Date: August 22nd, 2010
A runaway unexpectedly crashes into the lives of a few kind souls whose help he's … going to need.
"Running Into Luck"
A hot August day cools — slightly — into the first orange marks of evening.
Central Park is always the midpoint of New York City and this summer sees it brimming with life. The spacious expanse of green is crowded by more than one sprawling attraction this month; while the Sullivan Brothers Carnival still claims one part of the park, the World Music Festival has claimed Rumsley Park. The summer stage is set here, a group of young women and men on stage entertaining a crowd — smaller, dispersing, now that it's later in the day, but still upbeat — with a colorful arrangement of drums and ethnic songs. It's only one of many varieties of music heard throughout the day, blending traditional with current and popular. The drumbeats and youthful voices bring a buoyant, sociable energy to the crowd; maybe it's the tribal beats. It's a nice evening to be out at the park.
Around the back of the crowd area are food stands, hotdogs, falafel, water, soda, and lots of people linger near those, too.
Thank goodness for beautiful days and concerts in the park. Mina decided on a simple grey skirt and black tank top for the concert, focused on comfort just as much as style. Her feet are adorned with a comfortable pair of flip flops, and a pair of oversized sunglasses keeps the bright sunlight out of her eyes.
Mina is standing at one of the food stands, waiting in line to get herself a nice tasty falafel. The petite woman pauses in her somewhat impatient waiting every once in a while to turn and watch the young woman, smiling slightly, before turning a much more irritated expression on her face. Waiting was never her strong suit. Her impatience is probably a characteristic of the more secretive aspect of her life, or so she thinks.
While there are people up on stage performing, there are also some off stage, set up out of the way with performances of their own. Portia, accompanied by Randall, is one of them. Guitar in hand, she strums carefully, fingers on the frets, occasionally glancing back over to Randall.
For the first week or two, the switch from cello to bass guitar was a hell ride. There are just enough similarities to make it seem easy - and just enough differences to be infuriating. By now, though, Randall has gotten enough of a feel for it to appreciate just why it's so popular. A quick nod to Portia - everything's jake, let's keep going! - then he eases back into the background line of the song, relatively unnoticed but still important. In that aspect, it fits well with his past.
Charla's dressed up professionally, though with a few jangly bracelets for "world" flavor, as she's here with a camera guy and support, covering the festival. She's finished an interview with one of the bigger groups- some sort of mariachi band- but she'd like to focus on some of the smaller bands as well, so she and her crew are searching the out-of-the-way places for some interesting sounds. They find themselves in front of the platform where Randall and Portia are performing, waiting for a good opportunity to get a talk with the performers.
The music of Randall and Portia blends in well with the atmosphere in-between song and drumbeats from the stage. Overall, the festival is pretty laidback, though a few whoops and hollers can be heard every-so-often, and applause, and rowdier voices as the evening solidifies itself and cues festival-goers to find other entertainment out on the town. It's never quiet.
Off on the far side of the crowd from the main food stands, a few shouts sound a little more disgruntled; yells of, "watch where you're— !" "Hey!" "What the hell, kid!" break the festive music here and there. But, well, that's hardly unusual in a crowd.
Stepping off to one side once her falafels have been served up, Mina glances around to be certain that nobody is looking her way. Satisfied that others are paying attention to the stage rather then her, Mina's form suddenly seems to disappear, save for a blur left in her wake and a gust of wind that billows over the crowd. No more than a second later, she's off to one side of Randall and Portia, leaning against a tree as she cheerfully enjoys her greasy concert food.
The girl with the guitar finishes up their set with a smile, and Portia proceeds to thank those listening. She gives Randall a bit of a nod, then Charla's offered a smile as she's finally fully noticed the woman with the camera. "Hi!" She offers cheerfully, guitar still in hand.
Randall sets the guitar down, squinting for a moment as his peripheral vision cuts back and forth across the brighter of the lights nearby - and pauses, focusing in on the hornbeam just off to the side. That woman was not there two seconds ago. "Be there in just a sec!" he calls up toward the front, while he arches a brow slightly toward the new arrival. Hi.
Charla steps up to the platform, brushing some stray hairs from her eyes. "Hi," she says to Portia. "I'm Charla Keble with Channel 8, would it be all right if we talked for a bit about your music? We're covering the festival." She does glance a bit at Mina- was she there before? She must have been…
Footsteps pound against the trampled green grass, hurrying through on the way to the break in the crowd that marks the food stands, trees, and the smaller gathering there. The owner of these sneakers so forcefully put to use doesn't mean to shove anyone out of his way, but it happens now and then; mostly, the small, lean figure ducks and weaves around the crowd's bodies, struggling, running so hard he's just a flash of neon orange fabric. Danger, danger — the colour of warning signs, pylons, crossing guards, and prisoners.
