2007-12-26: Boxing Day


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Summary: Kory gives some advice to KeLyssa, but has a little difficulty taking it herself. Isn't that always the way?

Date It Happened: December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

East Centennial Apartments

Boxing Day. It's not even an American holiday, but Kory reads a lot, and knows it by that name. It's "redeem the gift cards" day for most other Americans, and that includes her. She gets out of the cab, shopping bags hanging off both arms: one from Strand, one from Barnes & Noble, one from Borders, and one from Toys R Us. She has a kitty ears hat on, and her jacket is open to reveal one of the presents she got: a shirt with Han Solo playing the guitar. Underneath, the word SOLO.
KeLyssa has just stepped off of the elevator and into the main lobby of the apartment building. She's dressed in a little pink outfit with a polkadot dress. She looks a little nervous as she looks around. She steps further into the lobby and looks out the windows as if looking for someone outside. She frowns slightly before pacing a little bit.

Being a part-time dog walker, Kory is quite well versed in getting a door open with her arms full. Quick yank with the right hand, jam in the left foot to shove the door open wider, then get the tushie in there quick and slide on in. "Geez, it's cold," she complains to herself under her breath.

KeLyssa looks up as the door opens. "Oh…hey Kory. You…you live here too? I didn't know that none. Ya need any help with your stuff there?" She could use something to do." She smoothes out her dress. "I suppose it's cold out there, eh?"

Kory's head comes up. "Oh. Hey, Kel," she tells the other woman. "Yeah, since the end of the summer." She shakes her head in reply to the offer. "No, I'm good. "It's freezing. I hope you have a warm coat over the cute outfit or you're gonna need to change."

KeLyssa smiles shyly at Kory. "Mmm, the end of summer really tends to make it cold, don't it. Good point to that." She giggles a little. "Um…no, I didn't bring my coat down. I don't get cold easily, I'm afraid. It's horrible really. People give me strange looks because of it." She shakes her head. "I'm…uh…I'm goin' on a date with Dani tonight, wanted to wear somethin' nice, ya know. Do ya really thinks it's cute? I'm nervous. I don't know if it'll be good enough. I'm terribly afraid it won't be…"

Kory raises a brow at KeLyssa, given the fact that her words ring familiar. "Oh, I see." She pauses for a moment, then adds, "You might still want a coat just for appearances' sake, though." She looks the other woman up and down, then nods. "Yeah, you look adorable. Like you belong in the window of FAO Schwartz." She wrinkles her nose, quizzically, and tilts her head. "Why are you afraid?"

KeLyssa shakes her head. "Oh, maybe you're right. I just…maybe I should go back up quickly. You think?" She looks around nervously. "I hope he likes it. It's something I got a gift not too long ago." She sighs. "I don't know if he'll like it. It's…it's…it's my first date in a couple years, you see. And my last breakup wasn't all that great. I stayed in my room for weeks." Her cell then rings. "It's Dani!" She says, answering it. "Hello?"

KeLyssa talks on the phone, "Oh, that's okay, Dani. I'll be here at my place, waiting for ya. Just buzz my number, alright?" A short pause. "I quite understand, hun. See ya when ya get here." Pause. "See ya soon." She closes her phone.

"Well," Kory says, carefully, once she's sure KeLyssa's call has ended, "The only advice I can offer you is to take the baggage from your previous relationship and leave it in your apartment. Every person and every experience is gonna be different. Don't talk yourself out of something that might be good because something else was not as good once before."

And, at around that time, there's a knock at the door followed by a familiar voice — though the words it frames will probably be less than expected. "Domino's Pizza," Randall calls out, doing his best to keep a straight face, "you guys ordered a large thick crust with peanut butter and pickles?"

KeLyssa nods a little bit. "I know..I know…it's just I'm still goin' to be fearful, ya know? Nervous as an alligator outta water." She sighs. "I'm just afraid he won't like me for who I really am. Ya know what? Nah, I'm sorry. I…I…I shouldn't be burdenin' ya with my ramblings of apprehension an' all that." She takes a deep breath in. "Ya really think it'll be alright, boss lady?"

"Aw, hon," Kory begins, and then blinks, as someone calls out the most bizarre pizza order. "I think Mrs. Scorzafava in 5G is pregnant," she tells the delivery guy without looking back. It's an indication of how concerned about KeLyssa she is that she hasn't recognized Randall's voice immediately. "If he liked you enough to ask you out, I'm sure he'll like you now. I mean, it's not like you are a secret black widow spider lady who's going to eat his head, right?" She's either trying to make KeLyssa laugh with how ridiculous that suggestion is, or trying to distract her from freaking out by making her go "What?"

Randall arches a brow at the equally unexpected response he receives, but takes it in stride. "Ma'am," he calls out, leaning back against the wall and slipping hands into pockets, "if this order's for a pregnant woman, then I'm in a lot of trouble, know what I mean?"

KeLyssa shakes her head. "Nah, I ain't a black widow spider tryin' to bite off his head. But there's some things I worry 'bout, ya know?" She says with a sigh. "I suppose you're right, Boss Lady. I guess I should just give it a try, hmm? Can't know if I don't?" He phone rings again and she answers it. "Hello?"

"Of course you're not," Kory says to KeLyssa, pleased the woman seems to have relaxed a little. But then the 'pizza guy' speaks again, and she turns around to look at him. A bemused expression warms right up into a sunny gigawatt smile. "Randall!" She then raises both eyebrows at him. "Peanut butter and pickle pizza??"

Randall is not, in fact, carrying a pizza of any sort - especially not so soon after the way-too-much-food debacle from the other day. "Ninja Turtles reference," he explains, reaching out a hand toward her shoulder as he draws closer. With his other hand, he waves briefly to KeLyssa, but spots the phone and leaves her to deal with that first.

KeLyssa speaks briefly on the phone, apparently speaking to Dani, and gives the address of the building. "See ya soon." And she closes the phone. She waves to Randall. "Hey there." She smiles coyly at Kory. "Well…he's on his way…I guess I'll wait for him outside. Thank you." She says to Kory, before heading outside. "Nice seein' ya again." She says to Randall.

Kory's Apartment

Kory frees up a hand to give Randall a one-armed hug. Which overbalances her, and causes her to wobble unsteadily for a moment before she finally catches herself. "I guess the Turtles do have unusual taste in pizza, yeah," she agrees, sheepishly.

"Yeah, you too. We need to catch up on - things - some time." Randall waves again as KeLyssa heads out, before turning back. "And I guess we're not the only ones graced with relationship issues this year. Hope that works out, whatever it was."

"She's just got — um — " Kory pauses, considering her phrasing, before she settles on, " —cold feet." She kicks her apartment door open and drops the bags before reaching to yoink Randall in by the lapels and kiss him hello properly. Her feet? Not cold.

Which catches Randall off guard. Kissing is sorta expected, by now; being grabbed to be kissed, not so much. "Really? I would have said cold h— oh!" he says, leaving off and throwing his arms around Kory's waist to help maintain his own balance, and hers. "But enough about other people," he teases, afterward, "what's on your mind these days?"

Kory blushes as she releases him. "Sorry. I'm occasionally seized by impetuous moments," she explains. "Oh, you know, the usual year-end stuff. What to do in the Lair to keep customers coming next year. Whether to close early on New Year's Eve. Resolutions, and whether I want to be bothered with them. That sort of thing. And you?"

Randall shrugs. "About the same. Keeping up with the day job of the month, fitting in time for my research. And errands. And you." Well, it's good that she's somewhere on that list, at least. "So you come up with any answers to those yet, or still working on them?"

Indeed, Kory is delighted to be somewhere on the list. "Nah, not yet. It'll probably strike me like a bolt from the blue at 3:47 am on the 30th. And resolutions are kind of a waste of time the way the societal construct works now. People make 'em to not bother taking 'em seriously. What's the point?" She drags the bags from the stores over to the least crammed bookshelf. "Hungry? I've got leftovers, even after donating some to the homeless shelter."

"Oh, definitely," he replies, "I've been feeling a quart low. Still not as bad as the other day in the cab, but—" Randall follows after, picking up one of the bags in the back to make it all go that slight bit quicker. "It's all part of the overall pattern, though. Making them, and putting in at least the first haphazard effort, even if it does fade into the unconscious after a couple weeks."

"It's a terrible construct," Kory insists. "Resolving, blowing off the resolution, or forgetting. Setting oneself up to fail. And then feel guilty. Which leads to the sort of self-destructive behaviour one indulges in when one feels guilty, which kind of is completely opposite the point!" She pads into the kitchen, and retrieves some of the containers. "More Chinese or traditional holiday food?" she calls.

Randall scratches his head. "I'm not feeling picky, so whatever needs using up quicker." He shakes his head. "And yeah, if you're mostly doing things on your own, then you can fall into that pretty easily— but most people around here seem to be pretty well-connected, and that changes things a lot. You've got people to help you stick to it, or at least help rein you in if you don't."

