2007-03-14: Bats And Birds


Jane_icon.gif Nima_icon.gif

Summary: Coming out the other side of her withdrawal, Jane looks into comics.

Date It Happened: March 14, 2007

Bats and Birds

East Village, NYC - The Secret Lair

Even though the weather is growing warmer, that does not appear to prevent Nima from wearing an extremely long scarf of multi-colored stripes that would make the 4th Doctor Who proud. Although this knitted item easily passes her knees, the pleated skirt of pink and black plaid falls a few inches short of aforementioned knees. That's okay, though. The black combat boots take-up the slack with their height. And thus clad, with complementary 'Trogdor the Burninator' babydoll tee, she stands behind the main counter, examining what appears to be some manner of high-quality ashcan. "It's just so weird," she remarks to the curly-haired fellow who's standing to her right, also peering.

The door opens, and through it steps a female customer, setting off whatever herald alerts staff to persons entering the Secret Lair. This one is twenty-something, five feet eight inches in height, and brunette, clad in dark jeans and an equally dark hooded sweatshirt with a white Y on the front. Her hands are stuck into the pocket near the bottom of it, kept out of the elements and view, while over her left shoulder is a backpack and across the left a guitar case. Jane's got a small amp attached to her jeans.

Her face seems a bit pale and gaunt, suggesting the woman might not have slept very well over the past few nights, and her eyes are a bit haunted. They scan the store slowly, she takes her time moving around it and checking out the merchandise on display.

"Yeah. It is," Tito replies in a classic Bronx accent that he's managed to mellow since he moved to the EV, some years ago. "It also is time for me to bolt." Friendly-like, he snugs Nima and puts on his jacket. Slipping his messenger bag over his head to hang diagonally across his chest, he adds, "Let me know what you learn. Later, mami." And that's when the sound of doors opening on the USS Enterprise announces the new arrival. It also is the sound that let's everyone know that Elv— er, Tito has left the building.

"Later, Vader," Nima tells her pal before turning her attention towards Jane. "Hi," she smiles, "Welcome to The Secret Lair. I'm Nima. Just lemme know if you need help with anything." The good cheer fades a little when Jane's state dawns upon her. With gently furrowed brow she asks, "You all right, hon?"

"I'm better than I was a couple days ago," Jane answers with a brief glance to the woman a bit taller than her, "and still improving. I just had to get out, move around, force myself to face the world again." She keeps the hands hidden in her pocket, clasped together. "Thought I'd gone to the place with a sign reading 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here', and I made it out alive." The voice is soft, but rough, suggesting along with her appearance she's been through an extended physical ordeal.

Nima nods a few times, in understanding, brow still a touch furrowed. It's not long before an encouraging smile surfaces, though. "It's amazing how resilient people can be. I'm glad you made it out. And there's plenty of hope to go around, here, so feel free to hang-out, for a while." What she's been reading can't really be determined due to the angle. But when a Russian blue cat leaps onto the counter, she closes the comic book and sets it down so she can start scritching the cat behind his ears. "Hey, you," she beams at the critter.

She studies the cat and the woman holding her for a few seconds, something of a fleeting smile forming, as a response is formed. "I survived, now I pick up the pieces and pull them together again." Jane's attention drifts over to the area featuring women with unusual gifts, and within moments her feet are led by them in that direction. She moves slowly, looking over various titles. Wonder Woman, Isis, Batgirl… That one is passed by, but returned to as if in a double-take. Fingers reach out to pick an issue up, and can be seen to tremble slightly as they emerge from the pocket.

The Secret Lair has won industry acclaim for being so chick-friendly a place. Indeed, it has the largest, most thorough collection of pro-women items in the Tri-State area, which is a point of pride, for the owner. And while big name titles are represented, it's the small press heroines that are given the spotlight. Whether it ranges from something like 'Shades of Blue' to the mini-shrine dedicated to Artesia. And while not small press or even comic-related, there is a life-size replica of Samus Aran present.

