2007-02-18: Alien Genes

Starring:

Daphne_icon.gif Laurel_icon.gif

Summary: A few days after the incident at Central Park, Laurel contacts her friend with some startling photographs that she's managed to collect over the last few months. The helix appears in many of them, a phenomenon she's just started to notice.

Date It Happened: February 18th, 2007

Alien Genes


Downtown, NYC - 1401 - East Centennial Apts.

The phone call had been pretty brief. In fact, it was little more than a message on the answering machine. Laurel sounded worried, even panicked, and spoke rather quietly, as if afraid someone might be listening.

"Daphne? Daphne are you there? Pick up if you are?" No pick up, because it's very likely the other woman was at work. They don't know each other's scheduled too well. After a pause, she continues. "There's— when you get this message, could you come by my apartment? Please? You remember where it is, right? 1401, the East Centennial Apartments," she also includes the exact street address, just in case, but her friend has visited before. The fact that she's including that much information shows just how paranoid she is. "It's really important— please come as soon as you can, okay?"

Click.

That would be the entirety of the message, coming a few days after some incidents on the news. An accident and robbery, and an "incident" at Central Park. All things that would make this girl a little on edge, surely, even with the recent revelations. Trying to call her house or cellphone did receive an answer, but all she would say is that she needs Daphne /here/. She can't talk about it over the phone.

The apartment itself is a mess, really, pictures laying around on various tables and couches and the chairs, on the floor, and when Laurel answers the door, after a careful scrutiny through the eye hole and the sound of /two/ deadbolts (she always had two, but rarely locked both), her hair is tied back out of her face, and she looks paler than normal.

—-

She's likely gotten a few calls from a panicked Laurel before… the girl is overly cautious, as far as Daphne's concerned, whereas Daphne just /takes precautions./ And because of the precautions taken, she's not really afraid of things happening to her. Parking in well-lit, well-populated areas - or taking the bus or a cab when other people are around. Walking in streets where she's within earshot of another person - or animal now, as the case is - locking her doors at night, an alarm system on the house - (Which she doesn't usually turn on, but there are stickers in the windows!) all make her feel safe.

But the call from her friend was worrying, and despite the fact that she'd like to take a shower and sleep after working with animals all day, she throws her coat back on and hails the nearest cab to take her into the city. So it is that she arrives at Laurel's apartment, knocking on the door.

"Laur?" she asks. And when Laurel does answer the door, Daphne stares. "You okay? I got your message…" she usually carries a cell phone, too. Then again, everyone in New York does, but she's not sure if she ever gave Laurel the number, since the home line worked just fine. She should see to that. Unlike a lot of people, Daphne's not particularly tech-savvy, and doesn't use the phone a whole lot. Stepping into the apartment causes her to pause just inside the door as she looks at the pictures. "…" she says, which means she just opens her mouth, then shut it wordlessly. "What—?"

—-

As soon as the door is closed, Laurel reaches to redo the deadbolts and the door lock, and then looks towards the photographs. There's dozens of them, really, but that's no surprise. The fact that they're /laying around/ might be, though. "Listen— did you see the news? The incidents two nights ago? The one in Central Park that nobody is really talking about?" There's even newspapers sitting nearby, every single one published yesterday, and today. All the New York papers. All turned to what little they put out on the Central Park incident, which isn't much. Investigating, asking question, seeking information. Blahblahblah. It all comes down to the same thing.

There's even markers circling what's written in the articles about it.

"Something happened. I was there, Daphne. I was right there in the park. It sounded like a rifle went off— and then this woman— she grabbed onto someone and— her hand. It caught on fire. But /she/ wasn't burning." She knows it sounds crazy, so she just grabs her friend's hand and starts to pull her down the hallway, carefully navigating around the pictures on the floor and towards the infamous darkroom, with it's special developing equipment and lighting. Once inside, she turns on the special lights and pulls down a photograph.

In one photograph, it shows a woman, holding onto a younger woman. The face of the younger woman is almost completely obscured by the fire the other holds in her hand. Obviously taken at night, obviously in bad lighting conditions, the /fire/ is still very much visible, as is the outline of the woman. "She /threw/ this fire at someone, Daphne. This man, and two women with him. She— I think she could control it."

