2007-02-06: Splitting the Fault


Hailien_icon.gif Clint_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Sydney_icon.gif Job_icon.gif Mara_icon.gif Paige_icon.gif

Summary: Clint and Paige make a connection at Central Park amidst many others who choose to go their own way.

Date It Happened: January 6th, 2007

Log Title: Splitting the Fault

Central Park

It's a late afternoon in Central Park- the sun is shining on the cold and snowy ground, and there is ice or frost everywhere, hanging off of the trees, and off of some playground equipment. There's laughter ringing through the air, for all that's it a cold February day, and appropriately standing next to the Balto memorial is Hailien. She's leaning against the statue, a soft smile on her face as she watches the crowds- what seems to be her favorite activity, during, after, and before school.

Somewhere among the trees, hidden from view, or so he hopes…There's a slight distortion in the air, and then where no one was a moment before, Clint now stands. He pulls his coat up around his neck, to fend off against the cold, and then begins to walk. Like a normal person. He didn't take his car to his job today. He took the 'alternate' route. And he felt like a hot dog. No better place to pick one up than Central Park, after all…

Positioned on one of the many benches in Central Park, not too far from the Balto memorial, is a blonde woman on a cell phone - not so uncommon in New York. Niki is seated with her elbows on her jean-clad knees, one arm wrapped about the other as she holds the phone to her ear. The conversation she's having seems to frustrate her, as creases continuously appear on her otherwise smooth forehead. "I can't afford to go take it out—" Pause. "Five more days?" she questions, as if repeating. She shivers once underneath her simple, black winter coat, which - despite its purpose - doesn't look particularly warm, and sighs. "I know, it's just… that's what I told you, it's in the car. … I'm sorry, it's just… I understand. Okay. Thanks."

Cutting through Central Park on her way to work is Sydney, disheveled and distressed. The tangle of unkempt blonde hair on her head and the dark circles under her eyes are only two of the telltale signs that she's running on just a few hours of sleep and half a Grande Mocha from the Starbucks across the street from her apartment complex. As she tries to adjust the strap of the leather satchel she wears slung over her shoulder, she half-carries, half-balances the disposable cup of coffee in the nook of her arm. A sure recipe for disaster - for the third time this week, she's more than twenty minutes late for work, and is in such a hurry that she isn't watching where she's going.

Winter's not such a bad season. Sure, it's cold, but hey, if nothing else, the scenery takes on a whole new look. Job might not jump forward to loudly proclaim that he enjoys it now and then, but he wouldn't deny it either. It's the reason, if nothing else, why he's taking a walk through Central Park on a day like today. The fact that he has no appointments is a contributing factor, make no mistake, but only a bit. Unfortunately, he hasn't figured that he needs to pay especial attention to where he's going either, taking time to look at the statue of Balto as he walks past it and Hailien. And coincidentally, right into Sydney's path as well.

No member of New York's Finest is ever off-duty, no matter when they punch the time clock. A young girl alone catches Mara's eye and the dark-haired woman approaches Hailien. She smiles at her and leans up against the other side of the statue. "Hi there," she greets.

Grinning slightly, Hailien nods to Mara. "Hey." She says, before pointing a gloved hand in the direction at Job and Sydney. "I think they’re about to crash." She shakes her head. "It'll be amusing, unless they get it all over someone else." Someone else meaning Niki or somehow hitting Clint in the tree. "Cold, isn't it?" Then she calls out, probably too late to the pair: "Hey, watch it!"

Clint isn't in the tree any more. He's on the path, and started walking down it, minding his own business. More than likely, from his vantage point, he can see Job and Sydney's predicament. Sure, he could easily do something about it. But why? It's more fun to watch the events unfold.

"Thank you," Niki says quietly into the phone. Her gratitude sounds awfully defeated for a thank-you, however. It's clicked shut easily and slipped into a pocket of her coat before she leans back against the chilly park bench, closing her eyes and collecting her thoughts for a moment - perhaps trying to make them less negative than they currently are. Sydney isn't the only tired blonde in the park today, it would seem. Sitting up, she pries the gold purse - which is too flashy for her otherwise nondescript winter attire - on her lap open with two fingers and peeks inside, biting her lip with her front teeth. She, for one, doesn't pay much attention to the various others in the park, whether they're about to collide or not.

