Date: December 21, 2009
While stealing Girl Scout cookies, Jade angsts about accepting a much bigger handout from Jaden. Oh, and the persecution of the Evolved is discussed, too.
"Taking What's Not Yours"
Pawn Shop, Lower Manhattan
"Honey, I'm hoooooome!"
The bell above the door heralds it's opening, and the warning cry of the entire female half of the pawn shop's employee base. The late afternoon sun was casting long shadows as Jade arrives for her evening shift, looking to be in a much better mood than she usually was when she showed up for work. This likely had something to do with being able to sleep in that morning, and thus not having to crankily roll out of bed. But this time her arrival is different for another reason, as well. For it's not just Jade that enters, she also rolls in a scooter. But not just any scooter, it's a brand new, top-of-the-line, hot pink one.
This is maneuvered down the central aisle, towards the counter, around the side, and finall behind it, where she sets the kick stand, giving it an affectionate pat. "Don't worry, baby, no one will steal you in here. This store's too poor to rob." As she begins unwinding her black-and-yellow scarf from around her neck, which matched the stockings-slash-legwarmers she was wearing under her skirt, she offers simple greetings.
The store is open, and there's still no budget for a third employee, so it's a safe bet that Randall is hanging around the place somewhere. But where? Oh, there he is over there, rummaging through a box of electronic junk while a guy with a white button-down and not enough shampoo looks on anxiously. "Man, this stuff is years old. That's, like, decades in Internet years, you know? I don't even know what this one is." "That's an Apple Newton, you idiot! It was like the world's first PDA."
Eventually, they manage to hash out a price for the stuff - minus the Newton, which Grimley the Jerkass decides to keep after all - and Randall sets the box up on the shelf, only then turning around to look at Jade. And her new ride. "Where the hell'd you boost that from? Never mind, you gotta take it to Monster Joe's first, I've only got room in here for the parts."
"Monster what?" Jade's look is both incredulous and skeptical as she unstraps the, yes, matching pink helmet from her head, setting it on the counter along with her scarf, next proceeding to pull off her dark gray gloves. "I'm not taking my baby to any 'Monster Joe's'! Be happy I don't have to take the bus and don't have an excuse to come in late anymore, and let her sit in the corner in peace! Geez."
"And I didn't boost it. Since when did I become a criminal? It's actually something that I wanted to talk to you about. I've been having this uber moral crisis lately, and Cheech n' Lena went all MIA on me, so I can't even bug them about it anymore. Not that they were very happy to listen in the first place…"
With a dramatic sigh, she folds her hands, one on top of the other, with her chin perched on top of both. "Ya mind hanging around a little and listening ot me whine about it? You're an old, stodgey fogey, so I'm sure you have some advice to lend."
At the mention of Lena and Tiago falling out of touch, Randall frowns for a moment. "They didn't get kidnapped, did they?" She's not acting like it, but he's been a bit head-in-the-sand about the idea up until recently; never hurts to double-check.
"When I turn thirty, then you can call me an old fogey. If I haven't fired you by then for pilfering Thin Mints. Seriously, though, what's going on?"
As he listens, he continues to peer quizzically at the scooter. It can't have been that much cheaper than that dream car she looked up that one time, and she said she'd have to save for years to afford one of those. Wonder if it has anything to do with this moral crisis of hers.
"Um… Um… I don't think so…"
At the sudden thought, Jade frowns, her brow furrowing, eyebrows bunching over her nose as she digs in her coat pocket to withdraw her cellphone, reading the front display of 'No Messages', and not looking very pleased about it. It's placed back from whence it came. "I mean, they sometimes go for a few days to be on their own, but they usually pick up their calls. I'll, uh, start to worry if I haven't heard by tomorrow. They wouldn't be gone that long without at least a text."
