The Other Marley


gillian4_icon.gif lene_icon.gif

Scene Title The Other Marley
Synopsis Christmas brings out Scrooges and Marleys, and those who deny they are either, like Gillian.
Date December 26, 2010

Redbird Security

With the heavy snowfall today, most sane people would likely want to stay inside, but then again, after the previous winter that wasn't a winter, there's a lot to people in the city who might call it mild. And Gillian would be one of them. Up in her apartment, which she hasn't lived in for more than two weeks worth of non-consecutive days total since she got it, bundled in a warm sweater, with her red hair tied back into a ponytail. At first glance her hair looks dark, but it's grown out almost to the point that the ponytail itself is mostly all that's left of the red in her hair.

Something she's been meaning to fix, but the longer it lasts, the less she tends to care about it— Soon the original color growth will be long enough to cut off entirely, leaving her with short brown hair.

Moving into the kitchen, she checks the fridge again. No matter how much she may look, the food hasn't bred and made more while she waited. A few bottles of chilled water, some ketchup and mustard, and a olive jar. Definitely not a post-Christmas feast.

"Fuck, I should have shopped more when I came back," she mutters under her breath, as she looks at the garbage can, filled with most of the food supplies she had bought. "Cheez-Its aren't going to cut it for dinner…" she adds to herself, though there's certainly that in the cupboards, and a few other non-perishables.

With a quiet, inintelligable mutter to herself, she grabs a coat off the rack near the door and throws it on, and then finds a set of black fluffy earmuffs to protect her ears. No scarf, no snow-boots, but that's warmly dressed enough for her, as she locks the door behind her, and makes her way to the stairs.

Her apartment is on the second story of the building, a short jaunt down the stairs. While she walks, she tucks the keys away deep into her coat pocket, and reaches to start to button it up, while going down the stairs, not expecting many people to be coming or going.

That's the same mistaken assumption that Jolene Marley made when she began her journey up the stairs from the lobby, carrying a pair of cardboard filing boxes stacked with folders and papers. As Jolene is hustling up the steps in a hurry, she whips arouns the corner — box ex clutched to her chest — just in time to physically collide at full speed with Gillian on her way towards the stairs.

The speed of the collision is enough to topple Lene backwards, sending both cardboard boxes tumbling from her arms, losing their tops when they collide with the hardwood floor, spilling color-coded filing folders and paperwork everywhere much in the same way that Lene spills down onto the floor squarely onto her backside, knees bent and arms braced to catch herself from falling backwards any further.

"Fuck," the redhead hisses, one wavy lock of hair hanging down from where the rest of the Medusa tangle has been pulled back into a bun. She huffs breathily, blowing the lock of hair away from her face, glasses crooked on the bridge of her nose. "Watch where you're going you— "

She forgets to breathe.

You person who just ended up sitting hard on the floor of the steps?

Gillian rebounds and lands on her backside with a grunt, fingers tangled in the buttons she was trying to do up, and thus unable to attempt to catch herself. "God damnit," she mutters a more quiet raspy curse under her breath, eyes narrowed at the pain in her backside. It's never a good place to land solidly. "Wasn't expecting anyone to actually be… ow," she mutters, wanting to apologize, but the harsh words pull her up a little.

There's a bit of a glare in her hazel eyes, the flecks of green just catching the light from the overhead lights. The staircases aren't as lit as ones in dangerous parts of the city should be, for the safety of the tenants. But not every apartment has a living shadow that slinks away from the light.

"I didn't bloody mean to hit you, so don't fucking take it out on me… Everyone should be forced to wear god damn bells when walking on the fucking stairs…" she adds with a mutter as she begins to push herself up. Her cursing has toned down in the last years, with the companionship of children and the influence of her brother— but not so much at timeslike this.

"Oh— my God— I— I'm sss— so sorry!" Scrambling to her feet, Lene's buckle-topped leather shoes scuff across the hardwood floor leaving a subtle black streak in the wake of one heel. "I'm— it was totally my fault, I— " green eyes angle down to look at the toppled boxes and paperwork everywhere, and burgundy dyed brows twitch together. "I'm really sorry," Lene admits in a hushed tone of voice, teeth pressing down on her bottom lip as she drops down into a crouch, smoothing the back of her skirt down as she does, starting to pick up the papers and find perhaps a semblance of where they were supposed to be.

