2010-06-05: The Hitchhiker's Guide to New York



Date: June 5, 2010


Carrie shakes Randall down for his collected wisdom (such as it is) for Evolved trying to get by in the city.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to New York"

Enlightenment Books, East Village

It's easy to miss that Randall is in here today, unless you're specifically making a thorough search - or just happen to stumble across the aisle where he's holed up. A medium-sized pile of books sits at one side, a sketchpad at the other, as he leafs through one after another and jots down the occasional note. He's done this sort of thing in the past, too - he always promises to buy at least one out of each set, and to make sure the rest stay undamaged. So far, the arrangement has held up pretty easily.

Carrie wanders through the bookstore. She's mostly interested in medical books, for reasons that are obvious to her at least. She stops short as she sees Randall, and chews on the cuticle of her thumbnail. Then forces herself to stop, rubbing the spot with her fingers. "Hi." She says, at last.

Maybe she was worried about breaking his concentration, but Randall doesn't appear to mind, offering a smile as he looks up. "Hi yourself." Actually, he looks like he could use a break right about now. "I suppose I should've expected to run into you here, it's kind of up both our alleys, I think."

Carrie shrugs. "At least I didn't feed the pigeons Chinese food this time, yanno?" Carrie sits near Randall, "Grey's Anatomy" across her lap. It's a medical classic, the nitty and the gritty of how a human body goes together. Well. Comes apart, really. "And I came here to apply for a job. I can't be loaded down with books when I'm crashing in someone else's place, even if I could afford them."

Randall inclines his head toward the reference text - he doesn't know a lot of details about the subject, but he's heard of it, at least. (Haven't millions of couch potatoes, too, nowadays?) "Hey, that might not be a bad idea… depends on how well you can multitask, I guess. I get sucked into the stuff way too easily, otherwise I would've applied here myself years ago."

Carrie nods. "Yeah. I also started looking into apartments. How the heck do people afford to live here without crashing on someone's sofa? Seriously. I could own a house where I came from… a big house for what rent on a one bedroom apartment in the slums costs.

"Carefully," he replies, shrugging. "I'm kind of cheating a little bit right now— I saved up a little money while I was crashing at a safehouse, after the government chased me out of my old place." Wait, what? Randall forgot to fill her in on that whole situation, and she could well have missed the whole thing due to having been committed. "But I'm gonna be up against some tough choices within… a month or two, at this rate."

Carrie blinks. "Government chased you out of… back up. Backup. What're you talking about?" Carrie's hands start that twitching thing again, fingers beginning to twine with each other as she gets tense. "I hadn't heard anything like that.

Oh, crap, she did miss it. Randall quickly sets his things down and holds up his hands in a classic whoa-don't-panic gesture. "It's okay now, they got shut down… but for at least a few months, someone in the government had a hair up his ass about abilities, sent out some black ops teams. Rumors going around about it before that, I guess it took them a while to really get things going."

Carrie stares. "There are that many of us?" she says, in a heated whisper. "I mean… two or three, and they'd have quietly just disappeared us, right? How many… abilities do you know? And why did the government want us?

"Oh, I'm sure there are more than I know about personally," Randall replies. He's one of the small fish in the pond and he knows it. "At first, I assumed they were afraid and disappearing whoever they could catch… but near the end, I heard that they wanted to use us instead. Maybe soldiers— maybe weapons of mass destruction that no one else would know to look for. Depends on what the ability is, they'd probably have trouble turning us into weapons." Even if they were strong-armed into going along with it.

Carrie's mouth crinkles up like she's just bit into something sour. "Yeah. I'm no weapon. But I'm sure they could find a use for me. You're sure this is all in the past, right? And you didn't answer my question about how may of us you personally know.

"Yeah," Randall explains, "word came down from the people behind the safehouse, and there was a cover story in the news around the same time. And…" He pauses, thinking back. "Around a dozen, I think? Plus a couple others who at least know they exist. Like I said, I've fallen out of touch with some of them, they might have moved out of town at some point."

Carrie rubs her temples. "It's going to be awfully ironic if the safest place for me last year really was the nut house." she says, bitterly. "Anything else I should know about? Like, 'Oh, by the way, abilities have to be registered in the City and have a license to operate' or 'Look out for the catfish gang, they like to catch people with abilities and eat them.' Or any other important safety tips?

Randall considers the question, setting one of the books aside while he does so - it's one of the thinner ones, and was already turned to a page near the end. "There's a guy named Sylar— if he's still around. And it's probably a code name or something. But he's killed people with abilities before. There was someone trying to help him regain his sanity, but… if you ever stumble across him? Run. Just run." There's a certain bitterness behind this; he was going out with that person at the time, and they fought over the issue. Ironically, he later met Gabriel without realizing just who he was.

"Oh, and if we ever go out for a drink, make sure it's only one drink. I think the universe has decided it's going to punish me whenever I have more than that."