"That's how it ideally works," Nima notes about picking-up pieces. Panthro starts to purr. "Dunno if I can be of any help," the dark-haired geek continues, "but let me know if there's something I can do. Would you like some green apple soda, perhaps?" Yes. The green apple soda. That is compassion, right there. "Or some Twizzlers?"

"Thanks," Jane answers, her eyes drifting back to Nima for a moment. "Green apple soda sounds good." The Batgirl title is examined, something of connection with it in her features for a moment, until the other woman gets her attention again. "I'm not so much on these, I mean, I do know Batgirl is the daughter of a cop who emulates Batman, but… does she at any time have any batlike abilities?"

"In what sense?" is asked, before the cat is kissed on the top of his head and Nima is off to the mini-fridge behind the counter. Dipping down, she opens it, which immediately causes the big, brown, shaggy dog, who appeared to be sleeping only two seconds ago, to suddenly perk up and look that way. 'FOOD.' "No, Chewie," is his human's reply, already anticipating the mutt trying to rummage for snacks. When the fridge is closed, the dog resettles his head on his cushion. Nima sets the bottle of Jones brand green apple soda on the counter. The photograph on the label is a black & white image of a young boy with a slicked mohawk trying to play an acoustic guitar that is way too big for him.

"To be honest, I always thought she was more interesting as Oracle. A lot more interesting. But, no. She really didn't display batlike abilities. Neither does Batman, though." No sonar. No flying. No sleeping upside down.

Glancing over as she's replied to, Jane spots the bottle and moves over to pick it up. Fingers grip the cap and work to open it; they pause as a minor tremor passes through them and the woman shakes her head a time or two. In that instant there's a look to her face which suggests hoping it wasn't seen, and the opening is continued. "Oracle. Hmm. Say, have you ever thought about writing any of these yourself?" Taking a small drink from the bottle, she seems to focus on making sure her hand stays steady in the act.

Jane's tremors appear to go unnoticed, probably because Nima is back to petting her cat, who is once again purring. "Yeah. Oracle. In 1988, there was a one-shot issue called 'The Killing Joke'. It caught a lot of flak because, in it, The Joker abducted Batgirl, shot her, and subsequently paralyzed her. His henchmen then stripped her dad naked and threw him in a cage to be part of a circus sideshow. Later, Gordon is chained to one of the park's rides and forced to view giant pictures of his wounded daughter in various states of undress. Needless to say, a lot of women found it to be gratuitous and distasteful. Anyway, Kim Yale and her husband, John Ostrander, decided to not let Barbara fall into obscurity, so they brought her back as Oracle. For the most part, the reception has been really positive, but some morons have gripes about her being in a wheelchair. Whatever. She's way cool and I love that she's so smart and tech savvy." Thus ends the explanation.

Now at the counter, though, Jane could actually see what Nima had been reading. The cover is in black and white but the title reads '9th WONDERS: HIRO IN THE FUTURE'. And while the musician/lawyer might have no idea, any fan of the comic would know that this issue has never been seen anywhere.

Her head tilts to one side when the book is revealed, she studies it for a looooong moment, and seems to be thinking. Hiro in the future. 9th Wonders. Weird. Jane looks up from it eventually, though, and opts not to comment on it. Pulling herself back on topic, she nods. "So that's Oracle. Interesting, but… did you ever think about writing anything like this yourself? I kinda have this character I'm starting to write songs about rattling around in my head."

"Hmm?" Nima kinda missed that question, all eager to explain about Oracle. "Me? Nah. My mom wrote a comic, YEARS ago, though." What follows is an expression that is both loving and sheepishly denoting that it was rather dreadful. At mention of the character in Jane's head, she perks-up. "Yeah? What's this character like?" The question is asked with genuine interest.

