2008-05-07: The Swinging Bookcase

Starring:

Kory_icon.gif Randall_icon.gif

Summary: Kory tries her hand at setting up her Panic Room. Randall comes over for dinner to help, and help her brainstorm about The List and other topics.

Date It Happened: May 7, 2008

The Swinging Bookcase


The Deveaux Building - Kory's Apartment

A little progress has been made. The bookshelves are all unpacked at this point. The recycling has been done with the boxes. There's a computer sitting at a desk in the corner of the foyer nearest the kitchen. The kitchen is completely done as well, and the walls beside the computer have several Wikipedia type pages fun-tacked up on the walls. By now, of course, Randall has a key. He had a key to the last place and she had to give that back, so it was a simple trade-off.

Identifying the correct key is a different matter. There's the one for her place, the one for his place, the one for his job this month, plus some past employers who missed taking one back, plus a couple still left over from California… it takes a minute for him to sort through them all and remember which one is the newest addition. "Hey, you in here?" he calls out, looking around at the no-longer-present Walls o' Stuff and still not finding anyone. She did say she was going to be here by now, right?

She did. She spent a little time dreamcuddling and comforting an unfortunately kiddified Peter, but she's had a shower and something's cooking in the kitchen — smells yummy. "Randall!" Kory's voice carries as if from a distance, echoing up the hallway. "Hi, sweetie! I'm in the Panic Room!" Five words one does not customarily expect to hear spoken in such a sunshiny, chipper voice.

Randall pauses, mulling this over. Then— he does not ask questions, either, the way one would customarily expect a person to respond to such a comment. Oh, no, this is a challenge. Instead, he heads over toward the nearest bookshelf and starts tilting some of the books forward. "If I were Kory," he muses out loud, "which one of these would I hook up to a secret panel?"

The problem is, being able to answer that question accurately would make it too obvious to anyone who knew her where the panic room is. So it's going to take him picking something really un-Kory-like to find the one that triggers the secret panel. If Kory heard him thinking out loud, she doesn't offer any suggestions. An acid test with a friendly subject is just what the doctor ordered

Randall scratches his head as he runs down the row. Watchmen? Definitely too obvious. Last year's yellow pages, right next to this year's? More plausible, but still no. American History since the Civil War? Oh, he could be at this for a good long while— and it might not even be the familiar tilt-a-book motif at all. Could be the computer, but if it is, then he may as well give up now. Off to the kitchen instead, to see if there are any rarely-used items there…

Watchmen indeed too obvious.

In the kitchen, sitting on the stove, warming, is some lovely pasta-veggie-meat dish. Hanging above the stove is one of those steel utensil racks, on which there are several pots, some steel spoons and spatulae, and two colanders.

Warming, but still well away from burning. It stops being a game if the place catches on fire. Looking over the rack, Randall reaches up and lifts each colander in turn; even if they're not set to trigger anything, they could still serve as decent makeshift helmets in case the List from the Future does somehow bring violence into Kory's household. An unfriendly telekinetic could turn them into weapons, too, but he'd be more likely to go for the Ginsu first.

The latter collander is actually wired to the rack. And there's a squeak from back out in the foyer. And a soft scraping. The wince is almost audible in Kory's voice. "Ooh. Gonna need to shave that a bit. And maybe put carpeting in. Or not…because the arc of the swing would show, wouldn't it…"

Randall smiles as he turns around, keeping the keystone pulled out in case releasing it will cause the door to slide back. "Well, that depends. You could leave it ragged along the edge, like it'd been chewed up by a Doberman. But where does the Batpole fit in?"

Kory is leaning against the kitchen doorway at this point. "I'm not sure I'm gonna keep the collander. Or maybe I'm gonna make more than one doohickey that fires off the door. Only that could lead to people finding the other doohickeys." And then she pouts, in response to his question. "Hiro said no Batpole. Too far to the ground." He's right. This is a very tall building.

Which prompts Randall to make a sour face. New York is much more into tall buildings than he was used to, growing up— and then there was that set of traps that Leslie set up for him a few months ago, also relying on excessive heights. "You could have a spiral chute, but that'd take up more room. Fire escape's probably fine, anyhow." As he brainstorms, he takes a couple steps closer at a time, until finally his arms slip around Kory's shoulders. "Also, hi."

"Spiral chute would make me dizzy by the time I got to the ground," Kory counters. "We're considering a dumbwaiter. And no, Fire escape would leave me exposed. Someone could see me. Or yoink me off it." Kory nuzzles against Randall's chest, giving a contented smile. "Hi yourself." She leans up to punctuate the greeting approprately with a kiss. Their schedules have been so jammed lately. It's the sort of kiss that punctuated a once Endless November.

