2007-09-23: It Only Starts Sometimes


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Summary: Evelyn makes use of a phone number given to her. Her ability is discussed.

Date It Happened: September 23rd, 2007

It Only Starts Sometimes

Near the Balto statue, Central Park , Manhattan, NYC

It's been over a week since that little discussion with Gene and Peter. And at least once in every single day of that week, Evelyn has come back to the phone number she got even longer ago. Thought about it. Entered it into her phone. Ultimately erased it without calling. This afternoon, seated near the Balto statue in Central Park, Evelyn stares at the number on the screen for a long time… before finally pressing 'call'.

She's walking along a Manhattan street with her guitar case and backpack over opposite shoulders as is customary for her to do when the iPhone at her right hip picks up that call. It interrupts the tune being piped into her ears and replaces it with the ringtone she picked for numbers not yet entered into her contacts; a snippet of Who Can It Be Now from Men At Work. Some people might let it go to voicemail, being unrecognized, but Jane knows she's given the number to some who warrant more immediate attention. One finger taps the button in the right earbud cord, and she speaks. "Jane Forrest."

Despite the fact that she's the one who made the call, Evelyn is caught unprepared by it being answered. "Um. Hi, I…" Have no idea what I'm doing. Don't even know you. Am well past the 'second thought' stage already. "…I'm sorry. I really shouldn't be bothering you," the teen concludes quickly. And winces, as she promptly wishes she could take it back. 'Wrong number' is a much less inelegant way of breaking off a call. Maybe the distraction is why the line stays open after that statement.

Listening to the voice in her ear, Jane compares it to others she's heard before. Female, and young, she notices. Where was it heard before? It takes her a few seconds of that silence, with the call still being opened, to add it up. East Village. Yes. The tornado zone. "It's okay, really," she replies in what she hopes is a calming and compassionate voice. "I'm not bothered, and I've been hoping you would call." Her footsteps continue on, one of the many things she loves about iPhones is the hands free feature provided by earbuds.

As she moves, one hand pulls the device from her hip so she can check the time it displays.

Another silence follows Jane's words, hesitant. But the girl doesn't hang up. She shoves short black hair behind her ears in a nervous manner, and stares down at her feet, turning over in her mind the conversation, their past meeting, and the very little she knows about the woman on the other end. "I… It's been, like, two months," Evelyn points out. "Still?" She would've given up on getting a call by now, were the roles reversed.

"Some things are hard to come to terms with," Jane replies, "I know. I've been there myself." There's things going through her head which she doesn't say, but understands could've prompted the call. Like sudden marks on the girl's neck and a memory hole. Or another episode with her powerful winds, but… that one's unlikely. No reports of such a thing in the media. "And don't you sometimes still hope for things you've come not to expect?" Keep the girl in conversation, don't spook her, work up to asking things like who and where she is.

"…I suppose so," Evelyn allows, after a brief pause. "I just… focus mostly on what's in front of me, I guess." The teenager falls quiet again, watching as a small knot of people wander by, a muted murmur of their conversation possibly audible on the line. In their wake, she draws in a breath — and lets it back out, a brush of air over the phone's mike, the difficult request remaining as-yet unspoken.

"And there's a lot of that, I'm sure," she replies in that same tone of voice. "A new school year, your art, maybe SATs and college plans in general." Jane falls silent for a few seconds, resuming by asking "Are you a junior or senior now?" Feet keep going, she starts to make her way across Times Square. "And added to all of that is what we talked about before."

"Senior," Evelyn supplies in response to the query. "And… yeeeah." That. There's another pause for last-minute consideration. How much should she say? Which side is this curious woman on — Peter's and Gene's, or the 'some other people'? "About… that. I… was thinking, recently, and…" Just say it. Say it and have done. "…I guess maybe we should talk," the teen finishes, speaking rapidly as uncomfortable people sometimes do. A beat. "Sometime. I mean, like, not… on the phone, you know?" She stops before it completely dissolves into equally uncomfortable babble.

"We should," Jane solemnly agrees, taking a few seconds after silence is heard to not sound overly eager and scare the girl off, which she believes is still possible. There's another pause before she states "I'm in Times Square, but I'm not busy now. Where's good for you?" It wouldn't matter much if she were busy, for this she'd seek to very quickly become unbusy.

The belief isn't wrong, which makes it a good one. The silence drags out as Evelyn hesitates again, repeatedly shoving windswept hair back from her face. "Um." Now? "I… I'm in Central Park. The, uh, at the Balto statue." A beat. "Anywhere is… fine, I guess…" As long as she can find it, but the girl's voice trails off before she finishes the statement, Evelyn lapsing into staring at her shoes again.

