2010-04-11: Tales from the Darkside



Date: April 11, 2010


Catwoman and the Fisher King Portia and Randall dance along the line between reality and fantasy.

"Tales from the Darkside"

Central Park

The first apartment building on Randall's list had only had a few vacancies, all of which had already been snapped up by the time he came back to it. Ditto the second, and the third. Not entirely unexpected - he deliberately put the most crowded ones at the top of his list, figuring that anyone searching for his new place would expect him to do the opposite - but by the time he found one that still had an opening, it was past two in the afternoon, and he was good and ready to crash.

Several hours later, with the sun safely down and the contents of his backpack emptied into drawers, he picked up a fresh sketchpad and headed out to the park with it, laying down near the base of a hill and staring up at the clouds. Picking up more supplies and refilling the emergency being-chased-again pack can wait till later, he knows where to find some shops that stay open all night to cater to people who can't fit it into their schedule anywhere else.

There's a bit of wanderlust in Portia tonight. She's been in the habit of moving around more frequently as sitting still for two long seems to have begun to irritate her a bit. Restless would be a better word. She's not got her usual guitar that she usually heads out to the park with, but she's got a notepad tucked into the bag slung over her shoulder. Song lyrics should do for tonight.

Well, hell. The whole point of coming out here was to stay away from other people for a while - the park usually isn't empty at this hour, but it's big enough that its visitors have plenty enough room to spread out - but there's that idea blown out of the water, now. Randall turns over onto his side, keeping his back to the walking trail and otherwise trying to act casual; maybe he'll escape their notice, whoever it is.

Moving quietly along the path, Portia takes a moment to ponder invisibility. Sure, she feels as if it's fairly safe out at the moment, but one never knows. She takes a moment, looking around for the closest area where she can go to make sure that no one catches her turning invisible.

After a while, Randall looks back again— and the shadowy figure is nowhere to be seen. Well, good; all the alarms over the past couple months (except one) turned out to be false ones, but they still get him worked up with worry. Pulling off his shirt, he mops his brow with it and then stuffs it behind his head before returning to his abstract sketchwork.

Now safe and out of the way, the newly invisible Portia continues her pace. However, there's just a slight bit of movement that catches her attention. She moves slowly, trying not to make a sound. It's best to do that while invisible.

The flutter of wings catches Randall's attention as well, a black flicker against the dark gray of the cloud cover. Squinting and holding the sketchpad directly above himself, he adds some new marks to the page - then peers at what he's just come up with. Something about that pattern seems familiar, he thinks…

Creeping closer, Portia lets out a sigh of relief. It's just a bird. There's no one lurking in the bushes. After all, the only thing lurking out here was her. Peering around, she straightens up, yawning as she takes a moment to glance around the park. Looked like everything was alright… unless that was something over there. She squints a little in Randall's direction.

It's something, all right - but what? Randall sits up again, setting the sketchpad aside and absently brushing some dirt away before tugging his shirt back into place. No, he's not quite doing the full-on Fisher King routine. A glance to the left and the right, then he cautiously steps forward, directly toward an obstacle he can't really see.

AND THERE'S SOMETHING COMING FROM THE BUSHES! Portia wheels backwards, ungracefully tripping over her feet as she scrambles to step back away from whatever was emerging. The product of her movement only lands her on the ground, the loud thud and slight 'umph' sound being the only clear indication that she was there. Thankfully, however, she didn't full-on run into Randall.

It's like a dance, only without the closeness and the grace, and with grass instead of tile. As Portia backs away, Randall continues to walk forward, blinking as he tries to work out which direction that sound came from. It was over that way, wasn't it? No thought is given to running away from it; there'd be lavender and green in the air if anyone were trying to kidnap him.

It's dark enough and Randall's not close enough for Portia to really recognize that it's him. She does, however, notice that the figure is coming towards her. "Shit," she mutters under her breath, slowly edging back along the ground, trying her best to move very slowly and very quietly. He shouldn't be able to find her, she's invisible after all, but one can never be too careful.

For a second, it looks like his sharp ears are about to lead Randall to her anyway, invisible or no - but then the bird makes another fly-by, behind him this time, and he turns around and scratches his head. One hand slips into his pocket, taking out a compact cell phone and turning the screen on: a poor man's flashlight, pointed away from himself to minimize the damage to his night vision. He doesn't spot any footprints right away except his own, but it might also be enough to let his own face be seen, depending on one's vantage point.

"Oh," Portia says. "It's you." Well… that clears things up. She slowly gets to her feet, fading into view.. or at least, more visibility. "Randall… what are you doing prowling around in the park at night?" Pot, meet kettle.

Oh, he definitely recognizes that voice. "Portia, hi," he replies, putting the phone away again and glancing up and down as she appears. "I was trying to lose myself in a large open space for a while, catch up on my drawing. It was working, too. What about you, how come you're not back at the club?" Last time he went to one, he was helping Claire take a break from things, while the brunette was apparently out on her own recognizance.

