2009-11-17: Stranger Than Fiction



Date: November 17th, 2009


Lena and Tiago need a place to stay, and they also manage to turn Jade's world up on it's ears.

"Stranger Than Fiction"

Pawn Shop

Tuesday afternoons weren't overly busy days. In fact, the closest things they had to 'busy days' were the weekends, when the occasional high-school quar-or-quintet would pop in to browse through their electronics. In fact, there was only one person other than the official employee actually in the store at the moment, and they were on their way out after waiting for twenty minutes at the checkout counter for service. In a huff, the woman had placed the small one-dollar-a-piece VCR collection down and stormed out, muttering about bad service.

Jade, busy as she was over by the new stereo someone had just pawned, didn't look like one of the staff, and she sure didn't volunteer that information to the customer, either. After a few moments of figuring out what knobs did what and how the CDs played, it wasn't too much longer before generic girl punk was playing through the speakers, not loud enough to warrant a noise complaint, but certainly loud enough to make standing next to the speakers a headache-inducing event.

Task completed, the dark-haired teen makes her way back down the aisle, to the counter, where she scoops up the taps, then casually discards them in the Dig If You Want It bin. She tosses a brief glance at the door, debating the pros and cons of just locking the damned thing and flipping the 'Yes, we're open' sign over to the 'Sorry, we're closed' side.

While Jade is contemplating just how to solidify her bid for the Worst Employee of the Known Universe award, the door swings open, revealing a fairly familiar figure, and a smaller form that is slightly obstructed from sight. It shouldn't take Jade very long to recognize the swagger of Tiago, though the fact that he doesn't look like he's about to hold the store at gunpoint might confuse her for a second. At the moment, he is peering intently at his companion, his bottom lip jutting out slightly in a frown.

"Damn, man. Didya /have/ ta cut it? It's like, now I cant grab onta it durin'…you know." Now, this wouldn't be strange, really. In fact, it'd be completely typical of Tiago. Except, the person he's conversing with doesn't /look/ like Lena. She's not dressed like some gothic Amy Lee wannabe anymore. And beyond that, she's /blonde/. Which just goes to show you - apparently he's not quite as whipped as it was assumed.

Even better, Lena has no makeup on, which combined with the Glee-refugee attire gives her the look of a fresh-faced fifteen year old. There's a plastic bag dangling from her fingers, the lumps inside roughly spherical and a visible orange even through the white. "Yeah, you know what? You're just gonna have to stop whining and make do! This is how I looked before you knew me, no one'll recognize me up here. Jerk."

Of course, once she opens her mouth, identification is immediately possible.

This being her first time in the pawn shop, she glances about with open curiosity. The bag of oranges is swung in an idle arc, heedless of whacking into anything. "Jesus, what a mess…oh!" Jade is spotted and a large, innocent-seeming grin is plastered on. "Hey!"

For just the briefest of moments, Jade plays out the fantasy of wanting to duck behind the counter and just hope she wasn't seen by the Brazilian, as her eyes lock on him as soon as the doorbell chimes. The fact that he'd probably walk off with half the store's inventory under his arms curtailed that little picturesque scene, however, causing her to sigh as she leans an elbow on the counter and waits for the to begin ruining the air with his crude words.

She didn't have to wait long.

The first words out of Tiago's mouth already has her raising her eyebrows slightly. The foul tone of the shorter of the pair brings instant recognition, which clashes horribly with the drifter's already-established familiarity of the other woman. She has to squint for a few moments after the greeting just to be sure. "Lena?" That too-innocent smile she was getting made the hackles on the back of her neck rise in alarm. "You went and got all…" She motions with a hand, as if searching for the right word. "Bimboed up.

Then her eyes cut back towards the South American, as a frowny-smirk twists her lips. "Too bad your taste in men didn't change, too."