"I can be there within the hour," Jane quietly offers, "if that's good with you. If you'd like to do that another day, we'll still be all good." While she speaks, her path changes. She's now heading toward the park. "What's your name?" she asks.

"…It's fine," Evelyn accedes, with a hint of a sigh. "I was going to be here a while anyway." A beat. "Oh, sorry. I'm Evelyn." The name is followed by another somewhat stilted pause. "I… see you then."

"Thank you, Evelyn," Jane replies. "I'll see you soon." She presses the button on her earbud cord, ending the call. Her iPhone resumes the tune she'd been listening to when the contact came, fingers press it three times quickly to restart that song, and she approaches the street. Two fingers are placed into her mouth, she lets out a shrill whistle to hail a cab. It's nice to be ultrasonic, it makes reaching the upper limits of human hearing for such a purpose so easy.

The line closed, Evelyn pulls her phone away from her ear and looks blankly at the screen. Having that unwanted task completed yields a sense of resolution, and she soon moves on to entering the number in her contact list: Jane. But the sense of finishing one thing eventually gives way to apprehension about its consequences — and 'within an hour' can stretch on nearly forever when you're the one doing the waiting.

The air in the park is pleasantly warm, as befits the sunny day. The hint of a breeze that blows everywhere else within its bounds, however, disintegrates into incoherence just around the Balto sculpture — motion without definite source or destination, reflecting the wound-up nerves of the girl who's taken up a seat on the rocks to one side. Short black hair frames her face as she looks down at the book in her hands; though one finger is tucked into the pages as if marking a place, the paperback is closed — and the cover probably doesn't merit any sort of intensive study. The backpack nearby looks like it used to hold the book; her phone is nowhere in immediate sight.

Telepathy is not in play, but the two are thinking alike after the call ends. The number it came from is saved as a contact under the name Evelyn during the cab ride into the park. She hopes the girl won't have lost her nerve before she arrives and bolted, but if so now she at least has information that can be used to find her with. Not that she couldn't have already gone to a public library and paged through the yearbooks of various NYC high schools until her photo was found. And… that thought causes her to grimace there in the taxi's back seat. Why hadn't she gotten that idea before? Damn.

Within the time frame she stated Jane reaches the park and makes her way toward the statue. She's still porting the guitar case and backpack over opposite shoulders. Clothing is a reddish button-front blouse and bluish shorts over athletic shoes. Hair hangs loose down her back. Her path toward the statue is chosen carefully to place herself in full sight of Evelyn as she approaches, to provide security in being alone and not startling her by coming from a blind side.

Evelyn glances at her watch — getting close to time. Did she get delayed? The thought of leaving crossed the teen's mind many a time as she waited, but each time was chased right back out. Little late now. And as her fingers riffle the top corner of the book's pages, Jane's approach catches her eye — as every passer-by has in the past interval, but this one, she recognizes. The book is promptly set beside the backpack, and Evelyn rises to her feet, greeting Jane with an understandably flimsy smile. Her clothing of the day is a pair of blue jeans and a teal tanktop — and a slightly oversized Hello Kitty watch, of all things, on her left wrist.

"Hey," she greets, once within earshot. Jane's fingers pull the buds from her ears, the button is clicked to restart the current tune and pause it. A slight smile is shown to the girl, and her eyes study the statue. "There's one like this where I went to college," she remarks. "Except that one's a bulldog, the mascot. First live college mascot in the country, at that. Handsome Dan the Sixteenth got stolen by someone from Harvard in '05."

"Yeah?" Evelyn looks over at the statue, considering it maybe a little more closely than she has in a while. "We used to have a dog, when I was really little. He was part husky." Shifting her weight, she faces Jane again, and shrugs slightly. "Never really paid attention to school mascots. Aside from just having them, anyway."

Her head tilts as she studies the girl's face for a moment, then her eyes drift off toward a distant point. The voice is wistful when Jane speaks. "It was in February for me, just happened this year. I started to hear dog whistles. Something no one around me could. I thought I might've had a brain tumor or something. But a few days later I figured out what it really was. I'd gone to Times Square, just sitting there playing guitar. Suddenly there was a really loud noise, and it was so high-pitched. It really hurt. It made me scream." Silence is lapsed into, her eyes still trained into the distance, as if recalling what she just spoke about.

Violet eyes peer at Jane. "So… you can hear things?" Evelyn thinks about that for a minute, looking out over the park around them. Spotting a scattered couple of dogs in the distance, briefly watching each of them in turn. "And you couldn't do that before." That isn't a question, her own attention retreating inward.

"It isn't just that," Jane replies with a chuckle. "When I screamed, no one around me heard it. But it made a street lamp shatter. The woman I'd been talking to just before that had gotten out of the way, as if she knew something was about to happen. It turns out she has visions of future events sometimes. She and I left, and I duplicated the effect. Screamed and broke some bottles to confirm. The hearing, well, it's like my brain developed the ability to recognize pitches I could reach. Ultrasound, basically." She pauses, bringing her eyes back to the girl, before adding "It was scary, the whole thing. Such a relief to realize I didn't have anything growing in my head like I'd feared."