There's a tiny bit of a smile. "Ah, well.. sometimes I like a bit of downtime. Crowds can be.. stifling. I can never quite decide if I really like them or not." Portia stretches a little bit, stuffing her hands into her pockets. "Sorry about interrupting your drawing… I was just being a bit cautious. Never hurts, huh?"

"I guess you're right," says Randall, "it's pretty dark out— hard to make out faces. I like it, it makes it easier to focus." He sits down again, drawing his knees up to his chest and looking out toward the streetlights in the distance. "How's the outside world these days? I'm still trying to stay under the radar myself, I haven't really been out lately except that one time. And for odd jobs." Yes, he's back on that cycle again.

Moving to sit down next to him, Portia smiles weakly. "It's the usual. You struggle to pretend that everything's normal and make sure it stays that way. I'm pretty good at that. Managing just fine." She leans back a bit. "Supposed to hear back from colleges soon. That'll cement a normal life, at least, even though it won't be terribly exciting."

Randall shakes his head. "Oh God, exciting, seriously? I've done exciting before, and I don't know about you, but most of the time I'm way out of my depth. I can barely imagine what the people on the front lines are having to deal with." There are a few different wars going on, but only one that the two of them have a personal stake in. "So— colleges, plural? I just assumed you were staying with Juilliard, it's famous enough that I heard about it when I was just a kid."

Portia rubs the back of her head. "Well, I meant exciting as in actually getting a singing gig and making it big, you know. Actually jumping out of the conventional box." She sighs softly. "I figured I'd better apply to a few more. Just in case Julliard doesn't take me. It's.. a pretty tough program to get into."

"Mmm, that makes sense. Have you posted anything online? It's not like the old days, where everyone has to get signed by a big label." He's just making amateur guesses, figuring she'll have a better grasp of the specifics. "I haven't decided what I'd want to do next… even if I could go back to the shop, it probably too much damage to salvage much of anything. But I liked having something semi-permanent for once."

"I can see why you'd like to have something kind of permanent. Must be hard.." Portia looks down. "Can't say I'd enjoy that life. If I lost the opportunity to do my music, to be out there and sing and share it all with the world? I'd be an entirely different person, I think. I don't quite know what I'd do." She chuckles. "Been plotting a few Youtube videos to see if I can get some fans… I figure it's a bit of a start."

The conversation proceeds in a similar vein for a while. Somewhere along the way, Randall lays back down on his back to get a look at the sky, though he keeps his shirt on now that he knows there's mixed company around. "Is it me," he murmurs, pointing up at an approaching cloud formation, "or does that look like that new girl on that soap opera? The one with all the animals."

Portia leans back a little, gaze turning up towards the sky. She smiles, slightly. "I've never been much of one to find shapes in clouds… but I suppose, it kind of does… maybe. If you squint.."

Randall shakes his head. "If I squint, I can't see anything. Eyes wide open." He's wrong, anyway - it's clearly a bunny rabbit. "Hey, I never asked— what was with you and Claire the other night? You got her to come out of her shell quicker than I did, that's for sure."

A grin. "It's a girl thing. She looked like she hadn't really done any of that clubbing-type-stuff, so I figured I'd just show her the ropes. I've snuck into enough clubs to really get the hang of things, and I've seen one or two girls who've been like that and how others have gotten them to open up. The rest I just learned from experience." Portia goes back to squinting, but only finds that just obscures the bunny-cloud. She pauses. "She said her name was Sandra… she another one who's hiding out, then?"

She did? It was noisy enough - and she was far enough away - that he missed hearing it. Yay for not planning such things in advance. "Yeah," Randall admits, "for a few weeks now. That's why we were there— it was her birthday, and she kind of needed a break from being cooped up, you know? I can tell her you said hi if you want." I can tell her you're one of us, is what he really means.

"Yeah.. tell her hi. Let her know I'm free if she ever needs to get out again. I'm kinda good at getting out unseen, if you hadn't noticed. Or getting in." Portia looks a bit sheepish for about half a second before merely looking satisfied with her skills.

Randall pauses for a second— then turns over onto his side and starts laughing. "I'm sorry," he says, waving a hand vaguely in the air, "I just got this mental image of you in a Catwoman outfit. The Halle Berry version. I am so sorry." Because that version sucked, right? She basically admitted it afterward. "Or maybe the Mission Impossible rig, where you drop down from the ceiling?"

Portia offers forth a playful punch to the side. "I don't think spandex really suits me. But yeah.. that's totally me. I'm untouchable. I slip in past everyone's eyes and get whatever I want." She smirks. "Now if it only worked that way for fame and fortune. Well, if all else fails, I can get a job as a cat-burglar."

"Unless someone thinks to set off the sprinkler system," muses Randall, "you'd need a full-on illusionist to get around that. I don't know, though— you really think black is your color?" There is no mention of 'stealing is bad, mmmkay'; neither of them is pretending to be having a serious conversation here.

