Date: June 6, 2010
Having your head in the clouds can be a liability when circumstances come crashing back to earth. Who do you trust when you're put on the spot?
"The Starry Night"
Books are nice and all for digging up ideas, but when it comes to putting them together, Randall's favorite thing (having been cut off from the unusual quiet of his original apartment) is to come out to Central Park after sunset and take advantage of the open area. Laying on his back near the edge of the tree line, unnoticed, he stares up wide-eyed at the sky. In his hands, a sketchpad and pencil, blindly tracing one line after another.
But if there's anyone who's an expert at noticing the unnoticeable, it's Portia. The quiet walk through the park yields results. She heads in closer, noting Randall and deciding it'd be better not to startle him this time. "Penny for your thoughts?" She offers, peering at the sketchpad a bit.
Oh, hello there, voice. He'd know that voice just about anywhere. "It's such a clear night," Randall murmurs, setting the pencil aside and turning the pad straight upward so it can be seen, "but look at the moon. Look at the stars. The way the light twists around like that, starts to leave trails behind it?" Actually, there's a wisp of cloud here and there - mostly just affecting whether the backdrop is black or very dark purple - but most of it really is clear and still, with only the slightest of twinkling. Whatever he's seeing there must be coming from somewhere else.
Helping herself to a seat next to him, Portia leans back to look up at the sky. "No.. I guess I'm not quite imaginative enough to quite see that. Perhaps I'm old and jaded." She smirks at that, taking a deep breath as she does take a moment to really look at the stars.
Randall laughs, shaking his head. "The day you're jaded, I'll need to be fitted for dentures." Without turning his head, he reaches out with one hand until he finds Portia's, just to get an idea of how close she is. Voices can be tricky when they're that close-up. "Actually, I got to see something new the other day… and it's changed just about everything. Or at least put a different tilt on it."
Portia isn't too far off—she's easy enough to find. "Really? One of those eye-opening enlightening experiences? I could use more of those. Sure makes life seem a lot more interesting when you have stuff like that."
"It is," says Randall, sounding distracted again. "I mean, seeing an ability is one thing, but to see it from within the area of effect… it'd be kind of like if you were able to turn us both invisible." Which— wait, can she? He doesn't remember the idea ever coming up before.
"So what would count, in your case?" he continues. "Coming across a new song that…?" A shrug; he has no idea how to finish that sentence, it's why he's asking her.
"So you've never really experienced it basically through someone's shoes?" Portia shakes her head a little. "And I /can/ turn us both invisible." She seems to think for a long moment. "I don't even know."
Randall doesn't answer right away, thinking back carefully. "I… don't think so," he says, finally. "There was a teleporter, once, but there was too much else changing at the same time. And my own ability is seeing things, so that doesn't count."
Still on his back, he tilts his head to one side, looking at Portia for the first time. "Can you?" Will you, is what he really wants to ask, but the whole idea is so overwhelming that the words fail to come together.
Reaching over to where his hand had touched hers, Portia moved to hold his for a moment. Focusing her power, she blinked out of view, and so did he. "Alright. I don't know that it really feels like much, but.. now no one else can see."
Randall's fingers squeeze in against hers as he turns onto his side, coming fully face to face with her. Something about his vision did change, just then— if he can just get a handle on what exactly it was… it was more obvious the other day, when he could feel as well as see it. Not like Kory's dreamwalking, where the effect's own visuals drowned out whatever secondary properties he's searching for.
Regardless of all that, this is a big deal, to the point that his fingers become momentarily unsteady against hers. "Thank you," he whispers, reaching out to take hold of her other hand as well. "This— I know much trust it must take, for you to share something as important as this."
Central Park is a park unlike any in Carrie's experience. It's huge, first of all. Truly enormous. It has its own subway station(s). It has its own police precinct. Carrie, by contrast, is used to little parks making up half a block in smallish cities where the predators one is likely to meet after dark are coyotes, bears, and mountain lions. She shouldn't really be here. She even knows this, but after a day pounding the pavement for a job, she could use a lift, and a quiet place to curl up with a couple slices of the weird, greasy, thin stuff that passes for pizza in New York. Someplace with a tree. That's what she's looking for. A tree. In Central Park.
