2009-12-30: The Hits Keep Coming



Date: December 30th, 2009


Jade is putting forth her usual fantastic effort at work when Randall delivers some more bad news.

"The Hits Keep Coming"

Pawn Shop, NY

The middle of the afternoon was when the shop was at it's busiest. Unfortunately, either business was slow, or almost all of the customers had been chased away by the teenaged employee's selective use of her microphone. While she waited for the appointed hour when she could go home, the girl was forced to amuse herself in the usual ways. But she had already painted her toenails purple, with a little yellow flower on each one, practiced her marksmanship with a little toy suction-dart gun on a couple of the picture frames, and had even tormented the customers until they had bought something or gone home to avoid her pestering.

What was left to do? Unfortunately for her, the answer was read, and she was standing behind the counter with a big, fat book full of algebra in front of her. Her mind didn't seem to be on her work, though, if her wandering gaze had anything to say about it, until she eventually gave up staring at the complex mathematical formulas, propped her chin on her palm, and started staring out of the front windows.

"Is it time to go home yet?" Muttering to herself, she cuts a glare at the clock, which noted back to her that it was not, in fact, time to go home yet. For a moment, Jade continues staring, her glare turning more intense, willing the minute hand to move faster. It does not.

Most days, Randall's arrival at the shop at this hour is preceded by a quick break outside - a friendly talk with a customer, or a less friendly one with one of the Moral Minority if they happen to be hanging around. Today, he doesn't stop until after he's inside, and then only to mop his brow nervously with a paper napkin left over on the countertop.

And to follow Jade's gaze over toward the clock. "That's never going to heal if you don't stop ticking," he murmurs, before continuing toward the back and motioning for her to follow him. Along the way, he changes the radio to a different station (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe1URrOBklA) and kicks the volume up, then glances around at the customers. "No funny business, guys, I will be paying attention."

"Yeah, well, screw that clock. I think it's defective. Or you keep setting it back to keep me here longer."

The dark-haired teen's eyes follow the trip of the paper across Randall's forehead, one eyebrow quirking up towards her hairline. "Are you sweating? In winter? W-Wait-!" Abandoning her post at the counter with no absolutely no qualms whatsoever about it, except perhaps to later mourn the loss of her text book if it's stolen, Jade tags along on the older male's heels as he heads through to the back of the store.

Once there, Jade jams her hands into her back jean pockets and begins bouncing on her toes, bombarding him with questions. "Did you find something out? You did, didn't you? Is it about Cheech and Leen? It's them, isn't it? Where are they? Did they run away? Did they, y'know… get snatched?" She lowers her voice suspiciously for the last bit, though from her tone, it's not clear which of the two explanations she'd rather be the true facts.

For all her academic troubles, Jade gets full marks for being observant and quick-thinking. Might be why he puts up with all her other crap.

"Yeah, the last one," he says, keeping his voice low enough that the radio should drown it out for anyone else trying to listen in. "I got word from Peter - he's a friend of Kory's - anyway, they're holding them somewhere in the city and running them through the whole Ministry of Love drill. He's working on getting them out, but—"

What's he supposed to be thinking about, right now? How they're being hurt? How it drove them to start naming names? But it's not just them, either… Abruptly, he kicks at a box on the floor, sending up a fresh cloud of dust. "Listen, I'm sorry for dragging you into all this in the first place, all right?"

"Peter? I think Leen mentioned him once… Said he was cute." That was about the extent of Jade's knowledge on the subject. The reference of what has happening to the duo flies right over her head, if her blank expression was anything to go by, but she understood the words 'holding them in the city' well enough. She reaches up to put a hand over her mouth, wrapping her other arm around her trunk as if she were going to be violently nauseous.

"Oh god… Oh god… They really, really got them? I was hoping Gene was wrong. Oh, why did this have to happen?"

Sinking down onto a nearby box, the brash teen bows her head, burying her face in her hands, allowing her shoulders to bob once before wiping at her eyes with a large, single sniff. Folding her arms tight around her midsection, looking more like she was hugging herself to keep warm than crossing her arms, she looks over at Randall's shoes. "It's not your fault. I could have left a long time ago. I could have… What's going to happen to them?"

Randall sits down next to her, as best he can - there's a second box, but it's not quite full and the lid crumples inward a couple of inches - wrapping his arms around her as well. He's scared, too. "Like I said, Peter's working on getting them out. Apparently they're working on a plan to get themselves out, too - and they apologized for revealing whatever they have, so far - so at least they haven't been sent to Room 101." Yet. Note to self, have her read that book, it's too useful a source of shorthand.

"Anyway, if they come after us here, then I should be able to spot them first." With his own alleged ability? "Just follow me back here, we should have time to go out the back and disappear into the crowd."

The dark-haired girl jams the heels of her hands into her eyes and scrubs furiously, which makes them a bit redder, and a little more itchy, but helps with holding back the water that threatened to jump over her lids and slide down her cheeks. She reaches up to squeeze the male's wrist as he comforts her, but finds herself backing away as he continues on past the thoughts of eventual rescue.

