Where Have You Been?


skyler_icon.gif evan_icon.gif

Scene Title Where Have You Been?
Synopsis For Evan, the long-feared day starts off with the return of someone who lost touch with him - and with the world - long ago.
Date November 8, 2010

The Corinthian — Casino

The Corinthian takes its name from a classical order of Greek and Roman architecture, and nowhere in the building is its influence more apparent than on the casino floor, which is supported by slender fluted columns elaborately decorated with scrolls and acanthus leaves. They match the white marble floors and compliment the pale gold colour that the ceiling and room accents have been painted while allowing for most of the attention to rest on what people come here for: the gambling.

Slot machines, roulette tables, blackjack and baccarat are all common fare, but there are also private poker rooms off the main floor with soundproof windows looking in to allow bystander observation while simultaneously providing the occupants with the quiet required for concentration. Pai gow, played with a set of Chinese dominoes, and sic bo can also be found at the Corinthian, catering to New York City's large Asian population.

Metal catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor are patrolled by surveillance personnel and allow security to look down through one-way glass on the proceedings at the card tables or around brightly-lit clusters of chiming slot machines.

The problem with getting better, at least for Skyler, is that it means being a bit less paranoid, and it's the paranoia that's been counterbalancing the temptation… to use what she has. To take advantage of the increasingly digital world around her that basically begs her to make it her bitch. And Sky's morals were always… flexible. So she withdrew her savings, all 98 bucks of it, and wandered down to the casino. Mostly she's casing the place. Wandering the isles around the slot machines, and feeling each one, just to see if it's about to hit or not. Because the machines know.

At the same time that some nerves are easing off, others - a lot of others - are tensing up. Evan is distinctly among their number, having been subjected to a flash-vision of palpable nothingness earlier in the year. Honestly, what are you supposed to make of something like that? Richard Cardinal, who seemed to have some experience with such matters, suggested that it meant he was dead in that version of the timeline.

Well, damned if he's going to take his potential death lying down, much less actually sleeping. Having gotten in a long nap hte evening before, he's been perched at one of the cheaper blackjack tables all night— and, thanks to some informal card counting, he's more or less breaking even so far.

Skyler sits down at the machine two down from Evan and puts her card in it. Pulls the handle. Looses. Pulls the handle. Looses. Pulls the handle. Wins the jackpot. She looks around a little furtively to see what, if anything, is going to happen next. Her eye pauses at the cute guy just over there, just for a moment. Even paranoia can sometimes be blocked by other, more basic instincts. Plus, yanno, looking at guys rather than the security guards and the cameras probably is better cover.

While the casino remains busy even at this hour, it's less crowded than during prime time… and there's something naggingly familiar about it to Evan, something he can't quite put his finger on. Probably saw something out of the corner of his eye. Finally, as the dealer loads a fresh set of decks into the automatic shuffler, he excuses himself and heads for the bar—

—and stops in his tracks. Oh, that would explain it. There are certain things in life that you never do forget. "…h'lo, Sky," he murmurs, belatedly ducking over to one side before anyone else has a chance to bump into him.

Skyler blanches and nearly falls backward into the slot machine behind her. When you're being sneaky, the last thing you want to hear is someone who knows your real name. Panic creeps up on her, but then she blinks and realizes why yon gentleman seems so familiar. "You… wait… I know you." She ponders. "Evan. You came to UNY on a college visit, right?" There's a slow flush creeping up from under her collar. This alcohol-fogged memory is coming back to her.

Oblivious to the real reason behind Skyler's fear, and assuming it to be more along the lines of his own thoughts instead, Evan merely nods. "How could I forget?" he replies, glancing off in more or less the direction of the campus. Remembering. And not saying it out loud, because she might well turn out to react poorly (violently?) if he did. "Ended up moving down here, years later— tried to look you up, figured you'd moved away." Which she probably did, right? All ordinary stuff.

