2007-03-08: The Paper is Your Child

Starring:

Namir_icon.gif Alyssa_icon.gif

Date It Happened: March 08, 2007

Summary: Alyssa gives Namir a call and asks to meet him at the Cherry Blossoms restaurant. They briefly discuss Alyssa's research on Takezo Kensei, then they talk about her progress in practicing her powers, specifically the speed with which she can call objects. After having a shot of inspiration, they leave the restaurant and go to an alley in the Lower East Side to test a theory about Alyssa's powers. A breakthrough is made.

The Paper is Your Child


Cherry Blossoms Restaurant, Chinatown; then Lower East Side

Chinese food is not something Namir indulges in … well, at /all/, really. A good portion of it involves pork, and even the things that don't involve pork have probably come into contact with pork-related products somewhere along the line. It is entirely out of the question. However, he is meeting someone here. Namir sits at one of the tables in plain sight of anyone coming in the door. In front of him is a glass of water, which looks a bit out-of-place among the other patrons in the restaurant, and a copy of Kiplings' Jungle Books. The place is quite full with tables and booths occupied by many people merrily eating the fare offered by the wonderful cooks. It's noisy in here, but not for Namir, who has long since created bubbles of depleted sound around his ears.

The small bustling restaurant is always a place with a very comfortable atmosphere for Alyssa, though or perhaps because of it's crowded nature. Enjoying the food is only part of the fun. But she's here for a particular reason, so when she walks past the large windows and pushes her way inside it's briskly and with only a slight glance towards the kitchen with its noise and sizzling flames… mmm, sweet and sour. Ahem! First, she has to take a glance around. It isn't hard to find what she's looking for, or who, rather. "Hey, Namir!" she greets, approaching, "Isn't this great? Mm." Shrugging off her backpack and outside jacket, she drops them at the foot of the chair that she then slides into.

It's the sight of Alyssa starting to sit at the table that gets Namir's attention, not her verbal greeting. It's hard to hear when he's so engrossed in the book and has a sound dampener around both ears. However, he resumes regular volume once he notices someone joining him and he raises his eyes to smile at her. "Great," he agrees with a soft chuckle, marking his place in the tome and then closing it. "I don't visit Chinese restaurants often."

"Sometimes it's just better to be in a little back restaurant, no matter what they serve," Alyssa comments, settling a little better in her spot and pushing both of her sleeves up. "Thanks for this, by the way. When we happened to run into each other at the museum I knew I wanted to talk to you again." Despite her obvious eagerness for this, she pauses here to lean over and unzip the backpack, pulling out two volumes - one thick, one smaller - and placing them next to Namir's on the table. This proximity makes her tilt her head to try and read the spine of his, "Recreational?"

"Quite." Namir turns his book upward slightly to better display the spine. He has no real reason to be studying the works of Kipling other than the fact that he enjoys them. His own gaze moves to the volumes Alyssa has retrieved from her backpack, and he studies them curiously. "What are these?" he asks after a moment.

Alyssa adjusts the books she's placed so that they are more visible to Namir's curious glance, "Theory books on Takezo Kensei. It took a bit of digging to get this more controversial one," she taps her fingers against the thinner volume, "But it paid off in the end. It's got all the more recent additions thanks to Linderman's collection and that stuff."

When he picks up the thinner, controversial volume, Namir is quite careful with it, as is fitting. He examines the cover, turning it over and over again before opening it slowly and thumbing through a few pages. A thoughtful frown remains on his features. "Takezo Kensei, hmm? I'm afraid I am not quite up to snuff on my Japanese folklore. Who was he?" And why is it so important?

Alyssa watches as he handles the book, lacing her fingers together in front of her and then scanning the cover of the more restrained tome still on the table. "A legendary samurai," she explains, "They called him the sword saint which is, if I recall, a meaning of his chosen name. Some people say it probably wasn't his real name to begin with, but it came to be known just as much as a title as anything else. I had a customer in the store the other day asking for some books on him, so it re-sparked my interest…." She bites on her cheek, looking away- a true sign that she's thinking. Or maybe leaving out some details. "Anyway, I decided to go deeper this time. Really root out the opinions you don't just get in your drier 'there's no way any of this stuff could've happened' books. I mean, come on, considering the last week or so… I've really been looking at things differently. Or maybe more seriously."

As Alyssa explains things, Namir nods, his eyes still focused on the book as he leafs through it absently. "And what did you find?" he inquires, pausing at one of the pages and peering at it. One name seems prominent throughout his skimming: Yaeko. This page speaks of drawings she may have done. Naturally, the Muslim is rather fascinated. He enjoys such things immensely.