In response, Evelyn nods slowly, gaze flicking back to Jane. Ultrasound, visions, Peter… and her own wind… A faint frown gathers on the girl's brow, thoughtful. "Is it common, then?" A pause. "I mean, it can't be really… then everyone would know about it, but…" Seems like these 'gifted' people are practically popping up out of the woodwork now.

"It's not common," she answers. "We're a very distinct minority, and it may have a genetic basis. These abilities seem to run in families. I know several of them, and among us we have an agreement. What we can do is our own story to tell, or not, unless there's a really pressing need to share information. I might speak of others, like the one who sometimes has visions, but I won't mention any names without consent, or emergency. The same applies to you now, Evelyn. But, I do have to tell you, I wasn't sure you'd ever make contact, so I told some trusted friends to keep eyes open for you, and hoped everything would be okay."

Genetic? Evelyn looks surprised by that, although it makes sense after she thinks about it for a moment. It's just not something she'd ever thought might apply to her family. As Jane continues speaking, the girl nods… followed by a sidelong look. Rather than outright suspicious, however, her expression seems more warily curious. The statement might just have struck a chord. "Who're the friends?"

"One of them is called Peter," Jane replies. "Another is called Cass, and a third is called Elena. I trust them implicitly. None of them were told anything more than a general description of you, what we talked about, and what happened on the day of those shootings." It's a revelation, she realizes, but a needed one, if her trust is to be had, and surnames have been held back. While silent, she also considers the reasoning for the call. "Has anyone contacted you, Evelyn?" she asks with a trace of concern entering her voice.

Evelyn nods slowly at the names, reflecting on the familiar one. Full circle. She twists a bit of hair between her fingers, looking down at the path that curves past the sculpture. Between Jane's pause and her preoccupation with her own thoughts, it takes the teen a moment to realize the woman has started speaking again. "Huh? Yeah." Unexpected, the question elicits a direct admission she might have otherwise dodged. "I… guess he must've been the same Peter. I mean, it'd be a heck of a coincidence otherwise." And thus, the phone call. Eventually. Evelyn glances at the watch on her wrist; Jane doesn't need to know Gene was there.

"I see. What did Peter say to you, Evelyn?" Jane asks, curiously. It is, she thinks, probably the same one. Anyone else would likely have taken her in and left her with no memory of it all. Her concern eases; she listens in silence with a calm expression.

At that query, Evelyn gives Jane a sidelong look. She doesn't answer quickly; it seems that particular information is less easily surrendered. In fact, instead of replying in the same vein at all, the girl counters with a question of her own. "Why me? Why are you — all of you — interested in me? And don't say just because we need to stick together, either."

"Because there was once a man who painted the future, Evelyn," Jane replies simply and sincerely. "One of his paintings shows a tornado wreaking havoc in the city. I know of two people who could cause such a thing to happen. One I saw influence the winds twice. The other is you. There could be others, it's true. I can't say for certain if it would be any or either of you. All I know is you've got that ability, it seems new, and may not be something you have much control over. Something triggered by fear."

The tornado. Evelyn looks up at Jane, expression serious, and nods once. The tension that has been gradually easing throughout the conversation drops another notch as the girl finally decides Jane really must be one of her Peter's unnamed 'friends'. Not one of the other 'some people'. "I don't know about any painting," she comments quietly. Violet eyes study the statue — it's a safe point to focus on. "He said he'd been there."

"We do also need to stick together and help each other learn how to use the tools we have, Evelyn," Jane remarks somberly. "Not everyone with their eyes open for people like us is benevolent. Some are far less polite than we are. We're not into forceful tactics."

And she considers what's said about Peter having been there. Jane tries to not let on she hadn't heard of that, but it's not such a successful effort. A touch of surprise shows on her face, while she recalls something Elena said. Peter had been on a trip. Of course.

Fortunately for Jane, Evelyn isn't even looking her way. "Yeah, he mentioned that, too," she remarks. She lifts a hand, and a bit of breeze ripples through the area — but it seems lacking in direction, and doesn't do more than pass through. From the faintly frustred expression visible in profile on the girl's face, that isn't the outcome she intended. Nonetheless, she shrugs it off.

"Apparently he talked to me. In the future. And she said she'd caused it. I don't know how — something about losing her ability and then getting it back, but… wrong." Only now does Evelyn turn back to face Jane, and she swallows. "I don't know how to fix that… but something has to be different, right? Changed. And — she wouldn't have called you. She didn't know you." I don't know you. "So I…" Spent a long time convincing myself to do so.