—-

There's a general sense of unease now. Not that there wasn't before… Daphne kind of felt weird as soon as she got the call. It wasn't one of those 'I heard a noise, can you come over?' types of calls, but one of the ones where it seems like the person on the other end of the line is waiting to give you bad news. But now, with the pictures lying all over the place, the newspapers and periodicals with articles circled, Daphne's sense of worry becomes even stronger. She leans down to look at one of the snippets, just before she's dragged off down the hall. "Yeah, I saw, but I didn't really pay much attention," is her answer. It's New York. /Stuff happens./ There are a lot of bad people here, as well as a lot of potential victims, which seems to now include Laurel, thanks to the news of the mugging.

So— Laurel was there. Okay, that accounts for the worry. Daphne would want someone around, too, if she was in an area where something bad happened, but this is two days later. "So, you were in trouble, and you took /pictures?!/" she questions, almost… feeling proud of the fact that the other woman's first instinct wasn't to run away. Still, in a situation like this - and, Daphne leans over to look at the pictures as Laurel talks, squinting until her eyes adjust to the red lighting - it would have been safer to /leave./ "You could ave gotten yourself killed, Laur— " she starts, then realizes what she's seeing in the pictures. her first reaction is that this is impossible, that it was done with technology, and smoke and mirrors, and all that jazzy stuff that people can do with computers now. But first of all, Laurel /wouldn't,/ and second of all, these pictures look like they're fresh out of a camera.

At least the emulsion covers up the smell of animals, which is still all over Daphne.

"No, I— " But she can't deny that it's possible. "Are you sure that's what you saw? It wasn't some… film crew or something doing special effects? You know that — that old radio play, War of the Worlds. He had everyone convinced that aliens were attacking earth. Are you /sure/?" Daphne doesn't disbelieve. She just wants to make absolutely sure that what she's seeing is real, and not a bunch of cool camera tricks.

—-

"I tried to run away," Laurel explains embarrassedly, eyes darting around a moment as if expecting to run into something. She's so panicked she's not sure there aren't walls going up all around her right now. " I ran into my— my walls. I guess I put them up all around me as soon as it started— I couldn't make them go down because I /knew/ I was in danger— I couldn't— " And that explains why she reached for her camera. Unable to go anywhere, the least she could do— "I had to know I wasn't seeing things. I had to take a few pictures. There were no film crews, the girl she'd been holding looked /terrified/ and— and she threw fire at this other woman, probably around our age, but— "

It sounds crazy, she knows it does, but at the same time— the picture evidence is right there, and she could develop more and more. She kept the negatives. Luckily she'd been doing a late shoot, where she switched to night lenses, but even then they're not the best images. Almost impossible to make out faces, except that they're females. And the way the shadows play upon their figures— only someone looking for it would see it, but it makes an odd design… a squiggle. With lines through it.

"Daphne— I think I stopped one of the fireballs. I could see what it would look like in my head— the woman all burned— and I just— thought about it. And the fireball stopped in midair, like it hit something. But that's not even the worst part. I /felt it/ hit. It was like— not like I got hit— but a sudden headache. Like trying to stand up too fast when you just woke up. You know, right?" Maybe she doesn't. Maybe talking to animals is easier… "But I don't think we're alone. It wasn't just this woman, with the fire, but I could swear there was a man there who had electricity in his hand— it might have been a tazer." Not everything has to be impossible…

But then she reaches for another one, still drying, probably ruining it by touching it, but she can develop another. "And this one— you see the woman here? She jumped, probably about thirty feet, and— I'm not sure what she did, but this is all I got of her— " Practically just her legs, descending down into the photograph of the woman, who's jumping back and releasing her hostage, who still isn't easily visible. A lot of motion blur in this one. Too much movement. It'd been set for night, not for motion.

"She moved really fast— see? It wasn't— /normal/."

—-

"Oh man, Laur…" Daphne doesn't seem like she's even remotely close to ribbing the other woman about running into her own forcefield. Maybe later, if it happens when they're all out of danger, if they're just walking or something and /BAM/ she hits an invisible barrier, but this is nothing to joke about. Turning from the pictures, Daphne places a hand on the girl's shoulder. She never would have believed any of this stuff if she hasn't seen some of it with her own eyes. And the thought that there's more people out there with these abilities is comforting… It brings her closer to believing she's not nuts, but still, this is really not good. Especially if there are people out there who can throw fire around like it's so many paper airplanes.

