2007-02-14: Happy Singles' Awareness Day

Starring:

Daphne_icon.gif Laurel_icon.gif

Summary: Daphne and Laurel meet in the Bronx Zoo for a tribute to being single on Valentine's Day, and discover that they have something oddly in common that they hadn't known before.

Date It Happened: February 14th, 2007

Happy Singles' Awareness Day


Bronx Zoo

It's cold, but that's perfectly all right. It means that Daphne can add layers over her uniform so she's not bothered during lunch, though it's not often that people really bother zoo employees. Sure, she gets the occasional 'where are the elephants' question, (And seriously, how can you not find the elephants? They're huge, they have a distinctive smell, and you can hear them across the whole zoo!) but other than that, she isn't prodded by Patrons too often. Even so, she's got a hooded sweatshirt on over her 'Bronx Zoo' shirt as she heads into one of the park areas to find Laurel.

Not seeing her yet, she dusts off a picnic table, drops her backpack onto it, and opens it up. Tablecloth - a necessary element of picnicking in a place where birds can - and do - land on tables asking for handouts. It's not that Daphne's terrified of disease, it's just that — okay, so she's terrified of disease. But it's better to be safe than sorry.

The picnic today consists of Cold Things that can be Eaten Without Worrying About Food Poisoning. She has a couple contributions of her own - macaroni salad sans mayo or sour cream, cookies, a couple bottles of fruit juice, plus tomato sandwiches. She's not too big on eating meat anymore, for various reasons, though she's reluctant to admit that she's becoming a vegetarian. It's embarrassing.

—-

The cold weather certainly means that Laurel has donned a heavier outfit than she might normally be accustomed to wearing. Any cooler and she might have begged for lunch at one of the cafe's instead. The plus side being— they certainly won't have to fight for a table out here, and the less animals are about trying to peck at their foods. Only the most weather hardy animals are really wandering around. And right now, the less people, the better, after what she'd seen on the news. With a heavy bag over her shoulder and long coat down to past her knees fully buttoned, the brunette is even wearing a scarf around her neck, offering added warmth.

"Daphne, there you are," she calls out as soon as she sees the other girl, approaching quickly from the walkway path a few moments after she's began set up. "Sorry, I wasn't sure how far along the path we were going to meet— I brought my share, some fruit and an cherry pie, and some chocolates, of course." Can't go through this day without some chocolate, even if it comes from a close girl-friend and not a secret admirer.

Settling her basket-like bag onto the table, which usually carries her larger cameras, she pulls out some rather nice tupperware with the sliced up fruit (strawberries, sugarized) and the pie, and a small box of chocolates which she holds out to her friend, with a wide smile, "Happy Singles' Awareness Day."

—-

Daphne's used to cold weather by now. Doesn't mean she still doesn't bundle up for it, but she's also gotten to actually liking it. It means some of the larger animals are up and about instead of sleeping like giant lumps in the shade. It means she's not sweating like a pig when she does the bird shows. It means that there's fewer rude people to bump into, which is /just okay by her./ Seriously, she can't imagine a better time to be inside the zoo, excepting in the early mornings in the spring when there aren't a lot of people around, and some of the animals are waiting to be fed. That's a nice time, too.

She's not worried about the muggings, but she's not naive to them. It's just that it's the middle of the day, inside a zoo, and she can't see anything happening. "Picnic table by the tree— I guess I could have been a bit more specific," she says, glancing upward to note that every single picnic table, save one or two, is situated by a tree. Oops. "No harm done. You found me," she adds, smiling in return as she pulls plates out of her bag. There's a whole pile of them, even if they only need a couple. When she was leaving the house, she almost /forgot them./ Even though she's almost certain that Laurel has plates, too, and hopefully— "Did you bring napkins? Stuff to shovel food with? If not, this is gonna be really messy."