"A lot of people disagreeing," the writer laments, "This Karen Chamberlin, who is quoted a lot in there, she seems to be the biggest supporter of the more fantastical theories. But the guy I was talking to at the museum pretty much laughed out-loud every time I said the name, sooo… not the biggest encouragement." Not like that's going to stop her, though, "Half, though, I don't know why I even really got all excited about it. I could've picked up… I don't know, the Odyssey and been swept away just as bad. History is full of these kinds of heroic, impossible legends. I probably need to calm down." She leans back, arms crossed over her chest. She sounds a bit like she's trying to convince herself more than anything else. She stares a moment at Namir, considering, but then leaves off the other thing mulling about the most in her mind.

Being trained to take cues from body language, tone, and facial expressions, Namir can tell that Alyssa is holding /something/ back. He flips to the end of the book, then closes it and sets it down again, glancing at the woman seated across from him. "History is steeped in mythology, yes — but there's something about this that has obviously got you intrigued." Something she's not saying. He lifts an eyebrow inquisitively.

Alyssa gives a soft laugh, shifting against the back of her seat and glancing away at all the restaurant bustle. "Oh, it's not hard to get me excited about something," she deflects, "Maybe it's just the whole 'ooooh' Linderman's dead, it could be the curse of the sword deal. I'm a huge sucker for the same sort of thing with all the tombs of the pharaohs and the like. I sit at home and watch The Mummy for background noise. But, hey, let's not waste /all/ our time on my random obsessions. What I /really/ wanted to do was tell you how awesome it is that I've been practicing…"

In such a crowded place, talk of such things is hardly wise. Namir's eyebrows go up at the mention of it, but Alyssa has been vague enough so far. He smiles slightly, folding his hands on the table in front of him. "And how are you coming along? I noticed your palm was a little red in the museum." He's observant.

Alyssa ducks her head, pressing a hand to her face in slight embarrassment before she peeks at Namir over her fingers, "Yeah, I, uh, I welcome the pain, I guess. I don't think anyone really got this sort of thing on the first try, though. But, really, I mean, gymnastics, right? Aren't I a little too old? Hey, not too late to pursue your dreams, after all. Still, with the way those uneven bars kicked my ass I should probably have stuck with juggling. You'll be really proud to hear what happened, however. I stuck my landing for the first time. Usually I don't have that much control over how steady I am. Practice makes perfect. They didn't lie."

Gymnastics. /Right/. Namir isn't convinced. "You know," he intones in a lowered voice, leaning across the table slightly so as to be heard over the bustle of the restaurant, "you /could/ practice with softer objects. I doubt a sponge or a stuffed animal would hurt as much as a book." Just sayin'.

"But what if I hurt my animals somehow?" Well, she's just gone and full-out admitted that the question is certainly not /if/ she owns stuffed creatures. "And I think Cass would notice if I dragged all this stuff into the store. No, but I know, I know, I really do. I guess it just feels like less practice if the thing is so light and eager." Alyssa made sure to lean forward for her part, too, and she adds, extra low, "I'm not crazy. That was just the best cover I could come up with on the spot about having sore palms. I could do better next time with more time to think it out." She sounds so eager, too, encouraged as she is to lie and cover her tracks. It's like being a spy, oooh.

"I would suggest investing in a stress ball," chuckles Namir, grinning at Alyssa's eagerness to cover. "It's soft, squeezable, and they're palm-sized. You will not be causing any suspicion if you carry one around, and they're easy to conceal." He casts a glance to the side when someone passes nearby, and he watches the customer a moment to make sure she meanders on out of earshot before he looks to Alyssa again. "When you have sufficient enough control not to cause the objects to hurtle toward you too fast, then you can move on to more solid things."

Alyssa sucks in a low, eager breath at his suggestion, "Oh, a stress ball! That's a good one! Ooh ooh, or one of those inane hackey-sack things that the guys' outside my apartment building like to mess around with way too much. Mmm, you are awesome, Namir." Her own glance around and then she leans into the table extra careful, "Do you know what it could be, making them too fast? I might've understood too /slow/ or not at all…. but this kill-tastic speed?"

The compliment gets a modest grin from the Muslim, but the question soon causes it to fade into a thoughtful sort of expression. Now there's a puzzler. "How hard are you concentrating when you call the objects to you?" he asks. "When I concentrate too hard, it's like … trying to brush off a bit of dirt by punching it. If I concentrate too hard on increasing the volume, I succeed, but the volume gets far louder than what I originally intended."