Kory shrugs, then, and reaches randomly into the fridge. What results is a plate of dressing with leftover orange chicken, corn casserole, and boneless spare ribs. "I guess that's true," Kory admits, after putting a damp paper towel over the plate and setting it in the microwave. "I don't know if I'm all that well connected. I have a few regular customers. And even fewer people I consider close," she admits, leaning in the kitchen doorway to monitor the meal as it heats. "New York's a huge city."

Randall walks over and picks up another paper towel as he talks. "It is and it isn't. There's millions of people, sure, but…" The towel is bent a couple of times, bringing together opposite corners. "There's a lot of potential connections out there, especially because everything's crammed into such a relatively small area. We've probably both got a bunch out there that we just haven't seen yet."

"Probably," Kory agrees. "I mean, I see the same faces day in, day out, when I ride the subway. There's a certain connection there, too, even if it's thin and tenuous." She checks the timer; still a little time to go before Randall's snack is ready. Of course there are more connections Kory has than that — but that's not a subject she's broached with Randall just yet.

As he considers the issue, Randall drums his fingers on the nearest patch of flat surface available. There's an irregular but deliberate pattern to it. "A lot of things are thin these days. You remember the other day at the Lair, when that one student of Lee's was playing some music? Porsche, I think he said. Anyway, I think there was a resonance pattern there, need to check again to be sure…" Now he rests his chin in his hands, staring right into the wall. "If I'm right, though, what the hell do I say to her?"

Kory listens to the drumming, head tilted and eyes half-lidded as she tries to pick up the pattern. "Portia, yeah. Talented. You think she's got a more than ordinary talent she focuses through her music?" She goes to the microwave. "And why do you have to say anything?"

It turns out to be a seven-beat pattern, alternating between fours and threes. "She might. And because— well, I'm curious. Always have been. And most people who had an ability like that, they'd probably be scared and want to hide it… so, potential connections failing to materialize. Maybe I can help pull a few together at some point."

"Well, like I mentioned before," Kory says, quietly, "It's dangerous for people with these gifts to stick out. There are factions out there. Who want to harm them. Or use them. And you do know how that works out for cats, right?" She has retrieved his plate, plus a fork and a pair of chopsticks, so Randall can eat in whatever way he finds most comfortable.

Randall goes for the chopsticks. "I've been told as much. What do you mean about cats, though?" he asks, leaning back against the counter as he starts in on the ribs.

"Curiosity," Kory says simply, folding herself into the chair opposite Randall. "Cats don't tend to survive it. I'd …I'd kind of like to keep you around is all. I mean, wrong place, wrong time is all it could take. Like what happened to Lee!" She swallows. It upset her to find that out via 9th Wonders. "If his ability hadn't been what it was, they'd have been in real trouble."

Randall nods slowly. "Okay, I follow you now. —Lee has an ability? Must've put an extra edge on his attitude toward comic books… So what happened to him? I haven't been reading that one." He has, in fact, been actively avoiding it; even his curiosity is limited when the camera's eye seems to be swinging in his direction.

Kory nods, slowly. "Yeah. He does." She hadn't quite gotten to tell him that evening in the Lair a few weeks back. "And yeah. It has." She takes a breath. "Someone threw a grenade at him. He …threw it back. Without touching it. It's like involuntary telekinesis or something. He says it's totally useless. But I think it makes him feel better to think that. So he has no Parker epiphany."

Randall winces at the mention of the grenade. "It saved his life, and he still called it totally useless? Either he's a lot more down on himself than he sounded like, or he's… in denial, I guess. Parker epiphany, you mean the 'with great power' bit? I'd actually think that'd be right up the alley of a Stand and Deliver type."

"Yeah, that epiphany," Kory confirms, looking Randall in the eyes. "He figures if it can't help him teach, it's useless. He hasn't made the peace with his past he tries to convince himself he has, I think." She darts her gaze away, remembering. "But there are people out there who have no problem throwing grenades at civilians to get whatever they want."

Setting the dinner plate aside, Randall walks over and wraps his arms around Kory's, turning her around to face him. "There are— and there are accidents, and other things. But if you let yourself lock up over things that might happen… no point getting worked up like that. There's a select few people who can handle thinking like that, they're called police and firemen."

