2009-12-23: Marine Exhibit



Date: December 23, 2009


Randall and Stephanie meet at the zoo, sharing unhealthy snacks and a quick illusion.

"Marine Exhibit"

Bronx Zoo

Stephanie was the one to propose a meeting after the Starbucks meet. It would give them time to reflect on things, and let it soak in. Think it over. Randall was the one to propose the place; the zoo. She hadn't been since she was a little girl, so she's waiting outside the gate, pacing a bit, as she looks for him. There's a little nervousness about the sort-of-but-not-quite-really-a-date.

Getting away from the store was no problem; for all her slacking on the job, at least Jade has been good about showing up (except for that one week a while back). Thanks to her new ride, she's even been on time lately. Making it across town from there… that was a little harder, thanks to one of the subway cars breaking down and delaying the rest of the day's schedule. He power-walks the last couple of blocks, making up for lost time, stopping just long enough to duck into a restroom and mop his brow before continuing to the rendezvous point.

Stephanie smiles a relieved smile when she sees him. "Hey…" she says. "I was getting nervous that you might not show." she admits, looking over to him.

Randall waves a hand as he approaches - there's a good crowd, given the hour - then nods as he draws closer. "Yeah, sorry about that, the #5 had some trouble. I would've called but— I should give you my number, huh?" Because he's not feeling bold enough to come right out and ask for hers.

The mere reminder seems like enough for her. She nods. "That's a good idea. I should give you mine too!" She takes out her cell phone. "What's yours?

Numbers are exchanged - and Randall allows himself a tight little smile, before looking around. "So where did you want to go? Anywhere but the rhinos, I'd rather save that for when there's more daylight."

Stephanie smiles, and walks towards the gate. "I haven't been to a zoo since I was a little girl. So anywhere is good." She smiles, heading in, and her eyes light up as she sees a cotton candy vendor. "Want some?" she offers, as she starts that way.

Randall looks around, eventually pointing down a side path. "I think the primate exhibit is down that way. And— you know, I don't know? I tried some when I was a kid and it made my teeth hurt, but maybe it'd be better now. How about you get that and I'll get one of the cheese pretzels?" Fortunately, the two are pretty close together.

Stephanie laughs. "Sure, but you won't get a sugar buzz off a pretzel!" She gets some cotton candy, before joining him at the other stand. "So…it's good to know that even two weirdos can have a normal day out."

"I am not that weird. Sheesh, you hide Easter eggs for April Fool's Day once and you never live it down after that." Randall blinks as he adds a light sprinkle of cinnamon. "Wait, so you want to see a sugar buzz? Careful what you wish for…"

Stephanie shakes her head. "That's not what I meant." she says, her voice pitched more quietly, and more seriously. Then, in a more conversational tone, she says "Oh, please. The sugar buzz has not been invented that can daunt me!"

For a moment, his gaze meets hers directly. "I'd love to see what you do mean, some time," he murmurs, before the serious mood dissipates once more. "Well, all right, then— trade for a bite or two?"

Stephanie smiles, and offers hers over. "Deal." she says. "And I was talking our mutual weirdness. What, you want to see it?"

With the pretzel momentarily handed off, Randall nods. "I thought I might've seen something, back at the book shop - it's hard to tell when there are crowds around - but actually seeing things in action is something else entirely."

Stephanie looks thoughtful. "Okay. What's your favorite food?" She asks.

Randall shrugs, taking a bite of the cotton candy as he thinks it over. "I don't know, it depends on what I've been having lately. Trout's pretty good, I guess."

At the last minute, spurred by an idle memory of Violet Beauregard, he decides to hand the candy back to Stephanie before she goes any further.

Stephanie takes back her candy, holds it in her hands…and it seems to morph into a plate with fish on it. "Ta-dah." she says.

Randall looks - and smiles. "That's impressive— it even smells right. So does it affect anyone who looks at it, or just the person you want?"

She'll white-lie that one. "The person I'm focusing on." she says, looking down to it, before looking back up to him. Always best to hold a few cards in reserve.

Randall takes a step closer, eyeing the plate… but no, he declines to taste it. It's a neat effect, but bringing the illusion that close to home would be unsettling even for him. "Hey, I think they've got something new up there," he says, changing the subject and pointing ahead along their trail.

She nods, and lets it shift back to cotton candy. "Lead on. I haven't been to a zoo in forever, like I said." She takes a few steps with him, and says "And thanks for not freaking out."

"Not freaking out? I knew more or less what to expect, why would I--?" Suddenly, Randall stops, turning. "You— did someone else freak out on you? Or is it just having to keep this to yourself because they would?"

She hesitates, then shrugs, and answers. "A guy I knew. He didn't react well." To put it mildly.

Randall winces. "I can imagine," he replies, taking her free hand in his and giving it a quick squeeze. "Well, you don't have to hide from me, all right?"

The blonde looks back at him, her expression hard to read, and then she squeezes back. "Thanks." It's as close as she's come to truth in some time, and it's gone well, so far.

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