Tiago frowns petulantly towards the pseudo-Lena, his brows furrowing before his lifts a hand to grab at a lock of her newly styled hair and give it a playful yank. "Jerk? I aint no jerk. But whatever you want, Barbie. Let's go find…oh. /There/ she is." He turns to squint dramatically at the eighteen year old, sizing her up, before breaking out in a broad grin. "I didn't see ya before, 'cause that big yap of yours was shut for once in your life. Y'know, I bet the doctor slapped you like, extra times when you were born or somethin', 'cause I dunno anyone else as bitchy as you are."

With the usual exchange of endearments, Tiago bounds his way over towards the counter, leaning forward onto it. "Aw, man. Don't play, Mulan. Y'know you love me. But, ah, how's you, huh?"

Bimbo? Lena's grin fades as she looks down to study her attire. Okay, sure, the skirt is short and the knee socks might be pushing it but…look, argyle! "High class, at least?" she inquires hopefully, completely talking over her roommate's insults to retaliate for the hair pulling. Not saying a word about her taste, either. "You totally didn't recognize me, did you? See, I told you, Chi. She didn't know me." That would be a better sign if they made a habit of interacting with Jade outside of darkened clubs. Oh, and leaving her sober now and again too.

She trails after the bouncing puppy of a man, heaving the bag of oranges up onto the counter. Cue the eye-rolling, accompanied with a normal smile this time. "I think he likes you."

"It's funny, I only get bitchy when I have to see you. Coincidence?" Jade smiles sweetly as the Brazilian finally notices her, but leans back when he makes his way closer, a look that was a cross between alarm and distaste on her face. "I suppose I should find your sudden concern at how I'm doing touching… But really it's just kind of creepy."

At Lena's latest comment, she flicks her eyes back to the older woman with a wry smirk. "Yeah, I think he does." She points mildly at Tiago. "Can you make him stop?" Dropping her hand, she reaches up and brushes her bangs out of her way, shoving the long, dark tresses off to the side. "No, I never would have recognized you. At least, not without your voice. Or this thing hanging off you." She cuts a pointed look at Tiago.

Eventually her eyes would fall to the sack of oranges, reaching out to poke carefully at the plastic bag. She places both hands on the counter and lifts her shoulders with an almost apologetic set to her features. Almost. "Sorry, but we don't buy perishable foods. Or non-perishables for that matter. And before you ask, we don't take them as currency, either. I had a homeless guy in here yesterday trying to buy a tape recorder with a fish. You got another faux-lex you're trying to pawn, Chi-Chi?"

Tiago tosses a look over his shoulder to Lena, sobering slightly. Automatically, he sits up, made self-conscious by the teasing of the two women. Geez, girls. Way to completely shatter a fellow's confidence. "Yeah, she didn't recognize you none. That /is/ a good sign. That Hallis bitch is always strung out on shit anyway, there's no way she'll know who you are, but…" And on that note, green eyes swerve over to Jade. For a moment, she is inspected, before he lets out a low sigh. "Why're you so mean ta me? For real, man. What've I ever done ta you?" The scary part? He sounds almost sincere in the inquiry, like he's /not/ just playing at being the victim in the situation. "Huh? Oh, no, we jus'…got other business ta attend to." And once again, he moves to exchange a meaningful look with Lena.

Lena shakes her head, blonde wisps brushing her cheeks. "Once he's made up his mind, not much I can do it about it. You either. But he'd give he'd take a bullet for you if he thinks you're cool, so it's not a bad thing," she observes in amused tones. "Those're for us, actually. You want one?" Without waiting for an answer, having caught that look from Tiago, the young woman tugs the bag open and reaches inside to pluck out an orange for herself. They must be fresh; there's a hiss of citrus when she pierces the peel with her thumbnail. May as well get to it.

"Chi says you're good people so we wanted to ask you a favor. Serious shit, now. You don't have to get mixed up in it if you don't want, we could go somewhere else. But…we kinda need a place to hole up for a couple days that no one else would think of."

"Why? If I had to pick just one reason, I'd say…" She leans a cheek against her palm, looking up at the ceiling as if deep in thought over all the choices she had to muddle through. Finally, she affects a careless shrug and a wink. "Because you make it so easy."

