2009-12-20: Recollections and Revelations



Date: December 20, 2009


The breakfast duo cross paths again, discussing school, comics, magic, and a video clip that changes everything.

"Recollections and Revelations"

Enlightenment Books, East Village

It's been quite a while since Randall last visited any occult bookshops at all, much less this relatively well-known one. Part of it is that he's been busy. The rest is— not because he isn't interested in what they have to offer, but because he is, and tends to get lost in it for a while when he does indulge. And he doesn't like getting in the way of the other customers.

At the moment, he's sitting at the end of an aisle, glancing down occasionally at a slim paperback before returning his attention to an oversized sketchbook propped up against his thighs.

Stephanie, for her part, is just interested in anything strange or geeky, and loves to read; it makes the bookstore a perfect place. She comes inside, once again stomping off the snow before heading deeper into the place, to look about. It's sort of kitchey, but kind of interesting at the same time. And then…hey, isn't that…"Hi there!" She chirps as she sees the man who was with Jingle Belle.

Randall blinks. Where's he heard that voice before? Oh, right— "Hi yourself," he replies, the familiar hat falling off onto the floor as he looks up and sets his things aside. Random encounter at breakfast is mildly interesting. Random encounter number two in as many days is slightly more so. Random encounter here… hmm. "So what brings you in here? You're not an advance scout for the Martians or something, are you?" It's a semi-obscure Twilight Zone reference; she mentioned it the other day, is she a fan of the series?

Stephanie laughs and shakes her head. "No, it's a bookstore. I love to read, and I'm kind of a geek, so the more offball stuff catches my attention."

A pause: then Randall squints, tilting his head as if she were a Martian, complete with green skin and antennae. "You? Well. I should know by now not to judge books by their covers, hmm?" A hand rests on the edge of the nearest bookshelf as he pulls himself up to a full standing position. "They've certainly got offball stuff here— not just the books, either, I think it's a bit of a general weirdness magnet too. Even beyond what you'd normally expect."

The blonde girl grins a little. "Why, what did you think?" She asks, curiously. "It is kinda weird that we'd bump into each other so soon. Small world and all that."

"I kind of pegged you for the cheerleader type." Randall reaches down to retrieve the sketchbook, turning to an empty page and tearing it off. "And it really is small, if you look at it the right way. Think of it like this piece of paper— it could be huge, but just because some parts are far apart now…" The paper is folded in half so that two of the corners touch. Yeah, he's still kind of lost in his own abstract thoughts.

She blushes a fairly bright shade of red. "No, not a cheerleader, really." Momentary pause. "You really thought I was a cheerleader?" She wrinkles her nose in distaste. "Because, ick."

Randall laughs a little, shaking his head. "Hey, there's nothing wrong with cheerleaders in general— only some of them are catty backstabbing bitches, and those are the ones you notice more. So what do you do, besides look for strange things? I don't think you mentioned, the other morning." They were both a bit busy giving Hallis a series of what-the-hell-are-you-on stares.

Stephanie shakes her head. "Never met one who wasn't, generally. And I'm a student over at Columbia." She pats her laptop bag. "Probably computer science, once I settle in to actually pick a major."

"Mmm, bad luck, then." Randall shrugs, then nods at the bag. "Not a bad field, always changing. I dropped out of Berkeley a while back, it… wasn't really working for me." Which serves as an estimate of his age, and hers. "What's Columbia like? I've met more students from Fill-In-the-Blank University of New York."

She looks impressed. "Berkeley's a good school. Columbia is too…sort of a little more intelligentsia than NYU. What were you studying out there at Berkeley?" She leans slightly against the racks, the conversation more interesting than the books at the moment.

Randall nods. "Ivy League, right?" Oh, his own major… "History. For a couple years. More of an excuse to collect some bits and pieces of what I was really interested in." Randall turns the sketchbook back to the first page, stuffing the torn sheet into the back for later reuse; there's some sort of abstract pencil drawing there, with some straight lines that more or less match the layout of the store.

Stephanie nods. "Yeah, Ivy League. I just don't like throwing that out there too much. People use it for snobbiness." She catches sight of the drawing a bit. "You're an artist too?"

"Too? Who else is, you?" Hallis didn't seem to be one, unless one counts her sometime career as a fashion plate. "A little bit," Randall explains, "but— no, these are ley lines. Or where they are today, anyway. There are some intersections in here— they're a little brighter than the others." Holding the page up, he points out a spot near the ceiling. It does look slightly lighter than its surroundings, though the paint job and the air vent nearby might have something to do with it.

Stephanie chuckles. "Too, as in "both a history major and an artist too". As far as art, I dabble a little, but nothing serious." She considers his ley line explanation, with a slightly skeptical expression. "Magic?"

Randall nods. "There was someone trying to explain part of it using genetic traits, but I read it and— well, magic just makes more sense. Or at least it does to me." A polite smile: skeptical reactions have long been par for the course for him, though not quite so often here. "And yeah, I did some portrait work for a couple months, but it was just another day job. I actually ended up feeling bad about it afterward, burned me out from doing it for fun, until later on."

Stephanie smiles. "Closest I've ever seen to magic is some of that slight of hand stuff. Like David Copperfield, and David Blaine, all that. It's sad that you got burned out on art, though. I have a lot of respect for artists. To see the world the way you want it."

"Like I said, I got over it after I'd had a long enough break." Randall wraps his arms around the sketchbook, holding it sideways in front of his stomach as if he were leaning across a squat fence. "There's some real magic out there, I've seen it… first really clear case besides my own vision was right here, actually. Someone brought some dead flowers back to life."