Her hands grip his tightly, and Portia turns to face Randall fully, resting her head in the grass. She offers a bit of a smile, albeit a little more timid and vulnerable than her usual. "I do trust you. You've always been there when I needed someone and you haven't ever given me a reason to believe I /shouldn't/ trust you. But you're right.. this is important to me. It's.. a lot of who I am, more than just what I can do. I wouldn't really let many people see this."
The two of them are laying down near some trees, not far from where Carrie is looking around. With Portia's ability active, and extended to include Randall as well, the two of them are nowhere to be seen - only hinted at by the bending of grass beneath them - but their voices could still be heard normally, if anyone else was around. Good thing no one is, right?
"Well, I'm glad you think so, at least," Randall murmurs, shaking his head. "I think there are at least three people who know about us - or think they do - and assume that we couldn't possibly just be friends, I'm obviously some kind of horrible stalker predator jackass. And they spot me talking to a couple other people around your age, never mind the dozens of others who are older…"
Carrie is hungry and muttering to herself, so she doesn't quite hear where Randall's voice comes from. But she pauses, and takes a more careful grip on her dinner, taking a few bites, in fact, before looking around for him. "Randall?" she says. She takes a few more steps, rounding another tree, and is almost comically close, perhaps ten feet away and completely oblivious to that fact. She pauses to take another couple bites of her pizza. "Wow, this stuff is better than it looks." she mutters again. She looks around some more. "I would have sworn I heard him."
There's a slight chuckle. "Well, obviously no one is /friends/ anymore." Portia murmurs, letting out a slow breath. "I think people don't really understand. I just don't think they give you a fair chance.. they just jump at the first conclusion they come to." Her head lifts a little, though, at the mention of Randall's name, peeking a bit towards the girl in question.
Randall would have heard Carrie clearly, she's close enough, if Portia hadn't been closer and talking at about the same time. "Hmm?" he asks, turning to follow her gaze— then, startled, instinctively sitting up again and letting go. "Uh… hi," he offers, along with an awkward wave, as he becomes visible once again - or so he assumes, seeing as now he can't see Portia any more: he must have moved outside the area of effect. "Well, I was going to introduce you guys anyway…"
Carrie blinks as Randall appears. She feels that vaguely light headed sensation she sometimes get when shocked, and clings to her pizza so it doesn't wind up like her kung pao chicken. "How…" she asks, feebly. "How did you do that?"
The drop of contact pulls Randall from the invisibility, but Portia makes no move to sit up. She notes the presence of Carrie from where she lies, watching her from the stealth the invisibility gives her. But it's Randall's words that cause her to stiffen. The thing about invisibility was that not being able to be known or seen was the entire point. And while, if her power had been something else, Portia might have been less sensitive about the fact that he was basically about to give her power away, her power was indeed invisibility and Randall's near admission causes utter silence from Portia. After all, who knows if she's still there.
Well, crap. Everything happened so fast there, Randall didn't have time to think up a plausible excuse - nor can he think of one now, having halfway blown things already. So he doesn't try. Instead, he stands up and walks over toward Carrie, talking just loudly enough that they should both be able to hear. "Okay, here's the deal… I didn't do it, someone else did." A slight emphasis on the 'someone else', as opposed to an actual name. "I was planning to introduce you to them, but I hadn't asked their permission yet… so if they are not comfy with the idea yet, then this is an opportunity for somebody here to walk away until we can get it figured out. That sound okay?" Well, at least he's trying his best to offer a comfort zone.
Carrie looks at Randall and then back at the spot where nobody else appears to be. Then turns her back on the spot. "Yeah. Yeah, I understand." She sighs and takes a deep breath, trying not to feel utterly paranoid that there's someone she can't see somewhere behind her. She takes a bite of pizza, and it goes down like cardboard layered in snot, for all the joy she gets out of it. "Whoever you are. My name is Carrie. I heal people." She says, her back still turned.