But as her mind is brought away from her wayward friends, she places a hand on her hip and quirks an eyebrow with a wily smirk quirking at her lips. "Look, if you don't want to share, you should really lock 'em up. And make sure I don't know where the key or bolt cutters are." After a moment more, the facade of snackfood is over, and Jade's back to her customary thinking pose, crossing her arms under her chest, glancing off to the side, and quirking her lips. "Okay, well, it's like this…"
"Lena saw this guy on TV or radio, or maybe in the newspaper, but it was some billionaire wanting to do stuff for people less fortunate or something. So she writes in, and this guy, some rich big-wig corporate guy named 'Cain', he writes back. I saw his letter. He gave me, Lena, and Cheech each ten grand to spend on our education. Then, like that's not enough, he gives me another ten Gs for having to move out of my place, and buys me this scooter because I complained to Lena about assholes on the bus grabbing my butt. And I don't know what to do! Lena doesn't want me to give it back, and Cheech got mad that I even suggested it, but… Can I just take twenty thousand dollars from some guy I don't even know? Is that, y'know, right?"
Randall nods, silently mouthing 'tomorrow' in a brief echo. And grabs one of the mints himself, the legacy of a Girl Scout whose mom happened to bring her into the store earlier in the week. "Oh, that explains it," he replies, recognizing the name. "Jaden? Man, he's nuts." The tone of voice is one of approval, possibly even admiration. "This one time, he donated a bunch of money to the Bronx Zoo, so they threw a little party to say thanks, right? Guy parachutes in. And manages to pants himself on a kite-eating tree in the process. And then they got chased by rhinos, no thanks to some animal wrongs protestors, but that wasn't his fault— Anyway. Guy's a billionaire. Twenty thousand to him is like…" A pause, as he doodles zeroes on the countertop. "…enough to play one game of Space Invaders? Maybe. Seriously, I wouldn't worry about it."
"Jaden Cain, huh? Well, I guess I should at least send him a thank you or something. The other guys wanted to throw him a party, but I doubt guys like him meet with people like us. But really?" She holds up her hands, out to the side, in a sort of half-shrug. "That's it? Take it, it's just that easy?"
Placing a hand on her chest, she rises up on her toes, then back down again in a helpless little bounce. "I've always worked hard- Not one word. -to get by. Taking a hand-out like I'm some kind of begger just seems so skeevy. I mean, it's not like winning the lottery. She asked him for this money, and he forked it over. I get that his dining room silverware probably cost twice as much as this, but it's still all… wonky."
With a bereaved sigh, she turns away, beginning to unbutton her coat, which she shrugs out of to reveal her baggy black sweater and flower-pendant necklace. The coat is folded up and stuffed under the counter, her helmet and scarf picked up and placed with it. "But I guess if you say it's okay… It's just kind of a shock. I mean, I've been wanting to go to Europe, and this could get me there and back again like ten times. Or I could go to a community college. Like, a real college, not one of those internet things. God, I think I might actually end up with a career. How scary is that? What're you up to tonight, anyway?"
"Well, it's not like you're going back for more, right? Besides, he asked people to ask, so—"
Abruptly, Randall starts laughing. "I'm sorry, I just got this mental image of you and a waiter in Paris yelling at each other. Never mind. Let's see, I met this girl from Columbia, speaking of college… she's all shy and geeky, and yet somehow she looks kind of like you, only like blonde and hotter, right?" Yes, he can snark too. "And I think there's someone else with an ability, I'm supposed to meet them tonight after we close up. Alone, I figure, in case they get nervous." And hence his failure to mention that these comments are about the same person.
"Hotter than me? Are you high again, because there's no way."
Flipping her hair with a flick of her wrist and an indignant turn of her head away from the male, Jade leans on the counter and covers a small yawn with her hand. "Besides, if you're into blondes, then there's more wrong with you than I ever imagined. In fact, you're probably beyond redemption at that point. Shy, geeky type, sounds like a real nerd marathon. You two can get together and twitter about whether Darth Vader really says 'Luke, I am your father.' Then go have a geekgasm over the last Microsoft motherboard to hit the market."
After taking a moment to pilfer not one, but a whole handful of the minty, chocolatey cookies, the dark-haired teen pops one into her mouth, crunching loudly on it for a moment, before piping up again, despite not having swallowed her food yet. "Be careful out there. I've had to move twice in the last few months, and-," There's a small pause, to allow for food consumption. "-Everyone's kind of on edge lately. Things're getting heated, so bring protection, and don't be afraid to run, okay? Because if you never come back, I'm closing your shop and emptying the register."