Jade's playful tone and expression drops as she catches the look passed between the two, then the buildup of it coming from Lena. She leans away from the counter slightly, a serious crease to her brows as she hears the request. For a moment, she doesn't say anything, merely looks from Lena to Tiago, then back again. Then back once more. After a moment she sighs, covering her face with a hand, sucking in a deep breath. "What the hell did you two get into?" After a moment, she just glares at Tiago.

"What'd you do, huh? If you got her mixed up in some stupid shit… Look, I rent this shithole studio thing. If you can stand my snoring, I guess you can bed down for a little while." She holds up a finger. "But no illegal shit!"

Tiago blinks. Not once, but twice. Despite the severity of the situation, as illustrated by that previously noted glance, the Brazilian somehow finds the time to gape in surprise. "I make it…what?" He inquires, baffled by the lightness of that expression. He doesn't have much time to ponder the reaction though, because Lena's spit it out, and Jade? Well, Jade's just freaking out, for no apparent reason.

"What!" Tiago calls out defensively, tugging a petulant frown onto his face as he shifts back and looks from left to right warily. The way he crosses his arm over his chest is quite stoic. "Why's it /always/ gotta be me, goddamn it! It's 'cause I look Mexican, aint it? Fuckin' racist ass shit, it is. Shit, do I /look/ like I do illegal shit?" Beat. "Don't answer that!" Apparently, Jade's going to have to look to Lena if she hopes to get anything of substance from the indignant Latino.

"Hey! Hey, calm down…she's seen some shit, I bet. It's not you, Chi, it's the usual assholes out there. Right?" Lena gives Jade a look that dares the younger teen to contradict her, even as she curls an arm behind Tiago's waist and offers him the orange. In that moment, she steps into the Brains Of This Operation role. "You have this one…look, Jade. It isn't him, it's me. I got us caught up in some…some pretty heavy stuff. Not from trying to, it's just…complicated." She hesitates here, brow rumpling thoughtfully as she considers the other girl. "We could tell you, if you want the story. It'll probably piss you off some but…you're offering us a place to stay so I guess you deserve the truth. But we're keeping our heads down, I swear to god, in my little brother's name, we won't pull anything while we're on your floor."

"Do bears shi-" Jade trails off as the Brazilian tells her he didn't really want an answer to his question, leaving off instead. "All right, all right, I'll admit that he's not the worst asshole out there. So… what the hell did you do?"

She holds up a hand a second later, closing her eyes and shaking her head. "You know what, I don't wanna know. Get whatever crap you need and you can sleep on my couch. Well, one of you could. Chi's a little too tall for it, it's just some cast-off two-seater." Turning away, she steps to the side and pulls a drawer out of the counter, digging around in it for with a bit of rustling. "Not like this week could really get any stranger. Has something been released in the air that's making people spring weirdo, nutjob things on me?"

She comes up with a pen and a small post-it pad, scribbling on the top sheet. "This is my address. I don't get off 'till nine and I won't get there 'till almost ten. I doubt you guys wanna hang around this dump that long."

Tiago sulks with the grace of a fourteen year old, although the purse of his lips do suggest that he has decided not to be a giant baby for too long. "…I'm a pretty good asshole, okay. I'm a good guy. And, it's not what /we/ did. It's what we learned the government's doin' an'…oh. Well, yeah." Gingerly, he lifts a hand to run through his hair, only to end up rubbing the back of his neck. "It's not jus' you man. This month has been fuckin' ridiculous. The whole world's gone batshit crazy and like…" Beat. "Well…thanks, man. For lettin' us crash. If you want, we can pay you some or somethin', I…don't wanna be like, a fuckin' freeloader."

"Yeah, it's good to know it's just just us. Weirdo nutjob things sums it up pretty well." Lena deflates a little, the relief at having that work out in their favor visible on her face. "Like he said, we'll chip in. And it'll only be for a couple of days, I promise. After that we might jump between motels. Stay moving, I guess." She just rattles on, talking over the brief mention of the government. "Pretty sure it's nothing in the air though."

Meanwhile, her hands return to the keeping busy task of unpeeling that orange. If nothing else, it'll make the place smell better. The first of the wedges is handed up to Tiago. The peels, at least, she tosses into the bag.

