2010-09-02: A Stroll In The Park



Date: September 2, 2010


Dinner gets walked off in Battery Park, while serious discussions are had.

"A Stroll in the Park"

Manhattan, NYC - Battery Park

Though the sun is long since set below the horizon, it's still hooooooooot in New York City. One of the problems of being in a concrete jungle is that the concrete drinks up heat like Brits drink up gin…and then pisses it all away overnight. Just like Brits and gin. So how does two people find some relief from the heat after dinner? Well, they wander on down to one of New York's fabulous green spaces. This time, it's Battery Park, where the Statue of Liberty and Elis Island greet them, all lit up in the harbor.

"You know, this is where everything started. Like, almost a year ago, I think. This whole crazy adventure," Alex says, strolling along side George. To complete the summery look of jorts and a tank, flip-flops do their flipping and flopping when she strolls along. One arm is wrapped about her chest, and the other is over that, but fingering a small necklace that she has on. "One of those weird random meetings that you think happens only in TV shows and movies…"

It would be awfully nice if George could get away with a summery look. Maybe next year… As it is, the best he's been able to do is ditch the jacket and tie back in the car and roll up his shirt sleeves. "Look who you're talking to," he murmurs, "weird and random is what I do." Literally. "Hey, what's this?" he adds, gesturing toward the necklace— he spotted earlier that she had one, but this is the first it's really stood out. The artificial lighting back at the sandwich bar didn't do it any favors.

"This?" she asks, feigning incredulity while she takes her hand off the necklace. "It's just something I've had a while and started wearing again not too long ago," Alex tells him, holding the thing flat against the back of the fingers on one hand for him to see. It's a simple silver cross, plain as can be, but with the character marks of age. "I used to wear a fleur-de-lis for the longest time, but then got this out not too long ago. My mother gave it to me when I first went off to college, years and years ago. And my grandmother gave it to her."

There's a half-hitch in George's pace as he slows down for a moment, getting a better look as Alexandra holds it up. "I can tell, yeah. I kind of got burnt out on that sort of thing myself, growing up at ground zero of the Southern Baptists, but— I can see the importance of keeping the tradition going."

"Call it…rediscovering faith, I guess? In the absence of powers. It's kind of like…hmm. When there's a noise and it's always there. You get used to it, you ignore it, and then when it's gone, you miss it. Maybe you can't even sleep without it. Not to mention, the last time I went without? I was in a government prison and having terrible nightmares. So…yeah. I was afraid that would happen again." Once he gets a good look, she puts it back down against the little crook of her neck and starts to walk again. "It was important in my family, but never like, really forced. Which I think makes it more comforting. I can approach it on my own terms, you know?"

George bites his lip, looking uncharacteristically shaken as she recounts this latest - mercifully brief - story. "I wish I could've done more to stop that— no, scratch that, I wish I had done more to stop it. I think I could have, if I'd had my act a little more together. Then maybe you wouldn't have had to—"

He cuts himself off there, shaking his head. "And the eclipse was kind of rough on me, too, but I was in the middle of a rough time anyway so I think it kind of just got caught up in that… it probably has changed me, but I'm too close to it to put my finger on any one thing."

"Well, remember…I was enrolled in some group to help dismantle the government plans. That turned out really great, didn't it? And aside from some nightmares and some bloody fingernails for a while, I'm alright. Mostly. I guess." She keeps strolling along with lazy looping steps while she talks. "You know, in there…they really drove it home that I was - am, I guess - a murderer. That in the course of saving other people they captured, babies included, I actually killed people. Soldiers. It didn't matter that they were coming at us with guns to those people. They wouldn't hear it."

…wait, what? Yes, he knew that the oppression rose to lethal or near lethal-levels in some cases - he encountered a few of them himself - but hearing about it is never easy. It'd be terrible if it ever was. Still, he stops in his tracks and turns, reaching out for her hands. "No, you're not. I know you wouldn't do any of that unless they left you no choice… so you can't hold it against yourself. I don't."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence. Really. But…even in self-defense, it's still murder." Alexandra gives a resigned little shrug, even when her arms are pulled out and away from her body by George. "I understand that. I'm okay with that." Which…is kind of depressing, really. "Then…probably again in the Amazon. Once again, people coming after us with guns. Mark and Cody, man they got shot all to hell, and all I could do was throw rocks back."