Randall steps back only when the smell of dinner grows more compelling. "I think the gumbo's ready. A dumbwaiter would work— good quick way to obscure numbers, too, if that's ever important." Always with the weird and useless facts, this one. "So the bunker's shaping up nicely, but how's Dumbledore's Army coming along?"

"It's just some pasta primavera with chicken sausage," Kory shrugs. "I bring Gabriel the leftovers." She blinks at Randall's suggestion, before his meaning clicks in her head, and then laughs as he describes the DA to her. "That's moving along too. Micah.net should be online soon. We're going shopping." She keeps an arm around Randall's waist, as she makes her way to remove the lid and nimbly dish out a bowl of pasta and veggies and meat with her free hand. "I did pause, though, to see Dumbledore himself. Current day version, that is."

The name flits past Randall's consciousness as one among hundreds, like the Chrises that she dog-sits for. If he ever connects it to the man's other name… well. There will be another round of bad feelings. "Oh, wait, he finally turned up again? This is the first I've heard. And I assume this is the same Micah from 9th Wonders?" That name he remembers easily enough; it was interlaced with his own strange-loop appearance in one of the final issues.

"Yuh-huh." Kory hands Randall his bowl and crouches to get the bruschetta out of the oven. She's apparently been reading Italian cookbooks. "Gabriel's the super. Nice enough guy, considering," she explains, slicing off a piece and handing Randall the saucer. "I didn't get wine. I forgot to. I hope grape juice is okay." She then sets her own serving up. "Yes, that Micah. He's Niki's son. Cam's best friend. He's a cyberpath, I think."

Familiarity with word construction is useful. Randall promptly works out the implication, and blinks. "That's possible? I mean, carbon minds and silicon proto-minds… that's still an awfully big gap to cross." No complaints about the lack of booze - he wants his thoughts to be sharp tonight, anyway - as he picks up the juice in his other hand and heads over to settle down at the table.

"Um, Randall — you see powers as ribbons and sparkles and things, and you're asking if cyberpathy is possible?" She beams at him, then covers the pasta and joins him. "Let me think, what've we got so far besides us? Sophie with the memories. Niki, who works for Pinehearst as a mole for our side, and if she has an ability I don't know what it is. Cam who's cryonic, Micah, our cyberpath, Jane who's got some kind of sonic warble going on. Quinn, who's a disguiser…Hiro who does exactly what 9th Wonders says he does…Peter, who does everything mentioned above and then some. Plus people I haven't had a chance to get in touch with. Because catching them asleep isn't all that easy."

Randall doesn't answer right away, he's got food to deal with. Food good. "I do," he finally replies, "but most of them are built up out of simple things— light, sound, temperature. Place and time." He avoids thinking about time travel any harder than he has to, not least due to Future Peter's implication that he would have made some sort of terrible choice without it. "Is Niki the one who used to work at Enlightenment Books? I think she has some sort of adrenaline control."

"Tall blonde lady who looks like steel with velvet on top, and god help you if you mess with Micah," is Kory's summation. "Adrenaline control. That's useful." She sips thoughtfully at her juice. "How long have you been able to do it, anyway? We've lost so much of the awkward yet charming getting-to-know-you time." Between the not-breakup that thankfully really wasn't and then the stalker thing, followed by the recuperation thing, and now the move, the Panic room, and Dumbledore's Army.

Randall shrugs. "Tall blonde lady, yeah. Not sure about the rest." His other meaningful encounter with Niki was dominated more by Charlotte's presence. "A few years now. It comes and goes— like a tidal pattern, only not as fast, not as steady… Anyway, why's it hard to reach the others? Do they not sleep much, either, or just at awkward times of day?"

"Both," Kory confirms. "Plus, I have to be at least a little familiar with the part of the city I'm visiting or I could end up in the wrong dream. Which can be diverting, distracting, embarrassing, or a …real pain." The expression that accompanies this statement implies she's stumbled into the wrong dream more than once, and it's not always fun times. "Once I've touched the dreaming mind a time or two, then it's not so hard to find them again, even if they move."

A wince, as Randall thinks up a couple of possible scenarios. The reality has probably been even more colorful. "It does sound like things are off to a good start, though. The next issue would have to be more specifics on what Pinehearst is up to— I assume Niki's in the best place to know about that. That list of people had to be aimed at something specific, considering how much trouble Peter went to to get it to you in the first place."

