You Were Once Beautiful


griffin_icon.gif huruma3_icon.gif

Scene Title You Were Once Beautiful
Synopsis A musician in search of an instrument also finds a potential friend.
Date September 21, 2010

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

It's a lovely, bright afternoon here in New York City. The skies are clear, with barely a cloud to mar the deep expanse of blue sky above the heads of all, and the weather is comfortable. Fall is certainly on its way. However, the bright, cheerful weather does nothing to mask the gloomy expanse that is the ruins of Midtown. It looks grey here, with little in the way of color.

That is perhaps what has drawn Griffin Mihangle to this place. It's gloomy, depressing…fitting for the mood that has been a part of him for so long.

However, that doesn't mean he doesn't do his best to brighten the mood of such a somber place. He's been hunting, all day, searching for the one thing that will make his run down, abandoned tenement into a home. The one thing he's been missing so dearly: music. He's finally found what he's been searching for, on the first floor of a partially demolished apartment building. Its paint is cracked from four years of exposure to bad weather; some of the strings have snapped from neglect, and it doesn't sound nearly as good as it used to.

That doesn't stop Griffin from sitting in front of the dusty Studio piano, running his hands fondly over the ivory keys. "You were once beautiful, weren't you?" This is whispered softly to the instrument. Then, without another word, the man begins to run through chords. The sound carries through the streets, a note of brightness among the dusty, gloomy relics of the past.

Piano tuning is an inglorious affair; while the piano that Griffin has found has not been played in such a long time, surely the rough atmosphere has also tweaked some of the keys to be off. It is this sound, above all others in the ambiance of midtown, that attracts just one more stray cat to that particular doorstep. Huruma is as much one as the others, skulking around, scrounging things up; in her case, it is another presence- not a mouse.

At the very least, the practiced hands, no matter how rusted, get her attention more than the awkward singing of the keys in the relative silence of this part of the aftermath. She makes no attempt to hide the fact she has entered the old building, but still, as the soles of her boots crunch on fallen plaster, the sounds are quite masked by the sounds coming from the piano now ringing tiredly in Griffin's ears.

As such, perhaps he knows someone is coming- or perhaps he has missed it altogether, when Huruma shadows her face and shoulder around the side of the empty, ragged doorframe to peer inside.

The man is wearing a slightly wrinkled suit, and though it looks like it could certainly use a good dry cleaning and a pass with an iron, he's kept it in surprisingly good shape. Sure, the shoes are scuffed, and he looks more than a little dusty from his wanderings, but he's not a dirty bum, at least. His hair is scruffy, kept in a messy style, and he hasn't shaved in several days, as is evident by the stubble that shadows his face. Though the stubble does nothing to hide that distinct Moab scar under his chin.

As his practiced hands slide over the keys, testing each note and memorizing which has no string at all, which needs new string, and which merely needs tuned, his eyes are closed. As a result, it doesn't appear that he notices the appearance of the woman, so captivated by the task at hand is he. He reaches the end of the notes, letting the last one linger, before his hands return to the center. The tired piano may need work, and it shows by the broken, stunted song that comes from his fingers now, notes missing. But it's still music.

Finally, green eyes turn toward the woman's face and shoulder, a gentle look hidden within. Even as his fingers slide over the ivory keys, he's smiling faintly. "It's good to see that music is not unappreciated in this day and age."

By the time that Griffin turns to look, Huruma's gaze as drifted elsewhere and nowhere; one of those spaced looks that makes her eyes worse than only in concept- as many don't have a clue what she is looking at. His addressing her helps to bring her back, and those ivory eyes find him again from around the side of the door. When she slinks the rest of the way inside metal rivets shine on her jacket, and on her belt, silvery in the low light. At first it seems as if she has a problem with him being there- shoulders squared, cheekbones stark.

"Chopin." But she does nothing. Huruma instead opts for a commonality rather than a mentality.

The man doesn't seem too horribly phased by that stance she carries, his fingers still quietly trailing over the old piano. After regarding the woman for a long moment, Griffin's green eyes turn back to the chipped paint of the studio piano, that small, enigmatic smile still on his features as he nods to the woman. "You've an ear for the piano." Not once does he falter or pause in the playing of the song on the piano, its strings tiredly letting out the notes. Out of tune, missing strings, new paint job, new finish for the keys. It appears he has a bit of work ahead of him.