Blue eyes glance upward at the offer of chocolates, and she laughs. "Okay, how do you know I didn't snag a boyfriend since I talked to you yesterday?" …It's incredibly unlikely, and by the fact that she takes the box and opens that /before/ any of the healthier stuff, it looks like she's still single. Pulling out all the ones she personally likes, she pushes the box toward her friend, stating with a mouthful of chocolate, "Happy Singles' Awareness Day." only it comes out sounding like— Like her mouth is full of chocolates.

—-

Colder weather just means a lot more 'indoor jobs'. Which for Laurel, can be rather convienant. Easier to control the lighting, don't have to rely on weather to get a decent shot, and less worry about the people she's photographing having visible sweat, that they want edited out before they buy the prints. Not that she wouldn't edit it out for them, but it's additional work… And the less work she gets paid for, the better sometimes.

"Of course I brought napkins and forks," she says, opening up one of the side pockets and pulling out a bundle of napkins and a couple forks, more than two. Not because she thought they'd have more than two people, but because she thought there would be the chance of a fork getting away from them and sliding off the table and hitting the dirt, or one of Daphne's animals coming along and getting animal-germs on them.

"And if you snagged a boyfriend in the first time since I met you— well— I'd hope you'd bring the guy along, because you know I'd never believe you otherwise." It's a tease, and a friendly one, really. The returned chocolates and glanced down at, nose wrinkling briefly as she notices the lack of some of her favorites. At least the dark chocolate moose piece got left behind, that's her favorite. Settling down onto the bench with a laugh, she closes the box for later and looks to see what else they have to eat, besides what she brought. "You know you probably could meet a guy if you went out a bit more. I don't think I'd want to date most the people who work here, either. They're all either plain-clean-up guy or a Steve Irwin without the cool accent-type."

—-

There are some animals that they keep indoors. The reptiles, for example. Some birds, some of the more delicate animals that might shatter in the cold weather. But for the most part, working in the zoo is an outdoor job… At least Daphne's graduated significantly from picking up trash and running the register at the gift shop. She won't say why, because she still thinks she might just be crazy, but it's sufficient enough to say that she enjoys working with the raptors and isn't going to complain.

Also, bonus. No editing out sweat from birds, either.

"Good, I was late getting out this morning. All I remembered were the plates." And obviously, the food. The macaroni salad is opened, and the two plastic bags, each with a tomato sandwich inside, are set on the table. One for each of them. Should be enough, considering all the other food, and— "Cookies." Opening the container reveals that most of this picnic is going to consist of cookies. "Made 'em myself." Except they look suspiciously store-bought. HM.

At least she opens up one of the sandwiches instead of continuing along on her junk food binge. "He's shy," is her reply to the fact that she currently lacks a boyfriend. "Also, he's got hair and perches on my shoulder when I'm doing homework. I'm not sure, but I think he might be a cat." Insert contemplative look here, followed by another bite of the sandwich, around which she states, "Come on, Steve Irwin was awesome. And there's plenty of guys here with accents. Actually, there's one guy here that only speaks Russian, I think, but he cleans up the elephant poo, so I don't see him much."

—-

Home-made, huh? Yet the look so amazingly uniform. Laurel just quirks an eyebrow at the claim, not actually countering it, or calling her friend on such a thing, but can't help but snicker at the revelation. "It's a very good thing that I'm on a sugar diet. Else I'd be worried you're trying to make me fat so you can steal my 'non-existent' boyfriend." Again, it's friendly teasing, from the tone not meant to be insulting— and she does reach in and snag one of the cookies, who's closest thing to healthy happens to consist of raisins. Surely that counts as a partial serving of fruit…

"Only language I speak is English," she says plainly, after chewing the cookie up and swallowing it down, of course. She doesn't talk with her mouthful. "I took French at university, but I barely remember much of it— only reason I passed at all was because I had a tutor." Probably the first time she's ever mentioned such a thing to her friend of a year or more— after all there's just not much reason to bring up languages until a guy who speaks only Russian and cleans up elephant poo happens to get brought up. "But yes, Steve Irwin was cool— and if you introduce me to one of them who has an accent and isn't married— I probably wouldn't say no to a date, unless he happens to work with snakes— " She is not a fan of snakes. At all. "Maybe one who works with the penguins." She can deal with a guy who smells like fish.

"Cat-boyfriend sounds like a good catch, though," she adds, glancing off towards the path as she sees a loan man in a big coat walking by himself— sure, he's not doing anything outwardly suspicious— but that doesn't mean the young photographer doesn't look immediately cautious…

—-

Home made by… someone. The bag said home made, which isn't far from her claim that she 'made them herself.' It took work to pull them out of the bag and put them in an airtight container while Falcor was trying to get one for himself. He couldn't be dissuaded, and eventually ended up with a mouthful of oatmeal cookie. Stupid parrot. So, they're home made /enough./

"C'mon, cookies don't have any fat," she says, reaching into her bag for… one of the bags the cookies came in. "See? Says right here. Twenty-eight percent saturated fat per serving. That's practically nothing." And with that, the bag is tucked away and never revealed ever again!

Daphne clears her throat somewhat uncomfortably when Laurel mentions that they only language she speaks is English. Truth is, Daphne speaks hundreds of them, maybe even thousands more that she doesn't know about yet, and the number is growing every day. They aren't people languages, either, which is what really kind of creeps her out and makes her think that she's /nuts./ Moving on, though. "I think the guy that runs the monorail in the African exhibit has an accent. He's about seventy years old, though. Your call, Laur. I can introduce you."

Ah, forks, the utensils of the gods. It fully enables her to pull the whole container of sugared strawberries over and shovel them in without worrying about getting her hands sticky. Don't worry, she'll save some. As she eats, her eyes follow Laurel's over to the man in the coat. Mm? "What're you looking at?" she asks.

—-

If only they were sporks. Then they really would have the greatest utensil known to man…

The obvious confession of store bought cookies, and just how much fat happens to be in them, makes Laurel smile widely, shining her teeth for a brief second, before she glances back towards the man on the path, before finding a place not-quite-him- to stare at. It makes it easier for the man to think she's watching one of those birds than him… "No— I think I'll pass on that. I have age limits… two years below, five years above— maybe a little higher if they're really rich and good looking— as long as they don't have kids— but seventy's ancient." As she responds to that, she's actually doing so absently, not completely paying attention to what she says there, but she's definitely not /lying/… she just might not have said that much normally.

Looking back towards the other woman who's taking liberties with her strawberries, she looks surprised at the question, "What— oh— I was just— " she avoids glancing back towards the man who really does seem to be minding his own business. "I'm just— you heard about the mugging, recently, right? I'm just being cautious. There's not a lot of people out here today, and— " And she's paranoid.

So paranoid in fact that there's an invisible barrier beginning to form between them and the man on the path, just a little bit away from the table…

—-

She's intrigued with the age limit thing. She's also more concerned over the fact that Laurel is definitely watching that guy. Daphne knows her friend is cautious - perhaps overly so - but watching some random guy because you're afraid he's going to mug you? "We're in the middle of the zoo, and it's the afternoon. If he starts heading over this way, I'll… kick him, okay? Just enjoy the food." Looking down at the strawberries, she takes the fork out and holds the container up to Laurel. "Here, you should have some of these. They're great."

And they'll take her mind off that man, who's probably harmless. Hell, Daphne thinks she might have even seen him at the zoo before, though she can't be certain because so many people go in and out every day. "Anything happens, I'll take the blame. But you can't go worrying about what you see in the news all the time, okay? It's not healthy. Besides— " She has no 'besides.' Because now that Laurel's mentioned it, she's thinking about what the man's motives might be, too. Like, why's he wearing that large coat? Oh, right, it's /cold./ "We can finish lunch, then I have a bird show in about an hour. You can come watch me mess it up."

