Date: December 17th, 2009
Jade finds Randall in Central Park, and proceeds to give him a hard time. Her casual cruelty increases when she uncovers an awkward moment from his past, and reaches full throttle when the participant of said moment appears in a flash of malicious serendipity.
Trivia: Portia's song previously appeared in the Dark Future.
"May Never The Two Meet"
With over two million visitors a year, Central Park is bound to pick up its share of strange behavior, if not outright crazies and weirdoes. Hence the tattered rattan sheet laid out in the middle of a large grassy area, well away from the nearest tree cover, with a lone occupant (Randall) staring up at the clouds as they drift past. At least he's not naked and covered in mud; those guys don't usually show up until after eleven.
Only the hardcore, or the ones too poor to afford gym memberships, joggers continued to exercise in Central Park during the winter, and Jade was neither. It was a seriously rare occasion when she'd see someone she knew outside of pre-planned meetings, at work, or at home, but when her and a girlfriend had decided to cut through the park on their way home from a late afternoon flick, she spotted a man lying out in the middle of nowhere, cloud-gazing. Not being one to poke fun at random strangers, the teen could be seen pointing with a mittened hand at the prone form, and then the distant sound of a pair of girlish, high-pitched laughters.
It seemed as if they were simply going to pass by, but when the dark-haired of the pair, the other was blonde, glances again, she stops, placing a hand on her friend's arm. She points again, and the two girls exchange words, with the blonde apparently telling some sort of joke, as Jade claps her hands together and tilts her head back in the laughter again. After a moment of conversation more, their is an exchange of waves, and the two girls part ways, with the blonde continuing on in the original direction on the path, and the brunette crunching her booted feet across the grass, pulling her yellow-and-black scarf up higher around her neck.
"You know, you're just begging for a dog to pee on you lying down like that." Not one to waste time, Jade's voice is heard the instant she's at a distance where she doesn't have to shout, adjusting the wool cap on her head to cover her ears. "What are you doing out here? Don't tell me you're an aspiring artist now."
"I am an excellent artist," replies Randall, not missing a beat as he sits up and pulls a dark jacket closer about himself; most of the buttons have gone missing over time, so he has to draw up his knees and hold it closed in front. "And dogs know better than to hassle me."
"Anyway," he continues, gesturing up toward the sky, "I'm seeing if I can work out which way they're going to split up or rejoin. I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. What about you, who's the Elisha Cuthbert lookalike?" A head-tilt serves to indicate the general direction that the friend took off. Whatever else is rattling around inside his head, at least his peripheral vision's in good shape.
"Huh?" The rhetorical question is out of her mouth before she can think about it as she half-turns to purse her lips in the indicated direction. After a second, she turns back, wrapping her arms around her trunk, stuffing her mitts under her arms as she wiggles from side to side, as if keeping still was making her cold. "Oh, Jilly's a friend I met at the Panera Bread Company down the street from the pawn shop. She's a cheerleader at one of the in-town community colleges. Why, y'interested? She's not the, uh, cloud-watching type."
As if she were trying to see what was so interesting up there, Jade cranes her neck back, frowning up at the sky as she steps onto the sheet of material laid out to protect her employer from the dirt beneath. It's not very long before she apparently gets bored and looks away, turning in a few circles until she could find a spot she liked, squatting down to brush it off whether it was dirty or not. Tucking her skirt behind her knees, she plants her rear in the newly-dusted area.
"So… This is what you do with your time off, huh? I kind of wondered, but I guess I thought you, y'know, had friends or something. But cloud-watching." She tries hard to keep the smiling smirk off her face. "It's… cute. I guess."
"Oh, just vaguely curious." Okay, maybe a little more than curious, but it's also partly a defense mechanism: ogling Jilly implies not ogling anyone else.
There's some open space on the mat now that Randall's sitting up, and he scoots back to make a bit more room just as Jade steps away from it. "One thing among others, yes. I play a little music sometimes, not as much lately with things being so busy. I mean, c'mon, can you really see me painting my chest and getting drunk at a tailgate party? Or rioting when the Yankees win?" More defensiveness— he used to hang out at a certain comic book shop, up until that got increasingly awkward and thing-of-the-past.
"You mean 'can I see you being an actual guy'? Well, I used to, then you started dressing my hair and staring at the sky. Now I'm not so sure anymore. Are you sure you don't have anyyyyyyy leanings?" To emphasize the 'leanings', she holds her hand out straight, then lets it flop limply downward in an effiminate manner.