For him, the cheery drumbeats hammer out a feverish race for survival.
He bursts through the edge of the crowd near Randall, Portia, Mina's tree, and the small news crew, revealing himself to be a young man — a teenager, in fact. He's probably not old enough to vote, but a scruff of a goatee darkens his chin, which is glistening with sweat. Under the perspiration and goatee, his babyface is manic, scared, desperate, and completely exhausted. He almost stumbles on coming into the open, then veers sharply when spying the cameras, making a desperate run behind the tree.
Wilhelmina arches a brow as Randall focuses on her, a small smirk appearing on her face as she raises her hand, waving toward the man. She looks more amused than anything else, using one finger to push the sunglasses up so they rest atop her head, keeping her hair out of her face. Otherwise, the somewhat short speedster seems quite content to lean against her tree, happily eating her falafels as she watches the goings-on.
Then, that orange-clad teenager is bursting out of the crowd, and Mina's eyes are turned his way, her brows raising high. She doesn't move just yet, simply watching the boy with a curious expression on her features. What on earth…?
"Sure, that'd be great!" Portia states cheerfully, carefully moving to slip the guitar back into it's case before moving fully over towards Charla. Then she notices the teenager. Uh oh. Trouble in paradise. She looks back to Charla. "Uh, give me five, maybe?" Her gaze flickers back towards Randall for a second before she steps off the slightly raised platform, carefully taking a few steps over towards the teen.
Randall waves back to Mina, winking - he's had enough time by now to recognize her from last week - but it'll have to wait till later, he's got an interview to go take part in. Well, after they figure out what the guy dressed in orange is up to. Prison uniform, maybe? He doesn't seem obviously violent, but that was some desperate running - like he expects to be chased down by police at any moment. Or he already is, and they're just about to charge in after him.
Charla turns around to watch the youth go. "Who was that?" she wonders aloud. "He's sure scared of something…" Way to be obvious, Charla. She did note that he was avoiding the cameras, so… he didn't want to be identified? Charla knows how that feels of course. She looks around, a bit unsurely. The others look like they're going to go talk to him… so should she follow? She supposes it couldn't hurt. Talking to people is her job after all. She walks a bit after him, signalling the crew to stay behind.
The teenager in orange almost falls flat on his face, running so hard that he trips over the tree roots snaking out from around the tree Mina stands by. Up close, the orange obviously belongs to a sweatshirt, loose-fitting and non-descript — other than being neon. Otherwise, he's wearing white pants, not exactly the fashion of anyone his age. Or anyone in general. No one comes rushing after him — not immediately — but they might as well be on his neck, for all he hurries. "Don't— !"
He stumbles, quickly regains his balance and reaches up to a branch, swinging up, like a monkey, into the growth, and stares down at the people whose attention he's garnered. His heaving breath audible to anyone nearby even over the music, and he chokes as he tries to keep up with his overworked lungs. He's been running for a long time.
Woah! Mina steps off to the side as the boy trips over the tree roots, her brows raised high on her forehead. She watches in silence, still quietly munching on her falafel, an extremely curious look on her face as he climbs up in a tree. "Woah there, kiddo! What's the big rush?" She glances toward the crowd, raising onto the tips of her toes to see if there's anyone chasing him. "Why you running?" This is called up to the boy with a concerned tone in the MD's voice.
"You okay?" Portia offers up quietly, though she takes a quick glance around to make sure that no one's hot on his heels. They needed to not call attention to the kid right away, just in case he was running from something bad. She lingers by the tree, but she acts casual.
With no pursuers in sight, at least so far, Randall shrugs and follows after the crowd. Leaving it to Portia to see if he can talk the guy down, he stays closer to Charla and the camera crew: ready to either lend them an extra set of eyes, or distract them at a crucial moment, depending on how the incident ends up playing out.
Charla keeps her distance from the teenager a bit more than the others and doesn't want to address him since he was clearly avoiding her before, but the cameras are clearly off at the moment so he really doesn't have anything to worry about from them. The odd idea comes to mind that maybe he has some sort of ability, just as Charla does. It might explain why he's running, but… from who? It's just a wild theory, Charla thinks. No real reason to believe it…
The runaway is more grateful to the casual acting of those down below than he can express. He runs a hand over his sweaty, pale brow, shaking his head against his palm. His hands are shaky. "I'm— I'm fine— just— God!!" His eyes scrunch shut and he reaches out to put a deathgrip on the branches around him, the limbs waving slightly as he makes sure he's secure up there. "Don't call the police, just. Please. I— I need help, someone's after me but I don't care about me— just— please pretend you don't see me."
