Sure as Chance


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Scene Title Sure as Chance
Synopsis A precog happens upon a postcog in the midst of Chinatown, in a meeting both mutually agreed upon and never planned. Despite the complementary nature of their abilities, agreeing to work together also means acknowledging the truth that some things, they can't direct. Sometimes it's even to be preferred that way.
Date September 6, 2010

Canal Street Market

Day or night, Canal Street is busy in Chinatown. Perfumes, purses, produce, pork, and poultry are all sold side by side in busy open storefronts. One entire portion of the street is dedicated to nothing but jewelry stores catering to various price ranges. Box vendors sell all manner of sizzling foodstuffs to passing pedestrians, some of it identifiable, some of it better left unexplained. The ambiance is one of business and pleasure.

The dog days of summer have finally ended.

All it took was an offshore tropical storm to bring the temperatures in New York City down to bearable levels. High humidity and high heat index have given way to cool breezes and more temperate weather leading in the descent from summer to autumn. In Chinatown's busy heart, the decline in temperature has brought people out and into the sunlight again. Intermittant shade created by patchwork clouds fill the evening sky, along with streaks of orange and red in dramatic sunset. Situated beneath the neon glow of restaurant and storefront signage in the light of a descending sun, Rhys Bluthner is taking advantage of both the weather and tactical positioning to recreate an event once witnessed in the past in the hopes of drawing out a point of the future.

A white paper napkin is draped out over pressed black slacks, above which a Chinese takeout box is carefully held in one hand while the other manipulates chopsticks to delicately remove vegetable lo mein from within. It's not a napkin tucked in to the front of Rhys' flannel button-down, but rather the canary yellow fabric of an ascot, tied off at the side of his neck and hanging loose around his unbuttoned collar. Sleeves are rolled up and buttoned up both for seasonal fashion and to keep the likelihood of getting his dinner on himself to a bare minimum.

Rhys isn't much of a Chinese takeout kind of man, but the stray he's attempting to attract is. Situated at his side is a small box of crab rangoons with another set of chopsticks still in their paper sheath balanced atop the box. They're not for Rhys, unless this plan fails, but for his prospective dinner-date, one that he has a good reason to believe — by ways of her previous habits — that if he just looks for her hard enough…

She's bound to find him.

It's the dog who finds him first.

Plush, creamy-tan fur nearly buries the blue collar around her neck, and completely muffles any metallic jangle from the tags it bears. She doesn't have a leash attached, which is not exactly legal — but only matters if someone here is prepared to report it. Darker ears prick towards the youth with his Chinese food so very much within her reach, but the dog is well-behaved enough to just look at him with hopeful interest, pressing her nose against the bench beside his knees.

Rhys doesn't need to wonder at her name.

As for the girl who is sometimes Misty's keeper, in the present she's only intermittently visible along the dog's backtrail, a stationary object alternately masked and revealed by the flow of pedestrian traffic around her. Blonde hair just brushes against the shoulders of a deep violet blouse, black skirt hemmed in a purple floral pattern tugged sidewise by the breeze; she's turned to face the street, watching something in another distance, which may have something to do with Misty wandering ahead.

A knot of people cut across the line between them, obscuring her from his sight; and when they've passed, it's he that Tamara is looking at, lips quirked in a crooked smile.

The smile has Rhys disarmed in the way Tamara is adept at doing to most people. Dreaming up a scheme like this to attract the attention of a precognitive and actually having a scheme like this work were two wholly different things in the young postcognitive's mind. One brow up and eyes angled down to the dog, Rhys offers Misty a patient smile much in the way he imagines Tamara is smiling at him: Isn't that cute, so well behaved.

"I was going to share it with someone," Rhys muses as he sets his box of takeout down on the bench and reaches for the unopened one. Vegetable lo mein is far less appetizing to a dog like Misty than the creamy seafood flavor of a crab rangoon. Admittedly, she shouldn't make a habit of eating like this, but once or twice won't do too much harm to the young puppy. Unfolding the top of the box, Rhys takes out one of the deep-fried treats and tears it in half, taking one half for himself and offering the other half down to Misty on his open palm.