Sydney looks up just in time to see what's about to happen, but is helpless to do anything about it; as she puts her left foot forward, the momentum carries her body the rest of the way - straight into Job. Fortunately, the collision isn't as violent as it could be. Unfortunately, it would be difficult to make it any messier. The force of the impact causes the cup's plastic top to pop off, spilling lukewarm coffee all over the front of Job's winter coat and pants. Only a few frothy drops ever make it to the pavement; what liquid doesn't get absorbed by Job's clothes is sloshed back onto Sydney, leaving the crotch of her jeans soaked with a dark stain. "Hey, jackass! Watch it!"

"Ah!" Job is just as surprised by the event as Sydney is, and he's no less happy or apologetic about it. "You watch it, you ran into me!" he counters, trying in vain to brush the liquid off of his coat and pants. The pants can probably be saved; it's only coffee, right? The coat might be ruined. Damn. "Not amused. Not amused at all." He also doesn't recognize her from their last pseudo-encounter at the club, likely because it was dark and he never looked directly at her.

"Oh dear," Mara mumbles when she spots the impending crash. "A bit chilly, yeh," she replies to Hailien with an accent that sounds almost British, but with some southern thrown in. "You aren't out here by yourself, are you?" She keeps her eyes on Sydney and Job, pretty sure she remembers them from the night before.

Hailien shrugs. "I am." She comments. "Don't worry about it, I can take care of myself, though." She can indeed, too, phasing has the fun ability of getting away quickly in New York City, where there are buildings everywhere. "You two need some help?" She asks, peering at Sydney and Job. "Hey, does anyone have napkins or something we can use over here?" She inquires, loudly.

"Yeah." Clint says, as he walks over, offering the napkins that came with his hotdog. He takes a bite out of said hotdog, and tries to do his best not to comment about people not focusing on walking. Because, you know, he rarely walks anywhere.

Snapping the tiny purse shut, Niki stands up, shaking her pale hair out of her face. It's then that she notices the little conflict going on between the strangers; she hesitates instead of taking a step in any direction, not wanting to get particularly close to them if she doesn't have to, but when it seems the scene may be dissolved with napkins, she heads for the path.

While there's something about Job's voice that's familiar to Sydney's ears, she's either too angry or too hung-over to acknowledge it. Instead, she scowls and twists her face into a furious expression. "I ran into you?" Her voice grows shrill, incredulous, and she looks like she's about to slam her palms against his chest when Hailien says the magic word: napkins. She turns away from Job and toward Clint with eyes that are both indignant and imploring at the same time as one sopping hand reaches out to accept the offering. "Thanks," she mutters.

"I'll happily take any extras," Job adds after Sydney takes the napkins, having followed her over towards the seeming source of promised salvation. Or at least, slightly lower cleaning bills. "Just be careful. Next thing you know, she'll trip over a blade of grass and put you face-first into a mud puddle. I've seen it happen."

"You're what? Sixteen at the most?" Mara raises her brows in a skeptical expression. "You don't strike me as easily able to take care of yourself, dear. But I'm not child services or anything. Just make sure you're home before dark, all right? It's not safe out here at night."

Hailien shrugs. "Fifteen, actually, and it's Hailien, Hai, Hail, or Lien if you don't feel like sprouting off the mouthful of syllables." She explains simply. "I know it's not, I've been out here before. I'm a New Yorker- fear's my life. Or at least part of it." She then peers after Niki: "Do you have any napkins, miss, in case this one uses all of hers?" She's a very mature sounding fifteen-year old, actually.

Clint offers some extra ones to Job, "Let's just face it. Everybody should be more careful." He says, "It was just an accident. Plain and simple." He says, as he looks past the two at Mara and Hailien.