The speedster peers up at the man for a moment, before turning her eyes back toward the stage, leaning back up against the tree that the runaway is hiding in. "I won't call them, promise." Her eyes turn up toward the sky, one hand running through her hair. "If you need help running, I can help you, if you can tell me what's going on." She glances toward the others, raising her brows.
Portia glances around the area again. No one coming yet, at least. But there's something that catches her attention about his phrasing. I don't care about me. There was someone else. Protecting someone else? The girl glances around to see who's close. With Charla and Randall a bit further away, they aren't as much of a risk giving the exact location away. She peers to the speedster. "Act casual for a sec," she suggests. "If anyone comes by, we can see what's going on, make a decision then, and then ask him what's up." With that, Portia starts to climb up the tree, taking it carefully as she stares up at the teen. "I'm coming up, don't freak out. Trust me on this, okay?" Sure, it's a risk, but today, Portia Maddox is feeling daring.
Okay, running interference it is, then. Not with Charla's crew, though; she's not one of the vultures, otherwise she'd have been climbing that tree herself ten seconds ago. "So— you wanted to ask us some questions? Portia had to go powder her nose for a minute" (hint hint) "but I'll try to fill in, at least." Everybody watch the camera crew and the interviewee, don't pay the trees no mind.
Charla nods. Better to do what the kid says and ignore him than try to push the issue, especially since she wouldn't want anyone prying into her secrets… "Sounds good," she replies to Randall, hoping things don't go wrong here. "We'll set up somewhere where that kid can have some space," she suggests.
"Really?" Hopeful, unsure — that's the question sent down to Mina from the tree. The seventeen-year-old in the tree rocks backward when Portia starts to climb, but stays where he is. He's instantly skeptical, but desperate — and desperation takes over paranoia here, as well as naivete. His appearance might be scruffy, but his young face is sincere — he's just a scared kid clearly dealing with circumstances larger than himself. "Yeah okay," he concedes. "I'm trying to— to find… my friend. Marcy. She's running… but she didn't do anything — if those freaks find her again— " He reaches down to offer Portia a hand up. He's as strong as he looks — which is to say, average — but he's agile among the branches.
And finally, someone catches up. Two figures emerge around the ever-dispersing crowd: a police officer on patrol and a woman in small spectacles and a suit., not caring about the music, which has since turned into an explosion of Latin music and prompted some New Yorkers to twirl in dance on the grass. The woman looks more like an administrator than an intimidating hunter on the chase, but the pair are clearly looking for someone, since they approach the falafel stand and start asking the vendor questions. "…is looking for this boy," the lower rumble of the cop, "his name is— " On the pause, the woman chips in, "Craig Maitland! This is his picture, have you seen him— "
Mina's eyes land upon the form of the cop, narrowing slightly. Well then. She turns her eyes back toward the stage and the crowd, though she keeps the two in pursuit just on the edge of her vision. "Really quickly, kid, I could use a quick rundown of who they are and why there is a cop and a woman chasing you." She frowns at the spectacled woman out of the corner of her eye. "Quick, simple sentences will suffice, then I can get you off their radar." She's slightly tense, though she's still munching on her falafels.
Here's where Portia takes the risk. Accepting the hand up into the tree, she lets the two of them fade out of sight. Settling in the branches, she doesn't release the boy's hand right away. "Keep ahold and I promise they won't even see us." Her eyes glance down to Mina, then back over to the other teen in the tree. She can see him, even if the rest of the world can't, for the moment. "Do you know where Marcy might be?" She asks.
Meanwhile, closer to the new arrivals, Randall turns away from the cameras again, feigning a level of annoyance that he doesn't really feel. (Well, okay, he does feel it a little bit. He's still annoyed at those cops who arrested him when someone else was being rowdy at that protest…) "Hi, could you give us a—? Well, no, I guess not. What did you say his name was, Kramer? No, Craig, right?" Playing dumb ought to buy them some extra time, without making them bail him out again later.