"You could come over, you know," is Rhys' offer to Tamara, looking up from Misty to her with that singular brow still raised, smile still present.

"I know," is the calmly equable reply, spoken even as one swipe of Misty's very pink tongue divests Rhys of the half-rangoon. It may very well have been swallowed whole, for all the time she spends on it; but then, it is a pretty small mouthful for the half-grown dog. She promptly proceeds to sit down on the sidewalk, tail feather-sweeping a small arc of concrete clean, ears pricked forward and attention fixed quite assiduously on the youth.

Tamara does suit action to words, walking over and joining Rhys on the bench. She pauses to pat the curve of Misty's skull affectionately before transferring the second pair of chopsticks to her lap. The girl also appropriates a napkin of her own, studiously opening each fold in the flimsy paper with careful deliberation, as if it were tissue paper that might tear readily; it's not that flimsy. Strictly speaking, she doesn't need to drape it over her lap in echo of the boy beside her, but need isn't always the operative word. "She's very sensible," Tamara observes to Rhys. "More than anyone, but everything's very simple for her."

Sliding out the other set of chopsticks, the blonde fetches a noodle out of the lo mein box, rolling it entirely up before popping it in her mouth. "Sometimes people say simple would be good, better, but if everyone was sensible we couldn't go anywhere."

As talkative as Rhys normally is, Tamara's presence and demeanor has him growing silent, watching the blonde out of the corner of his eyes in wary fashion the same way someone might keep an eye on an unfamiliar animal with sharp teeth that they aren't quite sure is tame or not. Tamara is most certainly not tame, try as many might.

"I get told I'm not very sensible," Rhys comments after an awkwardly long pause, alighting his attention more fully to Tamara with a turn of his head, hands folding on his napkin-shrouded lap, chopsticks pressed between his palms. "Part of me wants to ask you why you come here, part of me is afraid of the answer," his eyes droop down to the boxes of takeout between them. "But I figure you know why I want to talk to you? Why I look for you?"

Rhys' question is part rhetorical, though he doesn't interject over it like may be expected of a rhetorical question. Instead he seems troubled by the prospects of knowing glimpses and shreds of something rippling in the past in regards to her, but that there's not enough ripples to make out the clearest picture.

Knowing something terrible is going to happen but not knowing enough to prevent it is a terrible burden.

The girl giggles quietly, grinning across the lo mein box at Rhys. "I didn't bite you," she assures him. "Not more than she did." And said she is thoroughly occupied with her designs on the box of crab rangoons, pleadingly hopeful in the way only a young dog can pull off. Misty might not even bite anyone who stepped on her tail, right now.

Tamara falls quiet as she continues to consider the boy, head canted at a slight angle towards the back of the bench. "Answers are scary," she agrees, more somberly. "Sometimes you wanted to be an ostrich. But they whispered all the time, no matter how much sand you stick in your ears." Their paradigms are different, utterly opposite — but she knows those words can only ring true with him. Barely-used chopsticks tap against the rim of the lo mein box. "I told you what we talked about. What you said, what you did. But here—" Barely-used chopsticks come very, very close to tapping against the side of Rhys' dark-haired head.

A moment later, Tamara lets her hand fall, gaze shifting past Rhys' ear. "There were people. People the sword needed. You can't wait for them all to find you." The simplest understanding, the easiest to take away and the easiest to phrase in words. Refocusing on the boy, the seeress smiles again, slightly rueful. "More than that was between you and your mirror."

Brows furrowed, Rhys looks away from Tamara and down to his lap, contemplatively studying his chopsticks before turning to look back up at the blonde. "I suppose that'll make sense," he admits reluctantly, looking down to Misty as he does, "eventually." Reaching down to his side, Rhys plucks out another rangoon, this time not splitting it in half as he leans forward and offers it down to Misty, pinched between two fingers.