"Hmm… black.. well, I guess it works. They say black is a very slimming color. I could always go for grey. Though if I was going to do that I'd need a notorious name. Portia just isn't that awe-inspiring." She explains, peering at the clouds once more.

Randall considers that, resting his chin in his hands as he lays chest-down on the hillside. "It's a good villain's real name, though. Portia, Selina…" Hand-wave, hand-wave. Failed his comic book trivia roll, but the one prominent example is something, at least.

"Mm." There's a slight pause from Portia, as if thinking. "I guess that settles it, then. I'm a villain. I suppose that would make us enemies, unless you've decided to give in and join me on my side. The benefits package is great."

"I'm on the same side I've always been on," Randall says without missing a beat. Aha, there's another comic book villain— well, sort of. "And I think," he adds, looking impish, "this is the part where I'm supposed to ask whether you're part of the package? A person could get the wrong impression, you know."

Portia can't help but grin. "Well, that depends entirely on you." She glances briefly back at the sky. "I'd say being on my side has it's perks. That's for sure." She lets her gaze flicker back towards him playfully. "I'm sure I can tempt a few people over to my side with a suggestion like that."

Randall shrugs, turning onto his side to face her. "Probably, but how many before one of them decides to call your bluff? Villains who play with fire have a bad habit of not making it to the sequels…"

"Who said I'm bluffing?" Portia retorts, folding her arms as she looks back at him. "And I'll definitely be in every sequel. Who's going to write the top song for the soundtracks, after all?"

"Well, I didn't want to call you a tramp to your face…" Ooh, that's liable to get something thrown at him, and Randall makes a point of ducking his head a bit just in case. He might have taken that opportunity to scoot closer instead, but the sometimes awkward give-and-take with Claire is still fresh in his mind; he's planning to stay generally distant on that front for a while. "And you have to pick your roles carefully… look at Will Smith, he's still acting but his musical work got oversaturated pretty quick."

Portia swats playfully at Randall. "Well, it's nice to know you'd say it to my back." She pauses. "Well, I suppose that just means that I'm branching into acting next… I think that could be a good career move. I like singing, but I could do musicals and stuff too, have a minor singing career on the side and be on the big screen… after all, actors who can sing and dance are in popular demand, especially with how many musicals they're making into movies these days."

"I don't know, it depends how long the trend lasts… Bollywood's an option, too, but only once in a while." With the danger past, Randall sits up again and considers. "So when do you go on a three-month bender, and then go do rehab and an autobiography— five, six years, maybe?"

"Gotta start soon. They'll make a big deal of me turning eighteen, so I'll have to start hyping things up…" Portia grins. "Maybe a couple of years, depends on the popularity of my music… I can always go do it for publicity."

She's not eighteen yet? It's not a total surprise - she is still in high school, after all - but he wasn't quite certain. "I don't know, it seems to blow up too quickly if you go the whole child-actor route. You want to pace yourself if you're trying to be a really memorable road accident."

Portia seems to contemplate this. "You're probably right. I'll wait til I turn eighteen, then I can just go from there… I'll simply look like a newly discovered young star, that way."

Randall scratches his head. It's almost looking like its old self, nowadays; give it another week or two. "So are you saying you're actually going to be discovered before then? Who gets to claim that credit? I'm not in showbiz so I don't think I count."

"Probably some brilliant Julliard teacher in the process of really cutting his teeth. He'll discover my natural talent and then it'll just go uphill from there." Portia sighs, almost dreamily. "Do you think there's even the slightest hint of a chance there?"

"Well, that depends what sort of movie it is. If it's a family movie, then everything'll work out at the last minute. If it's a gritty drama, then he'll be more interested in 'discovering your natural talent' on a couch." Because her one stint on Randall's couch wasn't the least bit troubling. "Either way, you'll save me a spot at the red carpet opening, right?"

"You can walk me down it, if you like. I'll definitely remember you when I'm famous." Portia grins. "Unless someone REALLY famous wants me. Then you'll just have to take second place."

Abruptly, he gets up and storms off. "Well! I know when I'm not wanted." This lasts for about five steps before he drops the act and sits back down again, leaning back and relaxing. "Seriously, though, where's the TV series fit in? All the girls your age seem to be doing one of those."

Portia might have seemed momentarily panicked, but that's probably just a figment of someone's imagination. Maybe. "Well… I'm not sure what I'll do yet, but I could always start with a minor role or two. Guest starring, something like that."

"Well, if I hear about any openings, you'll be the first one I call." A long shot, given the circles that Randall travels in (or more accurately doesn't), but you never know what the future holds.

Portia can't help but grin at him. "Well, naturally you'll have to. Then you can take credit for discovering me, you know? Cement your own place in stardom." She takes the moment to shut her eyes and breathe deeply.

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