"It's a bit dark," Jane begins. "The character is a woman, a musician who somehow found herself addicted to a drug, and broke it cold turkey over three miserable days. This happens around the same time she discovers other things about herself, like being able to break glass with her voice, singing and screaming at pitches no human can hear, as well as being able to navigate the dark like a bat." She pauses, seeming to think for a moment, then adds, "It might even work out to a concept album or something. The first bits would be about her falling into the dark, and somehow pulling herself out."

Nima nods and grins good-naturedly. "Thus the questions about Batgirl." She considers the rest. "So, is part of the mystery that she has no idea about how she ended-up hooked in the first place? Is there a conspiracy about the drug? Is she a guinea pig of sorts or was it something personal?" Yeah. The comic queen has to ask questions about character development. "Ultrasound? Infrasound? Both? Right on about the echolocation."

The woman ponders for a moment or two, listening to the questions, and replies quietly. "It's still all just starting to come together in my head, y'know? I think I might tie the dawn of her abilities to the use of drugs, like maybe it freaked her out somehow and put her in a tailspin. But ultrasound seems right, I mean, who would buy the idea of infrasound in a woman?" Her eyes drift back over toward the shelves she was exploring as the green apple soda is tasted again; when Jane lowers it she asks, "Has anyone like that been written about before?" Something in her face suggests a personal connection to the idea which runs deeper than a simple concept for music, and given her appearance, it might not be a stretch to wonder if the drugs part is from her own experience.

Maybe if Nima were a bit more perceptive — multi-tasking really isn't her thing — she'd have noticed Jane's shakes and thus be able to put them together with the proposed storyline. As it stands, she simply says, shrugging a little, "Why not? Anything's possible with superpowers. Mystique is blue and can shapeshift into a standard human male. I have no idea if she packs heat down there when she's in that form, but she certainly otherwise passes." To the other question, though, the shop owner replies, "Nothing like what you're saying, no. I mean, powers overlap but the characters are different, y'know? Like, Black Canary has an ultrasonic scream but sounds nothing like your concept."

"Black Canary," she repeats pensively, and turns away toward the shelves. Jane walks back to them and searches for a few moments, long enough to come up with a Black Canary title or two, then returns to the counter. "I think I should maybe read up on her a bit." She dips into her jeans pocket and comes up with a debit card, looking around for a point of sale machine to run it through as the comics are set down to be rung up. "I'll start with these, I think." Her hands shake again, but it's slight this time. "Thanks for listening, yeah?"

Nima smiles and suggests, "You should check out the 'Birds of Prey' series. Black Canary is one of the primary operatives of the team, which was founded by and is spearheaded by Oracle." Funny how the circle completes itself. "There are a few anthologies but I recommend reading Volume One." But whatever Jane decides, the items will be rung-up with a friendly smile. "Oh, no worries, hon. I only hope that I was somewhat helpful." Gently, she shoos aside Panthro, who then decides to leap down to visit with the dog.

"I'll start with these," Jane answers, "and probably come back for more. You're helpful, very much so. Thanks." Her eyes rest on the items she's about to buy, and the mind wanders back through her experiences. Titles and names run through, things like Ultimate Soprano… Maybe it could somehow be made into a band name, a sort of inside joke only she understands. Quiet and once again seeming introspective, haunted, the woman waits for her goods to be purchased and packaged.

Retrieving a business card for the shop, Nima writes 'Birds of Prey' on it in sweeping letters and then places it inside the first page of the lowest numbered issue. Neatly slipping the items into a plastic bag, she smiles, explaining, "I wrote the name on the card. So, y'know, if you feel like reading up on in on Wikipedia, there you go." Handing off the bag, she amiably adds, "Glad that I could help." Which she means. She likes helping people. "Take care, and enjoy your comics and your soda!"

"Thanks so much," Jane replies, as she collects her bag in one hand and soda in the other after pocketing the debit card. She's drinking the beverage as she turns and moves for the exit. Seconds later she's back out to the street, the opening and closing door once again sounding whatever herald exists upon it.

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