2009-11-18: Lose It Completely



Date: November 18, 2009


Lena's coming clean devolves into a shouting match.

"Lose It Completely"

Randall's pawn shop

So a blonde school-girl walks into a pawn shop…

Rewind. It's a brisk November morning, not yet cold enough for snow but the smell of it is in the air. Lena is casing the store from across the street, propped under the awning of a newspaper stand with a branded coffee cup in her hand. Steam is curling up from the mouth of the travel lid; still too hot to drink. She's waiting for that CLOSED sign to be flipped around in the door, indicating that the shop is open.

About three minutes after that sign performs the necessary switch, the bell above the door (providing there is one) jingles and a gust of cold wind, and in comes the human drug lab. She's got her pink and grey outfit on, but it's mostly hidden beneath a man's jacket that looks like a Salvation Army find. Her hair is mussed from the wind, sticking every which way, and her eyes are narrowed, every bit as chilly as the weather.


The chief cook and bottle washer (and sign flipper) is behind the counter, one hand working on a cheap breakfast sandwich and OJ from the place down the street, while the other is occupied with an abstract sketch. Otherwise, the place is empty; even the Haynesworth flock hasn't shown up for the day yet, they'd rather wait till there's more of an audience.

"Hi, can I help you with something?" Randall sets the sketch aside, absently reaching for a paper napkin afterward.

"Randy, right?" Lena approaches the counter, the cup of hot chocolate cradled between both hands. A jacket she has, gloves she does not. "Jade's boss? You don't remember me, huh?" Her lips quirk with a smile that tries for amusement but falls far short. She's eyeing him like a specimin in a lab. "The karaoke bar. You got up on stage, did a little dance…you got a minute to chat? I had something I wanted to ask you about, Jade mentioned it."

Randall scratches his head. "I think so. Things were a little fuzzy that night…" His mind, specifically, including his ability to remember it. "Yeah, I've got a minute," he continues, lifting up the counter partition and walking toward the front door: if this conversation turns out to be about the ability that he thinks Jade may be developing - and why else would a clubgoer show up this early in the morning? - then he doesn't want Aunt Tillie blundering into the middle of it and complaining about twill allergies.

Lena's ever so casual posture changes when Randall repositions himself; she's already backing up by the time he rounds the corner, and that smile slips away. The cup is lifted before her as if she were on the verge of taking a sip. Really, the teen's just ready to dash it in his face and run if need be. "She said you were really into conspiracy theories, you know? Like…secret government stuff, men in black, kidnapping people for spooky reasons."

The question catches Randall off guard a bit. "Sort of…" He doesn't lock the door just yet, but leans back against the wall next to it, ready to reach for it on short notice. "I'm interested in paranormal phenomena. Not so much the government kidnapping stuff in general, but I did get a tip a little while back. Why, what's going on?"

"What kind of tip?" Question is countered with question, the set of Lena's jaw stubborn. She does not approve of this business with the door, gaze shifting back and forth between the man's hand and his face. "I maybe heard some things too. Jade thinks you're okay so maybe I will too but…" But it's clear the paranoid little creature is on edge and just itching for a chance to use that cocoa. "Are you a mutant? Like…a freak?" she blurts.

Noticing where Lena's attention is directed this time, Randall pauses, stepping away from the door and motioning with his hands like 'you want to stand here instead?'. "I can see unusual things," he says, walking back toward the cash register. "And a tip that they were, well, kidnapping some people with strange abilities like that. What you figure would happen if someone with black-ops connections and a dose of paranoia learned about it, you know?"

Lena relaxes in slow increments, rotating in place to keep the curly-haired fellow in line of sight. "Yeah?" After a pause, complete with bitten lip and a look towards the exit, she says on a single breath, "I am too and I kinda have to say sorry. To you and Jade. I mean, I'm going to tell her sorry too, I didn't really get a chance 'cause she was freaking out but…look." Another breath is taken. "Wait…black-ops connections? You know people who're doing this shit?"

Randall shakes his head. "I don't know who it is, I just have an educated guess about the type of person who would." Now, though, he sounds distracted. Tense. He and Jade came up with another couple of possible explanations for certain recent events, and if this visitor is one of them… "What do you have to say sorry for?" he asks, abruptly switching to a tightly controlled tone of voice.

That tone of voice? That tone of voice makes Lena take another step backwards. Just in case he's faster than he looks. "Because I can't turn it off," she explains, drawing herself up to full unimpresive height and lifting her chin. "What I can do. The way it makes people feel. At…at Club DNA, it was an accident. Chi…Tiago, he told me what happened after and I felt pretty bad about it." Pause. "Normally people pay to get that kinda dose but…you know."

