2011-02-23: Out of Phase



Date: February 23rd, 2011


Randall and Portia's plans are interrupted by a confusing interloper.

"Out of Phase"

Club DnA's

Midtown, NYC

Another day has passed— and another night is just starting to hit its stride at the club. It's less crowded in the middle of the week, but there's still a press of people, for good or ill. One side of the wooden bar top remains black with char; it's made for a conversation piece, so no one's gotten around to resurfacing it.

And speaking of that night, a returning pair of visitors are lounging at a table off in the corner, resting up between sets. "Here, have you tried this one before?" Randall asks, sitting down across from Portia and setting a pair of squat glasses down - and waving to a group of dancers who lean over to offer them a thumbs up.

"Can't say that I have," Portia comments, eyes scanning the glasses for a moment before she glances around the club. Reaching over, she takes the glass, leaning back against the chair. "Man, sometimes this stuff can take a lot out of you. I think it's because there are so many people in that everything's warmer and so you sweat and lose energy and stuff…"

A woman moves in that press of crowd. She is one of many, but doesn't move with them; the music- and chemical-crazed bodies have an intruder. Like a person who has found themselves, suddenly, inexplicably in the middle of a stampede with no hope of escape, she drifts without direction, tempting a trampling.

Were it not for moving against the grain of the crowd, she'd fit in; Clara's usual layers are shed. The small shirt skims her hips above jeans that have seen better days, she bears the near unavoidable sheen of sweat as the rest of the club, and her eyes are wide and hazy like those around her who are running high on drink or drug.

But soon she drifts out of the crowd; or maybe they drift away from her— she wanders toward the tables, as entranced by the more open space as she was by the press of the bodies or, perhaps, just confused by her chaotic surroundings. Electronica pounds without from the speakers while no set plays. Turning herself around, her steps take her on a sightless, backward wander — to a particular table, and a particular corner, and a particular bump against it between Randall and Portia, lightly jarring glasses.

"Yeah, exactly," replies Randall, thus far oblivious to the impending run-in. "It's good in the winter when you want to get warm. Actually, I was thinking we should duck out to the lounge in the back for a while—" He reaches for his drink, about to turn and look over toward one of the long velvet couches, when that bump arrives, sending half a finger of the liquid spilling out over the rim and onto his fingers. "Oh, are you okay?" he adds, reaching for a paper napkin as he turns back to give the newcomer a quick once-over.

Portia was drinking a sip when that bump comes, sloshing the liquid against her mouth but not really spilling any out of the glass. She pulls the glass from her face, wiping her mouth with the back of her other hand. "You alright there?" She echoes Randall's sentiment, looking up from her drink.

Instead of apologizing or confirming that she is, in fact, okay and alright — relatively speaking — the wayward blonde woman turns slowly about and stares at the pair. Her eyes, darkened in the dim club miles away from their actual colour, don't quite focus on either of their faces. Slow blinks do nothing to bring about coherence. She plants hands on their table — clumsy, at first, as though she can't control her body, and certainly unheeding of liquid that might spill again — yet she leans more gracefully, purposefully. "Ummm." A flash of fright plays strangely against the impish little smile that follows, disappearing coyly like a shy child's. "Can you…" Clara starts, Aussie voice coming through over the music, "help me…"

Randall doesn't answer right away, either, blinking a few times as he looks Clara over, more carefully this time. Paying attention to how the laser show plays across her skin, her clothes. There's something different about her, all right. "I… I think you're a little bit out of phase," he says, standing up and motioning toward the newly vacated seat. "You want to sit down for a minute? This sort of thing usually passes on its own when it happens."

"O-Oh…" Portia looks at the woman with some concern. She, too, gets up, reaching over to put a hand on the other woman to help her sit. "Yes, go on, sit down. It'll do you a world of good, I'm sure. Do you need some water?"

Amount which Clara understood what Randall is trying to tell her: very little, by the unfocused, wondering stare he receives. However, some keywords hit home. Sit down. Portia's hand is looked at with the same sort of wonder as she does so, more or less falling sideways into a chair quite immediately — less like a drunken club-goer (there is no scent of alcohol following her, at least) and more like an obedient dog hearing a command. Sitting quietly, an impatient energy clings to her 'out-of-phase' self as she inadvertently situates herself as Randall and Portia's third wheel. She looks between both of them as if they're the weird ones. "Wha— what? I'm not— I'm not looking for— " The words take effort to form logically. She smiles a little as she clarifies, almost laughing; silly people, "for water…"

Randall pulls up another chair from the next table over - wait, are they saving it for someone? no, they wave at him to go ahead - and sits down in that one instead. "Well, no… technically, you are water," he offers, glancing over to Portia and then to Clara again as he scratches his head. "Well, then what are you looking for? Do you know?" At least she doesn't look upset - just confused, more like - so that's something.

Sitting back down on her chair, Portia takes another sip from her drink as she looks back over at the woman. Well, she's a bit strange at the least. "You did say you wanted some help. What can we help with, then?"