—-

"I know— Maybe I should just start carrying mace— or a taser," Laurel responds softly, still avoiding looking at the man, though part of her stays aware of where he is, where his footfalls land. Not that it's perfect, with the end rustling the tree leaves above them, but it still gives her an idea of where he happens to be, and if he steps off the path towards them… And into a huge invisible wall. Which he doesn't do, but— the wind certainly would feel different with said wall there, unable to pass through it, and having to go around it and over it…

Taking up her fork, she gets to work on the maceroni salad that the other woman brought, and then shovels some strawberries onto her plate as well. "You won't mess up, Daphne. You're a genius with those animals, and you know it— " And she's been to many a show to know that it's true. "They've very well trained, and they like you." It's not the same as watching the dolphin show, of course, and she has a soft spot for the penguin feeding, but that's just her…

There are good reasons why she's worried about being mugged, though— and she chances a glance in the man's general direction, before lowering her voice when she looks back, "Daphne, I almost got mugged a few weeks ago— and I can't help but wonder— what if I would have ended up like that girl?" And why hadn't she mentioned the mugging before?

—-

"Take self defense classes or… something," Daphne says. "I wouldn't worry, though, I think I've seen him here before." Maybe he's the one who draws. He might be the guy who runs, though… She can't remember. Or maybe he's /never/ been here before, and he /does/ intend to mug them. Somehow, Daphne thinks there's a relatively low chance of that. And, indeed, when he stays on the path, she offers Laurel a 'see?' expression.

"At least the wind died down a little," she says, passing a bottle of juice over to the other woman while opening her own. She doesn't know that the lack of wind is due to the fact that Laurel's literally shielding them from it, because she can't see anything. In any case, it's true that she's able to make those birds listen to her better than anyone else, ask them to do things that no one's ever been able to train them to do before, but that doesn't mean they always listen to her. "Well, we'll see."

Of course, the peaceful, albeit cautious lunch is interrupted when Laurel says she almost got mugged. "What?" is the only thing she can think of to say. And what does 'almost' mean? How she get away? Did the guy just change his mind, was there someone else there, what? "Are you okay? What happened?"

—-

The lack of wind commented on makes Laurel cast a glance up towards the trees— which certainly still sway slightly in the wind, but— maybe they're just in a weird location. Maybe there's a dust devil or something— She doesn't automatically put two and two together, because last time this happened there hadn't been any noticable wind in the area. In fact, she doesn't notice any leaves pinging off of an invisible wall that also blocks said wind. It's not easy to notice, and probably would go unnoticed as long as the sky stays clear and rain doesn't it to their attention in the most obvious way. Or snow, as is a little more likely.

"I'm okay— I was just— there was a wedding reception, I stayed late to do pictures because the bride asked me too— It was late when I finally got out of there— I know I shouldn't have been walking alone, not that late, but— I'd called the cab ahead of time, like I always do, so I thought it would be okay— " But no one can promise that a cab will be there when called, even late at night when there's little in the way of traffic… "I'm okay, though— the cab showed up and he left— " but the way her eyes shift to the side, she's definitely leaving something out— but no doubt she would have mentioned that something else earlier if it were really bad— like losing her wallet or camera equipment.

And of course that's when a stray bird happens to migrate over, in search of crumbs from the tomato sandwich that she's just picked up to work on— a bird whose path happens to be blocked, by something it can't see.

—-

Only thing Daphne notices is the lack of cold breeze against her skin. It's not exactly warmer, though the fact that there's no 'wind chill' does make it seem that way. And it means she doesn't have to hide her hands inside her sweatshirt after every bite so that they don't get all dry. If this kept up for some time, she might notice those leaves, and the fact that, above them, the leaves are still being affected by the wind.

Again, more importantly, the fact that someone tried to attack Laurel. No /wonder/ the girl's jumpy, jeez! And, yes, Daphne recognizes the fact that she's not getting the full story, which means that her mind fills with the possibilities that Laurel might not be telling her. There's no account of what actually happened - one moment, Laurel was waiting for the cab, the next, the guy was leaving. Somethings missing in the middle. "You're /sure,/" Daphne says. "Because you can tell me if something happened— "

Voice in her head. Frustrated, annoyed voice, that wants crumbs, but can't get to them. Can't get to them over and over and over and over— <Shut up!> she tells the bird. Still, she looks down at it, only to find that it's 'telling' the truth. It isn't retarded, or just scared of people. There seems to be something in its way. "…huh. What the hell…?"