Kory nibblepokes at her dinner. "It must be an awful future he comes from," she admits solemnly, "If he's willing to give up his very existence to see it doesn't come to pass." She closes her eyes for a long minute. "And I know he said not to rescue his current day self, but I wonder if he's not wrong. Peter's hurting where they have him."

Randall pauses, tapping his fork against what remains of the sausage. "Well, he didn't say it would tear everything apart if you did. And he didn't say not to arrange for someone else to rescue him, did he?"

Kory blinks at Randall, wide-eyed, then gives him a slow smile. "You do know the reasons I love you were already in the triple digits, right?" she says, by way of thanking him for the deviosity of circumventing Future Peter's stated preference.

Randall grins back across the table. "Thank Wesley Snipes." B movies are useful, too, on some occasions. "Is there any other Bat-technology in here that I should avoid tripping over? Oh, and speaking of, you might want to see if Jaden Cain is reachable. Probably has his own busy schedule… but on the other hand, he might just be crazy enough to clear it off for something like this." Wait a minute, there's someone who Ribbons and Sparkles thinks is crazy? Now that guy must be a real piece of work.

It's a subtle, charming sort of crazy that Randall has. And as compared to other sorts of crazy to which Kory has been exposed? Yeah. Exactly. "Jaden Cain? Does he build secret passages for like, a living? I don't think that name's on the list…" She tilts her head to mentally go over it again. "No, I'm pretty sure he's not."

"Owns some sort of computer company," Randall explains. "Rich enough to do crazy stuff like parasail into a crowd in full Batman get-up. I don't know what he'd make of abilities" - he remains unaware of Jaden's ability to generate copies of himself - "but I guess someone could suggest that Pinehearst would make a good target for a buy-out, keep them off balance that way."

Kory gives Randall a quirked brow. "Batman…doesn't parasail. Nightwing might. But Batman? The man has no sense of showmanship." She considers his suggestion. "But they're a bio-tech research firm. Why would a computer guy want a biotech firm?"

Randall scratches his head. "That might not be the right name for it… this was almost a year ago. And I don't know, maybe just as an investment? You always hear about people diversifying when they've got that much, I guess so that no one company can blow out and take the whole thing with it."

"Hmm. That's a good thought. Okay. So you can get me an introduction, or am I gonna have to take him parasailing in his backbrain?" Kory asks, finally putting away the last bite of her bruschetta.

Randall just has a corner left, and it's already gotten lost somewhere amidst the pasta. "I think he's going out with Jane? I haven't seen them together recently, but I haven't seen her, period, so I'm not sure."

"Really? She hadn't mentioned it." Though if Kory were a more gossip and glam kind of girl, she'd know that used to be true. "But if she knows him, she can let us know if he's worth bringing on board this project."

Randall nods vaguely, having run out of information on that particular wild hunch. Setting the bowl in the sink, he wanders back over toward the entrance to the panic room, rapping his knuckles against the panel. "Camera monitor station?" he asks. "So you know when it's safe to come out?"

Kory follows, listening to him. "That's in the works, yeah. But I got the bookcase thing done over the past couple nights, and I'm going to get Hiro and Micah to work the rest. And figure out where is best structurally to stick the dumbwaiter…oh, and Hiro's going to get the blueprints redrawn."

Randall turns back and leans against the wall next to the entrance. "I've got Saturday off, let me know if I can help with some of it. Does Gabriel know about all this? Sounds like it'd be kind of hard keeping this off his radar, if his job's to watch the building."

"He's on the list, so yeah, he knows," Kory explains. "I told him what was going on, about Future Peter, and how current Peter's in trouble and who likely has him. And he knows that I'm gonna try to keep all the Listmates safe. Which means keeping any info in here safe." She flips a switch on the back of the bookcase and it slides shut with the sort of sound that indicates it's still not much more than an ordinary door and doorknob lock. She'll likely need something a bit more sturdy and solid for a proper Panic Room.

At the familiar thunking sound, Randall turns around again, considering. "What do they use to soundproof things like this? It'd work best if anyone who breaks in didn't know there was an extra room to find in the first place." One job he hasn't tried out is construction work, but at least he has some idea what questions to ask.

"I don't know, and right now, I'm not interested in finding out the answer," Kory admits, stepping back into Randall's arms. "I haven't seen you for more than fifteen minutes at a time in days, and I'm not spending the first long evening we've had free working on the Panic Room." She can do it while he's asleep. Or some other time. "I'm giving you my undivided attention tonight."

"Oh. Um." