2009-12-21: Getting Involved



Date: December 21, 2009


Stephanie presses Randall for more information about the government kidnappings, and they both continue to edge toward admitting why they really want to know.

"Getting Involved"

Pawn Shop, Lower Manhattan

As the afternoon shift gets into full swing, the pawn shop is more crowded than usual, as people either search for cheap last-minute presents or try to ditch items past their return deadlines elsewhere. Randall tosses the remains of his Chinese take-out into the trash, rolling his eyes as he spots some protestors out on the sidewalk who refuse to be cowed by the winter chill, and looks around to see who else needs assistance and whether they look likely to actually buy anything.

The door opens, and the blonde steps into the shop. She takes a look about, before starting to make her way through the shop up towards the register, untwining her scarf as she goes.

"No, the beads there are five dollars a twelve-pack, the golf clubs are five hundred." Nice try switching the labels there, buddy. Randall puts them back in order, once the other man stalks off, then perks up as he sees who's just come in. "Hey, good to see you again," he calls out. "The guys outside didn't give you any trouble, did they?"

Stephanie smiles a little. "No, no trouble. So this is your place, huh?" She looks around, considering it. "It's pretty neat. Kind of eclectic."

"It is?" Randall blinks, taking another glance himself - he's seen it, of course, but what's she likely to be spotting first? - as he leans back against the front of the counter. "Eclectic pretty much comes with the type of business, I guess. Used to stock the racks at a secondhand clothing store— it paid all right, but you get tired of staring at just one kind of thing all the time. Well, unless you're a clotheshound, but then you're probably buying instead of working."

Stephanie nods. "You have any computer stuff?" she asks, craning her neck to get a better look around the area. "Or is that stuff not really the kind of merchandise for here?" She looks around at some of the people shopping.

"Mostly stereos and old iPods," offers Randall, "but—" He pauses as an old woman with a dog crosses in front of him, then steps forward to point things out. "There's some in the corner over there, mostly old too but you might luck out. We get a few new items where people stick something in a drawer till they're ready to try it, then it turns out to be the wrong thing."

She looks amused. "I've got an iPod. And older hardware really isn't my thing. But thanks anyhow. I really didn't come to shop, I just figured…you offered to hang out and geek, so I thought I'd drop by."

Randall nods, picking up a Rubik's Snake with a couple of missing panels and idly twisting it around. "That works, I think things are slowing down a little." Which means they're still busy, but people are mostly waiting to interrupt him until they're ready to buy something. "Hey, you took off in kind of a hurry last time, did everything work out okay?"

Stephanie nods, putting on a smile. "It just freaked me out. The whole…person turning to water thing, you know? Plus the noise about a government conspiracy and all…it doesn't bother you?"

"Well, it bothers me," Randall says, lowering his voice, "especially with the idea that they're dogmatic enough to go after kids. But I don't know what to actually do about it— plus I think they're kind of on the ropes already. Most people might think the video's fake, but the ones with abilities won't, so they'll be watching now."

The blonde girl nods. "But the trick of it would be, how do they actually do anything about it? I mean, if this is real in the first place, there's nothing that's going to let them deal with a government conspiracy."

Randall shakes his head. "I don't know, that'd be different from one to another. Depends what they can do— I know one who can turn invisible, so they'd be pretty hard to catch. Other than that, someone would have to go to the top and stop it from there."

Stephanie blinks. "Turn invisible? It's just like out of comic books, huh?" She says, smiling a sheepish little smile. "Except maybe with less spandex."

"Yeah, I figure. Or at least black— yellow makes the comic books stick out, but it makes the superhero stick out like a sore thumb." Randall smiles back, pleased to have one more person he can share these thoughts with and not have them think he's crazy. Or at least be polite enough to pretend— but no, the way she freaked over the video, she's got to have some kind of personal stake in it. "What about you, what would you be able to do if you could pick something?"

Stephanie looks back at him, almost a little suspiciously, before she buries the suspicion. "Not entirely sure. I mean, the invisible thing would be cool. I think it would be neat to fly. There's lots of interesting things. I mean, superstrength, superspeed, things like that."

Randall grins. "As long as you could turn them off. Otherwise, the guy with superstrength would probably go around breaking things all the time by accident, and— well, the others are pretty obvious. And who knows what the heck time travel would do." At that, he looks distant for a moment - it's a question he once had to face in a much more concrete fashion - before the casually friendly look settles back into place.

The blonde girl nods. "Well, yeah. I mean, no one would want to be stuck as the invisible man. It would only be any good if you could make use of it, probably. Presumably the person you saw with the flowers wasn't walking around sprouting things out all over the place."

"Not that I ever heard about," he answers. "I haven't seen her for a while, I think she moved away for college at some point. But yeah— even just seeing things outside the normal range would be useful at the right times. X-ray vision, thermal vision, stuff like that."

Stephanie laughs a little. "Like Superman, huh?" she says, with a laugh. "Somehow watching people walking around with a cape and spandex strikes me as a little hokey. Maybe like the movie. Bodysuits or something."

Randall nods, having wandered back behind the counter by now so he can lean forward against it. "Yeah, it— I mean, they still have to mess with some things to make it work as a movie, but it's a lot more realistic than the Golden Age outfits."

Stephanie nods, and then looks back at him. "So…you believe in ley lines, and mutants…and yet you're NOT involved in the whole government conspiracy thing? That just sounds a little unusual. You don't want to get involved with things?"

Randall shakes his head, answering quickly. "No, it's not that, it's just— like I said, what am I going to do? I don't have superstrength or speed or anything flashy like that, and I sure don't know anyone in the government. If someone comes to me with something, sure… but otherwise, about all I've got is a little crash space."

The blonde girl says "Well, that depends. I mean, somebody wouldn't need some kind of superpower to be a crusader, right? Reporters and stuff do it all the time…uncover conspiracies and all that, fight the good fight? Or am I just being overly optimistic?"

"Clark Kent without Superman, you mean? I would, if I came across something— like spotting them going after someone. I've been keeping my eyes open…" Randall shrugs. "Of course, the people hiding from them, I'm not as likely to spot them either. And I haven't heard anything specific from the people I do know."

Stephanie nods. "But what about the people you said you knew? The flower girl, the invisible man? Are you still in contact with any of them?"

Randall glances up again at the customers, but no, looks like they'll be okay without him for at least a few more minutes. "Some of them, like I said, just they haven't heard much of anything except 'something's happening'." He pauses, debating how much of his guesswork to share with Stephanie. "Are you… looking for any contacts yourself, by any chance?"

She hesitates, again, and then says "Maybe. I mean, people should get involved, right?" It's sort of an admission, only without actually admitting anything.

Finding himself absently drumming his fingers on the countertop, Randall glances down for a moment. "Yeah, uh, people should. Let the others know if they see anything." Sort of an implied admission there, too. Maybe he wasn't just imagining what those things he was drawing might look like?

Stephanie looks around at the customers, and then back to Randall. "Maybe we should talk more…you know, later, after your place is closed up for the day." If she /does/ have an ability, she doesn't seem willing to give demos to the general public.

Randall nods slowly. "I'd like— I mean, I think that's a good idea. So I'll meet you back here tonight, then?" A wave is offered to a customer in a red-and-black plaid hunter shirt, acknowledging him as well as pointing out the 'we do not sell ammo' sign posted next to the rifle rack.

Stephanie nods, with a smile. "All right. No funny business, though!"

"I'll have you home before midnight, promise!" A quick wink, then he's off to attend to the real customers for a while longer. And think things over, he's got a lot of that to do before their next rendezvous.

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