If there were no pictures, Daphne might think Laurel had flipped, truth be told.

Pictures…

Turning back to them, Daphne studies them, tries to find anything more in-depth besides what's on the surface. She misses the odd marking, because it doesn't really concern her. She's looking for something else— some /one/ or even some /thing/ that shouldn't be caught on film. Daphne can't help thinking that no one should have these pictures. That if there are people out there with abilities like this… and Daphne never found out about any other than her own—

"So they're not just for keeping out birds," Daphne says weakly. "You're okay, right? You don't still feel it? I… Understand. I really do." Early in her own ability's development, she had constant headaches, either because the voices wouldn't stop, or she'd be trying to reply back. She's sure she passed out more than once. It was /draining./ Sometimes, it still is. All these pictures— "Kinda wish I could have seen it. It's so surreal, like— Like… I don't know, comic book pages." Fire, electricity, people moving too fast to be possible. And because she feels the need to have some sort of sane reaction in relation to all of these pictures, she mutters, "I got gypped." …All she can do is talk to animals, which is hardly on par with throwing fire around and making forcefields.

Now it's Daphne's turn to feel paranoid, because she's scared for Laurel, and, by proxy, herself. "If they're doing so much to cover up what really happened— " No real new reports, nothing about a woman who could throw fire… "Laurel, I don't think you should have these."

—-

"Don't be silly. The only thing my walls are good for is running into them, and protecting me. You can use your animals to help your job— and you love animals, at least you always know what they want." Laurel says, shaking her head at her friend and pushing the hand aside. Not because she doesn't like it, but because she needs to point something out. Not on the picture with the woman's legs, but on the other one. That one's more dry— Putting that one down, she picks up the important one and a nearby marker. What she's about to do— is ruin the picture completely, because she sets it against a wall and explains.

"I'm not planning to show them to anyone, and I'm going to put them in a portfolio I plan to lock up, but— I have to keep them. They're /important/, Daphne… I mean, look at this…" With the marker, she draws it along the shadows, forming the symbol in silver metallic marker. She usually uses it to put a big P or PROOF across an image so that people know it's not technically for sale. But this… this is different. "Look? See that? The way the shadows and the light meet— it makes this symbol."

It's crazy, she knows, but she puts that down and grabs her friend's hand again, pulling her out of the darkroom and into the living room once again, picking up the first photograph she comes upon. This one is from the penguins that they photographed together, dancing under water for them, beautiful creatures… but they just happen to be caught in a way that also, makes that symbol, as she shows with her finger, instead of the marker, "See that too? There's more. Every one of the pictures around here has that /somewhere/. In the shadows and light— in reflections off windows or the water— and even in the shape of /tree branches/. Look here— " she steps over a few, grabbing one off the couch. This one is obviously a wedding reception, it's a picture of the bride and groom at the table, toasting… and down in the corner, nearly unseen— is a crumpled napkin. "See that too? It's just a crumpled napkin, but— it looks like it, sort of. See what I mean? This isn't just some kind of coincidence, Daphne— it's— /weird/."

—-

She's a little too stunned to argue at the moment, but Daphne doesn't think the ability to make invisible walls is useless. In fact, she can think of a lot of uses for it, none of which would be practical where people would be watching, but it's the principle of the thing. So far, the only animals she can really talk to and make them react are… smaller. Sometimes the larger ones listen. They certainly talk back, but they aren't always inclined to do what she asks. It's very… random. Then there's animals like reptiles, who rarely listen at all, even to respond to her telepathic words.

Since Laurel takes so many pictures, Daphne isn't alarmed when she starts drawing on the one. "Okay, keep them, but… I know this is probably redundant telling you this, but be careful, okay?" Pausing, she looks at the mark drawn on the picture, and Daphne does have to admit that's crazy, because it's so random and doesn't even look like anything. "Uh-uh. You're looking too far into this now, Laur. It's just shad— What!"

And she's ppulled out of the darkroom.

Eyes adjusting again, she gives Laurel a Look - the kind you give someone when they're acting weird, and humors her friend, taking the picture of the penguins. At first, Daphne smiles, because it was really fun to get them to move like that. They didn't even have to do it, they just /did/ because they wanted to. When she sees the symbol there, too, though, she swears quietly.