George is just as obviously not okay with it. What if it was him backed into that sort of corner— would he hold up as well as she seems to have done? "I… don't know what to tell you, Alex. It's one thing if you enlist as a soldier" - Protocol guards notwithstanding - "you know up front what you're signing up for."

"There's that…but they still have families. Wives and kids and stuff. I mean, I can't say I'm sorry enough, but…there are just people out there that will never understand." One more time, she gives a shrug. "You don't really need to say anything. It's over with now. That whole thing is done. And hopefully, no more jerk politicians will let it happen again," she says, tugging her hands from his. It's not a pissed-off move, but it is a 'you better be ready to filibuster to keep it from happening again' move.

He inclines his head in silent assent. The president's taken a behind-the-scenes stand against it, too, but he'll only be around for so much longer. If there is a next time, then it'll be over his dead body.

Figuratively. He hopes.

"So— enough about the past, then. What's coming up next? Mark planning to take you off on another of his sting operations?" He sounds less than pleased with the idea.

"Plans for Egypt, I think. I don't know if he's already left or what, though. Been out of town and all, and I haven't seen him around, so I honestly don't know. He hasn't asked me face to face to go though. For the moment? Boring old work. And you know what? For the first time in a while, I'm glad of that." The path they're on is leading down toward the water's edge, like just about every path in Battery Park. Down toward the water taxis and the views, of course. "I just can't believe that really, all of this started here like a year ago. Met a guy here who, of all things, can do what I can do. And he seemed to know that I could do it too."

George shakes his head as he slips back into his old pace. "Undercover Boss meets Survivor. The guy's nuts, if you ask me." He glances across the water, at the muddled reflection of the nearby building lights. "It must be nice, knowing there's someone else out there who gets it— gets your ability, specifically. Haven't met anyone else with mine… I assume I'd recognize it if I had. Like a pair of magnets flying together, probably."

When he talks, Alexandra slips off the path, and into the grass. A second later, she's kicked her flip-flops off and is standing barefoot in the cool grass. "This is one of the first things I did when I came to New York City. Barefoot in part of Central Park." Then…she wound up getting grazed by a bullet in the upper arm. "It's like, if someone wanted to understand what I can do, all they have to do is this. Just walk around and enjoy the cool grass underfoot. Dig around in the sand. Plant a garden. Anything. Come on, let's go down to to the rail there, and look at the water!" She's signaling that way with her hand, but before he can say no, she's already turning and strolling off that way.

The problem is that George doesn't get what her thing is like, not really. If it was easy as that, then doing yard work as a teenager would've counted. Still, he's willing to give it a shot, slipping his shoes and socks off and leaving them near the base of a droopy tree— it looks like a swampy area up ahead, she's probably got the right idea there.

"You probably - no, definitely - can't feel it, can you?" Alexandra asks as she backpedals through the grass. "When you were a kid did you ever try to lie about on concrete, close your eyes, count as high as you could and see if you could feel the Earth spin? It's like that, but different." She's left grinning a bit sheepishly at the incredibly useless explanation. "It's like…I can just…feel the Earth. Like, the way kids draw comfort from a heart beat. Or…OH! Like when you're in a long car ride and the vibration and road noise lulls you to sleep. It's like that. That's as best as I can describe it."

George scratches his head. "I can't feel what you feel, no. But I can sort of imagine it, I think. I remember feeling dizzy as a little kid, or going outside when the grass was iced over and not minding… but I think most people lose track of it pretty quickly. They start developing all these other senses and it gets drowned out."

"I guess I never grew out of it, huh?" Alexandra smirks a bit. "But…then now I know why I chose to go to USC for college, huh? Even if I didn't know know at the time, I can see it now. Out here though? This coast is really peaceful. Calming." She's spun around now, having reached the railing, and rests her forearms on it, looking out over the water. "I wonder if the Yamomami found a new home yet…" she muses, out loud.