Alyssa has to mull this one over a bit and she almost pulls back but then reconsiders, just so she's not suddenly blurting out this stuff all over the restaurant. Good thing everyone's all loud and content and clinking glasses together. "I have to think about it pretty hard. Want it bad enough. At least, that's what it seems like to me so far. Not enough and nothing goes anywhere… hard enough and BAM!" She even jumps a little at how loud she said that, "Uhh, um… okay, so, yeah, weirdest part—- hey, can't you, like, stop people from even hearing our conversation?"

Even Namir flinches back a little at the loud exclamation, though his smile doesn't really disappear. It grows more at the last question. "I can, but then /we/ wouldn't be able to hear ourselves either. I can't quite control it like that. If I deaden the sounds around our table, we won't be able to hear. If I deaden the sound field everywhere else in the restaurant, nobody will be able to hear themselves talk and it would cause panic." He's been at this for nearly sixteen years, and he still hasn't gained such a degree of mastery. "At any rate," he returns to the previous subject, "perhaps you need to find a middle ground. Practice with the stress ball and use varying degrees of concentration until you find one that doesn't cause it to hurtle toward you at such startling speeds. Have you tried /willing/ the object to come to you slowly?"

Hiding her disappointment at what Namir says, Alyssa gives a quick nod, "Yeah. But that's what I started to get at… the moment I, like… tell something to come it, like, serious to God wants to get to me as fast as possible. Does that sound crazy? It sounds sort of crazy. But it's almost like I can feel how /eager/ everything is. Though, to be honest, I'm never sure anymore if that's for real or just something I made up a long time ago to justify some part of what was happening."

By the look of things, Namir doesn't find it crazy-sounding at all, really. It is simply puzzling. He rests his chin in his palm as he considers, going silent a moment. Hmm. "What sort of tone do you use when calling them? Does that have an effect? Or how about your mental state when you call them?" It's odd, speaking on subjects of which he is no expert, but she has come to him for help, and he's quite curious to solve this riddle.

"I have to be concentrating," Alyssa lists off, "Like, really thinking about it. One distraction and— whoosh, gone. And you can imagine how easy that is with someone like me. A couple of days ago I cycled through, jeez, commanding, pleading, asking nicely, hell, I probably sounded like I was seducing some of those titles. Everything pretty much the same until I started to get really sick of failing and didn't seem to even want it happen as much. Then the books doubted me, too. The triumph that's been keeping me going was after the museum visit— I was just really tired, maybe even annoyed. Anyway, my iPod, man, it's almost sheepish! First time the thing didn't try to take out my teeth in the process." She scrunches up her nose as something occurs, "Ehh, maybe I'm just not impressive intimidating material."

Wait. Namir's eyebrows go up in mixed bewilderment and disbelief. "So when you got annoyed at them, the objects stopped hurtling toward you?" It /does/ sound a bit bizarre, honestly, almost as though the objects can think and feel for themselves. But then, nothing is really bizarre or impossible anymore. Alyssa is, after all, talking to a man who can deafen a room simply by thinking about it.

Alyssa is starting to feel sillier and sillier as she goes, and it's obvious through her continuously drooping body language, "More like… they… took me… seriously? Which… I totally can't even do now that I said that." A heavy sigh escapes her and she pushes higher onto her elbows, rubbing fingers into her temples, "Oh, I don't know anymore. I've given it so much thought in the last week it's incredible. If I hadn't been able to do something actually useful at the bookstore with this I might just think it's safer to leave it the hell alone." Oh, she doesn't /really/ believe that. The sparkle in her eye is how special this all feels. But she's slightly embarrassed in front of Namir now, and the fact that they've been talking about her and only her for this long is starting to tell. She shifts awkwardly in her seat and alternates between playing with her hair and biting her lip.

But while Alyssa starts to feel awkward, Namir is beginning to make sense of her powers, and he grins broadly. He /likes/ it when he thinks he's figuring things out. He delves into his pocket for his wallet and drops a few bills onto the table before he picks up his book and rises to his feet. "No, this is good," he chuckles. "Come, let's take a walk." What he has in mind just isn't going to work here in a public area. They'll need seclusion.

"A walk?" Alyssa echoes, though she's already reaching down for her backpack. The two volumes on Kensei are pulled into the pack and then she slings her heavy jacket through one of the straps, allowing it to hang next to her when she shoulders the bag. It's a shrug that she gives when she pushes to her feet and edges her chair back towards the table, "Well, okay, fearless mentor, lead on."