Drawing her ankles up close to her, Jade crosses her legs indian-style as she sits, plucking off a few pieces of collected lint from her skirt, then from her stockings, which, like her scarf, were colored much like a honey-bee. "I've never seen you play music. Or anything even close to music. You've never even talked about music! Is this that thing where guys think if girls know they're amateur musicians, they think they suddenly become more attractive? Because that only works on bimbos."
Slinging her purse off of her shoulder, the dark-haired girl sets in her lap, turning her head this way and that as she looks around the park. "Are you really out here alone? I'm not, like, interrupting a date or something, am I? Someone you don't want anyone to know about?"
In response, Randall offers a hand gesture of his own, one that any New Yorker worth their salt should be plenty familiar with: 'you're number one!' With that taken care of, he flops back onto the mat, staring up at nothing in particular this time. "I played a few times with this student over at Juilliard - she's way better than me, she was doing me a favor… well, it's kind of a long story, but it got awkward, okay?" He's totally lying, it's plenty short but he just doesn't feel like going through it again. "So yeah, I haven't really spent any time on it since then."
With a faux-shocked gasp at the audacity of showing her that finger by itself, Jade leans over to swat at his arm in retribution, affecting an upset scowl. It doesn't take as the male falls over backwards to resume his previous position on the mat, prone and looking skywards, prompting the teen to look down at him. After a moment she topples sideways, propping herself up on an elbow as she lays on her side, drawing her legs up close to her to conserve body heat.
"What, you got somewhere to be or something? The only thing I have to look forward to is going home and watching Cheech play Xbox in his underwear. I gotta tell you, it's not that great a thing to see." Tucking in the stray strands of hair that was falling out of her knit cap, she prods the male in his ribs. "So spill! Who dumped who? Was it hot and steamy, or one of those true looooooooove things? Was she pretty? Were you ashamed to be seen in public with her? …Did your friends think you were making her up?"
Randall winces at the mental image, then turns over onto his stomach, resting his chin atop crossed arms as he contemplates Jade's goading. "We were just friends, only one time we were hanging out and somebody screwed up her drink order and nobody figured it out till the next day— well, nothing happened, but she did crash on my couch for the night. Then the next morning, my girlfriend who was already well on her way to becoming my ex-girlfriend stops by with donuts or something… well, you can do the math from there."
The sounds of the park can carry a bit across the grass. And one sound in particular is appropriate for the moment. The soft sounds of a guitar, backed by female vocals drifts over in their direction, and it's just enough that Randall might recognize the sound of Portia's voice as she plays. The song, while strains of it reach in their direction, is a little harder to understand… unless you know French.
"And she caught a half-naked strange woman in your house! Oh my gawd!"
Clapping her hands together, Jade tosses her head back and guffaws at the mental image of her employer's misfortune, eventually having to clamp a hand over her mouth as her head tips forward again. The laughter ceases not because she was done expressing her mirth, but for the most part because the girl was running out of breath with which to keep up her mocking humor. By the time she takes her hand away, she's managed to stop grinning, though the small, tight-lipped smile remain firmly entrenched. "Eh heh, uh, I mean that's horrible. Yes, what an awful thing to have gone through. Maybe next time you'll learn to stop letting strange women stay at your place. It never seems to end well for you, does it?"
And no sooner had the subject dropped than music rears it's head again, this time coming to their ears in a much more literal sense. Pushing herself up on one arm to sit on her hip, Jade rubs her hand along her thigh back and forth to warm it up, looking for the sound of the chords. "Oh look, it's your muse. At least your not the only bum wasting time in the park, right? You guys have an amateur musician's guild or something, or do you naturally just flock to the same place?"
That setup is irresistible even for Randall, who is not especially known for his snarkiness. "Yeah, no kidding. The last one was a complete tramp. —Wait, what?" he adds, falling quiet so he can hear what's being played. No, he doesn't recognize the song, or even the language really… but the voice is unmistakable. "Oh, fuck me!" he mutters under his breath, burying his face in his arms. Maybe if he thinks about it hard enough, all these nosy people will just go away and leave him alone for a while. Yeah, and maybe they'll meet an honest lawyer, too.