Not once does she make eye contact, not once does Lene bother to do anything other than stare wide-eyed down at the papers, that single, curly lock of dyed red hair hanging down along the side of her face serving to hide the pensive expression and searching eyes that are only half looking at the paperwork laying on the floor.

"It was my fault," Lene mumbles again, her shoulders hunching forward nervously.

It's difficult for Gillian to retain her glare in the face of a younger woman apologizing quickly and avoiding eye contact. How many people has Cardinal taken in while she was gone? It's not a question she asks outloud, but it's there in the slight tilt of her head. "It's fine," she mutters after a moment, pushing herself off of her bruised backside and up onto her knees, so she can stay bent down and reaches to pick up some of those papers.

Idly she notices the knot loosened a little, she's getting better at it. In another time she'd be more proud of herself.

"You had the worst of it— or could have. A few seconds earlier or later and you'd have had more stairs to fall down…" Better to meet up in the flat landing of the stairs, than the stairs themselves. "Course then we might've seen each other and avoided the impact— I still say people should wear bells." Especially people who appear out of nowhere half the time.

Curiousity doesn't allow her not to at least glance at the paper work being carried upstairs. She can't help it.

Teeth draw across Lene's bottom lip as she looks askance to Gillian, brows furrowed and head craning to the side before she exhales a steady breath through her nose. "Yeah… bells," she murmurs distractedly, uneasily trying to coordinate the files. The paperwork itself is largely innocuous, files on contracts and copies of signed forms, the kinds of things the company keeps on record only for legal matters. "I'm— I'm sorry about this, I— R-Richard asked me to bring these up to his apartment. He— he's reviewing the resources Redbird has on Staten Island?"

Not sounding terribly sure of herself, Lene continues trying to paw through piles of paperclipped and stapled invoices and contracts, doing her best to match them to the folders she thinks that they might have been in.

Looking up at Gillian, over the frames of her glasses, the young redhead offers a tiny smile, then reaches out with one hand that was sorting paperwork. "Jolene Marley," she sheepishly offers, brows furrowed together in a knit of worry. "I— uh— I don't think we've met."

"You can't imagine how often people manage to sneak right up on me," Gillian muses quietly, in response to the small repeat of the bells. She's not really paying attention as she glances at the paperwork, and then quickly hands it over once she's told what it is, and has seen enough to confirm it likely is what she says it is. "Redbird has their feathers in a lot of pillows," she says with a small grimacing grin. The grimace seems due to the pain she's still in, and also in apology.

Rather than handing the paper work back to that offered hand, she hesitates, puts the paperwork down closer to the young woman, and takes the hand. "Ah— Gwen." There's a pause, a shake of her head. This woman knows Redbird, likely even works for Cardinal himself. And still, she's not wanting to give… a name that'd been chosen for her anyway. The only one to bore her real name has already been dead and buried for over a year. "Chevalier," she adds after a second, meeting the eyes with a grimace.

"How long you been working for Cardinal?" Richard isn't a name she often uses herself. Always Cardinal.

"G— Gwen," Lene seems a bit awkward in her response, offering a subdued smile and a pinch of her brows into a furrow still. The handshake comes with a subtle tingling sensation, one Gillian has become practiced in understanding, in knowing that it means the young Jolene Marley is Evolved, Gillian can already feel the near magnetic pull of her ability towards the young woman.

"It's, uh, I've ben working here for a couple of weeks— ah— interning? I've only seen Richard the once." Her eyes shift to the side. "Well, once at work," she admits with a huffed breath and a roll of her eyes, disengaging that handshake awkwardly as her green eyed stare turns back to Gillian. "You um— were you headed out to lunch?" That it isn't even lunchtime perhaps doesn't make that plausible.

"I— I haven't had anything to eat yet, ah, m— maybe we could— I dunno, split something?" Jolene reaches for the paperwork Gillian set down, going about trying to organize it. "All— um, all I have to do is leave this paperwork outside his door and I'm free. If— I mean— if you'd like to."