Skyler blinks. "You tried to look me up?" Sky draws her arms around herself a little, trying to decide if that's sweet… or stalking. So far, sweet. Cute boy, check. Past history? Check. Pleasant memories? Seems so. Felony theft if she gets caught doing what she's just done? Er…. there's your problem. "I moved away from school, yeah. Never finished my grad degree. Wound up working at a dairy farm in Iowa. I had kind of a meltdown. I came back. The day before Times Square went poof." SKy tries to relax. She can feel the security cameras around her. See herself in them if she looks. She tries not to. "What've you been up to since you were… yanno. Jailbait?

And that would be the other thing nagging at Evan's thoughts, if unconsciously— he could feel it in his gut that something nearby was falling apart in a way it wasn't quite intended to. Had he been watching Skyler a minute earlier, he'd realize that they shared more than just past history… as it is, it's just one more sign that the city is still pretty badly broken.

Jailbait, yes. Um. Ten years already seems so long ago, even more so now that it's finally caught up with him. And 'meltdown'? That suggests a whole different story… but one that he's just as carefully not prying into; if she wants to share more, she will. "Hell of a case of bad timing. But— wait, you've been here since then? I'm part of the graduate staff at Columbia, now, but I didn't start until a few months after that."

Skyler nods. "You wouldn't have found me anyway." Skyler looks down and away. "I've been homeless until the last week or so, basically. Made money fixing gadgets in the park. Until last week or so my ambition in life was to buy a friggin' dogloo and insulate it so I could be warm and homeless. How messed up is that?"

"I guess. So what changed last week?" By this time, Evan is starting to walk again, this time more in the direction of the restaurant - assuming Skyler's following. Seems she's indeed in a sharing mood, and whatever the backstory, it's certain to be a lot more interesting than another round of running the numbers.

Skyler follows Evan toward the restaurant. "A toothache, basically. Plus the sudden realization that where I was living was a cholera epidemic waiting to happen." Skyler shrugs a little. "I got some help. Dental work. Temporary place to stay. Um. Other stuff. So if my gin-fogged memory serves, you were the math wunderkind? Before I chased you away from UNY?"

Evan waves a dismissive hand. "Fifty thousand people chased me away from UNY," he says, settling down at an empty booth near the entrance. "I wasn't ready for anything on that scale back then." Of course, nowadays he's at a campus nearly half that big. "What about you, Sky? I don't remember you going in for repairing tractor engines." A shorthand for whatever path took her from Midwest farming to electronics (?) work, among other places.

Skyler sits down. "I wasn't doing anything with tractor engines. I was mucking out stalls." Skyler shrugs a little again and sips the glass of water when it's brought. "I melted down. It all got to be just too much. All swirled together on me after a while and I couldn't get away from the technology. I mean, I'd been in college since I was fourteen." She looks at the table some more. "But I turned 30 not too long ago. And I figured. It's time to do something with my life. With all the stuff in my head.

Some things suddenly make a lot more sense. If she was attending college at fourteen, then it makes sense that she wouldn't just automatically brush off someone visiting at sixteen. Other parts… just raise more questions. "What do you mean, the technology? You were fine with it, back when I remember." There may have been some mutual poking fun at the liberal arts majors, in between the partying and the additional partying.

Skyler nods. "Did you ever… scare yourself with the things you could do? I mean… like that guy in Real Genius who invents the death ray laser without knowing that there's already a military application for it, and then has to go destroy it with popcorn? Did you ever feel that way about the stuff you could do? I hit that. A little more… actual. But that. Not… everything I used my skills for in grad school was legal.

Evan leans back in his seat, considering the question. "I've been studying how things come apart, more or less— or how to make them come apart. I suppose it could be dangerous, but really, there's a lot worse running around out there already. Whatever's supposed to happen today, for one thing." At least he doesn't appear bothered by the suggestion that she's some sort of crook, after all he's technically been in that boat himself for a while now.

Skyler frowns. "What's supposed to happen today? I haven't been keeping up with the news." Sky looks even more worried than she did a moment ago. There've been vague rumblings that she's picked up with even her limited sojourns on the net. Nothing like before, but she hasn't been watching that closely.