The song continues, blissfully unaware of what reaction it might be giving to those listening. And really, it's not a bad song. It's quite pretty and sweet, though what it's about is a little harder to tell given the French. Still, it seems more of a story, as the lyrics don't repeat so much. It stays the same, until the song slowly fades into silence again. Seems she's done with that for the moment… or maybe she's picking another song. Either way, it's quiet from Portia once more.
It's no swat this time, oh no, Jade balls up her fist and slugs the male in the easiest accessible location around his arm, shoulder, or chest. "Well I happen to think she was a damned fine woman. Jerk." With a 'tch' off to the side, she looks back in the direction of the music-player with a scowl, though it was only a coincidence that it was aimed at her, trying to see just what could have gotten the pawn-shop owner so upset in such a short amount of time.
"What's that, another regretted conquest? Just how many of us do you have lined up in your closet, huh? Doesn't she look a little young for you? …I'mma go invite her over."
Jade had her own methods of obtaining vengeance for slights, it seemed, and judging from Randall's reaction to first spotting the other girl, it was one for the books. Pushing herself to her feet, the dark-haired girl brushes off the seat of her skirt, straightens her scarf, and begins clomping her boots in Portia's direction. "Um, hi." With a broad grin, she greets the younger girl as soon as she's in acceptable hailing distance without having to raise her voice. "My name is Jade, and this might seem a little weird, but… Do you know a guy named Randall Kirkwood?" She turns, pointing a mittened hand at the prone shop owner. "He's right over there. He thinks he recognizes you, but he's too shy to come over here and find out." She raises her eyebrows expectantly. "Do you know him?"
Oh God. Oh God, this is going to be so awkward that it will define new depths, nay, dimensions of awkwardness for months to come. Well, there's no getting out of it now, but at least he can get it over with quicker by skipping past a round of exposition. "Hi, Portia," he calls out, pushing himself back up to a sitting position, "how's Juilliard?"
Oh, wow. Looking up from her guitar, Portia takes a moment to blink at the girl. Then she takes a moment to blink over Randall. And then Randall's greeting. "Shit," she mutters under her breath. "Don't I wish I was invisible today." She stretches her neck a little, offering a smile to Jade, almost apologetically. "I'm Portia. And yeah, Randall and I are friends." She almost said were. Her gaze shifts back to Randall quickly. "Juilliard's great, actually. Keeps me busy." She calls to him, slowly getting to her feet.
Hearing Randall call over a name and a school doesn't register immediately, but Jade turns to frown at him quizzically for a moment. She may not have gotten through a single grade of high school, but eventually two is added to two and a sum of twenty-two is obtained. It's about this point that the dark-haired girl turns back around, eyes wide, mouth slightly open, pointing right at Portia. "Oh my god…"
"Half-naked caught on the cough girl!"
Almost immediately, with a cross between a laugh and a gulp, she slaps a mitten over her mouth as if she could call back the verbose proclaimation, standing awkwardly in silence for a moment. "Um, sorry. What I meant to say was 'Hi, Portia, it's nice to meet you.' Since you guys are friends, So you should come join us." She point-points both of her hands in the direction of the lone male. "I mean, here we all are, wasting time in the park like a bunch of bums, right?" Looking quite pleased with herself, Jade either leads the way, or trudges back alone, to Randall's small, stretched-out mat, reclaiming her former seat with a gusto, aiming a smug smile that radiated pure essence of evil at her boss.
And half-naked-caught-on-the-couch girl hasn't seen on-the-couch guy since the whole couch incident. Yet, even as Jade lets the words out, the damage is already done. Portia comes to two reasonable conclusions. Number One: the story is worse than it was. Really, there were clothes. All of them were present. They hadn't done anything but fall asleep on the couch. She hadn't meant to fall asleep there. Number Two: Randall was spreading this new story. After all, there was Randall, and there was girl-Portia-didn't-know who seemed to have the idea that Portia and Randall had been half-naked on the couch. Uh.
At this point, the teenager is staring between Jade and Randall. The guitar neck is gripped tightly. "Uh, sure, I guess I could say hi for a minute. But I should get back to practicing soon." That is, if she doesn't have the urge to smash the expensive piece of equipment over Randall's head.