Niki is caught off guard by the teenager, not because of her well-spoken words - she's quite accustomed to that from a child much younger - but by the mere fact that someone was speaking to her. She was lost in her thoughts already. However, she's quick to offer a friendly smile to both Hailien and the others nearby. "Sorry, I wish I did. But be careful, okay?" she tells Sydney and Job. Wrapping her arms about herself, against the cool air and also for comfort, Niki gives the bunch another small smile and strolls around Job, Sydney and Clint. On a mission, of sorts, it takes up most of her attention; so, lost in them, she trails out of Central Park.

Sydney isn't about to let Job off that easy, oh no. As a warning, she snorts and elbows him sharply in the ribs when Clint offers him the extras. Don't even think about it, buddy. "Go find your own." They don't help much, but seeing even a little coffee transfer from her jeans to the napkins makes her feel just a little bit better as she wipes herself off. Just not better enough to concede Clint's point or heed Niki's warning. "It was his fault," she insists. "He probably doesn't even have anywhere to be."

Job grunts a bit when Sydney elbows him in the ribs. Time for a new tactic. "No, I don't, but that's hardly an excuse for you to not watch what's where and when," he says, some of the earlier edge in his voice gone, "Let's split the fault, split the napkins, thank everyone who asked and offered and call it even. Everybody wins that way."

"It's lovely to meet you, Hail," Mara extends her hand to the girl. "I'm Mara." She glances to Job and Sydney and sighs quietly. People can get so worked up sometimes.

Hailien takes the hand, then as she looks up, she shakes her head. "I've got to go." She says. "Stay safe, everyone!" Then, with a cheery skip, the girl's heading off for NYC and home….work.

Safely bundled up against the winter cold, dressed in a long beige coat with her scarf, hat and mittens all pale blue, Paige winds her way down the path leading past the Balto memorial. Her hands are tucked into her pockets, her shoulders slightly raised. For the most part, she keeps her eyes on the path at her feet, but she does lift her gaze from the ground to glance at faces as she passes. The looks are fleeting, moving on quickly, trying not to meet anyone's gaze.

Niki gets a few steps into this mission of hers before something breaks her distraction - not Sydney or Job, no, but someone else entirely. As Paige enters her field of vision, she turns her gaze. Brushing a curtain of blonde away from the side of her face, she slows down as the girl walks by. A furrow wreaks her brow as she watches the Paige pass her by. Lingering only a moment more, though, she ultimately turns again and heads on her way out of Central Park.

"Well." Clint says, as he watches the group scatter, the momentary excitement over, "Guess I'll run off too, huh?" He says, as he quickly finishes his hotdog off, so he doesn't have to worry about needing those napkins now. He chews and swallows before giving a faint wave to the group and heading off on his way.

Sydney, too, feels as though she's overstayed her welcome. She glances at Job, unable to meet his eyes for more than a few seconds, and grumbles, "I'm late for work." It's the closest thing to an apology that he's going to get. She shoves the coffee-soaked napkins into his arms, drops the empty cup into a nearby garbage can, and resumes her harried trek to The Back Alley. At least now she has an excuse for showing up after her shift has started.

As the blonde woman walks by her, Paige finds her attention drifting that way, unwillingly meeting eyes with Niki for a split second before she turns her gaze back to the ground quite abruptly. She, too, instinctively frowns, her head tilting just slightly and stopping; it doesn't go any further, however. From her pocket, she procures an MP3 player, unwinding the white earphones and sticking them into her ears— until Clint heads in her direction. That seems to stop her dead in her tracks, and while at first she regards him with an almost suspicious look, it's quickly replaced by one of recognition. "Hey! I recognize you," she says slowly, a surprised little smile breaking across her face. "Evans. Florida U, right?"

Job watches Sydney leave with a restrained sigh. Somehow, and for some reason, he has the strangest feeling that this will not be the last time he'll cross paths with that woman. Surely, he's imagining it, but if nothing else, he's stumbled into an unexpected research development. Without being at all ready for it. Rats.