"I'm sorry," Charla says to the searchers. "I don't know where he is, but I'll be sure to call if I see him." It's true she doesn't strictly speaking know where he is, since he's invisible and she hadn't really been looking at him anyway. She just hopes she doesn't see him again, at least not anywhere that other people might see him. There's only so much covering for people you can do when you're on TV…
"Damnit!" Craig exclaims through grit teeth, trying to twist a look between the leaves at the pair on his trail. He helps Portia up but doesn't seem to realize she's been literal when she says no one will see them. "Because," he answers down to Mina, "they wanna lock her up, but she locked herself up to be away from her family. If those freaks get their hands on her again they'll drive her into the ground!" Swallowing thickly, he shakes his head. "I have some idea, I just know I gotta find her before anyone else does."
Randall's distractions and Charla's answers work— to a degree. Until, that is, the food vendor clues in, his face lighting up with recognition. Belatedly, he reaches an arm over his little counter. "Hey! I just saw this kid! Yeah, he came tearin' outta the crowd like a dog, he went straight over there." He points straight at the tree — and everyone around it. "You're sure you haven't seen him," the woman eyes Charla and Randall, holding up the picture of that very teenager. The words JUVENILE and DETENTION happen to be stamped on a wall in the offered photo. The officer, meanwhile, marches straight for the tree — and Mina. "You seen a teenager come running through here, miss?"
That's not the best answer she could have hoped for, but it will suffice. As the police officer approaches, her brows raise and she offers a concerned look to the man. "Why yes sir, I did see him running through here." She points off in a general direction, away from the crowd. "Last I saw, he went that way, running as fast as his legs could carry him. I lost sight of him right as I noticed you guys coming out of the crowd."
Portia keeps ahold of Craig's hand, hearing the officer approach. "Don't say a word. They won't see us." She insists, then puts a finger to her lips in the 'hush' motion as she hears Mina and the officer talking.
Dammit, they forgot about that guy. It's not his fault, but still… "I think so?" Randall adds, making a point of turning and squinting in the direction Mina's pointing, as if he were honestly trying to remember if he saw the guy heading that direction. Having established a kind of bumbling attitude, it wouldn't do to suddenly change tack and start acting like an excitable dog catching a scent.
"Oh yes…" Charla says, trying to sound as helpful as possible. "That *was* him… but he must be lost in the crowd now," she says, scanning the area. "He's not dangerous, is he?" He didn't seem like it before, but she definitely doesn't want to be covering for a violent criminal…
Craig huddles somewhat close to Portia, not out of any designs, but only to make sure they're both steady in the tree branches. He stays quiet as possible, his heavy breathing now slightly quelled. Nothing can stop the natural creak of the branches, however.
The officer looks sharply up, leans to the side … and, seeing nothing at all, takes Mina at her word. He nods and is off, trying to usher the woman away from pestering Charla.
"He's a juvenile delinquent," not exactly an answer for 'dangerous', "and we're trying to get him back where he belongs," the woman explains to Charla, rational voice tinged by annoyance. "If you see him or— " The photo is swapped out for another, this one of a girl of a similar age with wild blonde curls. It's swept in Randall's general direction for good measure. "Or her, just give the police a call. Thanks."
The woman and the cop amble on the way pointed out to them. The food vendor eyes the bunch and goes back to half-heartedly tidying his stand.
"Are they gone??" Craig asks in a whisper, trying to crane his neck to watch them leave. "Thank you so much, you have no freakin' idea…"
Mina watches quietly as the pair make their way in the direction she pointed them in, shaking her head. She casts another glance around…then, she's no longer standing beneath the tree, instead crouched up in one of the branches, with only a brief, blurred trail of her figure to suggest that she's not outright teleporting. Her eyes trail around, not able to find Craig. "Where'd you go?" This is hissed at a low whisper.
Portia quickly releases Craig's hand, the two becoming visible once the threat to Craig's freedom is gone. "They're gone. But you'd better explain a bit more about what's up with you and Marcy." She stares up at Mina as she notes her in the tree. "How'd you—er, nevermind." Considering she was the one who just faded back into sight, she'll let that one slide.
Randall would have a pretty good idea how Mina got up there - not a perfect idea, he's thinking teleportation, but close enough - only he doesn't look up there again until after the cop and the administrator are safely off. Finally, he does amble over, waving up silently at the trio and waiting for Craig to go on. Or run off, maybe, who knows.
Charla follows- hoping to keep in step with her interviewees as much as maybe find out more about this Craig person. "Juvenile delinquent" was a rather vague description of the problem… she wanted to know more, but wouldn't make too big of a fuss about it. She does notice the quick movement, but doesn't say anything about it.