"Do you play? Or are you just fond of Chopin?" His head inclines toward the newcomer, brows raising and wrinkling his forehead.

"Chopin is no'm'first choice…" Huruma mutters, just loud enough to be heard. "I play. When I can." She wanders closer, seemingly looming with each step she comes closer to the piano and the man at it. She stays a half a dozen feet away from him, for now, watchful and possibly intrusive. Even she can see the work ahead, if he happens to be scouting for a piano. It is a sad state, when a composer has to find an instrument that's been irradiated, frozen, thawed, and so damaged by just the space around it, not even its owners.

"What are you doing here." It's not so much a question as it is a statement of an obvious thought that passes through. Huruma's heavily lidded expression does not seem invested in getting an answer.

The final chords of the song are struck, and the composer's hands slide off of the keys. One last touch is dragged over the keys, before the man pulls the cover down over it, setting off a cloud of dust. He slowly raises to his feet, lifting the lid to look over the strings once more, before snapping that shut, as well. Yes, this is the one that he will bring to his own abandoned tenement, to repair.

Slowly, he turns a soft smile to the woman who stands a good four inches above him, his hand still resting atop the studio piano. "The most obvious answer would be 'looking for a piano'. It seems I've found one." He inclines his head toward the woman. "However, if you mean 'what am I doing in New York City', well…I'm here to help some people, I suppose. And perhaps to escape."

He shrugs, stepping away from the bench and pulling from the bag he has placed beside the piano a rope, coiled up. A slightly dubious look is cast Huruma's way as he seems to ponder for a moment, as if debating on whether or not to share a secret with her.
Is he planning to lasso the piano and take it away? Huruma looks equally dubious when he pulls out the rope, her brows knitting.

"All I can tell you is t'watch who you help." Nothing is ever as it seems. As she recalls this, of course, her lips purse and she looks from Griffin's face to the rope in his hands again. "You look …torn." The dark woman ticks her eyebrows back up, turning her serious expression into a lighter, and decidedly more curious one. "An'I am no'certain what you are planning t'do with that- therefore I am more curious than I was a moment ago." Her smooth voice is as charming as a snake, as always.

After a moment, the man offers a smooth smile. "I'm helping old friends, mostly." A shrug raises his narrow shoulders. As her expression grows more curious, his own enigmatic smile forms on his face. "You don't look like an easily intimidated woman. I suppose I'm safe." A dubious look is offered to Huruma for one final, brief moment, before he turns his eyes toward the piano.

Those green eyes suddenly lose their color, becoming a soft bluish-white, and suddenly the end of the rope raises as if of its own willpower. Like a snake, the rope winds itself around the piano once, twice, befor it ties itself to the other side. The man gives a careful, experimental tug to the end that he still holds, before nodding slowly. All four brakes on the wheels of the piano snap up of their own volition, and another tug reveals that, while a bit on the squeaky side, the wheels will work well enough to get the piano where he wants it to go.

Finally, the bench floats upward, almost testingly, before it is easily lowered to the ground.

He would be quite right. Huruma watches him, chin tilted, as his eyes fade out; she knows what that means- it is not until things being moving by themselves that she knows what it is for. She does not know enough telekines- perhaps this is a good thing. Long arms fold, and her eyes follow the various squeaks and tugs as whatever the man is doing seems to take gratuitous effect. She waits at length, until after the bench has been tested and after he seems to have the piano- literally- lassoed.

"Lovely trick…" Huruma leaves an opening- just in case he feels like introducing himself- but she will not force it.

Once satisfied that he will be able to move this to his home, Griffin offers a slow nod, his eyes fading back to their usual green color. He finally turns to look at Huruma, his brows raising ever-so-slightly at her absolute lack of surprise. "It seems I have become a better judge of character than I initially imagined." He inclines his head in her general direction, as if debating with himself once more.

Finally, he takes a single step closer, carefully extending his hand toward the woman. He'll allow her to clear the distance to shake his hand, if she wishes. "Griffin Mihangle. It's not quite as lovely as I would like." A tinge of sadness jabs at his face for a moment as he makes this statement, though it quickly flits away.

