to do so. His words earn a flicker of a smile, a small upturn of lips, reserved, but present, "I'm not going anywhere." The tone is reassuring, not insistent, but matter-of-fact like no other truth could possibly exist. When Edgar jogs towards Melissa, the painted lady is easily in tow.

Tania lifts her gaze skyward there, muttering something in Russian that sounds so longsuffering. and yet, amused. But, her attention moves to Brand, her smile warm and friendly, "I am pretty good with the piano. I have been playing for many years. It runs in the family, my mother was a co-" She pauses there, rewinding her words a little, "She taught piano."

When the call of Melissa's name rings out, Tania blinks and looks over, her gaze falling on Edgar. His words make her chuckle quietly, although she hides it behind a hand. But she also looks to the woman with him, her gaze curious about all these new people.

Brand nods his head politely to Melissa, even if he doesn't verbally respond. He is opening his mouth to ask what word Tania had left cut off when people start *shouting* and *running* in his direction. His heartrate goes up, and without even thinking he takes a step backwards, his Ability manifesting.

What could every take one's mind off a handsome, clean-cut teenager? Just about anything now, as his Memetic Crypsis draws him into pbscurity.

When Edgar speaks up, Melissa recognizes his voice and stops, her head falling back, a sigh coming from her lips. "I wander here all the time. Hell, I just got drunk in Shooters last night after you abandoned me. And after I took the time to help you pick out a card. Which was bizarre, by the way. And no, I didn't buy you anymore tampons. Sorry. You'll have to do that yourself," she says before she even glances back at the man.

When she does, she frowns a little upon seeing the woman with him, and she glances back to Edgar. "That your Lydia chick, or you dumped her already for someone else? Tell me she's Lydia or my opinion of men as a whole will have sunk even further 'cause I thought you were one of the good ones."

Brand goes completely unnoticed by the speedster as he stops just a few paces away from Melissa, waiting for Lydia to catch up before presenting the Painted Lady to the Mistress of Pain with a large smile on his face. "Yeah, i'tis.. Lydia, I'd like you teh mee' one of my closes' friends, Melissa. She opened 'er 'ome teh me when I's nothin' but a complete stranger. Melissa, this is Lydia…" His voice does down for a moment as he tries to collect all the words that he could use to describe the gypsy woman, only to fall short.

"My Lydia…"

There's really no words he could use to introduce the woman properly, as everything he could think of falls short of the mark. Glancing at Tania, he gives a rather flourishing bow, there's a blur where he stands before he takes his hand out from behind his back to present the young girl with a flower. It's not exactly in the best of shape, a few petals missing and the stem is bent at an odd angle but it's given other rather proudly. Edgar's got some manners! "I'm Edgar, pleasure."

An eyebrow is arched at the notion of Edgar wanting tampons, but there's no words to accompany it, only a still reflectiveness and a quirk of her lips akin to bemusement. Her cheeks, however, turn a pale pink at the mention of her name. The introduction reddens her cheeks further as she extends a hand to Melissa — if it's taken, the shake will be somewhat unconventional, more of a squeeze than an actual shake, laden with the sensitivities of a touch-activated empath.

"It's a pleasure," her voice is warm, rich, and fluid. And then as an aside she agrees with a soft smile, "Edgar is one of the good ones. For at least fourteen years." She pauses as her eyes flit from Melissa to Edgar and back again, "And longer, I suspect." The presentation of the flower to Tania extends the smile, her hand now extending to Tania, "And I'm Lydia…" at the risk of redundancy.

Awwww! Tania sighs dreamily as Edgar introduces Lydia, because what girl doesn't appreciate a good romance. Especially the young, sheltered ones who haven't had the chance of it themselves yet.

When Edgar bows to her, she smiles and toes her foot in the sand, so to speak, a bit on the shy side perhaps. And when the flower appears, she gasps and laughs gently, appreciatively before she takes it. She doesn't seem to mind the imperfections. "Katya," she eventually replies, but the showmanship is quite effective on this one. The disappearing boy with them doesn't seem to register, even. Her hand reaches out to take Lydia's, her touch delicate. "It is very nice to meet you both."

Brand looks paranoid - but who notices? He has affixed a death glare on the two new people that have run up and started with all the glad-handing. He paces, a step left, a step right, not able to hold himself still. His hands open and then close into tight, taut fists as he struggles with what to do. His indecision maintains his Ability's strength.

"Goddamn, it's everywhere," Melissa mutters, before pushing whatever has her irritated aside. "Nice to meet you," she tells Lydia, taking the offered hand. Unfortunately, while Mel may pretend well that she pushed everything to the side, the empath sees all too clearly how much Mel wants someone to talk about her like Edgar spoke of Lydia. Poor girl is lonely. Big time.