—-

"It's just— I don't know if I can explain it, really— " Laurel tries to start explaining, when attention is brought to the bird, which pecks at the invisible wall. See lady, there's something here and it's between me and my food! Or that's what it might be saying. Either way, it's not happy by the sound of things. Not that the person responsible for the bird's problem knows this, but she does look down and see the pecking— and—

There's a series of sharp blinks and then she quickly stands up— And since she happened to drop a portion of her tomato sandwich, the bird happens to have quite a bit to choose from when it finally gets there. "That— you know, I just remembered I have an appointment, I should get going— " A sudden change of plans, and considering this was an appointment /they'd/ made a few weeks ago when they both realized how close Valentine's Day was and how they really didn't want to celebrate a dumb holiday made for couples when they happened to be single? Yeah, this is uncharacteristic of Laurel—

Moving to pack up some of her things, though they've had time to finish the strawberries, and only the pie happens to be at a loss— she pulls out one of the Tupperware with the pie and holds it out, "Here— this one is your piece. Maybe we can get together again next week— the ice rink, maybe? I can take you skating again— You really weren't that bad last time." She legitimately sounds freaked out— doesn't she.

—-

Bird wants /in./ Lemme in, lemme in! Food! Need to eat, need to get to the things on the ground, delicious things on the ground, find more things on the ground, poop, sleep, /lemme in!/

And meanwhile, Daphne's just preoccupied with the fact that it can't seem to pass by some invisible wall, and, as it seems nearly impossible for this to be happening unless the bird has something wrong with its brain, Daphne reaches out, her hand eventually contacting /solid matter…/

"Eeegh!" she emits, backing away so quickly that she falls off the bench and onto the ground— The cold, frozen ground. With the sudden sharp pain in her back, she almost misses the fact that Laurel's running away. Holy /hell,/ that bird's still pecking at the nothing that Daphne felt with her own fingers. Something weird is going on here, and she's not particularly happy about it.

"N— Laurel!" she finally snaps, looking upward as the other woman starts packing up her things. Daphne can only assume that she's just paranoid about the wall thing, which, admittedly, is pretty freaky. Nevertheless, Daphne works her way up onto the picnic table again, reaching out to grab Laurel's wrist as she holds out the pie. "Uh-uh. You're not going anywhere 'til we figure out what this is." At least Laurel knows what it is… Daphne has no idea, and her blue eyes are /truly/ uncharacteristically scared. "I dunno what's going on, but that bird— " Pause. "Is— " Talking to me. "Not happy. And I don't think I am, either."

—-

Putting down the tupperware with the pie, Laurel continues to pack up as much of the stuff as she can, looking towards the bird, and then /past/ the bird to the man who kept walking. Thankfully— he hasn't decided to turn around and double back towards them. She's not sure she could handle an audience for this kind of thing. Trying to explain why she was shaking to the cab driver had been bad enough— but there's one of her best friends in the world, obviously just as freaked out over something that— she couldn't possibly have seen before. "It's nothing— it's probably just— the wind. You know about those wind-pressure things they talk about on geek channels— the wind cutting across buildings, or— " There's no buildings directly nearby, and wind doesn't form a solid wall…

Unsure how else to explain this, all she can do is try and convince herself that she's /safe/… if she's safe then— maybe this won't happen anymore? She's safe— she's safe—

And finally the bird pecks through the air and gets to flutter towards the piece of bread that she dropped when she jumped back. There's a sigh of relief, and a glance towards the man, still leaving, before she moves towards Daphne, forgetting the fleeing thing. "Look— I'm not really sure what's going on— you're probably going to think I'm crazy, and I wouldn't blame you— but, when I was mugged— he couldn't get anywhere near me— like that bird— it was like he ran into a wall— I think— I don't know, it's stupid— At first I thought I was imagining things, but— maybe God really is protecting me." It /sounds/ so crazy— but there's really nothing else she can think of to explain it.