For a moment, that quiet curiousity is there, in the background. Gillian looks where their hands connect, and it's the breaking of contact that helps let her breathe again. Every time she lets curiousity get the best of her, something bad happens— and this time she chooses to keep it tightly contained. Even then, she's still looking down at her empty hand for a moment when she processes the questions the woman's asking. "Wh— oh. I was actually going to pick up some…" she trails off. There's safer ways to satisfy her nagging curiousity. The moment seems longer than it really is, before she pushes herself to her feet. "That sounds like a good idea. I haven't been in an actual restraunt since…" she trails off— when was the last time? Moving out of the way, she gestures up the stairs so she can lead the way to drop off her things.

As she does, she adds on topic of the man upstairs, "Cardinal's a good guy. One of the best I've met, actually. Just don't fall in love with him if you can help it. He's got enough hearts on strings as it is."

Practically barking out a laugh, Jolene's brows shoot up towards her hairline and she offers an awkward laugh, covering her mouth with one hand. "Oh— " she splutters with laughter, "oh you— you don't have to worry about that one bit, I think I'm probably the last person who'll be chasing after Richard, trust me." Wrinkling her nose, Lene looks down to the scattered paperwork, adding the last of the somewhat disorganized files into the boxes before setting on the cardboard tops, stacking them together and then picking them both up from the floor as she rises to stand up straight.

"Wait right here," Lene insists with a raise of her brows to Gillian, backpedaling slowly as she does, "see if you can call us a cab too? The weather's shit and I don't wanna' wait out on the street in a blizzard. I'm thinking— Wo Hop? How's some piping hot Chinese sound?" All this asked as she walks backwards with the boxes, a smile spread ear-to-ear on her face.

The last person? Gillian can't help but laugh a little. The warning had purpose, but if the woman's only met him once— it still seems like a good warning to have made anyway. Who knows what will happen the second, the third, the fourth time… "Chinese does sound good, I'll call for a cab," she adds as she moves downstairs, checking her pocket to make sure she has her false identification on her for use in the cab. Registration card. Gotten with new identity crafted by Wireless.

In fact what sparked her curiousity is what she registered as— a kind of Evolved sense. Something she could show off when tested, but not something overly dangerous.

Still something that certain people might add to a shopping list of Evolved— but perhaps a little less so than the truth.

As she walks down, buttoning the last buttons, to flag down a taxi, so it will be waiting when the young woman gets down from the office. Like all New Yorkers, yelling and waving hands seems to work well.

Out on the street in front of the Redbird Security Solutions building, the snow is falling fast and driven by the wind. While this blizzard doesn't seem to dissuade the New York motorists on the roads this afternoon. There's a slow whine of an engine as a yellowcab Taxi comes rolling up to the curb, headlights cutting through the snow for safety's sake while the sun is dimmed through the thick canopy of dark gray clouds overhead.

Pulling open the door to the back of the cab, Gillian slides in along the soft and cold leather, meeting the cab driver's stare in the rear view mirror. "Afternoon," he comments with an unusually cheerful tone. Between the two front seats, an illuminated card reader faces Gillian with a single green light indicating a sticker that reads Please Slide Your Registry ID followed by an arrow pointing to the card reader slot.

Out the cab door, she can hear the sound of doors opening and closing, followed by the scuff of boots and labored breathing as Jolene Marley hustles across the sidewalk, one hand holding down her knit wool cap with its tassled straps. She springs into the car, sliding acros the seat and clooiding with Gillian before reaching a mitten-clad hand out to yank the door shut. "Hi!" She proclaims to the cab driver, swinging a glittery red purse into her lap, fumbling through it with gloved hands for her wallet."17 Mott Street!" Lene notes to the driver, swiping her Registry card through the reader.

In the front of the cab, a small LCD screen flashes to life, displaying a photograph of Jolene and a printout of information on her card, along with a green APPROVED written across the top. "You too, ma'am," he notes to Gillian, dark eyes meeting hers in the mirror.

It's hard to silence the quiet pangs of an unsteady heart beating in her chest. Gillian's been terrified of these cards ever since she'd been held in Institute hands— ever since she saw them using the Registry just as she always feared. Her hand freezes and her mind locks up, that throbbing thread of energy always present threatening to unravel and spill out in all directions.

It's wavering hold may be one thing she can focus on entirely, to hide the worry. If anything she suddenly looks ill, shivering in the cold she just tried to leave behind, in winds she doesn't feel anymore. Lene is between her and one exit, and she would have to move her hand to open the other one.