"That wave of visions that a bunch of people had, a few months ago? Mostly about a wave of rioting in the streets, that sort of thing? That's supposed to happen. A nice little anniversary present for Bomb Day," Evan adds, shaking his head. "I don't know what sort of details anyone's worked out about it— I'm planning to just ride it out the best I can, myself. I think a lot of people will be doing the same."

Skyler stares. "I missed that completely." she says. "I mean, when you live in the park and people talk to you about visions, you kind of tune them out. What else? I mean. What else should I know? What do you know about Suresh Center?" Paranoia comes roaring back? Maybe. Or maybe self preservation. Sky thinks about the couple thousand bucks in her card, and wonders how many jackpots she could hit before the casino started to notice.

"The Center? There might be a more dangerous place for the Evolved to go, but I'd have to think hard to come up with one."

How good is Evan's poker face today? Between the stress of the day ahead of them and the distraction of meeting Skyler again, not too good. Many protesters against the government's stance hold strong opinions - and many of them can be found at the university - but he's a little too quick to jump on their case. Like maybe he has more than just his political principles at stake.

Skyler blanches. "Dangerous, why? What's going on there?" Should have raped the networks there. She should have. She knew it. All this nicey nice and it's going to bite her in the ass real soon. "What's going on? Why's everything going to hell all of a sudden? What do these visions say causes the riots?

Evan shakes his head. "They don't— the visions are all symptoms and no cause. Or at least the causes are buried deep enough that you'd need a team with good connections to track them down." Which, by implication, he hasn't got.

"It's something to do with humans and Evolved getting dragged into a fight, though. That's the problem with the Suresh Center— you go there, people can guess why. Someone's bound to be watching for an opportunity to whack anyone they can get at."

Skyler shakes her head. "Shit. That's not good. I'm staying there." She looks at Evan, and realizes what she's just given away. "Great. Well. Cat's out of the bag now." Skyler takes off her characteristic sunglasses and rubs the bridge of her nose where they ride. "Good thing I already got my teeth fixed, I guess. Damn it."

And his eyes go wide. "Not any more you're not! Sky, you— you can't go back there. I can put you up till you get something else worked out— but you can't, okay?"

Here's someone he hasn't seen in a decade, has really only thought about on a handful of occasions since then - and here they are, both on the oppressed-minority side of the issue. Really, what are the odds? On the other hand, it might explain why she ended up buckling under stress; his own ability is relatively low-key, but still, having six senses feeding into a brain only trained to deal with five is not an easy thing.

Skyler's eyes narrow. She nods. Would this guy play her? Hand her in to someone nasty? Probably not. At least, Sky likes to think not, despite the screaming paranoid monkey in her head that says otherwise. "I need to go back to Suresh and get my stuff. Everything I own is there. Everything that makes the difference between life and death if I wind up back on the street. I gotta go back one more time. What's your number?"

"What— oh, goddammit." Evan folds his arms across the edge of the table, slumping his chin forward onto them. "Here I was hoping that 'recently homeless' meant you didn't need to worry about your father's gold watch or anything…"

Finally, he straightens up again, meeting Skyler's gaze directly. "I should come with you. It's a risk for both of us" - hint hint, Sky - "but it'll get it done that much faster."

Skyler shakes her head. "No it'll be a lot less suspicious if I do it alone. I still pack up and go work in the park from time to time. This time I just won't come back. We'll talk about… that stuff later, okay?" Sky gets up slowly from the table. "C'mon. I need your number. I have to hurry."

Evan is still not pleased with the idea of splitting up. Apart from purely personal catching up, he only knows a couple other Evolved to begin with— and a day like today would be a perfect opportunity for him to lose touch with this one. But he doesn't push it any further, instead simply nodding and fishing out a business card and a pen, scrawling down his home address on the back for good measure.

Skyler nods. She gets a pad of post-its out of her pocket and writes her own number on it. "This number rings my ass." she says. "I'll be in touch as soon as I can." She looks at Evan. "This is the spot where I'm supposed to lay one on you and say "for luck" like Princess Leia. But then you'd wind up my brother, and that'd be awkward. So. I'll be in touch.

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