2008-04-06: Tangles

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Sophie_icon.gif Kory_icon.gif Randall_icon.gif Teresa_icon.gif

Summary: A few people — friends and strangers both — run into each other at a bar. For some, the run-in is more literal than one would have liked.

Date It Happened: April 6th, 2008

Tangles


The Della Rosa

New York City

The increasingly late hour brings out the bar crowd: here, it's more crowded than an upstanding citizen would ever guess for the beginning of the week, but far from packed by bar-goers' standards. Mostly, it's the regulars that haunt the place, strewn sparsely about the small dive, getting away from the memory of their work day. It's dim, there's a certain dustiness to the air, which is filled with the sound of dull, quiet chatter here and there, the clink of an occasional glass, and the thumps and cracks of two washed-up fifty-something businessmen playing pool.

The Della Rosa.

As soon as she steps foot inside, Niki almost turns around and walks back out. In fact, she makes somewhat of a barricade out of herself as she stands there blocking the exit, but, just as her heels dig into the floor, turning to leave, she gives herself a frustrated sigh and strides further in.

It is chilly for a spring night. But Sophie is dressed for it, including elbow length gloves. She definitely doesn't look like a regular, as she pushes open the doors leading to the bar, stopping dead still as she slowly scans the room. This doesn't look like the kind of place her friends would go. Maybe she got the address wrong?

A lanky hispanic woman follows Niki into the bar, hands settled into the pockets of her neat suit. A leather briefcase, somewhat scuffed, hangs on her shoulder. She makes her way through the bar, looking for a free chair. She seems comfortable in this environment.

And then, just as the door's about to close behind Niki's friend, it opens again. "—a while since I last pulled a shift here." Randall is in mid-conversation with Kory as the two of them wander in. "Might try coming back if things get tight again." He looks accustomed to the place himself, but stays close to Kory anyway for her sake.

Kory's nodding with Randall's words, doing that weird, unnerring bookworm thing, where she's paying attention to him, and a book, and walking with smooth, even steps that don't bump her into anything. "How many jobs are you up to right now, anyway?" she asks, glancing up at him as they find a table.

Niki keeps her head down and seems to make a point of not looking at anyone — a way to go unnoticed, maybe, not that it's bound to work all too well. Rather than go to the bar, she veers away to the right, going for a little table shoved up awkwardly against the wall. She undoes the sashed belt on her black coat as she sits, but that's all the getting comfortable she's up for.

Sophie pushes on forward, regardless. She tries to look like she's not as worried as she is, about being in this part of town. Not seeing who is entering behind her, at least yet, she walks toward the bar quickly. Yes, coat still on, she might have to leave quickly. She passes right by the table where Niki is about to sit down, bumping one of the seats. She gives a quick, "Oh, excuse me." which probably marks her further as 'not a regular'.

Teresa settles down at the bar and orders a whiskey and sprite, neat and straight up. She turns around to survey the bar now, watching the various comings and goings. She spots Randall and Kory now and lifts a hand in a wave, "I'd put my money on, Dios, maybe 5. Am I close Randall?"

Randall eases a chair out for Kory, settling into his own just as she reaches it. "Mostly just one at a time. Or total since I moved—" Blinking, he turns and looks around until he spots Teresa. "Oh, you would've been close, about five months ago. It's been at least that long, hasn't it?"

Teresa nods, "Four months and… about a week." She nods absently to the bar tender, "You're the only one who actually knows /how/ to make a Mohito properly, wish you'd hire back on."

Kory snaps her head up, as a female voice addresses Randall. She quirks a brow curiously from the woman to Randall, back again. And then there's Sophie. Yay, distraction. "Hi, Sophie."

The woman who bumps the chair gets a passing look from Niki, along with a short-lived smile — a polite, unspoken 'no problem'. Her heart isn't even in that little gesture. Just as she settles in, to… do whatever it is people do when sitting by themselves in a bar, the blonde catches sight (and sound) of vaguely familiar faces (and voices). She glances in the direction of Randall and Kory, a look of mild surprise forming.

Randall shakes his head. "Anyone can make a good mojito when there's snow coming down," he replies, downplaying his skills in the field. He turns back toward Kory, only to find that she's drawn some company as well. "Hey, Sophie. Hey, Niki— been a while, hasn't it?" What is it with this bar today? Grand Central Station is a few miles north.

"Niki!" Kory looks around until she spots the blonde. "Hey! Good news!" She winks at the other woman, and leaves it at that. "It's been awhile, yeah. Recuperating…and now people insist on dragging me places so I don't become sort of reclusive acrophobic …sad person."

Teresa laughs at Randall's words and finally accepts the whiskey the tender set by her elbow. She sips it, and comments to no one in particular, "Good drinks at cheap prices makes this better than Grand Central, I think."

Better drinks, but Grand Central might even be slightly less sketchy than the Della Rosa. Niki finds herself narrowing her eyes at Randall for longer than she intended, an obvious expression of thinking. Or more to the point, trying to remember. "… Yeeaaah," she says, barely audible from her table. Kory prompts a smile out of her. "I, uhm." Niki runs a hand over her hair, tied back tightly as it is, and her brow furrows. "Do you want to— " She glances at her table. She didn't come here to socialize, not by a longshot, but… "Come be not sad and reclusive over here?"