"They need your help, as much as I won't be comfortable asking for it for them," is a bit confusingly worded, but around Tamara he isn't struggling to put his words into a proper frame of time, it's much less effort that way. "There's a lot that'll be going on, a lot've things I'll wish I could change further. Too many stones in the water, and everything gets all jumbled up. People like you and I, we'll only have one chance to really set things straight without breaking everything."

There's a helpless expression on Rhys' face, as if imploring Misty for some semblance of an answer. "Will you help?" It's properly aligned to the here and now. "I don't know who some of the more distant ones are, the further back it goes the more muddied everything becomes. I— I was hoping that you'd be able to… I don't know, help? It sounds silly asking for it."

One slender-fingered hand reaches out to Rhys' shoulder as he pleads with Misty, squeezing gently over the joint. "I didn't have the answers," Tamara tells him, also watching as the canid at their feet happily wolfs down the fishy offering. It could be a disappointing response, but she isn't done. "You did. It's just that knowing is funny sometimes. I can help with that."

She waggles the chopsticks at Misty to get the dog's attention, then points them down towards the sidewalk. Taking the gesture as the direction it probably was, Misty settles down to lay on the concrete at their feet, still watching Rhys and his box of Chinese takeout. Tamara then picks up another bite of lo mein, pausing to add one more statement for her companion before eating it. "We'd make it work." She seems quite confident in that.

The smile Rhys offers is more for how well-behaved Misty is, and also in small marvel at how a young woman as jumbled up as Tamara has managed to maintain a dog like that. Looking up from obedient pup to the blonde at his side, Rhys studies her for a few moments, more so in the here and now than in what was, now that he's presented with the opportunity.

"You know, there's one thing that I figure will probably mystify me about people like us as long as I live…" Rhys' words are quietly offered, his personality so subdued around Tamara, if only because the burden of what he knows happened seems to flatten his effervescense. "How is it that I can see what's happened and you can see what hasn't yet and might not, and yet the world is still full of so many terrible things we can't seem to avoid."

"I know some of the things that are stirring up everything in the past, little— glimpses of disturbances. Who needs to go where, but— I don't know what kind of long-lasting repercussions helping will have." That he emphasizes the word helping seems to imply some sort of doubt on if it is help or not. "Some of the things I've stopped, it… I wish I could do what you can do," Rhys offers in near whining tone to Tamara, though his grimace implies that he realizes the way he sounds.

"I hate not knowing," is offered more quietly, hushed. "I hate letting things go and just— hoping that the outcome is good."

Dark eyes look over at Rhys, the smile beneath them sympathetic in a faintly bittersweet way. "People think it changes things, knowing." She stirs the noodles idly around the box, not even trying to pick any up. "It all gets better and never goes wrong. That one person can know the river and make it do just what they want." Her words are no louder than his.

Tamara pauses to shake her head, blonde hair flying about her face. "Sometimes the mirror knew. With little things. Mostly it had to hope, too. The river is too many," she concludes with a rueful smile. "Sometimes you have to roll the dice and see what turns up." The smile broadens, straightening out. "Sometimes that even works. You know it better than I do."

Managing a snorted laugh, Rhys shakes his head and finally looks down to his box of lo mein. "I… I guess you're right, aren't you?" When he looks up to Tamara, there's a rueful expression on Rhys' face. "I guess people like us are bound to be right eventually, even if it doesn't look like the odds are in our favor most of the time. I just hope that I'm going to do the right thing, with all of this. That stopping what's being done is for the better."

Reaching down to snatch a piece of broccoli from the box of lo mein, Rhys looks up to Tamara and tilts his head to the side. "Why are you going to help, anyway?" It's an important enough question for Rhys, and though it looks like he's just going to leave it there, he hesitates on bringing that broccoli up to his lips, looking down to the lo mein, then out to the crowd passing by on the street.

"I mean— not that you need to tell me why you're doing anything, but," that trapped piece of broccoli is wagged around in the air with a flippant hand gesture, "eventually knowing the personal motivations of the people I'll be working with, it's important." Then he finally feeds himself, though has the lacking manners to make a comment with his mouth full. "Not that I really will know what Hiro is up to at any given moment, he's— special."