Carrie nods slowly. "Sylar. Isn't that like a brand of watch?" Carrie shrugs. "Okay. Sylar is bad. Got it. And you're a cheap drunk. Got it. I don't think that'll be a big deal. It's going to be a while before I can drink." She pauses a moment and then adds, "Legally."

"It might be, I don't know." And okay, she's under 21 - and possibly willing to skirt the issue. Always good to know. "Hey, I should let you put in that job application, huh? Make sure they're not going to close first." Randall settles the sketchpad in his lap, still open to a page with a few words here and there but mostly just an abstract line drawing.

Carrie nods. "I already did. If I don't get on here, I'm probably going to have to start hitting up the clubs and titty bars for like waitressing stuff." Her face prunes up at the idea. "Wouldn't be the first time, I guess. Long as they don't try to make me dance."

And now it's Randall's turn to make a lemony face. "Ugh, good luck, then. Some of the clubs are all right, but— I'd be less worried about the boss than the customers, they might try to grab your ass just because you're there." At least the boss has the reputation of the bar, such as it is, to worry about.

Carrie's nose wrinkles a little. "Wouldn't be the first time for that, either." Carrie sighs. "So what about you? If you're not running the pawn shop anymore, what do you do? And are they looking for more people?"

"Right now I'm working for a local delivery service," Randall answers, picking up another book and absently leafing through a few pages before setting it down again. "They might be hiring, I'd have to check. You could talk to Jade, too— she took over at the shop, I'm pretty sure she was looking for somebody to help out." But might have already found someone.

Carrie nods, considering it. "Dunno. I've heard pawn shops get robbed a lot. If it's taking a bullet or getting my butt grabbed… I guess my dignity will recover. Anyway. Where is the pawn shop?

Turning the sketchpad to an empty page, Randall tears off a corner and writes down an address, offering it to Carrie. "Tell her I sent you. And smile and nod when she insults my manhood, it's kind of a running gag between us. We didn't have any problems with thieves, actually, at least not until the government raid."

Carrie nods a little. "Thanks." She smiles at Randall. "You've been really um… nice, you know?"

Randall returns the smile in kind. "Hey, you have been, too." Another pause, while he tries to get a handle on a half-formed thought… aha, there it is. "Actually, I was thinking— if you get tired of couch-surfing, maybe we could work something out on the roommate front? But it'd probably have to be somewhere different, I'm only in a one-bedroom right now as it is." Which would just be a different type of surfing, really.

Carrie nods. "We could do that, once I get a job and stuff, sure. And I can sleep on your sofa. I'm not proud. What I am is cheap, you know? Long as your girlfriend or boyfriend or dog or whatever will be cool with my being there and all that, right?"

Hey. Randall is open-minded and all, but also firmly straight himself, and instinctively recoils a bit at that one suggestion. "It's— just me," he replies. "And I'm more of a cat person, not that I've picked one up since I moved here. But…" But his (random, but only partly) instinct is once again telling him that this is important. "Yeah, that sounds good. Let me know, okay?"

Carrie Spocks an eyebrow. "Seriously?" She looks at Randall a little more curiously, but doesn't add anything beyond "Just you, huh. Weird." she says. Other people might ask 'What's a nice guy like you doing single?' Not Carrie. In her life, when someone is single, there's usually a very, very good reason, and it's often better off if you don't know, especially if you're planning to sleep on their sofa. "Okay, I'll let you know." she nods. So. Backup housing for the moment, possibly better arrangements down the road. That's the first good news she's had here.

While Randall isn't sure where exactly Carrie was going with that one comment, he's pretty sure it wasn't meant as flattery. "I did mention being on the run for months, right? Kind of screws up the whole dating thing. There were a couple of possibilities, but… well, they had their own issues." Yes, he's leaving some details and some entire people out, he doesn't feel the need to just dump everything on her at once.

Carrie nods. "Yeah, you mentioned that. And I know from issues right?" Carrie looks away. "I wasn't, yanno. Offering or anything. My parents…" she pauses. Then goes on. "Wouldn't let me date before they died. And there wasn't much time after."

Randall winces. "I'm sorry," he replies, standing up and walking a little closer, "whatever the details were. I— well. I get that you don't have any experience with it, so… if it happens, it happens, right?" It's just casual dating they're talking about, no strings or anything.

Carrie takes a step back. A little skittish, this one? Perhaps. She nods, though. "Sounds pretty reasonable." She looks at the Grey's Anatomy once more and sets it down on the table. "I should get going though. Lots more places I need to apply, you know?"

He backs off just as quickly. This is hardly the first time things have gotten awkward while he's starting to get to know someone. "Yeah, you never know which one will turn out to be big. Good luck!" Randall moves to sit down again, scanning the books and preparing to get back to whatever he was working on earlier.

Carrie nods. "Take care, Randall. And thank you. Again." She looks back at him once more before wandering off.

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