"Now there's a couple of words I wouldn't have thought of. 'Invigorating' and 'noisy', maybe." He's still watching where he's walking, even though the ground is a good bit firmer than he thought it'd be. "The what?" he asks, peering curiously once again. "Is that a species of fish down in the gulf?"

"Oh…no. No, it's not. It's the name of a tribe of peoples in the Amazon. They were displaced. And by displaced, I mean Mark Lane's father came down with a bunch of mercenaries who burned down their village looking for their tribal leader. She was so old, but had the power to heal people…including Mark." For the moment, she looks out over the water, before spinning back to look at him. "When I say peaceful I mean there aren't many fault lines on this coast. Earthquake drills are commonplace at universities in California."

Oh, earthquakes, duh. No wonder someone with an earth affinity would find it a striking place. George is reluctant to break the mood by poking at the Amazon story some more… but hey, Alex wouldn't have brought it up if it wasn't important to her. "Why'd he do that? He didn't think just asking for help would work?"

"I don't really know. There was a trashed Lane Industries lab there too. A disgrunted employee trashed it by controlling plant growth. But it seemed to me like the older Lane wanted the woman for her power. Just like everything else in life." Sounds familiar, huh? Trying to use people for their powers. "They seemed to be intensely secretive, so, just asking for their spiritual leader to 'help' like that wouldn't have worked. Which makes the way we were taken in by them after the plane crash even more amazing."

So much for trying to make sense of the guy's motives… there was probably an understandable story behind it once upon a time, but by now, it's probably lost to the mists. "It sounds like it, yeah," replies George. "How'd you convince them you weren't fighting Lane Senior just so you could make a grab for things yourself? I mean, we all know you wouldn't, but if they're that suspicious of outsiders—"

"Well, I said Mark got shot, right? Really bad. Like, on the verge of death. From what I understand? He was subjected to some trial of faith by this woman - The Mother of All, they called her - and when he passed, they knew that our intentions were pure. It's really quite remarkable how even peoples in different continents, different technology levels, different cultures on practically every single level can have the same sort of trial and tribulation type of spirituality." That statement either carries more or less meaning given the Statue of Liberty looking down on the two of them having this discussion.

"Hmm, the trial may be the same… but I wonder what standards of faith and purity they had in mind, living so far apart from anything we're used to dealing with. I'm just glad they saw him as living up to them, whatever they were." By this time, George has decided to sit down in the grass, drawing his legs up close as he stares out over the water's surface. "You mentioned finding a new home— I assume Mark's father pretty much salted the earth under their old one?"

"Not so much salted the earth as…well, as fire and brimstone. Whatever mercenaries were on the payroll came equipped with some pretty nasty incendiary equipment. Firebombs would be putting it lightly." Following suit, Alexandra sits down in the grass, sitting cross-legged with her back against the rails. "When we left? The fires were out from the rains, but their village was gone, what modest huts as they had. We spent the inferno holed up in a cave with, of all things, an invisible barrier."

The last part, George takes in stride; he's met someone with invisibility before, though it's been a while since they were last in touch. "Sounds like more typical power games— if he couldn't have her ability, then no one else could, either. But I wouldn't worry about the villagers too much, it's not like they're the type to just roll over and die out in the fields, right?"

"They've made a life of living in the forests this far. I somehow think that they'll be able to find another place for a village and easily rebuild. Though, the motive is key here, I think. It sounds like the Lanes have a very strained relationship, a father against son sort of deal." Sitting down in the grass though seems to be giving Alexandra the shivers…so she stands up. "Are you getting chilly? Because I am. And tomorrow is a workday…for some of us…"

George hmms, rising to his feet as well. "You're right, come to think of it— it was hot enough earlier, I always forget how quickly it dissipates. I'd offer you my jacket, but—" But he left it in the car. Now what's the quickest route from here in the park to somewhere warmer. And - as he looks back across the grass - where exactly did they leave their shoes, anyway?

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