It's an important question, but the answer is slow in coming. Tamara takes the time to eat several bites, possibly musing over Rhys' query in the meantime — or maybe not. She looks down towards the dog at her feet, gaze flicking briefly to the glare of artificial lights across the street. When they come back to rest on the boy in his flannel shirt and yellow ascot, her eyes are blue, shadowed by expression rather than physical change. "You don't need me to answer that," she replies, wry amusement under the gentle admonition.

But that isn't the end of her answer; bracing one arm on the back of the bench, Tamara leans closer to Rhys. A whisper finishes her reply, a phrase chosen for the chord it strikes in the postcog: quiet confidence in the present overlaying an echo more stressed, less easily voiced but equally determined, an echo whose origin very nearly demarcates the girl Tamara once was and her jumbled self of now.

"I know what happens if I don't."

Rhys' expression falls at Tamara's final explanation. He's silent, awkwardly so, even if he's occupying the time with eating and staring off into space. Well, space or time, it's hard to really say which. When he does finally speak, it's not to Tamara, but to Misty in a whimsical manner. "Things really are simpler for you, aren't they?" There's a ghost of a smile on Rhys' lips as he looks from the puppy and up to Tamara, the meeting of eyes that see the past and the future ever so brief before he stares down into the box of lo mein.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" It's remarkably reserved of him to ask permission before butting in somewhere. "When I meet him," Rhys looks up to Tamara, his lips quirking into a brief smile, "my father, I mean. Will— " there's a noise in the back of his throat, brows furrowing and attention drifting away from Tamara and out to the crowds.

"No…" Rhys murmurs after the fact, "you know what, I think I'm just going to see how the dice land." There's a more wistful smile offered at that, indirectly to Tamara since it was in a way her idea, even if not directly so. "So far so good, on that… right?"

The last part is rhetorical, even if Tamara may not take it that way.

Tan-furred ears prick up as Rhys addresses their owner, pink-splotched nose lifting up towards him. Misty voices a huff of a sigh as the boy's attention moves away with no further rangoons in the offering, but in her typical fashion just goes back to patient waiting.

Tamara smiles as Rhys begins his question, smile broadening when he retracts it. The knowledge of what he almost said lingers, but — respecting his choice — the seeress makes no answer. Not on that subject — and the next is easy. Stealing a piece of broccoli out of his box, the girl grins, a bit mischievously. "Finish eating, and we can go find out."

Probably there's a subject jump implicit somewhere in there — which raises the question of what she is talking about.

For the barest of moments Rhys almost leapt back in nervous fright from the prospect of going to find his father now. However, the uncertainty of whether or not that's what Tamara is talking about, especially given her impish nature, has Rhys hesitating from a scramble away. His focus shifts down to his box of lo mein, then up to Tamara with one brow raised, a smile crooked on his lips.

"As long as I get to bring my dinner?" sounds a bit shaky as Rhys looks down to Misty, then back up to Tamara, slowly pushing himself up to his feet, his unfolded napkin forgetfully falling from his lap and catching on the cool breeze, blowing and tumbling down the sidewalk. "Oh— darn. I'll always miss the little things," he murmurs apologetically, looking back to Tamara with his brows furrowed.

"So, ah," one of Rhys' hands comes up to adjust his ascot, making certain it is at the appropriate angle, "where… are we going anyway?"

Reversing her chopsticks in her hand, Tamara presses the clean ends against Rhys' shoulder in a clear hold your horses gesture. "You didn't need to bring it because it was finished here," she replies. The napkin is unfortunate, but — it's a simple matter to twitch the one in her lap up to drape across his instead. Personal space is obviously not a consideration. "There! All fixed," the girl states with a beaming smile. Never mind the one that went down the street; it could be that she's forgotten it already.

Possibly not, given that Misty is watching it go with a clearly intrigued gaze. The flap and flutter of unfolded paper in the breeze doesn't spell food to the dog, however, and after a huff of exhaled breath she sets her muzzle back down against her paws. "Maybe somewhere, maybe nowhere," Tamara tells Rhys, tone ever so slightly smug.

"You'd just have to figure out when we got there."

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