Stephanie blinks. "Brought dead flowers back to…maybe they were just kind of hibernating? Sometimes flowers do that, but you can give them water and sun and they'll get better."

Randall shakes his head. "I believe you, but— it wasn't in a few weeks, it was in a few seconds. Unmistakable." Or he was smoking something that day - he might or might not be that type of guy. In any case, he suddenly perks up himself, remembering something else: "Her name was Stephanie, too. Just a coincidence, though." Or is it? He takes a fresh look at the one who's here today, eyes going unfocused for a moment.

The blonde looks very curious at that. "That's kind of neat. I mean, if it's real. You sure it wasn't just some kind of magic trick?"

"No, I've seen some of those too," Randall answers, "there's a mirror, or some place to hide a different bowl or something. There wasn't. I've seen some others since then, too, but not that many— it's not like X-Men where suddenly they start showing up in public all over the place. That's why people keep quiet, I think, they know others would be scared of it if they realized."

Stephanie nods. "They'd probably be worried that people would wanna turn them into lab rats, or lock them up, like in X-Men." she says, looking back to him. "Mutant Registration act and all that…though, that's me being a comic nerd."

Randall nods. "Yeah, no kidding. And hey, nothing wrong with being a comic nerd— not that I've really kept up since Ninth Wonders finished its run. And since…" There, he trails off, frowning briefly. Must be a personal issue of some sort.

She smiles a little. "9th Wonders, yeah. That was something." But she frowns as he breaks off. "Sorry, did I go somewhere I shouldn't?"

A picture of Randall turned up in one of the later issues of 9th Wonders; Stephanie might remember it. Or not, it was only one frame after all.

"No, I did," he explains quickly. "I used to date a woman who worked at a comic book shop— long story, but let's just say we grew apart and it was drawn-out and awkward?"

Stephanie makes a face. "Yeah, that'd be a good reason to put off comic books, I think. Or at least, I would. Probably. I haven't done a whole lot on the date front."

Pretty much everything that has been discussed up to this point, Randall has taken in stride, however strange. This, however, visibly baffles him. "You? Seriously? I figured you'd have plenty of guys asking." And she has free time, obviously, or she wouldn't be here having this conversation. "Unless you just haven't been interested? Or—" Another awkward thought, and another quick silence in a belated attempt to be polite.

Stephanie shakes her head. "No, I just…I've had lots of guys asking. I just…don't know how to talk to guys. I mean, like that. I can talk about geek stuff all day long. But every time I've dealt with guys, it's as "one of the guys". I just get flustered on the other stuff."

Randall bites his lip, considering. "Well, you're welcome to hang out with me whenever, talk about geek stuff, and we just wouldn't worry about the other stuff. I could use a break from my relief clerk making fun of me all the time."

He's totally thinking about the other stuff.

Stephanie smiles back at him at that. Not a flirty smile, just an honest one. "That sounds like a really good idea. Offer. Whichever. Yeah, Jingle Belle was talking about a store. Where's your store? What do you sell?"

Fishing through his pockets, Randall eventually comes up with a battered but still readable business card. "A pawn shop, so a little of everything. Over in lower Manhattan." The sketchbook is set down again as he hands it to Stephanie with a smile of his own.

The blonde smiles. "Cool. Tell you what, I will come by and we can geek sometimes. It's really nice to have someone that I can talk about with stuff." She pauses once, then says "So how many of these X-men types have you met?"

"Yeah, I've been a bit short on friends lately myself." Randall pauses, thinking it over. "…half dozen to a dozen, I think? Something like that." Not a lot, but too many to be easily dismissed as any sort of one-time freak event.

Stephanie nods. "And you haven't gone to the press or anything? No evidence?"

Randall shakes his head. "I wouldn't. I'd let them try themselves, if they wanted, but it could be dangerous— besides, there was that video clip a couple weeks back that tried, but most people just think that was a fake."

She looks a little confused…apparently she didn't catch that. "What video clip? I haven't heard of anything, though admittedly, classwork has been kicking my ass lately."

"It should be on Youtube— search for 'water girl', I guess?" Randall is not all that big on computers himself, though he has one back at the store. "Little grade-school girl turning her body into water and back, and saying the government was rounding some of them up. I heard a rumor about it before then, too." Not that he seems to be scared of being targeted himself in any way - there's a difference between some and lots.

Stephanie takes a moment, and takes out her iPhone. It doesn't take long, just a couple moments of checking, and she watches it. "This made it onto television?" She seems…well, kind of pole-axed.

Randall peeks over Stephanie's shoulder, nodding to confirm that she's found the same one he had in mind. "Yeah, somebody hacked the broadcast signal, I guess— I don't know how much of it actually got through the first time, but somebody got it onto the Internet so there's no getting rid of it now." He's a little closer than he intended, and takes a step back again once he realizes.

The blonde pales. She looks at the screen there, and she is, quite literally, caught speechless. Finally, words start up again. "No, no, no…I.." She looks up. "I gotta go. It was really nice getting to talk to you again!" She tries to force a smile, but it is forced, and she's quickly moving to get the heck out.

Leaving Randall standing there, waving instinctively - "Yeah, see you later" - and then alone with his thoughts. That was a panic reaction if he's ever seen one. Which means that either she has an ability, or she knows someone who does. Either way, he really does need to get to know her better, and not in the geek-shop-talk way either. And not in the cute-and-blushy way, for that matter. At least he can't accuse his life of being boring…

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