"Forget it. You'll want me to pay you after you see my place. It's about the size of most people's living rooms." She does look up from her address writing to frown for a moment. "You're the second people to mention the government." With a small, humorless laugh, she plucks off the post-it and holds it out. "Randy was trying to tell me how they were after people with 'super powers' just the other day."

Leaning forward to stick the note to Tiago's shirt, she tilts her head to one side, then the other. "Staying in motels every night is just going to cost you guys a shitwad of money. Trust me, I did it long enough. And, well, if you guys want to buy some food, I wouldn't object. My cooking skills are limited to the microwave, so if you want anything better'n that, you'll have to bring it in. I have this fake, cobbled-together stove-slash-barbeque grill that you can use."

Tiago peers down with that frown plastered on his face as he watches Jade pin the post it on his shirt, and he offers the girl a faint smile, only to have it disappear uncomfortably. For the second time in this conversation, he shoots Lena a searching expression, before coughing. "Er…yeah. He was, was he? I…Hey, d'you know when Randy might be in here? We need ta talk ta him." He's respecting her wish to leave her happily oblivious. Instead, he automatically latches onto the next topic of conversation. "There! Easy, we'll take care o' all the money expenses, then. And…I mean, I cant cook for shit, so s'long as you got a microwave, it'll work fine. Unless y'want omelets, 'cause I can do those good."

"He did?" Lena looks stunned, and then oddly angry. What the hell, does everyone know? She returns Tiago's look, her frown cutting deep. Even moreso when the young man decides to completely skip over the potential questioning avenue in order to talk about omelettes. She reaches out and the post-it is plucked from his shirt, the address on it glanced at. "I can do burgers," the bottle-blonde volunteers absently.


"You said Randy was into fairy tales, Jade, not conspiracy theories."

Jade's fingers drum across the countertop as she lifts her shoulders briefly. "Dunno. He should be here in the morning, if he doesn't pop in later tonight. He probably has a hot date or something, but if I'm closing." She taps a finger against her chest. "I sure as hell ain't gonna be here to open. So if he's not here around seven, eight o' clock, we just aren't going to open on time."

"Conspiracy theories, fairy tales, whatever." The dark-haired teen waves it away like an annoying fly. "He's into all kinds of crazy things. Maybe he was just trying to pull some kind of elaborate prank or something, but he seemed pretty serious. He tried to convince me that I had one, if you can believe that." She scratches idly at her cheek, a small, bemused smile in place. "Almost made me believe it, too. It kinda made sense, but… There's just no way, you know? No way. Supposedly the government knows all about it and hunts those people down and locks them in cages or something, I don't know."

Omelets no longer seem appealing to Tiago. In fact, he's taken to staring at Jade, jaw slightly slackened in surprise. In fact, he resembles something like a retarded goldfish at this moment in time. It takes his a minute or so before he remembers that he has vocal chords for a reason, and it is very week, the way he eventually grabs hold of the offered orange slice. "…Holy fuck. It's…it's fuckin' real, then. Wait - he said you had somethin'? A power or somethin'? What did he say you can do, Jade?" To impress upon her the severity of the situation, he doesn't call her by any of her nicknames. Although, that so-called severity disappears once he pops the orange into his mouth and masticates anxiously. "What can you /do/?"

Lena carefully folds the little slip of paper and tucks it into the pocket of her skirt, taking care not to look up at Jade while Tiago speaks. "Bizarre fucking world," she murmurs, more to herself than for either of them. When she glances up, her eyes are ever so seriously. Grimly so. "Not just cages. Trains. Like cows. Or…or Jewish people in that Holocaust."

They're such bright, cheerful people. "What's Randy's angle? Is he one too?"

The expression on Tiago's face only makes makes Jade's smile grow wider with malicious delight at the rather doofy look, even a brief snicker, before he seems to take it far more seriously than she had. "W-What?" Taken aback, the easy grin disappears as she places a hand high on her hip, tilting her head just enough to give the Brazilian a patented 'what the hell are you thinking!?' look.