The rest of the images, too. If she hadn't been looking for it, she never would have seen it. The funny thing is, it's just a meaningless mark— it has no rhyme or reason to it, nothing she can recall going to school, nothing she's seen before, but it's quite obviously there. Even the more obscure ones, she can see it now, and soon, Laurel doesn't even have to point them out. "…Do you think this is— It's got to be your camera." Daphne knows very well that Laurel has ninety four thousand different cameras, and they can't all make the same mark like this. Okay, why is it there then? Looking back at the photo of the penguins, she squints, then verbalises her thoughts. "Why is it on all these? Is it on every picture you've taken?"

—-

"Oh, I'll be careful— last thing I want is a fire thrower coming after me— or this lady who runs too fast," Laurel says, not stupid about /that/. She's going to collect all the images into a portfolio, though, and make sure that they're safely kept somewhere. In her apartment. That's the last place anyone would look. Maybe she should get a safe? Either way— she wants the evidence, and she wants it all in one place. Evidence to prove she isn't going over the edge— though she half thinks she is anyway.

With the pictures all laid out, and her friend able to see what she's pointing out with less trouble, she shakes her head, "No, nothing like that, probably in… one in five hundred. But I take at least a hundred photos a shoot, sometimes, especially at major events. More even. I spent all night going through my old photos, I keep all of them, in case I want to make a portfolio, or show past work. Some of them I pulled /out/ of my portfolios… others I printed from my computer." Digital cameras, after all, don't require a darkroom to develop, but she still likes to use the old camera types for certain things. They're classic, after all…

"I haven't used the same cameras for these, though, so it's not that— it could just be something weird, like— I don't know. This whole thing is weird, isn't it? You talk to animals, I can make invisible walls that I can run into— and— who knows what other people might be capable of. It really is like those comic books, or super hero movies. Like Spider-Man, or Superman— We might have some kind of alien gene or something."

—-

"Yeah— " she mutters, cutting herself off before she adds 'Or me,' but she's thinking it. It would be particularly unpleasant to have someone burning down her house, with all her animals, with all her things, but she's not selfish or insensitive enough to say it in front of Laurel. A glance is given to the other woman, though… Were it Daphne, she'd destroy all of these, the negatives, and maybe even the cameras they were taken with, especially the ones that were taken with digital media. "Well, I'm certainly not telling anyone," is what she eventually says, handing the penguins back over to their proper owner.

Scary.

"Well, as long as this… can't point to you, or something. I don't know how anyone would see any of these if you— I mean, you had to tell me… Turning away from the photos only brings Daphne face to face with more photos, which she compulsively starts picking up and handing back to Laurel, two or three at a time. It's almost as if she expects the fire-throwing lady to burst through the door and demand to know what all these pictures are doing all over the place. Not that the symbol is necessarily dangerous, it just seems weird that all this is coming to the fore /right now,/ when she and Laurel have just really discussed their power for the first time. It's a lot to take in.

"Yeah, alien gene. Holy— " She swears under her breath again, picking up more photos, looking through them, spotting the symbol where it exists on some, missing it on others, before finally handing these to Laurel, too. "They creep me out, sorry. I— Before you told me you could make those walls, Laurel, I thought I was going to end up in a nut house by the time was thirty. Now— Now if feels like this is real, and— " She doesn't say it, but the look on her face… she's scared.

—-

"I'll put them in a safe place," Laurel says, dismissing the idea that she can't find a safe place. Destroying photographs, though, happens to be against her moral obligation. After all, there needs to be /evidence/ that this is happening to both of them. The— symbol might just be a symbol, but it's /there/. She takes so many photographs that it's possible that the same shape of item shows up in her pictures sometimes, but it also might not be. Bending down, she begins to collect them, putting them into her hands, and then dropping them into a flat box that might be used to store clothes. It's just a temporary home, until she manages to get a protective portfolio for them, where they can be mounted without fear.

"It's okay— it creeps me out to. I just, I had to show you, Daphne. I didn't want to creep you out, but you're the only other person I feel safe talking to about this— You're my friend and we're both going through the same thing, right?" It's important, it's— something that might need to be looked into, but whether or not that's the case… it's still important. Beyond important, really…

"I guess— you probably want to get back home and clean up. I just didn't know what else to do. I had to tell someone. You understand, right?" She's not mad, is she?