—-

"Not the wind," Daphne says. She knows what she felt, and it wasn't the wind. And she's starting to get the feeling that Laurel knows something about it, because of the way she's covering it up as nothing while trying to pack up and get out at the same time. That's not like her at all, paranoid or not, and Daphne has something to say about Laurel suddenly running away. Even if it's just to prevent her from doing just that, because there's the possibility of answers here that they /both need./

"Laur, calm down."

Once the bird gets to the bread, it's quite happy, and stops talking so much in her head. That's better, it means she's able to think a little more clearly about what just happened, and of her friend's explanation. That— kind of makes her blood run cold, because it might just mean she's not crazy, unless she's imagining Laurel and her wall-making abilities, as well. "No… No, I don't think you're crazy, trust me." Daphne's eyes rest on the bird for a moment. It looks up at her, before going back to finishing the sandwich, but a moment of understanding, silent, passes between the two, where the bird agrees to stay where it's at for the time being instead of wandering off when it's done. "Do— do you think you did it? That you made that thing happen?" The expression on her face is clearly something along the lines of 'PLEASE say you did.' It really would mean a lot.

—-

But it does sound crazy. And from the look in her widened eyes, Laurel can't imagine how anyone could think otherwise. Invisible— wall— things— don't just appear out of nowhere! It's insane— There's something decisively wrong with this, and really, how could anyone not find it crazy? Trusting her might be impossible, but— this is her friend, and— worst that could happen is she'll call her family and have her committed. Hopefully she can talk her way out of that.

"I don't know— probably not— I mean— that doesn't just happen, right? It— you'd think it would be someone else? Like— a ghost or something, protecting me? Except I don't know any dead people— Not anyone I was really close to— and— " She reaches up, rubbing at her forehead. This just doesn't feel right, at all… there's no way to explain it without sounding crazy. "Maybe— " she finally concedes.

"I think it's happened two other times— when I was almost mugged and— and when I was doing a photo shoot— graduation pictures— at Central Park— for a hockey player. He wanted wintry scene, so I set up my tripod— the expensive camera— and this biker accidentally went off the cleared off path and— ran into something— would have hit my camera, but instead— " … hit something. "I know it sounds crazy— "

—-

Instead of feeling like Laurel is crazy or that she has to be committed, Daphne just feels relief. Finally sitting down at the picnic table again, she opens her juice bottle and takes a very long drink. Too bad it's not alcohol, 'cuz that could use some of that at the moment. Maybe they should go out drinking later. Then again, if Laurel's making walls for no reason, that could be a bad idea. The point is, Daphne is - oddly enough - fully able to accept the possibility that the other girl is able to make invisible walls.

"Normally, no. It doesn't just happen. And yeah, it sounds kind of crazy, but I'd rather it was you than… something else." She wonders if there are other people like that, or if they're the only two /ever./ "Sorry, I've been thinking /I/ was crazy for a couple years now, so it's just a relief to know—

Looking up at Laurel briefly, Daphne closes her eyes, cracks her neck, and holds out her hand, which the wild bird obediently flitters up and lands on. Could be a coincidence, since she does work in the zoo, so it's perfectly rational that she'd be familiar with the wildlife to some extent. "I just want to know if we, like, walked through slime like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 'Cuz I think I'd remember if we did."

—-

Not crazy? Not being accused of making things up? Not— asked if the food has been drugged, or something? Weirder things have happened! Laurel moves to sit down as the other young woman does the same, watching her cautiously as if expecting the anvil to drop and declare her completely bonkers. "You think you're crazy?" she repeats, not quite understanding where this self-concern is coming from, after all— she's not the one who thinks she's making invisible wall things appear in thin air! But then again there's a bird that flies up and hands on the other woman's hand.