After wending their way through the throngs of Chinatown and into the less-Chinese area of the Lower East Side, Namir has led Alyssa to a small, unpopulated alley out of sight of prying eyes (or as out-of-sight as one can really get in this city). It's average, as far as alleys go, with garbage bags and trash cans lining the walls and papers scattered about. There's even a cat or two milling about, well out of range of the pair. Once he's deemed the spot acceptable, the Muslim reaches into his pocket to retrieve his notepad. He tears out a page, crumples it up, and holds it toward Alyssa in the flat of his palm. "Call this to you," he instructs.

The walk has seen Alyssa actually being quiet; she knows that she's heading towards some kind of trial. What else would he break off the conversation for? So it's with a light nervous shake that she steps into the alleyway with him, somehow even more cautious than when she'd demonstrated her ability in the first place. Curious despite this all, she watches as he rips out the paper and blinks, seemingly uncomprehending, when he first talks. "Err, what, that?" She shifts, stares down at the crinkled page….. and then looks quickly back at Namir, "Oh, I can't, oh, this is weird."

Namir thrusts the wad of paper out invitingly, grinning again. "Oh, go on," he urges with a chuckle. "I won't laugh at you. And it's soft; it won't hurt your hand." He even bounces the paper once in his hand as though to demonstrate. "If you like, you can try it with Kipling."

"Hardy har," Alyssa scoffs at the mention of the book. Of course, it holds truth; what else has she been practicing with all this time. But here? In front of someone else? "I don't know, I guess it's just… really kind of…" Bah, she doesn't know how to explain her own turn around in eagerness, so instead she takes a couple of steps back, sucks in a deep breath, and then puts out a hand with her palm facing up and slightly curved. "…. Paper," she says not entirely convincingly, which is actually good in the end since then all the pages of Namir's notepad flutter briefly and a couple of things at the bottom of Alyssa's backpack perk up to attention. The paper in Namir's own hand, if not obstructed by his fingers, rolls about as if in a soft breeze. It takes all her willpower not to drop her hand in embarrassment when it fails.

When the paper rolls rather than flies out of his hand, Namir's fingers crook to keep it in check. He bobbles it once or twice, but he manages to save it. Once he's got it under control again, he raises an eyebrow. "Come on," he intones encouragingly, "say it like you mean it. Don't be ashamed; I am only trying to help." He holds out the wad of paper again, pondering, perhaps, if the Kipling /would/ make a difference.

"I know, I know," Alyssa is quick to assure, "I'm just nervous in front of people with certain things. So, really, this is all your fault." The joke happens because she's even nervous about admitting that she's nervous. This is a fun cycle. But, in the face of his encouragement, she also tries another calm breath. Her eyes close briefly and she takes the time to imagine, specifically, the scrap of paper in his hand. "Paper," she states now when her eyes open, with all the determination of someone who doesn't want to fail again. The paper leaps happily from Namir's palm like a big dry spitball. It zips right past Alyssa's palm and towards her but, sensing the approach, she draws her hand in fast enough to catch it a second later. If nothing else, she's gotten exceptionally better at reaction times. "Well," she breathes, glancing at the paper that has suicidally smashed itself further into her hand, "At least I can be almost consistent."

"If it helps, I can turn my back?" Namir grins after the paper has left his hand, and he soon digs into the notepad to retrieve another and wad it up. "That's good, very good. Have you ever owned a dog?" The Muslim hates dogs. /Hates/ them. However, he's seen how owners act around them and he had a few in his childhood, but there will be no discussion about that. "Or have you ever been in a position in which you have had to discipline a child? A younger brother or sister, niece, nephew, cousin?" He has a point in all this, honest.
Alyssa shakes her head, still absently playing with the paper that, now that it's here, seems so much like a blank normal object. Is it /really/ her own paranoid mind that gives it personality at the important moment? "I've got a cat, but she owns me more than I can claim her. And I'm an only child. No family in the state. I guess I… I've been called pushy before but nobody listens to me anyway."

Mmm, well, there goes that analogy. Ah well, it's still easily salvaged. Namir considers a moment before he attempts a different tactic: "I think what you are doing now gets the job done, however what you said about feeling the object's eagerness may have something to it." Hey, look, now /he/ sounds crazy! "If you say that it really and truly wants to come to you, that it takes you seriously when you sound annoyed or angry, then perhaps that is the issue. When you called that paper just now, you lacked any authority. Think of it as a child — this paper— " he hefts the new paper ball "— is a child. An unruly child. It /wants/ to come to you when you call it, but if you call it while lacking any authority, it will run to you and leap at you in a frenzy of excitement. However, if you speak /sternly/ to it, I think it will be a little more subdued." Yeah. Now he really /does/ sound crazy.