"I could do that," Kory confirms with a bob of her head to the positive. That is, if Randall will let Kory out of his sight. Not that she objects to him sticking close, being protective. There's a good reason, after all. "Be right back, sweetheart." She gives Randall a quick brush of lips, though no less enthusiastic for shortened duration. Leaving her book, she sidles out of the booth and approaches Niki.

Randall has little trouble remembering Niki. There was that time or two at the bookstore. More to the point, there was that cross-country trip; when you really need to get there in fifteen seconds, be sure to fly Air Charlotte! He looks about to reply in his own right, misunderstanding who the invitation was meant to be directed at; but instead, he just leans up into Kory's kiss for a second, remaining at the booth.

Teresa drinks more of her whiskey, and smiles at Kory's obvious affection for Randall, watching the woman walk past to Niki's table. "Having a good day, then?" She addresses this to Randall.

Sophie pulls off her coat, finally. She is wearing a short sleeved shirt, and gloves. But that doesn't help much when, as she turns to head toward that table, she accidentally slips on a spilled drink, heading for a nasty tumble on the ground.

Kory is a distraction to Niki as much as getting out to the bar is to Kory. Niki bothers herself with folding her coat over the back of her chair while the other woman seats herself. "You're okay, then?" she prompts quietly with a lift of her brows, turning concerned — and very tired — blue eyes on the comic book girl. "I was thinking a— " And then, sudden act of clumsiness (or poor maintenance on the Della Rosa's part, but who's really surprised), cuts her off. Before she even quite registers what's going on or who's tumbling, Niki slips out of her seat and more or less launches at Sophie to try to grab her arms, keep her from face-planting. "Christ! Hey, are you okay?"

"Oh, no, Sophie—" Kory gets an ankle tangled in her chair, which takes her a minute and nearly knocking Niki's table over before she can get herself undone. "Oh, damn —!" She has to clutch the table or be pitched over by her own skewed coordination.

Meanwhile, over toward the bar: "Having a day, for once," says Randall, rubbing his eyes and squinting at Teresa. "I've been moving away from night shifts again lately, still catchi—" He stops and turns around as the shouts go up from Niki and Kory in turn. "Watch out, there's a loose floor tile--"

Sophie barely manages to avoid having her face smack the floor, her arm, her /bare/ arm clutched by Niki, and she now rolls slightly to the side. But, well, she stiffens, her eyes widening and staring not at anyone, but into the distance.

Teresa lets out a curse and rises to her feet, on instinct… seeming to go for Sophie… but of course she's far enough away that all she manages to do is knock over some stools and bump a nearby patron. She snags one of the chairs before it clatters.

Kory is just — finally — getting her feet under her again, and looking torn between sheepish embarrassment and wincing concern for Sophie (or is that for Niki) when she's jarred into a startled case of beepilepsy courtesy of her cellphone. Which is playing Denis Leary's "Asshole" as its ringtone. Kory fumbles the phone out of her pocket and manages to not fling it across the room and into somebody's drink. "'Zeti…" she greets her caller, deadpan and smirking. The smirk slips from her lips as the color drains from her face. "Randall…I gotta go. It's Nana." She gives an apologetic shake of the head to Niki, and is racing for the door as quickly as possible, book forgotten beside Randall.

Hundreds of memories try to accost Sophie all at once, tangled, at once emotion-filled and void of feeling but full of viciousness. Safe to say, the first touch is pretty damn confusing, a rush, too many memories for one head to hold, and yet—

"… Hello?" By contrast, the blonde's concerned face looks down into Sophie's. "Hey, are you alright? Let me help you up," says Niki, suddenly unsure. She vaguely registers Kory's running off before she kneels and tries to scoop the young woman into a sitting position. More bare skin on bare skin.

Randall starts to laugh as he connects ringtone with caller, but then his face falls as well. "Got it. Call me when you can," he calls out to Kory. It takes a few seconds for Sophie's slack-jawed expression to register. "Whoa, Niki, let her go!" he suddenly calls out. "She— look, just grab her by the sleeve, okay?"

Sophie pales. Her eyes widen, pupils now huge as she begins to shake under the touch. Both hands reach up, clutching her head as she says, her voice shaky as she says, almost a chant, "Too much, oh God.." she shakes her head, "All tangled, confused.. I can't sort it.."

Teresa looks more concerned, now, at Sophie's expression. She pulls a cell from her pocket and moves closer, "Is she having a seizure? Should I call for… someone? Medical help?"

What sleeves? Niki gives Randall a flat-out uncomprehending stare, frozen in alarm for her concern for the wide-eyed stranger she's trying to help. It's Sophie's behaviour that actually jars Niki enough for her to let go, reluctantly at first and then suddenly fast, as if burned. "What— ?"