Huh? That's the best way to describe the expression that she makes. That— is a wild bird. "Is that one of your trained birds? One of the ones you— throw live crickets at in the summer so people can watch them fly around?" She photographed a lot of those special events, so she remembers that one. And the crickets were kind of gross— but the birds were very pretty—

But this looks like a normal bird— this— is this some kind of joke? "I definitely didn't get slimed by anything— and uh— that's not one of your birds, is it?" Oh God, this is crazy.

—-

"I thought I was. For a long time, I thought I was…" she asks the bird to hop down onto the table, where it does, looking upward at her and ignoring the incredible amount of food that's around it. Daphne's told it that it can't eat, but if it's good, it can have some pie. And it would rather have pie than be chased off by the Big Animals, so it's waiting. Daphne brushes a couple fingers over it's head before opening the container of pie that Laurel gave her, and breaking a couple pieces off for the little feathered creature.

"No, this is a wild bird," she says, watching as it happily downs the pie as quickly as possible so no other birds can get to it first, HAHA! It has nothing to fear from the Big Animals, and they come bearing pie. Imagine that. It's like bird heaven, except with slightly more weirdness. Birds can sense 'weird' a lot more than some animals. It's why certain caged raptors will drop dead for no reason, because they're so weirded out that they weird themselves to death.

It finishes the pie bits eventually, and because it's not offered anymore, it placidly settles itself down. Daphne hesitates for a moment, poking gently at the creature's tail feathers, before looking up at Laurel. "They listen to me. I can hear what they say. That's why I'm so good with the birds. And… really anything else in this place. I— " She looks around. "I can talk to animals."

—-

That— is almost more crazy than invisible walls out of nowhere. Laurel can't help but stare at the odd behavior of the wild bird, but she also can't help but think back to the shows she's seen her friend put on, and various other things— Things that never really /clicked/ until just now. "I thought you were good with animals, but I never thought that— " she could talk to them? That they were capable of any form of communication at all? That— "You can really talk to them? Like— like Sleeping Beauty and that kind of stuff?" Cinderella could talk to animals too, right? And Doctor Doolittle— and all kinds of other Disney movies.

"I guess if I hadn't felt the wall when the mugger tried to get at me— " she finally says, showing some indication of acceptance. And what she needs for such acceptance? Sugar. This definitely calls for a sugar coma. With her fork in hand, she opens up her pie and starts to lay into it, getting the sugary cheery filling and downing a couple forkfuls before she looks up and says plainly, mouth mostly clear. "This is really weird— So you can— you can control it? You can talk to them when you want to talk to them?" Does that mean maybe she could control whatever— —whatever the heck it is she's able to do?

"Maybe— maybe I could take a picture of one of those walls— you know, use a special lenses or something? That way I know I'm not just— " Feeling it isn't enough, as a visual artist, she needs to /see it/ to believe it.

—-

Yeah, it's kind of all in her head, which is why she thought she was hearing things. Though she can see why Laurel would be freaked out when this stuff started happening around her… Daphne /cried/ when the animals started talking, so she knows how it feels. She knows what it's like to feel completely helpless, and then you start to get the hang of it, and it doesn't seem /quite/ so bad. "Yeah, I — " She trails off, looking down at the bird and saying quietly, "Go on," while she sends it the same mental command in its own language. And, thusly asked to leave, it flies off to find food elsewhere.

"I can. I don't know why. I don't know how it happened. It just started one day, kind of like… what happened to you, I guess." picking up her fork again, she digs into the rest of the pie that she didn't feed to the bird. "I couldn't control it at first, and I really can't shut them up /now/ if they don't want to, but at least I can ask them. They usually listen." There's a long pause as she pigs out on pie, before looking back up at Laurel. "…so this just… Hasn't been happening to you long, then?" she asks quietly. "You — " Daphne cuts herself off, shaking her head. "Well, I was going to say you could have told me, but… I haven't told anyone I can talk to animals yet, so— sorry. When you met me, I thought I was insane. Didn't want to scare you off."

Those walls, though… The bird couldn't get through it, and despite the fact that Daphne tried to get past it, she couldn't. "So how'd you do it? Can you do it again?"