Something about his ability makes him sad, though.

A total lack of surprise, though for good reason. To shock Huruma with much of anything is a feat worthy of an Achievement. Her hand slips out to meet his, the spidery, strong set of fingers a contrast in color only. She seems to look at him more clearly when his memory serves and goes back to the basis of his ability being 'lovely'. Something about her assertion made his mood dribble pitifully into something of a slop of molasses. Bittersweet, sluggish, ponderously remaining where it is.

"Huruma." Nothing more, nothing less.

A single shake is accompanied by a squeeze from the man's slender hand, before it is withdrawn to his side once more. Despite the sadness that lingers about his head now, the bitter memories of the beginnings of his ability's manifestation and a strong sense of self-loathing, he offers Huruma a small, warm smile. Kindness — something he has plenty of to go around. "It is quite the pleasure to meet you, Huruma." He doesn't bother adding 'miss' or any other prefix; if she wanted that, she likely would have introduced herself in that way.

He turns his attention back to the piano, busying himself with getting as much as the dust off as possible before he will be heading back to his horribly ransacked home.

While he is cleaning the piano to the best of his ability, he's also got that faint smile on his face. "You have a very beautiful name, I might add."

For a moment, while watching him go about his business, Huruma debates moving to help him dust the thing off and thinks better of it. No use getting herself messy if he has the time to do it. While she is studying his state of mind, in unknowing silence, the next thing out of his mouth catches her just a little off-guard.

"Mm?" The dark woman's mouth flattens slightly, and her eyes narrow. Taking compliments = not her strong suit. "If you think so."

He's good at hiding what he's feeling, at least. Turmoil sets his mind at unrest as he recalls certain visual images of the past, though you certainly would not be able to tell from the look on his face. He's still cleaning up the piano, even pulling it forward a bit to remove some of the cob webs. At the very least, it will look clean while he's walking it through town.

The man then chuckles softly, turning to peer at Huruma with that same smile on his features. "I do think so, yes. It's not every day that I hear a name like that."

Can't hide what you feel from an empath- but he doesn't have to know that. Huruma watches his smile this time, rather than his eyes. Perhaps she is memorizing that forcible gentleness he already seems to have- maybe it is his default, after all.

"Quite." As her arms are already folded, her fingers did slightly into her jacket's sleeves. "Swahili." For the sake of interest. But she doesn't ask what kind of name Mihangle is, either, so maybe it is an attempt at vanity, too. "So I presume you are taking tha'for restoration, an'not firewood?" People do that.

It certainly is his default to assume that gentle tone and demeanor with others. The practiced smile, the gentle, kind tone he speaks in, are all a bit too much to really think otherwise. Despite the turbulence beneath the surface, outwardly, he looks as calm and collected as ever.

"Swahili. Beautiful tongue, from what I have heard of it. Which, admittedly, is not much." He finally turns that warm smile back to Huruma, tilting his had toward her with a smile. "Yes ma'am, I am taking it for restoration indeed." He casts a fond smile toward the piano. "It took me a few days to find a piano that still even works. I need a new pet project, so…here she is." He pats the top of the piano.

"I wish you luck, with that." She knows too well that he must not have another means to get a piano- or he would. Finding one is not the best of paths for a player, truly. Huruma shifts, boots crunching across the floor as she moves back towards the door. A haunting shape against a dull backdrop. She pauses, only to peer back at him.

"If you are one of us- an'came t'help 'friends'- there is a good chance w'shall see one another again." And then, as abruptly as she come, Huruma is slinking back out of the doors and out of the apartment building, leaving Griff to his newfound friend.

The warm smile never falters once, save for that untimely mention about how lovely his ability must be. Griffin dips his head toward Huruma in a gracious half-bow, one hand placing itself over his heart. "Thank you, Huruma. And I hope that when we meet, it shall be on similarly good terms as it was today. Have a good day." He raises his head, watching the tall woman as she departs.

Then, turning to the piano, his eyes flicker that bluish-white color once more, though they're glowing this time. A pair of sunglasses is untucked from his coat pocket, placed over his eyes. Then, he sets about preparing to bring his newfound discovery home.

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