She's had time to recover before Evelyn faces her again, and Jane is relieved to not have been seen in that moment. To be caught out as not privy to information about this future trip just after asserting they need to stick together is beyond embarrassing. She's being careful not to trigger the winds. Having it appear she and her friends haven't stuck together would not help. At all.

Her head tilts to one side, as she watches the hand lift, then feels the rippling breeze, together with her expression. "Was that you?" she asks. "The potential future isn't pleasant. But I also believe it isn't set in stone. Knowledge is power."

There's a pause for pondering, and an idea formed when she breaks silence. "Just because the future you says she did something doesn't mean she did it alone. New York is big, it's possible there were more than one involved, and the future you simply believes it was all her."

"Yeah. Not exactly tornado-ish." There isn't a lot of humor in the statement, but there's a little. Evelyn shrugs slightly as Jane continues. "Maybe. Maybe not." All in all, the girl seems rather less than convinced by the hope Jane holds out. "Either way, we need it to not be me, right?" And she doesn't really know what to do about that. Evelyn turns back to her pack, zipping it closed and picking the bag up, slinging one strap over a shoulder.

A nod. "We deal with what's in front of us first and foremost. Helping you get control is how we do it. What you just did, it shows me you can make it start consciously, and maybe stop. The only way, really, is pure force of will. When you're scared, or upset, the winds may come like a reflex. It's the same with me, really. After the incident with the shattered street lamp, I realized I had to hold myself back when something makes me want to scream, and I found some interesting non-destructive ways to use what I have."

"I don't know about stop," Evelyn replies, shaking her head a bit. "And it only starts sometimes." But she concedes that real conscious control might yet be possible. One brow arches as Jane continues. "Such as?" the teen prompts curiously.

"Echo-location and chasing away animals," Jane shares. "Ultrasound is really useful for driving off pigeons before they can ruin people's clothing." A slight smile cracks. "I've also harnessed it to aim at small objects and break them. Came in handy once," she reflects, "when some guy tried using a broken beer bottle as a weapon on me. I just looked at it, pursed my lips, and suddenly he was headed the other way picking glass fragments out. For you, it… it might work the same way. Do you know how it works when you scream, it's usually at the top of your voice by default? The highest pitch you can reach?"

Evelyn nods slowly. "Like dog whistles." Reverse concept, maybe, but it's the idea — animals are sensitive to ultrasonic frequencies. She shakes her head as Jane continues, having never thought about the technical details of screaming. "So, you're saying…" Violet eyes narrow slightly as the teen considers most appropriate phrasing. "When it's like a reflex, then that's… throwing out the most I can do?"

"Possibly," Jane answers. "You were scared, that time in the East Village, and the winds came. I doubt you knew that would happen. If you had, you could have concentrated on making yourself be calm, and stopped them. It's a thing you have to train yourself to do, just like me realizing what my voice can cause and keeping it in check." Her words trail away, on her face is the furrowed brow evidence of thinking. "We need to find you a safe place, out of the public eye, where you can practice stopping and starting small winds."

Evelyn nods slowly, scanning the park around them. "Sometimes I practice — try to, anyway — here. In the park, that is." She idly slides her other arm through the backpack's loose strap, and shrugs it into its proper place. "You can usually find somewhere that isn't popular." Of course, her practice hasn't amounted to much yet.

"Open spaces, with trees," Jane agrees with a slow nod. "Right now your parents are probably soon expecting you at home. Shouldn't keep them waiting, and you've likely got homework. I… I won't ask if they know anything about this, it's your business. I haven't told mine, and I'm coming up on twenty-six." She laughs, a bit sadly, "it's hard enough listening to them go on about my choice to play music rather than practice law. And mother, well…" She won't elaborate. "I'll work with you, toward getting control."

A wry smile is Evelyn's response to the mention of 'parents', but she doesn't elaborate on its meaning. "Yeah. All right." She glances down the path, then back to Jane, tucking an escaped bit of hair back behind the corresponding ear. "I guess you have my number."

"I do," the older one answers, just prior to tacking on a question. "But I don't have your complete name. Mine's Jane Forrest." Her eyes rest on the teen for a moment, to see if she'll provide the surname or not.

Evelyn visibly hesitates over it — but she's already got the phone number and the name anyway. "Tash," she eventually supplies.

A mental note is made of that, and she flashes a smile of quiet confidence. "We'll get this all worked out, Evelyn. Take care." Jane remains in place, her eyes wandering out across the park, as thoughts turn to a conversation she needs to have about improved communications.

Evelyn nods to Jane. "Likewise." The girl hovers a moment but, as farewells have been given, shortly turns and begins the walk out of the park. Feeling, all told, much lighter in spirit than she did when she walked in.

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