—-

Wow, she really can talk to animals. Laurel can't really help but stare, following the bird as it flies away, and then shoveling another fork full of pie into her mouth. It'd be better to have something like beer right now, but sugar will have to do— "Just a month or so ago— " she says softly, thinking back to when the graduation pictures were done. "I did the photo shoot in early January— when the snow was still on the ground— " Since they weren't for the yearbook, but for personal graduation pictures, they weren't due at the normal time frame as the ones for the kid's school— but still, they were done a month ago. And she'd been proud of them!

But no— not long. And— "I don't know, it's- only seems to happen when I feel like I'm in danger, I guess? Me or my things, like the camera— And when I was mugged— and just now I was worried about that guy who was walking by and— all I could think about what that girl on the news and— what if I'd have ended up like that and— " Now she's just talking crazy, maybe she should lay off the sugar.

"I'm not sure how I could do it again— I mean I don't feel like anythings going to attack me anymore— " Unless of course her friend tries to steal her cookie, or something.

—-

Yeah, it's a weird thing, but at least Laurel isn't freaking out about /that,/ and they can commiserate on the fact that they're both mutants or something. That's not particularly comforting, but at least Daphne doesn't feel so odd or alone anymore. "This is gonna sound insensitive, but you have no idea how much it feels like a weight's been lifted off my shoulders. I swear, I was just going crazy not telling anyone." And she doesn't have to ask Laurel not to tell, because she knows she won't. That's the good part about knowing someone for awhile.

"Just a month, huh?" Daphne bites her lip. Had she just told Laurel, the other woman would have had someone to /go to./ Then again, it's possible that she would have thought talking to animals was /nuts,/ and they wouldn't have been speaking anymore, and… Well, this kind of happened perfectly, didn't it? "You won't end up like that. 'specially with an ability like you have." …that sounds weird to say. It's like talking about something that couldn't possibly happen, and yet, she can accept it. Maybe they're both dreaming, though, or something… It still doesn't feel real. "And maybe you can learn to— Sorry, I'm just… happy I'm not nuts. I thought I was."

She pauses, then says, "C'mon. We can hit the penguin house really quick. I can make the penguins do synchronized swimming, it's awesome." She still has to do her show, but at least she can cheer Laurel up a little first. And Laurel likes the penguins.

—-

It's definitely good to not be alone anymore, and circumstances, fate, destiny, or whatever did seem to bring them together and create a situation where they could learn about each other in a way they could both believe— funny how things work. Laurel closes the Tupperware and puts the rest of what hadn't been put away into the bag at the first talk of moving, and the idea of seeing penguins do synchronized swimming just for her… "Do you mind if I take some pictures of it?" Of course she brought her camera in the bag. She doesn't go anywhere without a camera of some kind, though this one is likely her small digital one, not the big expensive ones…

"I'm really happy we're not nuts— But— we should probably keep this between us— I guess us and the animals— " And the mugger who tried to pound against her forcefield. Hopefully nothing else will happen in the near future where she'll need to defend herself— but— "Maybe I won't need to learn self defense after all…" Maybe she already has a self-defense system built in? So much better than mace, really.

—-

Daphne stands, putting some of her own stuff away, though she takes a handful of cookies out of the container before she closes that up, too. "Nah, you can if you want to, just as long as people don't figure out it's me. I dunno how they could, though." She's as careful as she can be, doesn't make the animals do anything totally uncharacteristic unless she's behind closed doors, and, as she said before, Laurel's the first to know besides herself. Even her parents might never know.

"I'm not telling anyone if you don't," she says. Because Daphne imagines that people who can't make walls or talk to animals /will/ think they're nuts. "…You know, I could have made one of the elephants pee on that Russian guy, too. I did that before. It was an accident, I swear. Had a feeling you'd like the penguins more, though." Wrapping an arm around Laurel's shoulders, she drags her off to the penguin house. "Just remind me not to sneak up on you ever, and we'll be okay."

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