"Sorry," she says after being addressed personally, snapping out of her thoughts, as she reaches into the pocket to pull out the card— again. "Mind was elsewhere," she murmurs, as she pulls it up and swipes the ID. Gwen Chevaliar. She's avoided the cabs, so that doesn't ease her tension— this is the first time she's tried it. No matter how much she knows it should work, she still finds herself holding her breath as she waits— Hoping to see an APPROVED.

She even forgot to satisfy her curiousity and try to read the girl's information.

APPROVED flashes bright green beneath a red-haired photograph of "Gwen Chevalier" appears beside her name and details on her card. There's a bobbing nod of recognition from the driver as he slides his hand up and turns on the meter, then brings the taxi into drive and pulls away from the curb through the snow and back into traffic.

"Pretty primal, huh?" Jolene's green eyes flick to Gillian as she slides her Registry card back into her wallet. "Won't be long before everything uses these card, I mean like, centralization of information type. Bank accounts, everything. It'll all be tied to this one crazy ol' card, right?" Both of her burgundy brows rise at the notion. "Progress is a fucked up thing, ain't it?"

Folding her hands atop her purse, Jolene leans away from Gillian and offers a squint to her over the frames of her glasses. "How long have you been working for Richard?" It's a mirrored question.

"It'd almost be more useful if they combined it into a credit card and driver's license," Gillian says quietly almost aganst her will, trying to hid the relief as she puts away the card. She doesn't have a lot of cards anymore that do anything useful— All her old ones hand been lost. Even the one that she fought through hell to earn. A registration Card. The first time.

She doesn't want to speak up too much about how she finds it unnecessary. The old one she had at least been proud of, for a short time. This one she's almost terrified of.

She can't help but stare off into the falling snow as she tries to focus on other things. How not to be afraid.

She's only shaking because it's cold.

"I've known him for a while, but I've worked on and off with him for… over a year. More on an advising capacity than a payroll, though…" Once she's sure she's not going to have fear in her eyes she looks back at the younger woman, "He hired you to help with paper work?"

"Actually Peyton hired me," Lene corrects with one gloved finger pointed up as if to direct attention to her correctness. "But Richard came in and sort'a… met with me during the hiring process?" One brow arches slowly as Lene looks to the cab driver, then back to Gillian again. "It's a good enough job, helps pay my rent and keeps me from going stir-crazy I guess. Most of the people that work there are pretty nice, when they're not— like— crazy or anything."

Tucking her wallet back into her purse, Jolene looks askance to Gillian with one brow slowly raised. "So…" her brows furrow, thoughtfully trying to come up with a cab safe conversation. In that moment of awkward silence, Gillian catches sight of the city passing outside the windows of the cab. Snow is falling in large, heavy flakes down onto the ground, tail lights glow bright and red and traffic grinds to a standstill while a New York Public Works plow truck comes rolling by, one orange light atop it flashing brightly.

Lene looks up at the flashing light, eyes wide for a moment, then exhales a breathy sigh and turns to look back to Gillian. "Did… How was your Christmas? Like— family stuff? I— I spent mine in my apartment with my roommate eating microwaved pizza and kind'a being thankful for still being alive." There's a bubble of nervous laughter at that.

Some might think cab driver's would make great spies for the Department of Evolved Affairs. Everyone has to identify themselves, and they listen in on everything. Of course as Gillian thinks of this, noticing glances at the cab driver up front, her heart suddenly jumps into her throat. What if they record conversations. It feels like a violation of all laws, but at the same time…

She has to breathe again before she can talk. A slow inhale. What if there's cameras too?

The flashing light almost seems par for the course. It's difficult to keep from saying she'll get out here and just try to run. Though that too, would be suspicious. Now she recalls why she spent so long cooped up in the Garden.

"Um— my Christmas. It was better than last year." When she spent it in Argentina. There's a pause. "Better than the year before, too." When she spent it sleeping in a abandoned art loft, curled up in a blanket, with a cat and a bunch of meaningless strings. "I spent it alone, though. By choice, not necessity. I had people I could have spent it with." But she'd chosen not to.

"That's dumb," Lene notes with a wrinkle of her nose. "You're dumb too," she clarifies with a pointing, wool-gloved finger. This of course coming from a girl in a multi-colored winter hat with a pom pom on top. "Christmas is like, all about family. 'Cause like, imagine if you didn't even have them in your life to spend Christmas with? You gotta' start being appreciative of the things you've got, because when they're gone you're gonna wish there was one more day you could see you family, or one more day you wish you could've spent with your friends or… whatever."