And there's confirmation. And just as abruptly, Randall turns and smashes a fist down onto the countertop, sending Styrofoam and English muffin flying off in random directions. "An accident?" He's too busy yelling to notice that he's just bruised the side of his hand. "I could've scarred someone for life and spent five to ten years hearing about my 'purty mouth'? You damn well better—"

—and the rant runs out of steam in mid-sentence, as his intellect manages to get a foot in the door again. After all, lack of control is exactly what he thought Jade was going through. With a sigh, he ducks down to clean up the mess he just made… Ow, why do his fingers hurt? Oh, right.

"It was bad enough, this one time a couple months ago with a drink mix-up, and that was just a close call." He's quieter, but still all kinds of exasperated. "That night at DNA… it wasn't just the big-picture stuff. You want to know how many nights I spent staring up at my ceiling, wondering just how close to the surface my Mister Hyde really was? …Anything I can do to help you control it, I will, because I can't risk not doing it."

There's no controlling the flinch that has Lena's back colliding with the door, frayed nerves exploding in a panic at the sudden violence, the yelling. In that instant, without the makeup and the bad costuming, she looks every inch the scared girl expecting a hand across the face.

Then the street instincts come back.

"Fuck you!" Dribbles of cocoa are escaping the lid of the coffee cup, her hands are still shaking so badly, but the look on her face is furious goon. "Fuck you, man! I'm supposed to feel bad for you 'cause you got yourself some eighteen year old tail? Screw that! No one does shit on what I give them unless they want to! I came here to apologize to you, asshole, and if you think I'm going to sit here and listen to what I have to say then you're fucking insane!"

Resuming his seat behind the counter, Randall wipes his hands off again and then runs his fingers through his hair in frustration. "Look, I'm not complaining about what actually happened - I admit she's hot on the rare occasions when she's not trying to cut my nuts off - but…

"What people 'want to' may not be as simple as you think, okay? They have ideas that they keep locked up inside their heads, and for good reason… if I ever met a telepath, the first thing I'd do is give them my condolences. You, if you're messing with those barriers… even if you don't mean to. Just be careful, okay?" Beat. "Only you are already, and I'm having a dick moment." Well, screw it, he's entitled to one every once in a while.

"Fucking tell me about it…dick moment. Jesus Christ. Asshole." The trifecta of obscenity delivered, Lena subsides into a quivering lump against the door, giving the man a dire look through slitted eyes. It takes a moment for the adrenaline to subside. When it finally does, there is less swearing, a touch less glaring but no attempt is made to leave the safety of pressing against the exit. If anyone tries to enter right now, they'd likely knock her over. "Look, I don't need you giving me lectures, okay? I know it was wrong. I came to apologize, before I get kidnapped and locked up somewhere."

Then she looks down, frowning at her hands. "Damnit, you made me spill."

Wordlessly, Randall picks up a handful of spare napkins and passes them across to Lena. Even the cheap places are generous with paper napkins, it's the places trying to squeeze out every penny that are jerkfaces about it.

"Okay, okay, no more lectures. If I hear anything specific, I'll warn you. Other than that… Jade'll be in later, I'll let her know you wanted to talk with her. She knows what I can do already, so don't bother dancing around that unless there's somebody else around."

Lena hesitates before stepping forward to take the napkins. Carefully. No skin contact, this time. "I didn't come here to talk to her. We're…" Oh. She bites her lip again and concentrates on dabbing up the spilled beverage. It had cooled enough that there are no burns involved, at least. After the cocoa is mopped up, the napkins are wadded in one hand. Her eyes cut up towards the man before shifting around in search of a garbage can.

"We're crashing at her place for a couple of days," she confesses, "And she already told us, yeah. Not what you do, just that you do it. She said you were cool."

There's one near the partition. And half his breakfast is in it, but it's the boring half and it was his fault anyhow. "Huh. Okay." There's a good bit more unexpected news there, it'll take him a while to properly process it. "You see her before she comes in, tell her I said hi?"

"Yeah…yeah. I will." The crumpled napkins are sent sailing into the bin, leaving Lena with exactly one half-empty hot chocolate and a guilty conscience to hold onto. "Look, man…Randy. I'm sorry I yelled at you, okay? A month ago, I was on the run from an ex, and thought I was some freak of nature. Now I'm still a freak, but there's other freaks killing people, and the government's sending people to my apartment. So…yeah. It's making me a bitch. Sorry." Pause. "And for getting you all loaded, too."

On that note, Lena turns and proceeds back to the door. This time to open it.

Randall inclines his head toward Lena, having said everything that needed saying and quite a lot that didn't. As she heads out, he squints, then adds a fresh series of pencil strokes to his sketch from earlier - for about half a minute, after which the first actual customer of the day shows up, soon to be followed by three others. Back to the daily grind…

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