"Good to know he is one of the good ones though, since he's living at my house. I'd hate to have a jackass for a roommate," she says dryly as she retreives her hand. Then she unbends slightly. "He is a good guy though. You're lucky," she says, and seems to mean it.

"Yeh still 'aven't tol' me wha' you're doin' down 'ere. I don' care if you come all the time, i' ain't safe. I'm no' tryin' teh tell you where to go'er nothin'…" The speedster adds quickly before his voice drifts off and he looks toward the church. Then a proverbial lightbulb comes on over his head and he snaps his fingers, pointing at Melissa. "I know wha' you're doin'! You're takin' this fine young lady 'ome from the church. I forgo' it's Wen'sday, they go' mass'er sum'thin' righ'?" Of course it's not Wednesday, but Edgar's never paid attention to calendars or clocks.

The man's hands dip into his pockets as Lydia and then Melissa talk about him. There's a sheepish edge to his posture as his shoulders hunch forward and a little tinge of red happens to tint the tips of his ears. He doesn't say anything to defend his scoundrel ways though, better to let the ladies think highly of him.

"Katya," she nods in response, that quiet richness in her voice remaining. Lydia's head tilts at the contact with Melissa, but her smile remains, there's little tell that she knows anything. "I am… blessed. I've never been one for luck; karma, maybe, but luck has never really been on my side." Her smile strains some, but only momentarily before she's lowering her hands back to her side and relaxing as much as she can under the circumstances. And then, as a side thought she adds, "Although I suppose when it comes to Edgar I am." Or she made a huge deposit in her karmic teacup sometime in her past.

Tania, or Katya, chuckles at Edgar's guess as to why they're here, and she glances to Melissa a little before she looks back to him again. "Is that a guess or is that what you would like her to be doing out here?" since they certainly were not at the church moments ago. "Really, I got lost and Miss Melissa is helping me get back in the right direction."

Brand takes a deep breath. It doesn't seem like these folk are murderers. He steps forward again, pushing down the part of him that wants to hide. His left hand curls into a white-knuckle fist with effort as he suppresses himself. Oh hey, its that boy! Amazing how he can totally slip your mind, isn't it? "Hello." He says, in about the most deadpan way possible.

Looking back at Edgar, Melissa shrugs. "Was just going for a walk. Ran into Katya here, literally, and decided to walk her home since this isn't a safe part of town. And we both know I can handle myself better than a kid can," she says, giving him a pointed look, one brow arching. Then she's nodding to Tania. "See? And speaking of, we should get moving again, or we'll be here in an hour and one of us will end up getting shot. And trust me, that's no fun at all."

Passing a worried glance between Melissa, Katya, and Lydia, Edgar seems a little torn as to what to do. On one hand, there's two damsels in distress going in one direction and on the other, his one and only going in completely the opposite. His brow furrows a little and he purses his lips into a displeased frown as he points a finger at Melissa. "You be careful, if you need anythin' you 'ollar an' you do i' loud."

The sudden appearance of Brand causes the speedster to jump in a bit of a panic. Faster than the eye can see a riddle of knives suddenly appear in the man's hands as he glowers over the boy. "'Oo're you? An' wha' are you doin' 'ere..?" The knives may not be at his throat, but they're aimed fairly well at his more vital areas.

"Everyone will be fine. I've done this walk before," and lived to tell the tale; even if she shouldn't, in her boldness, Lydia has made this walk alone despite her better judgment, but then she's not hapless and naive to its dangers.

Her own body tenses at the sudden presence of Brand. Lydia's dark eyes study the kid carefully, her own eyebrows knitting together tightly through her gaze before lifting a single hand towards Edgar's shoulder. It's meant to be calming, but she doesn't say anything, her own instinct and proclivity towards distrust rearing its head.

The round of sudden excitement has Tania jumping and hiding a bit behind Melissa at first, her instincts running toward flight rather than fight. But. When she sees the knives, she shakes her head a little and steps out… not exactly between them, but not tucked away. "Mister Edgar, it is alright. He is okay. He was walking with us." The 'please don't stab anyone' is left off, but distress is clear in the girl's face.

Brand frowns darkly at the sudden brandishing of knives, and keeps himself under control. But barely. "I've been walking with these two girls. I've been standing here all the time." He glances down at the knives, and shrugs. "Kind of an asshole move, to ignore somebody and then just threaten them with knives out of the blue. What the hell is wrong with you?"

While Melissa isn't worried about Edgar, since she knew about his speed and trusts him enough to live with him, she does react to Tania's hiding then trying to get in the way. She reaches for the girl, trying to pull her back behind her body, where she's safe. "She's right. He was sorta with us, even if he is an annoying twerp who accused me of wanting to murder Katya." A pause. "Though if you wanna shut him up for a bit without actually hurting him, I wouldn't mind. He has been pretty damn insulting."