Craig, though— not so fast to led it slide. "Whoa, what the hell!" Spooked by the appearance of Mina and by the less remarkable appearance of Randall down below, he flails. What would be his only saving grace, a quick reflex to grab a branch above him, is just off the mark. Momentum and gravity send him crashing through the branches to the ground. It's not a deadly drop by any stretch of the imagination and he lands more or less sitting awkwardly. Groaning, he puts a hand to his head and gets up.
"Marcy," he answers belatedly, "she has this family that done things you wouldn't believe. But I believe her— just— please, thank you for not turning me in or whatever you guys, you can help me?" A searching look is pointed up the tree.
The pair who were searching for him follow the false path, away from the festival. The woman is speaking to the officer: "Well just make sure you people are on it, it's not going to give the center a very good name if we have our kids just running around." Instead of information on the delinquent in the park, it's the other that Charla's eavesdropping comes up with. "Marcy was being sent home, it's beyond me why she'd pull something like this when she was about to leave anyway…" she goes on, only getting the standard reply, "We're doing everything we can, Mrs. Westbrook…"
"Huh. Funny how birds of a feather seem drawn together." The brunette speedster murmurs this as Portia and Craig fade back into sight. "Speed is my gig." A glance is cast down toward Randall…and the woman is quite thankful for the fact that her skirt is fairly long.
As the boy tumbles out of the tree to the ground, Mina's eyes widen slightly. But he's okay, and she drops down, moving at normal speed this time. "Sorry," she mumbles, "I didn't mean to scare you." She glances off in the direction of the pair that followed her path. "Look, it won't be long before they realize I sent them the wrong way, and they're going to come back to look for you again." She offers a hand to the boy. "Take my hand, and I will get you well out of their range." She glances about suspiciously.
Weird families? Portia knows nothing about weird families. "If she's scared of her family and wants to get away that badly, then she honestly sounds like she needs help." She carefully climbs down out of the tree, her descent much more graceful than Craig's.
Randall heads over, offering Craig a hand up, and then Portia a hand down as she gets closer to ground level again herself. "Don't worry," he says to Craig, "we're ready to believe you." Or at least he is, and Portia probably is too— after all, they are things you wouldn't believe.
Charla turns back to her crew. She wants to help, but… things right now are getting into an area she doesn't want to be in. "Why don't we go take a break for a while, get ourselves together," she says to them. She then looks back to Randall. "Maybe we'll come back later for that interview." She gives him a smile before moving away, pondering the situation.
"Thanks man," Craig asides to Randall. Mina is delivered a sincere nod of appreciation, too, as is Portia. "She does. Need help. She's alone and this is weird crap, man, and I don't know freakin' anyone willing to help her— " Until maybe now? Light eyes scan the group hopefully. Instinctively, he shifts closer to the tree, and alights one hand on Portia's shoulder in his insistence on explaining. "So I had to chase her. To HELP her. She doesn't know I got out after her… she has a head-start. I can explain, just— yeah— " He looks at Mina not really sure what she meant, but smacks a clammy hand into hers anyway, because what the hell. "I gotta get outta here."
Portia nods slowly, accepting Randall's hand down as she looks back to Craig. "We can help you. At least, I will. I'll try. I can't make promises, but I can say I'll try, at least." She's not sure where Marcy might be, but it didn't sound like either Marcy or Craig were in a good place or situation.
Charla thinks about it for a while. She's divided between her desire to help someone who may be like herself, and her wish not to protect a criminal. Eventually she talks to the camera people again. "You know what… You guys go on ahead, I'll be with you in a bit," she says, letting them go on their way before turning back to the rest of the group. "I'll help too, as much as I can anyway. Not sure what's going on but I know I'd want someone to do the same for me if it came to that," she explains. "I… might have to be a bit more careful about it than others though." She has her ways of being careful of course, but it'd probably require a bit of preparation, such as an extra change of clothes…
The speedster suddenly pulls Craig's arm so it's around her waist, and her arm does the same, holding the young man tightly to herself in an almost motherly way. "I'll help you in any way I can, kiddo, starting with getting you someplace where they won't find you." She glances around to the gathered group, pulling business cards out of her purse. "Anyone who wants to help out, call the number. I'm getting him to safety before they come back." She glances to the boy. "Now, I need you to hold on tight and don't let go, no matter how crazy it gets, okay? And I'll hold tight to you."
Mina glances around, grinning to the folks around. "Ciao, folks. Seriously, if you want to help, get your phone out and call." She winks…then, there's a sudden crack as the sound barrier is broken, and Mina, along with the boy, are gone, leaving only a brief blur and a strong gust of air in their wake.