"W-What? Wait, they can't… WHY WOULD THEY COME HERE!?" Her voice goes high and shrill for a moment, before she flinches, looks around, and lowers her voice back below the volume of the radio. "How could they possibly know about you? O-Or me?"

Jade pushes to her feet, raking her hands back through her hair as she begins to pace in small, tight, quick circles. There's a high-pitched, squealy whine of despair for a moment, before she removes her hands from her head, before she could tear her own hair out, and holds out her hands. "We don't have anything they want! What would they be doing here? You can't be serious!"

Fighting his own instinct to flail around helplessly, Randall stuffs his hands into his back pants pockets and leans back against a shelf. "They got waterboarded into revealing some information. I don't know that either of our names were part of it, but they could have been— which means they could be planning to do the same to us." He shakes his head in frustration. "We're not dealing with rational people here, remember? We know we're not dangerous, but some other people with abilities could be— they must be so spooked, they don't care how many others they have to hurt to get to them."

Trailing off, he glances back toward the store front. "Well, at least we've got a little while to get ready. I'll get you a water bottle or something, all right?"

"God, I'm going to go to jail for the rest of my life and get… get waterboarded! I don't even know what that means!" Covering her face again, Jade spins on her heel and shoves her forehead against the cool, white plaster, doing her best to keep her breathing, and threatening hysteria, under control. "Oh god… Oh god… Oh god, it's okay. It's okay. It's okay. They probably don't want me. Why would they? No, no, everyone knows I don't have anything. They might not have said anything about me!"

Turning around, taking a hand from her face to press against her chest, as if keeping her heart from trying to jump out of it, the dark-haired girl closes her eyes and tries not to hyperventilate. "Yeah. Yeah, I could use a drink. Oh man, I don't want to have to move again. My new place is so nice, and I have my own room, with matching sheets and curtains… No, no, they probably don't know anything. I just need to not panic, right? I mean, that's what you need to do right? Not panic. The people who get caught, those're the ones that panic. I just need to stay calm."

"Not. Panic. Yeah. Yeah. Everything will be fine, right? Is Peter really gonna get them out?"

Randall is more under control about the whole thing, but only because he got his own panic attack out of the way before he came here in the first place. "I think so. He's been involved in some big stuff before— I should introduce you to him, you might know something that would help him out."

With that, he walks back out of the storeroom… and is promptly met by an angry-looking customer throwing a fist into his gut. "Ow! What the hell was that for?" "Whaddya think I am, stupid or somethin'? I could hear ya beating up on that girl in there, making her scream! —C'mon, little lady, I'll get ya someplace safe," the man in the earflap cap adds, looking past Randall to his assumed victim.

"The hell would I know about anything? I can't even help Cheech and Leen's friends find them, much less some other guy! Unless he's suddenly looking to 'rip some gnarly waves'." Randall's sudden departure, and swift assault, causes the girl to appear in the doorway and look oddly at the scene playing out before her. She blinks a few times, looks at Randall, her 'rescuer', then back again, and can only imagine what she herself looking like with red, watery eyes and a nose that was tinged pink from sniffles held back.

The words are out of her mouth before she can even think to call them back.

"He, uh, was trying to touch me." There's a small pause. "Wait, wait, it's okay!" Jade holds up her hands, sure there was likely to be more physical violence if she left it at that. "He's, ah, my boyfriend. Annnnnnnd I like the abuse. So don't go butting into other people's business, sir. Now," She leans off to the side to snatch up a yo-yo she sometimes amused herself with, chucking it at the heroic customer. "Get outta of here before I call the cops!"

Acting on instinct, the man turns partly to one side and throws his arms up in front of his face, the flying toy banging squarely into his elbow. "Crazy bitch! Jesus, ya try ta help—" Shaking his head, he turns and makes a beeline out of the shop. "Pain must be the only way she gets off, the little sicko," he mutters under his breath.

Meanwhile, inside the store, Randall straightens up again, staring blankly at Jade. "I was trying to what now?" Fortunately, the rest of the customers are content to leave the situation alone.

Running the sleeve of her sweater under her nose, Jade blinks back the moisture in her eyes and raises her shoulders in a helpless shrug, the picture of teenaged innocence. "What? He didn't hit you again, did he?" Clearing her throat, she slinks up to the back of the counter, reaching down to grab her purse and make sure it was still safe after having abandoned it in the front.

"You learn a thing or two about creeping people off when you're on the road. There's a lotta lonely guys out there, and a hitch-hiking girl is a pretty easy mark." Explanation delivered, as far as she was concerned, Jade ensures both her checkbook and wallet were untouched before restowing her gear, planting her elbows on the counter as she rubs her hands up and down her face, speaking between her fingers.

"Weren't you getting me something to drink?"

Randall considers this - he needs a while longer, anyway, for his breathing to return to a steady and relatively comfortable rhythm - then finally nods, picking up the algebra textbook and handing it back to her. No, no one decided to swipe that, either. "Oookay, I guess you could pass for Y.T., what with the scooter and all. Does that mean I'm Hiro?" Without further comment, he heads outside and toward a nearby convenience store. There'll be time to pick something up for himself, too— he hopes.

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