Oh, Jade still gets some leeway on her terms of employment, for a few different reasons - but man, is she ever pushing it! "She was not half-naked," Randall insists. Because she is a little young for him, and if it occurs to Jade to ask for actual numbers, then everything suddenly gets even more embarrassing than it already is. "She was not any amount of naked. No amount of nakedness took place, all right?" It's cool, Portia, you can save the windmilling for some other occasion.
Jade could recognize the symptoms of suppressed rage, bubbling just beneath the surface. Having practiced girlese body-language all her life, she was rather fluent in reading the signs of tension that radiated from the younger girl towards the older male. It only made her smile all the sweeter, and therefore, all the more smug and filled with vile intent when she aims it at Randall. It's a flat smile, one a cobra would wear right before it spit it's potent venom into it's victim's eyes.
"Oh really?" Nonchalantly plucking a strand of grass off of her mitten, she unfurls her legs in front of her, crossing one over the other at the ankles. "That's not how you told it a moment ago~. …So, Portia, how did you two meet? I guess it was at that Juilliard place? What is that, is that some kind of a college for music or something? You look kind of like you'd be a college freshmen. What's it like?" Oh, if Jade had her way, they'd sit here until the muggers came out doing all they could to make things as uncomfortable for the male as possible.
There's less anger from the sixteen-year-old as Randall explains himself, but it still doesn't disappear entirely. He's still /telling a story/. Portia would prefer it if the whole situation just didn't exist. After all, it wasn't really that bad, it was just the reaction that made it all blow up. The guitar is shifted and lightly rested against the grass. She does seem amused, however, at the question of their meeting. "How Randall and I met? Oh, no, it wasn't Juilliard. It's a little more complicated than that. I suppose the simple answer of it was at a bookstore." She lets that part slide as she switches to a more interesting topic. "Juilliard? Oh, it's an amazing school. It's kind of /the/ college for music. You ask anyone what college to go to for music, that's the one they'd name. It's famous. Tons of the greatist in musical geniuses came from Juilliard. I'm finishing up my high-school education while in their young musicians program… it'll get me a step closer to actually being there for college."
One bright, red, shiny tidbit manages to stick between Jade's ears above all others from Portia's explanation, and it causes her to cut a narrow-eyed smile off to the side. "Oh, you're still in high school?" The expression on her face clearly read 'busted', before turning back to it's more congenial counterpart as she faces Portia once again.
"That must be quite an honor. Do schools at that level normally take people for study out of high school? I bet they don't." Jade shifts to the side a foot or so, patting the ground next to her with a flourish. "Why don't you get off your feet for a bit? That guitar looks heavy. Soooooooo… Did you get your talent from anyone in your family? The only thing I managed to inherit is really great hair, and let me tell you, I'd much rather have your gift. There's no Harvard for hair models."
"Well, the young musician program is kinda a broad range. They do take young students, so it's not as if I'm really exceptional. Just getting in is big, though. The people they take are crazy-talented, so I have to really work and keep up." Portia eyes the spot carefully, but she slowly moves to settle in. She lets out a breath. Well, so much for sneaking away. "Ah, my mother's got a few talents she passed on to me. She's a good singer but she never really did anything with it." She takes a moment to pointedly study Jade's hair, though, at the suggestion. "It /is/ nice. And I think there's probably some great school for models in general. You'd just have to research it. I bet Vidal Sassoon could start up his own school."
"Oh no, no, that's not for me. Ha, no, I don't even have my GED, yet. Me and a couple of friends are making plans to take our high-school equivalencies, though, and maybe then I'll try and get a trade license. I don't exactly have the money for a school. Or an agent. Or a modeling company." Jade ticks the things she didn't have money for off on her mittened hand, which was kind of hard to see, considering her fingers were, for the most part, lumped together in a bunch within the material. "I could talk about things I can't afford all day, but I think you get the idea."
It's about this time that, from seemingly out of nowhere, 'Barbie Girl' begins playing. "Oh, that's me!" Digging into her jacket pocket, Jade pulls out a pink flip-top cellphone with a rhinestone-encrusted heart on the outer casing. The top is snapped open, looking at the message flashing across her screen as she pushes to her feet. "I gotta go. I'll just leave you two here to catch up, hmm? It was really nice meeting you, Portia. I hope your official entrance into Musical Harvard goes well. See you at work tomorrow, Randy."
Turning away, her boots clomping on the ice-crystal-encrusted grass, Jade places the phone to her ear and immediately begins chattering into the receiver, half-turning to give a small wave of departure.