She's about to open her mouth, no doubt to give the male a thorough tongue-lashing, and not of the good variety, before Lena looks up at her without an ounce of humor to be found on her face. "Uh… Well, that's, um… Look, that's… not really anyone's business but Randy's. He just, y'know, thinks maybe…" With a slight shake of her head and an irritated, exasperated breath let out, she continues. "Thinks maybe I'm the reason people've been getting so loopy when we go out. Like, uh, you know, I have pheromones or something."

"Look, what the fuck is going on!? This isn't like you guys. You're starting to freak me the hell out."

Tiago stiffens for a moment, swallowing the remains of the citrus fruit. What follows next is what seems to be a deflation of the man's posturing - his lets out a low sigh, resignation written across his features. "Listen, chill, alright?" He murmurs to her solemnly, turning to peer around the pawn shop and be absolutely sure that there's no one around them. "…It isn't a big deal. Well, it is, but no need ta freak out about it. Well…/anyway/, it wasn't you. Don't worry. You dont got no super powered pheromones or nothin', kid. But…Randy was right. Now…jus' shut up and listen and…don't be mad."

Hesitantly, his eyes creep over towards Lena once again, nodding to her to take over the reigns and explain the situation.

"Wait, what? He thinks you…oh, shit." It's Lena's turn to do the jaw-dropping thing, staring at Jade with open surprise. And then she gives Jade the look that seals it: that is undeniable and tragic guilt sketched in every line of her face. It fades somewhat when Tiago gives her the go ahead, replaced with a look of reluctance. She doesn't want to tell the younger teen just who's responsible for the past month's shenanigans. But…

"Ugh, fine." Lena rakes one citrusy hand back through her hair. "It isn't you, Jade. It's…I'm the freak. It's my fault. We're running 'cause the government maybe found out about what I can do, you know? They're…just scooping people up and shipping them off on trains. Probably to labs." Almost meekly, as if to redeem the naughtiness, she adds, "It started when I saved some people during this robbery, see…?"

At Tiago's hesitant semi-explanation, or at least buildup to what she assumed was the real one, Jade shifts her wait onto one leg, folding her arms under her chest and quirking her brow as she looks back and forth between the other two in a look of impatience that teenagers the world over had perfected. She even taps her foot for added effect, though her soft-soled sneaker couldn't exactly be heard against the tile floor, the motion only noticeable by the slight jiggle of her leg.

"Wait, you've been doing it? You!? I didn't even have a drink when I first met you!" She takes a step back from the counter, turning away momentarily, running a hand back through her long dark hair. "There's no way! No. Fucking. Way. Look, if you two are tring to pull some shit," She steps back to the wooden barrier separating them, jabbing a finger repeatedly against the smooth surface. "It isn't funny."
"You're trying to tell me the government's after you, like after you, because you got some freaky pheromone shit. What about Chi here? Can he fly or some shit? Are you both high right now? Do you know how crazy this sounds? I mean… What… Fine! Fine. Fine, prove it."

"You don't need to drink anything for what I can do. And it doesn't do shit for me…nothing like that works on me, it hasn't for a long time now. I'm like…immune." Which is more annoying than anything. Sometimes all a girl needs is to get her drink on. Lena sighs. "Chi's normal. Like you, maybe. Unless you can do something else. Here…"

Without giving her companion much time to react, Lena reaches out and curls her fingers around Tiago's wrist. The poor man is then subjected to a high that can't be faked, as the girl's forehead creases in concentration. She takes him up high enough that the signs are visible: the wobble of balance, dilated pupils, that big goofy and endearing grin. Then she brings him down again. Not all the way, but enough to communicate.

"There. I know it isn't flashy but…jesus. You explain to her, Chi. I need some fresh air." Grabbing the rest of the uneaten orange, Lena turns and marches from the shop.