Okay, can you blame Alyssa for snickering a little? It's hard enough to stare at a crinkled piece of paper and think 'this is my baby, talk to baby'. And if she can't take herself seriously then no inanimate object is going to. Attempting to push all of her skepticism in her own skills aside, she focuses on how things've been going so far. Just acknowledging the item with the sound of its name isn't cutting it. Namir's right. She has to have authority over whatever's happening. "P-pa…" Oh, good start. She clears her throat and furrows her eyebrows in /ultimate seriousness/. "Hey! Paper!" The crunched paper shivers once in place and then pops up in the air, completing an elegant arc in the air towards the writer. She is so absorbed in staring at this completely new type of behavior that she fails to attempt to catch it at all and the paper hits the ground and rolls whimsically until it just touches her feet. "I feel…." Alyssa announces slowly, with a grin twitching, threatening to ruin her chance of finishing a sentence, "… kind of mocked but homyGod!"

There is no broader grin than the one Namir wears now. He might sound crazy, but he speaks truth — like Yoda! Namir is like Yoda, only taller, less green, and with better grammar. His ears are almost as big as the little wrinkly Jedi master's, though. He has more hair, too. Hmm. "There, you see?" he laughs quietly. "You can do it. You just have to be commanding." He holds up his book now, tilting his head slightly to one side and raising an eyebrow with a smirk. "Care to try with Kipling now?"

"I can!" Alyssa chirps with overdue excitement, encouraged forward by her second successful attempt despite everything that came before it. She's easily swayed. And perhaps too well worked up because as she nods, "Yes! Kipling's Jungle Book!" with the intent to simply agree with his inquiry she actually manages to summon it violently out of Namir's casual grip and towards her with such a fury that she fears for her life and, yelping, ducks. The novel dashes itself against the alleyway wall and clatters dejectedly amongst a couple of mostly empty boxes.

The book's violent and wrenching departure is quite enough to startle Namir, who stares at the destroyed tome in bewilderment as it falls amid the boxes. There are several seconds of stunned silence before he manages to smile again. "Whoops." /There's/ an understatement. With a quiet laugh, he moves forward to retrieve the book, whose spine is more than adequately shattered, and whose pages are now falling out accordingly. "Perhaps that is enough for today, though you certainly should keep practicing. I do still suggest the stress ball, however. It is less painful." And less destructive. The Muslim doesn't sound at all angry or upset over the loss of the book — in fact, he's almost amused.

Namir could've been rejoicing his liberty from the villainy of the awful Kipling but Alyssa is still going to press a distressed hand to her mouth and hiss, "Ohhhh. That is terrible of me," as she straightens slowly to her feet. The book's death is a very sad thing, and more so when it's her own fault. "I.. yeah. Stress ball. Maan, that's terrible. I'm buying you a new one, you know." Self-consciously adjusting the strap of her backpack along her shoulder, she watches Namir, practically squinting to try and see when this obvious facade breaks and he reveals how angry he really is. Hell, she'd be kind of angry. It's a book.

Which is precisely why Namir isn't angry: it's /just/ a book. He's hardly a materialistic sort. Books are replaceable, especially Kipling's Jungle Book, which has become fairly cheap to find over the years. Once he's gathered up the book in its entirety, stray pages included, he turns around and offers Alyssa a reassuring grin. "No, it's all right. You really don't have to do that. It's not as though you did it on purpose." He tucks the book under one arm and steps toward the woman to offer her a good-natured pat on the shoulder. "I ought to be going, but keep working at it and let me know of your progress, hmm?"

Alyssa huffs a loud, not so reassured sigh but gives him a nod when he does pat her, "I certainly will. You'll be the first to know if I destroy anyone's property." Moving her things about again, she at least strolls with him to the mouth of the alley, "Thanks again for the time. I don't know if it'll ever matter that I can… do that in front of other people but it still feels good to take another step. Something I never thought I'd be doing. Ever. And I have a pretty wild imagination."

"Progress is always a wonderful thing," agrees Namir with a knowing nod. He grins wryly at the last statement. "I don't think anyone ever imagines they'll wake up one morning with the ability to call a book to them from across the room. I certainly never imagined that I would one day have the ability to control sounds — though I certainly /wished/ hard for it when I was in college." Ugh, memories. He shakes his head and once again gives Alyssa a pat on the shoulder. "That's a story for another time, I suppose. It was a pleasure to see you again, Alyssa, and I wish you luck in your practicing." And with that and another grin, he sets off down the street, likely on his way home with the broken book still tucked under his arm.

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