—-

That's really all she can ask… If Laurel wants to keep the photos, Daphne won't try to convince her otherwise, and she does trust the photographer. She's just not so sure she trusts the other people involved, especially when they were throwing fire. She can only hope - as unlikely as it is - that the other people there want to keep this a secret, too. /Someone/ does, or it'd be all over the papers.

She drops some of the photos into the box, finding the one with the napkin again, and squinting at it. She can definitely see it there, and… really, how would anyone arrange a napkin in that exact shape?! It's impossible! So there must be something more happening here, or it's a very clever practical joke meant to really unsettle the both. "No, no, it's good you showed me, I just need to think about this for… Well, a lifetime, if I could." But she can't. She has to go home and get cleaned up, sleep, then go to work tomorrow. Repeat daily. "I'm glad to know I'm not alone, but— " she sighs. At least she does have someone to talk to, which she didn't for a very long time. Too bad they can't advertise the fact that they're looking for 'special people,' or they could make a support group.

One hand lifts to play with the ends of her hair, tugging a bit. With all this weird stuff, Daphne's not sure she wants to be alone. "Pack an overnight bag, you're coming with me."

—-

Here Laurel's trying to put all the photos she sorted out into the same place, and then all of a sudden she hears that she needs to pack a bag and go with her friend. Wait- what? She looks up, blinking in surprise, "But I have to— finish— " She already went through all the pictures though, every single one. The dozens she found with the symbol had already been set aside, and she can leave what's in her darkroom hanging overnight— and— "Okay, okay," she says, raising her hands in a 'I give' gesture, as she heads back towards her bedroom, leaving the pictures and her computer alone with the woman.

It will take a few minutes for her to pack, setting some clothes into a bag, and grabbing her digital camera. Can't go anywhere without a camera, this girl. "Are you sure I won't be in the way?" Even if she wants to stay at home and finish looking through things, spending time with her friend also gives a comforting air. Especially since her friend has a couple dozen animals to act as eyes and ears in case someone comes after them. That's kind of silly. A few days ago she wouldn't have thought even a guard dog would be much use. Dogs tend to be too friendly. All the thief needs is a treat.

Zipping up the bag, she tosses it over her shoulder. "Okay, ready. Your animals aren't going to mind me, right?"

—-

Daphne raises her eyebrows when Laurel starts to protest, but she's not going to take no for an answer. Whether or not she's got the animals to talk to, there's something to be said for human company. Daphne's got a few friends, but none except Laurel who actually understand what's going on between the two of them. And really, neither of them understand what's going on with them, either. How frustrating— but at least they won't be alone.

As Laurel packs, Daphne continues boxing up the pictures. The thought occurs to her that she could take one of the prints, to look at it in greater detail, to try to figure out that symbol… But in the end, she just tosses the rest of the pictures into the box. It's not particularly organised, but it'll do for now. Besides, Laurel would go through them all again later, anyway, so there's no reason to put them into some sort of order.

Logic!

"I have a couple spare rooms. You'll have to watch out for the ferrets, but you'll be all right." Half her animals are illegal, and out of those, she has special permits for the majority. There are a few that have to stay in the basement, though, and cleaning up after them is a full-time job. "As long as you don't mind that I gotta take a couple hours to clean up…"

And yes, they will definitely talk if someone comes after them. The dog, the cat, the parrot - who might just talk so /everyone/ can hear - the corn snake, ferrets… et cetera. They'll be quite safe. In any case… "They all love you, trust me. They let me know." Rolling her eyes, Daphne motions toward the door. "We'll have to catch a cab, I wasn't gonna drive at this time of day. Gonna be okay with that?"

—-

Illegal activities! Tsk. Though Laurel's hiding evidence for a crime from the NYPD, who might have wanted to have their hands on those photographs as proof of whatever happened in park. Either way— she'll keep her distance from the ferrets and most the other animals. This is going to smell, isn't it? Oh well… at least she won't be spending the night alone. "I always take cabs. I don't see how you can manage to ever find a parking place in this city," she says, grabbing up her cellphone and automatically dialing one of the many cab companies she knows of. Always best to call ahead.

And of course she'll carefully lock her door before they leave, and take the elevator. The fourteenth floor is a long way to take the stairs. And anyone who understands how these buildings work— she's actually on the /13th/ floor. Since apartments and hotels both skip that number.

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