"Something," Clara answers as though this one, vague answer ought to have clear meaning and why aren't they getting it? Her brows inch upward, making furrows that further direct confusion toward the others, wary after the slew of questions. Hanging her head, she drags a very unmanicured finger through a few stray droplets of liquid on the table, making a vague, curving shape similar to the helix art on the club's walls. Entranced by this, the interloper seems to almost forget her purpose — or where she is, intruding upon the couple.

… Until suddenly, Clara looks up, and — after a delay that could be considered "out-of-phase" — finds inspiration to suddenly stand. "Something," she dubiously clarifies. One hand plants near Portia; the other near Randall, both without thought toward personal space. She leans ahead. A languid swing of her long hair follows her gaze to one, then the other, landing on the man. "Things that— that people have— they sell— here…"

Why isn't Randall getting it, anyway? He's always had some curious ideas running around in his head - various forms of gainful employment notwithstanding - though, it's clear by now, not the same flavor of curious as with this stranger.

It's the mention of selling that finally tips him off to another idea. "Um. Things?" He pantomimes picking something up and putting it in his mouth, then touches a finger to the side of his nose for good measure. "Sorry, I— we can't help you, if that's what you mean…" It's been years since he's indulged himself, and he's pretty sure Portia never has.

There's a blink. Well, that explains things. "Yeah, I'm afraid I don't know of anyone who can help you with that. Just keep looking around, I'm sure that you'll find someone who has what you want," Portia offers, somewhat cheerfully, moving to take another sip of her drink. "Sorry."

Randall's pantomime has Clara's head falling to the side, peering at him nearly upside-down, not quite on the same track as his charades. The gist of their words reach her ears, however: a polite chorus of no. It's not disappointment the woman's features settle into— she's distracted by fascination. Leaning heavier on the table with one hand, the other frees, reaching toward Portia's face like she's going to touch it with splayed fingers. Fingertips curl in before touch— of Portia, at least. The same hand drifts whimsically away, bouncing through the air until, suddenly, it's on Randall's shoulder. Her fascination is distracted by an illogically hopeful desperation. She focuses as though reciting something memorized as she leans in. "Do you…" Her hair swings, a suggestive curtain that seperates them from Portia — but up closer, she's more robotic than seductive. "…have money… I can— I can earn it— "

Oh, and this conversation was going so well, too. Really. Instantly, Randall freezes, then after a second scoots his chair back. "No, I— we—" This time, he gestures toward Portia. Please figure that one out, strange chick. "Look, if you want money? One of the house dancers is out sick today, I bet you could talk them into letting you fill in for a night." If she's going to move around strangely anyway, then he may as well encourage her to do it in the service of Art, right?

Portia's eyes rivet on the woman, mouth pressed in a thin line. "Sorry, I really don't think we can help you. He's right, if you go ask nicely I'm sure they'll let you go dance and you can earn something. We really don't have anything for you." It's a good thing her hands are in her lap, because they're balled up in fists.

No, I, we, what? No lightbulb illuminates Clara's eyes as they regard the stranger with their distant gaze, but that doesn't mean she's unstoppable. She relents right away, easing up straight, unashamed— only appearing a little out-of-sorts (more, that is, than previously), shifting shoulders uneasily. A nod; alright. She quietly accepts, taking a step around the chair. It seems she would drift away, but— "You." She picks up her thread of fascination with Portia — and, oblivious to the young woman's tension, leans toward her face this time. Entranced, it's with a childlike wonder that she states, happily, "You made music."

And now it's Randall's turn to— well, not get ready to deck Clara, but his fingers do tighten against the edge of the table as she makes her move on Portia. And— brings up her performance. Wait, what was he, chopped liver? But Portia is the star of the act, anyway. "Mmm, she does that," he agrees, his own voice momemtarily a little dreamy. Yeah, they've got more than the music in common.

Portia was only tense with Clara invading Randall's space. With the aforementioned woman invading her own, the young woman is surprised. Amidst her surprise, though, she stands her ground, not pulling back from the sudden odd inspection. "Yeah," she agrees with Randall's assessment. "Music is kind of my thing."

Clara livens— this she focuses on, and a close focus it is, leaning face-to-face with Portia as if it's the most natural thing in the world to do. The young woman is privy to the strange Australian's beaming smile. "I like it!" she exclaims. After lingering far beyond politeness, she bounces back. "You're two've a kind," she assesses to both of them, a sentiment disconnected from the last. Once upright again, she's momentarily confused but, folding her hands and pressing them to her lips and keeping them there, she sets to some new hazy purpose and wanders back toward the crowd she appeared from— it starts to eat her up.

Randall keeps watching, quietly and a little nervously, until Clara hops back up and wanders off. He doesn't go back to his old seat, though, instead pulling the new one closer to Portia's. "Well, I'd be the last one in the world to argue with that. Have you checked out the couches yet? We should, we've got another fifteen minutes still—"

Staring after Clara, Portia glances back towards Randall only after she can't see the strange woman in the crowd anymore. "She reminds me of Kitty," she muses, blinking at Randall. "But no, haven't checked them out. But we've got time to kill, so… that works."


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