"It isn't the same thing," Kory says, desolately, even as she turns to look at Randall again. "Police and firemen are normal people fighting normal threats. I mean, maybe there's one in there with pyrokinesis that helps him do the job…" She looks up at him. "They were just minding their business in a hospital, Randall. That wasn't might happen. That did." She sighs. "If it's your dream, I can't stand in your way. But you'll be careful, won't you?"

Randall considers. "Well, yeah, that happened— but it happened, past tense. And he did get through it okay—" Then a frown comes over his features, and it's his turn to hang on for support. "Wait, so these people weren't a normal threat? Were they chucking a grenade because he was tied up in all this?"

Kory tightens her arms around him. "I don't think it was Lee so much as some research going on in the hospital. The person who runs the place was researching something that was affecting …Specials." For want of a better term, and not one as theatrical or comic-booky as 'metahuman' or 'mutant'. "I'd have to reread the issue. Or ask him." She was so shaken that night, the recall is all clouded with emotion.

"Well… if they're any kind of normal hospital," replies Randall, after thinking it over some, "then they're gonna run into some serious limits. Biology might be the start of all this, but— Wait, which side were the firebombers on? Attacking the hospital or working for it?"

Kory gives Randall a measured look, flavored with just a hint of are you serious?!. "They were the attackers. They were trying to steal something, Lee said." She shrugs. "And I don't know how normal it is. Could be bankrolled by somebody with very deep pockets, and that'd make most limits mild obstacles."

Randall shakes his head. "An outfit into that sort of work, I had to ask. They could have been motivated by any number of things… including just ham-fisted self-defense." He draws back, but leaves his hands resting in hers. "Anyway, so Lee was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, then?"

"Yeah. He was visiting a friend, and that sort of happened." Kory squeezes his hands. "I was sort of …" An embarrassed blush. "Absent, mentally, for a while there." Between the Mandy craziness and the Cute Guy Showed Interest Then Bailed After One Date paranoia. "So I missed Cam getting sick, and finding out there was some kind of virus hitting …certain folk," she finishes, snapping her mouth shut. She trusts Randall, but some secrets ae not really hears to give.

"Was that the one in the news?" Randall bites his lip, trying to fill in the blanks. "I heard a little about it, but not anyone specific catching it or anything. Has it got something to do with this hospital— maybe one of their projects backfiring?"

Kory smiles in spite of herself. That biting-the-lip mannerism is terribly cute. And distracting. She shakes her head, partly in answer to him and partly to remind herself to stay on topic. "No, the other way around, I think," she tells him. "The lady who runs the place is trying to help people. I think she was working to cure it. I'd have to ask her to be sure, though."

Randall nods. "So it's been cured by now? It sounded from the news like it was kind of the tail end of its run. Or did Cam catch something else, and just happen to be at the same place?" He didn't seem sick the other day at the Lair.

"He's been better for a good little bit now," Kory explains, fishing in a pocket for her phone. "It was last month he was sick. Right before or right after Thanksgiv—" she scrolls through her old messages. "Yeah. End of November. So he's good now. I'm not even sure of the details."
At the idea that things might have turned out otherwise, Randall sighs, looking for a place to sit down and be pensive. "I'm glad to hear it," he says. "Someone so young, and not even having a general idea what his chances were… that must have been pretty rough on him."

"He's a tough little guy," Kory says, watching Randall leave the table and head into the crowded living room. "His folks are missing and he was living in an orphanage until Niki took him in. I think the fever was the worst of it for him." She waits a minute or two for Randall to find a place to settle before she drapes herself bonelessly between the arms of her favourite chair. "…I should probably invest in a futon or something, shouldn't I?" she says, with the air of thinking aloud.

Randall scratches his head, looking around. "It might help. It'd only take a little extra space to spread this stuff out a good bit more, but that's not exactly an option. Unless there's a false wall that we haven't found out about yet…"

Kory laughs at Randall's suggestion. "No, the false wall's in the Lair." She does look around with him, though. "I could push some of the bookshelves closer together and make room for a futon or a loveseat, maybe," she muses. The little dining area has some wallspace that hasn't been bookshelved yet. "Or we could just sprawl in the other room." She jerks her thumb up the hall, where the two bedrooms are.

Oh, that's a nice shade of crimson there, really goes well with his outfit. "I was actually thinking, if you turned some of them sideways, like actual library shelves, you could at least move the open space from here to there—" Randall blinks, glancing down the hallway. "Who's the extra room belong to?" he asks, pointing toward the pair of doors.