Indeed, there's someone not seen and it appears that she's not moving out of the invisibility. At least, for the moment. There's silence, but it's almost like she's waiting. Randall, at least, is certainly getting an invisible look of anger. Or maybe he's not. Kind of hard to tell.
Randall inclines his head to Carrie, then turns back to face— well, he can't see Portia either, and it's too dark to get a good enough look at the grass from his distance. Has she left already? Hopefully she's at least still close enough to hear him.
"For what it's worth? I trust her with my life." Which is basically true whenever he admits to seeing the things he sees, but in this case, it's literal, too; he could have been hurt if she'd botched her own ability. "But I can't tell you who to trust, so… if you don't say anything, then we'll leave and I'll call you tomorrow." Does that cover all the possibilities? He hopes so, as he looks off toward the streets in the distance, preparing to make good on his word.
Carrie looks at Randall and nods. She takes another bite of pizza slowly. It gives her hands something to do. "Tell you what. I'll get going" She hands Randall the other two slices of pizza she was carrying. "Call me if um… Griffin, I guess… wants to meet somewhere." With that, she heads toward the subway station, still keeping her back to where the invisible person may or may not be.
There's a quick look around and suddenly there's Portia, rubbing her arms a little bit. "Sorry. I suppose you can understand why I did that." She looks a little embarrassedly at the ground.
Randall's shoulders slump - partly in renewed embarrassment, partly in relief that things didn't get any worse than that - as she reappears. "Well… you were caught off guard. We all were." He reaches his hands toward hers again, but this time stops short, stuffing them into his pockets instead. "So… now you know what's going on, are you okay with meeting her? She's new in town, but she's… already been through so much. And held up better than I probably would have." Oh boy, that's sure to have an interesting story or two behind it.
Portia shrugs slightly. "She seems okay, I just.. it's one thing to trust you, Randall, it's another to trust some chick you just met. And /you/ haven't even known her this long. I mean, there's quite a few of us with abilities, but.. are we just going around and letting everyone know now? That's how superheroes get killed."
At that, Randall thinks back to how he and Portia got to a place of trust in the first place… and it wasn't quick then, either: a series of anonymous e-mails over the course of several weeks. "You're right, I know, but… She lost both her parents at some point. And she was stuck in a psych ward for two years because no one believed in her ability, or let her show it to them… She needs every friend she can get."
"And the other thing is?" Now he sits down on the grass again, drawing his knees up to his chest. "She asked me how many others I knew about, and I counted them up… and how many of them I've lost touch with. I need you, Portia. I really do need you as a friend, because I haven't got many others left any more."
The girl rubs her arms a little, drawing her lower lip lightly between her teeth, perhaps out of nervousness, perhaps out of discomfort. "I'm not heartless. I'm sure her life was rough, but I just.. I don't know. I don't want something to go wrong. I've gotten used to having a normal life, actually." Portia smiles, weakly. "It's nice having the whole.. music thing to make me special. When it comes to actual abilities, though.. I get a little more nervous, now."
"Mmm, I see your point." Randall gets up again and moves a little closer, offering his hands to hers. "And hey— you'd still be special to me, even if you didn't have an ability yourself. Even if we weren't playing music together… you understand me, and that's a big deal all by itself. Everything else is just a bonus."
Portia takes his hands, giving a bit of a nod. "Thanks. I'm glad you think so. It's hard to feel special anymore without some kind of 'gimmick', you know what I mean? Something to be good at or feel special because of." She looks over at him. "I don't mind meeting her, I just.. I wanna be careful, you know. I love the whole, spur-of-the-moment thing, but.. sometimes it's better not to just jump in so quickly."
There's another quick squeeze before Randall sits down again, this time leaning back on his elbows some as he looks up at the sky again. He can't think of much else to say right now that they haven't already gone over, instead choosing to just return to the beginning - leaving the spot by his side open again, in case she decides to stick around a bit longer.
There's a moment of hesitation, almost a flighty instinct pushed aside, and Portia moves to sit down net to him again, leaning back against the grass. She lets out a soft sight—nothing earth-shaking, but just a bit weary, one full of the sound of just trying to let everything go.