A jarring burst of violence comes to the fore, vicious and loud with bone-crunching and screaming, colourful only because of several shades of red. It could be a horror movie, but it's all too real to be a film. Memories tend to be seen from the point of view of the person who they belong to, and the woman they belong to is literally tearing a man in half.

Cut to: a boy with dark hair, dark worried eyes, Micah. Dusty ground, the desert. "He's not coming," says Niki's voice, followed by the boy's: ".. Wh.. why not? Where is he? Mom.. what happened?"

Another memory in a flash — the length of the woman's arm ending in a handgun pointed at a man in a dim office room. "Niki…" It's Peter.

"Who are you," she demands, voice low, insistent. "You can't be here."

In the bar, Niki looks around at those who are showing any concern at all — namely Randall and Teresa, the rest of the patrons likely dismiss everything as drunken antics. "Do you know her?"

Sophie twists even after Niki's hand moves away. The images, violent, intense, fill her sight, blocking anything that is actually happening. She is living, experiencing the past right now, and not her own. She shakes her head, as her hands make motions, violent ones that seem to be pulling something apart. She screams something about the blood, sobbing at some terrible sight. Then, flashing to say, 'Who is.. Micah?' shaking her head, "Who isn't coming?" and ending with, "Wait.. that's.. Peter." head falling back as the images finally slow to a stop, now that the source is gone.

Randall grabs whatever napkins he can lay hands on in a few seconds, heading over toward where Sophie has fallen. "No, don't," he says to Teresa first. The last thing anyone needs is a bunch of paramedics Not Understanding all over everything. "Yeah," he adds, addressing Niki next. A glance around to make sure that there's still plenty of noise and hubbub to get lost in: "She picks up thoughts," he adds, keeping his voice low. Of course, the naming of names is a pretty big hint in its own right. Kneeling down, he works on slipping the napkins under Sophie's head so he can lift it up without inducing a fresh episode.

Teresa looks… hesitant still but for some reason seems to trust Randall's judgement and pockets the cell phone again. She returns to the bar and asks for some ice in a bag, which is provided… and carries it over to Randall offering it too him silently. "It may feel good on her head or the back of her neck." Curious still? Maybe, but she's not going to pry.

Familiar names are coming out of this woman's mouth. The shocked look Niki suddenly gives Sophie is almost accusing — how does she know those names?! — but that quickly fades, and so does her confusion once Randall clears it up al the more. "…oh." Oh. This would be a good time for a curse word. "I, uhm…" Suddenly dry-mouthed, the pony-tailed blonde reaches up to grab the edge of the table, starting to stand up. "I should— "

Sophie tries to catch her breath, as she slowly recovers. She stares at her own hands, as if in horror. That one is going to take a little while to fade, if ever. She murmurs, absently.. not due to indifference, but shock, and distraction at the images in her head, "Not thoughts.. memories."

Randall nods to Teresa, taking the ice pack and offering it to Sophie. "Can you get her a glass of water, too? Might help clear her head." And might help keep the well-meaning woman from hearing certain unusual things, too. Looking back to Niki, he shakes his head. "You couldn't have known," he says, still keeping it quiet just in case, "I only know because I've seen it before."

Sophie closes her eyes, carefully taking the ice pack with her hand, with a soft, tired, "Thank you." and sighing. "I think I'm going to have to stay in my room."

"Memories," Niki repeats slowly, uneasily, just as she's in the process of taking one high-heeled step backward. "Oh God," she breathes, taking a tentative step closer instead, but it's not like she can lay a comforting hand on Sophie's shoulder … and the other woman probably wouldn't want it, given that Niki's hands are the same hands that tore someone in her past into gory pieces. "Whatever you saw," she says slowly, voice low, "I'm … sorry."

Teresa glances at Randall, but does as she is bade. She makes her way back over to the bar to request some water. It's in a glass of dubious cleanliness, probably more noticeable for the clear liquid than others, but she takes it nonetheless. She hands it off to Randall now, keeping back to not encroach on anyone's personal space. Her eyes flit between the group, once or twice, resting on each. "One agua fresca." She says, softly.

Sophie flinches from the woman automatically, then she closes her eyes, "I'm sorry that.." she sighs, "That I can do this."

Randall does rest a hand on Sophie's arm, keeping a good distance away from the hem - no homicide in his past, but the poor girl doesn't need even simple memories added to the heap right now. "Yeah, heading home sounds like a good idea. Can you stand up yet?" The glass of water, dirty as it might be, is set within reach.

"Me too." For Sophie's sake. Instead of fleeing the scene, just yet, Niki presses herself against the table, gripping its edge, sidestepping further away, as if to avoid any more undue touch. She watches the young memory-reading woman closely, seeming to be on the verge of saying something every few seconds but ultimately keeping quiet, her expression on the troubled side.

Teresa, now that the water is delivered gives the group one last curious look and then returns to the bar, where he finishes the last of her drink. "Be safe, Randall and… Miss." She tells them, "Que Dios les bendiga."

Sophie stands up slowly, and says, "I should get going home." with a sigh, "I have to figure out what to do about this." as she walks toward the exit, and heading out.

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