"Me," Kory answers, recognizing the blush for what it is, but not grasping why Randall might be blushing. "It's the media room. Such that it is. There are big comfy chairs." A pause. A blink. And there's the belated click. "The bedroom's just where I …um. Sleep." It is with an effort on her part that Kory doesn't join Randall in blushing.

Randall rises to his feet, a little too quickly in fact, and offers his hands once again. "Oh, I'd like to see the media room." Not that he doesn't like the idea that's got him all embarrassed, but it still seems a bit early to consider going there. "I've been picking up some books myself, off and on, but media in a more general sense… I really only know a few basics. What sort is it, anyway?"

Kory rises, taking his hands. She wasn't suggesting that idea. At least, not on a conscious level. She will probably realize later how she sounded and spend a moment to smack herself upside the head. Knowing from an academic standpoint how these things work and trying to get them to work in practice is not as easy for her as it might be for some. "Oh, you know. TV, DVD player, PlayStation. Nothing special. And more books. A lifetime of insomnia and having to find quiet pastimes not to wig out your hardworking mother and grandmothers…reading fits the bill best."

"Oh, okay, media as in entertainment center type stuff. I was thinking maybe you had it set up to practice your DJ work or something." Randall starts toward the hall, but then turns and frowns. "A lifetime… Has it always been as bad as it is now? Because it seems like it's pretty rough on you nowadays. Anything I can do to help unfray the edges…"

"Nah," Kory shrugs. "I do most of that on the computer," she tells Randall, sidling past him and tugging his hand gently. "Uh-huh, always. Mom says it was three days before I slept after I was born. So, yeah. Until I was old enough to read and entertain myself, it was hard on the whole family." She smiles, though, expression warming at his offer. "Just finding me in the park did a lot to help unfray the edges. And so has seeing more of you. But it's not as bad as all that. I'm used to it. I've got kind of a pattern for coping with it."

Randall winces. "I heard I went down for a nap after about two hours— and my mom, too, she'd been up for about twenty-four hours straight during the birth." Bets on how many times she regaled him with that particular story? "So what do you do, other than indulging at the pancake shop?"

She smiles sympathetically. Kory didn't cause her mother much of a long labour. Her brother is another story, and she's heard her own mother give the same sort of story much to Anzeti's mortification.

"You're looking at it," Kory gestures roundly to the apartment. "I spin on weekends. I walk dogs in the morning, and the rest of the time, I'm reading or riding the subway, or working the Lair. It's probably not a lifestyle anybody else could deal with, but I get a lot done when everybody else in the city is asleep."

"I know I couldn't deal with it for too long," Randall muses, continuing toward the other room now. "I mean, I get caught up in certain things for long stretches sometimes, but the total number of hours a day is about the same as most people— it just gets shifted around sometimes." Because there's a somewhat smaller labor pool fighting for evening and occasionally graveyard shifts.

"S'okay," Kory says, quietly, going a teeny bit more withdrawn, as they finish the short trek up the equally short hall to the aforementioned media room. "I'd never ask somebody else to try to keep up with me." She smiles, though, and gives him a gesture of welcome. "Sorry. I never did get around to picking up Guitar Hero. Mom asked me not to, so my brother wouldn't come here to hide when Mom's ticked at him."

Randall returns the smile, then looks around and settles down in the second-closest spot. "No need to apologize. I've never tried it myself… One thing I meant to do at some point was learn some actual guitar fingering, and I'm not sure whether the game would help or hurt that. Got dragged into a few violin lessons, early on, and I'm not sure about those either."

"I'm a lefty," Kory tells Randall, tilting to rest her cheek atop his hair for a moment before doing that same boneless cat sprawl in the other chair, tilting her body so she's looking across at Randall, upside-down. "It's all but impossible to find a lefty guitar teacher, so I'd probably fail at Guitar Hero. Spectacularly. Plus, I'm not the most coordinated. I can manage to skate without breaking anything."

"I should hope so. They do a lot of ice skating out here, don't they? I only ever did roller skating back home, and that's been several years by now." He leans forward to steal an upside-down kiss when the opportunity presents itself, which probably does bad things for the chair's sense of balance.

Kory beams at him. And fortunately, she's completely relaxed in that feline sprawl, so there wasn't much balance to throw off. At least not on her part. "Ice skating in the winter," she agrees. "Rollerblading in the summer. Good for keeping in shape if you don't walk dogs every day."

Conversation gives way to perusing DVDs. The DVD gives way to snuggling. And snuggling gives way to a romantic ending to the evening that doesn't go above PG-13.

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