A glare is thrown to Brand as Edgar's jaw flares from the act of tensing his jaw. Lydia's hand calms him just enough to turn toward Melissa and listen to what she's saying. Then the speedster's eyes narrow at the boy, the left one still twitching. "I e'er see you 'roun' me or mine… it'll be the las' time anyone does. No one accuses my frien's o' tryin' teh kill some'un. 'Specially no' some invisible poof."

The knives are all stowed but two. Those are gripped lightly by the tip of the blade, obviously weighted and meant for throwing. In a low tone to Melissa, Edgar shrugs off the notion, "The only way I knows 'ow teh shu' some'un up is makin' i' so they can' talk no more. Tha' gen'rally involves a lotta 'urtin'." Nothing more is said to Brand, though Edgar's eyes don't slip off him for an instant.

The hand is left on the shoulder, a gentle reminder of support, even in its stillness. While others might be intimidated by the knives, there's no hint of fear from her, the objects are regarded as nothing beyond the mundane — not when carried by Edgar, anyways. Lydia inches a little closer to him, her own tension fading. Her hand is lowered from the shoulder and gently run down his arm until her fingers graze the back of his hand paired with a slight curl of her lips.

"Everyone is safe," it's a quiet observation, intended as nothing more. Her gaze rests on Brand, a quiet inspection as she shakes her head, "Be careful who you sneak up on. Everything is unsure in these times…" it's quiet advice, nonjudgmental and lacking edge in its strange serenity.

When Melissa pulls her back again, she goes easily, since she… really doesn't want to be there if those knives get thrown or anything. When Lydia speaks, though, Tania tilts her head a little. Intrigued, maybe. "I just… did not want to see anyone get hurt," she says, this more to Melissa than anyone.

Brand pfftts. He's not frightened, he's angry now. His face has a mix of revulsion and offense. "Seriously? You're old enough to be my father, and you're threatening to kill me? Where are you in life that menacing a high schooler and calling him queer seems appropriate? Really? I mean, oh wow. Only in America, right?" He shrugs. "Do you do that to everybody you don't notice? Do you go around pulling knives on people in the subway? Or do you just do it to kids you feel like you can push around safely?" He jerks his thumb, to point in the general direction of the island. "Take your circus act over to Roosevelt Island, try it where size and age don't mean jack. Maybe some little girl you decide to terrify will melt your face or something." He kicks at a loose chunk of concrete dejectedly. "Jesus, I knew this place was full of dangerous people, I tried to tell her…" He takes a step back, already letting loose his control.

At Edgar's defense of her, Melissa smiles warmly at him. "Thanks, Edgar." She pats Tania's shoulder lightly. "Don't worry. Edgar is a good guy, he was just protecting us." Though whether Tania's included in that is left up for debate. But Brand's speech towards Edgar has her feeling protective towards him now, and she turns narrowed eyes onto the boy, letting her anger errode some of her control of her ability. Except where his ability lets him hide, hers causes pain. Nothing too serious in this instance, there's no point in traumatizing the boy, but it does hurt. A sudden and painful headache.


It's only Lydia's touch that keeps Edgar from losing complete control. "Watch'erself boy.." the carnie growls lowly as an unseen hand whips the knife from his grip, flying past Brand as it knicks him in the ear, only embed itself with a chunk in the wall. The other is safely stowed back wherever it came from. "I don' miss…"

A single nod is given to Melissa and then to Tania before the juggler turns on his booted heel. "C'mon Lydia, I'll see you teh the church, then 'ome." Without asking, he liberates everything the painted lady is holding, possibly to keep his hands occupied.

There's a faint nod, the smile failing and turning neutral at the situation. She sidles next to him, and issues a polite nod to Edgar's friend and their new acquaintance, "Nice meeting you both." Again, the words are said simply as she falls into step with Edgar, retreating towards the church to finish the task at hand.

Sometimes, it's just better to not be a place. And while everyone else seems to be focused on… everyone else, Tania takes this moment to slip away herself. It is getting late and she'd just rather be getting on home. Maybe she can call someone for a ride.

With Lydia and Edgar gone, then Tania having slipped off, Melissa shrugs, gives Brand one last annoyed look, and replaces the headphones before she, too, heads off for wherever her destination is.

Brand, safely ensconced in his Ability, pulls out his cell phone. Video and still shots capture Edgar, Lydia, and Melissa from the proper angles. The knife, his ear, the basics of the crime scene. The appropriate authorities are contacted to report the assault, or attempted murder, depending.

Brand is a good citizen, and just the kind of guy to file reports and everything, in an effort to maintain civil order and uphold his end of the social contract.

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