Jolene's brows furrow, nad head cants to the side and one gloved hand tucks a wavy, red lock of hair up under her hat. "I kinda' felt like just being by myself too, but you know that's just stupid. Nobody wanted t'let me spend Christmas alone, and nobody deserves to, let alone you." Wrinkling her nose again, Lene glances out the window to watch the plow truck pass by as the cab soon follows, turning down a side street and headed towards Little Italy.

"You better do something for New Years, or you're gonna' get haunted next year." She sounds so serious about that too. "You know the story, ghost with all the chains?" Jacob Marley. "Oh yeah, I know a thing or two about frightful Christmas hauntings."

For some reason, that is very difficult for Gillian to respond to. She looks at the younger woman in surprise, forgetting what she'd been so terrified of for the moment. The hand that moved around for wallet and card touches her chest, pressing something against the bone between her breasts that she can just feel. It's hidden under her shirt. In many ways, she knows the girl is right— and she can't help but think of her as a girl in that silly colorful hat.

Gillian already regrets and people she wishes she could spend one more day with— especially one more day that she knows they actually remembered.

The hand drops with a shake of her head, almost an attempt to deny the woman's words— almost.

"I'll try. I wouldn't want to be haunted by three spirits," she says in soft tones. She knows that book better than the movies. And in her mind the book was better anyway. "I've already been haunted enough, I think," she adds, trying to smile. But it's hard to smile when she knows she has been. More than she thinks anyone should be.

After a second, she adds, "I'm not a Scrooge, though."

"Could've surprised me," Lene notes with one brow lifted as she tilts her head towards Gillian, "spending Christmas alone and all that. Bah humbug, right?" There's a flash of a teasing smile and a shift of the younger woman's posture as she folds her hands in her lap and watches out the front window, brows furrowed and nose wrinkled. Slowly but surely, Lene's focus turns away from the falling snow and back to Gillian, an honest and less teasing smile spread across her face.

"17 Mott Street," the driver announces as he looks into the rear view mirror at Gillian expectantly. "Ten seventy-five," the driver notes, prompting Lene to reach back into her purse and pull out her wallet, gloved fingers paging through a few bulls before slipping out a ten and a one and offering it out to the driver. "Thanks!" She cheerfully calls, leaning to the side and pulling the door open, sliding across the bench seat and out the door, forsaking her quarter in change.

"C'mon! This is my favorite restaurant in town!" Lene beckong Gillian with a mitten-gloved hand waving her onward, her smile spread wide and snow whipping around her as she stands on the curb.

As Gillian counts the amount of bills that the younger girl hands over, she reaches into her pocket and passes forward an extra three. No need to piss off the cab driver who could go 'look, EVOLVED' or something. Cash is something she tries to carry in abundance, when she is able to. Or at least an acceptable amount of abundance.

"Thank you," she adds, though there's that brief hint of fear again, before she disguises it by sliding out. Being the furthest in has it's advantages, and it's disadvantages.

With the door closed behind her, she pay sattention to the bobbing pompom in front.

"I didn't spend it alone because I'm 'bah humbug'. I spent it alone because I haven't had much time really alone for a while." In some ways, she needed to see if she could handle it. Those first days out of the Institute, she didn't think she'd ever want to be alone again.

But having people around doesn't always ease that fear. As she just found out.

"How many restraunts do you visit exactly to know this one is your favorite?" She asks, a critical tone to her voice. "I like Chinese, though, so I'm sure it will be good."

Lene looks puzzled, watching the exchange of money from Gillian the the cabbie, who looks considerably less put off when the bills are forwarded to him. She offers a nod to indicate that she's paying attention but not entirely a response to Gillian's counter of bah humbug spirits. When the other redhead is out of the cab, Lene's brows furrow and she looks askance at Gillian before swinging the door shut, watching the cab as it pulls away from the curb slowly.

Surounded by the snow, Lene stares into the wintry distance, brows furrowed and head tilted to the side like a confused puppy. Only when the cab finally disappears and she turns those green eyes back up to Gillian does Lene think comment on what has her so perplexed.

"You're supposed to tip them?"

Lene's brows furrow and her eyes grow wide.


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