"Huh. That's funny— your mouth is moving, but somehow I'm not hearing anything. I must be going deaf in my old age."
Randall shakes his head, taking a quick break to go over and politely but firmly disentangle a toddler's mashed-plum-covered hands from a set of hollow brass reindeer. "My eyesight's still fine - I'll make a dash for it if they do show up - but, well, I think you're a little better-connected lately than I am." How'd that happen? He's the one who (he thinks) might actually be on their list of primary targets. "Have you heard from anyone who's trying to actually take the thing down? Or are people just hiding and hoping it beaches itself?"
It's at this point that a thin mint is flicked at the male proprieter's head with a disgruntled 'tch'. Only one is wasted, though, the rest far too precious to use as projectiles, needing to be devoured, rather than flung. "Just how fast can those geriatric hips take you anyway?" She watches dispassionately as the toddler is removed from running his messy hands all over the merchandise.
Another cookie vanishes, then another, and soon enough she's reaching for more. Really, just one handful is never enough. "Mmmmyeah. I think they're still on the fence about actually joining the good fight. I think they're worried about dragging me further into it, but really I'm just tagging along on the sidelines, so… But they know some people who're doing some kind of underground railroad thing or something. And those people know even more people who're doing even more stuff."
She pauses, looking thoughtful for a moment. "Lena didn't wanna start spilling the beans about which ones had powers and stuff like that, but I can kind of put two-and-two together. It's like a really bad spy novel. I mean, how the hell do you fight the richest, most powerful government on earth, anyway? Me? If I was 'special'? I'd be sitting in Morocco with my twenty grand by now, teaching Africans how to surf."
Randall picks up the airborne mint after it lands, chucking it into the trash. "You really should lay off those, you know. Unless you think you could pull off the childbearing-hips look, but then you probably do, huh?"
"Underground railroad. That's not a bad idea… but if it means giving up your home, then it's kind of a last resort, isn't it? And you wouldn't be fighting the whole government, like the Taliban or something— just a little hidden piece of it. I don't know how to get to that piece, either, but it wouldn't surprise me if somebody does."
"I'd be the most fabulous fat woman you've ever seen and you know it. I'd just get an extra-wide surfboard I could sit on so I wouldn't have to strain my cankles." She reaches down, cookie caught between her teeth as she tugs at the waistband of her skirt, talking around the cookie. "And I'd get to wear stretchy-pants on days other than Thanksgiving."
She waves a hand towards the door, before turning her back on it in order to lift herself up onto the counter in a sitting position. Once there, she begins to unvelcro her boots slipping them off to fall on the floor with a *plunk*. "There's like a whole community of freakazoids out there. You can't tell me in an underground community where people rip things out of your mind with a thought, someone doesn't know something. Getting them to admit it, though…"
And then it's time for the stockings to start making an exit, yanking them off of her legs, and setting them aside. Apparently it was toe-painting time. "What time's your date with destiny? Better get going. Wanna be looking your best when the feds shove you to the ground in handcuffs."
Randall glances toward the door himself, for a different reason. If those barnacles of a moral guardian crew are still out there, then they might misinterpret Jade's preparations as some kind of strip show— in which case he wants to enjoy seeing the looks on their faces. But alas, there's only a couple of them this late in the day, and they're more interested in haranguing passersby. Their numbers tend to be larger in the mornings.
"We agreed to meet some time after closing hours… but yeah, I've got a couple things I should go take care of first. Wait at least twenty-four hours before you start figuring how to spend the building insurance, all right?"
As she leans over and pulls open the drawer, Jade elicits a long-suffering sigh of discontent, yanking out three bottles of nail polish, each a different color, and one with glitter mixed in. "Oh, all right, all right. I swear, the things I do for you. But just this once, I'll wait a whoooooooole business day before selling all your worldly goods." She looks over towards the male. "But you owe me."
Of course, if it were warmer weather, Jade would probably carry her regular clothes in in her backpack, just so she could wear scandalously trashy ones on the way in. But with New York winter, there was no freaking way that was happening for another six to eight months, at least. Instead, she begins by picking up the red, glittery polish, unscrewing the cap.
"Don't stay out too late and don't do anything I wouldn't do. And if you do, then do it twice."