Tiago frowns heavily taking a couple of respectful steps backwards as he watches Jade cope with the sudden onslaught of information. Automatically, he turns on the defensive. "What! Dude, why would we be fuckin' with ya? This aint funny, that's the truth, it'd make no sense ta lie about this shit. I mean, c'mon, we-" You can tell the exact moment Lena touches Tiago by his expression. His surprise quickly morphs into a broad, goofy smile of euphoria. Immediately, his eyes lose their focus and his posture slackens to the point that he actually starts slinking to the floor, as if melting.

Using her newly perfected ability, once Lena Purges Tiago, the man stiffens considerably. Faint beads of sweat appear on his forehead, and he gasps blindly for air, clutching at the counter-top as he slowly reconstructs his ability to focus his attentions. "…Fuck! Fuck, man, tell me the next time you're goin' ta fuckin' sap me!" He turns to glower sullenly even as Lena is retreating, although he remains slightly unsteady. "…Y'didn't do it all the way either - there's fuckin' two of you right now and…right!"

Sighing, he turns to Jade once again. "She can…well. She makes people trip. Not like she wants ta, but it's her skin man. If you touch her and…fuck, it's /hot/ in here."

Watching dispassionately as Lena begins to work her dire voodoo on her life-partner, Jade seems pretty unimpressed at the simple touch. Soone enough, her eyes widen to the size of dinner plates and her mouth falls partway open, even going so far as to take a step back, placing a hand over her chest as if she was going to stop her heart from leaping out of her ribcage.

She watches Lena as she storms out, her mouth moving to say something to stop her, but, frankly, her brain can't come up with any of the words she wanted to say, or even what she wanted to say at all. Unfortunately, the woman is out before she can think of anything intelligible to say. It's almost a full minute of silence before she speaks. "Oh geez. Oh geez. I- I got to sit down." Apparently the lack of a chair mattered not, as Jade sinks out of sight and a fleshy *thump* is heard from her rear impacting the floor. It's almost another minute before her fingers grip the edge of the counter and she pulls herself back up, leaning forward to aggressively jab a finger into Tiago's chest.

"Wait! That means it was you! Well, not you, it was her. But you knew! YOU KNEW! You two were getting me high! …How long has she been able to do that?"

Tiago is currently shuffling in his spot, glancing around the pawn shop expressively as he tugs on the fabric of his sweatervest, eventually tugging it right over his head so that he can start unbuttoning the oxford he is wearing. Just the first few buttons, nothing scandelous - though he doesn't even get THAT far, thanks to the finger jabbed at his chest. Surprised, he takes a step back from Jade, squinting in her direction and licking his suddenly too dry lips. "Nuh uh…well…yeah. The firs' I dont think we did, 'cause we didn't know you. The second…you weren't havin' fun!"

Clearly, this is a criminal offense, because Tiago clings to the argument as he approaches the counter once again. "You had fun after! But - but I made sure Lena stopped after, 'member? And that you were okay, I made sure you slept at our place so you wouldn't sleep with anyone, 'cause you said you didn't wanna and…huh?" Blink. "Oh…I dunno. Before I knew her. Couple years or somethin'…she had this drug lord boyfriend who was all addicted and shit ta her…he used ta hit her and shit, an' I saved her!" Well. If Lena didn't want him to speak, she shouldn't have doped him up.

"You didn't? …No, you did! She touched me! I was walking by and she touched me!" Holding a finger up, as if it were her beacon of victory, she angrily waggles it under Tiago's nose, only to retract it a few seconds later. "Oh geez. Oh geez, I can't deal with this right now." Placing a hand over her face, she bends down close to the counter, propping her fist against it, her forehead against her fist, eyes closed as she takes several, deep, calming breaths.

"This is so retarded. This can't be happening. It's just… Ugh."

"Ohhhhhhhh," With a harsh groan, she stands up straight again, turning around, taking a step, only to turn on her heels again and step back, her hands held to her forehead as if to keep her brain from pouring out of her skull. "Fuck it, I'm closing early." Dropping her hands, she points at the front the door. "Look, go get Lena and then lock the door. I have to clean up the back, and… And we'll just get the hell out of here. Uh, my place."

She she steps off to the side, she walks through the door to the back, raking her hands back through her hair again as if she were intent on going bald. "God, my life's turned into one big acid trip!"

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