Clint blinks a bit, "Er..Yes." He says, as he smiles at the younger girl, "That's me. Didn't expect to run into a fan in New York, though." He says, chuckling a little bit, "But yeah, I must admit, you have me at a bit of a loss.."

The smile grows wider then as she realizes she wasn't mistaken, and Paige shrugs in response to Clint. "I'm a football fan," she explains, ducking her head a bit. "I used to go to college games with my dad." Casting a glance around the park then, she seems to realize the hour, and she looks back with an apologetic frown. "Is it— weird that I stopped you like that?"

Well, Job has certainly has worse days, although this one still went down the drain. The psychologist ambles out of Central park and back to his apartment; something needs to be done about his coat and pants. By the time he gets back, the stains will have surely set. Damn.

Clint shakes his head, "Nah. It's not that weird." He says, "So what's your name?" He asks of Paige, "I figure, since you know who I am, I may as well at least make an attempt to learn who you are. Heh.."

"We-ell," she begins, tilting her head a bit as her gaze slips off to the side. "Paige. There's not really that much to learn, though. My life's not very exciting. Not like a semi-pro football player, you know?" She smirks a little, finally shoving the MP3 player back into her pocket. "Can I ask you something? I bet you get asked all the time…"

Clint blinks a little bit, "Go ahead and ask." He says, as he waits to hear what this question is. If it's for an autograph, he'll gladly sign one for her. He has no problem signing autographs for anybody.

It is not, in fact, an autograph that Paige is looking for. Although the thought does cross her mind because, well, come on. "My dad and I used to go to your games when you were playing our team," she begins, her eyes darting off to the side again as she speaks. "You were really good. I mean like seriously good. Everyone said you were going pro. So… how come you didn't?" She pauses about two seconds, then adds quickly, "You don't have to answer that if it's way too personal. You can tell me it's none of my business."

Clint hmms, and ponders how to answer this one. The reason he didn't go pro was because he didn't want to be the center of attention with his abilities, "Well, to be honest, I guess I didn't really want to be the center of attention." He says, "I mean, somebody like me, well, I enjoy my privacy…Sometimes." He chuckles a little bit, "I might still do it one day. I'd say enough people still remember me that I could sign on as a free agent if I wanted to.."

That seems to strike a chord with Paige, and she nods quickly. The look on her face is one of agreement and empathy, an understanding smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. "Damn right they do," she replies to the latter statement, accompanied by a short laugh. "You should." Another beat of silence, and she continues, "What're you doing in New York?" Nosy tonight, isn't she?

Clint hmms, "Work." He says, "Actually putting my college degree to use." He says, "Go figure, huh? Figured I'd give the real world a try first before I go and try to win any Super Bowl rings.."

"Pff, come on." Paige cants her head to one side, brushing her long hair back over one shoulder as she rolls her eyes almost teasingly. "Isn't the real world a little overrated?" She loses some of her carefree disposition as she casts a glance around the park now, her gaze lingering on the shadows a few seconds longer than it perhaps ought to before she turns her attention back to Clint.

Clint laughs a little bit, "Yes." He says, "Yes, I suppose it is." Thankfully he has the ability to escape the real world any time he wants. He hmms a bit, "It's getting somewhat late, don't you think?" He asks, "Do you want me to walk you home?" Sure, he could get her there quicker…But he can't do that..

"Oh, uh—" Slanting her head as she looks away, Paige tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. Her expression is apologetic as she looks back to Clint. "My dad will freak if he sees me getting walked home by some guy." As she rocks back on her heels, something mischievous comes to mind, it would seem. "But you could walk me most of the way."

Clint nods a little bit, "Sure." He says, "I just want to make sure you stay safe, is all. I haven't been here long, but this ain't a safe city. Even if we are a bit better off here than, like, if we were in Chicago or Boston.." He says, "Still, let's get you home."

"I wouldn't know," Paige replies, gesturing down the path as she starts to walk again. "I've never been to either of those places. Even this city doesn't scare me that much, though." Looking up - it's a long way up, considering just how short she is - at Clint, she smirks a little. "Not when I have football players to walk me home."

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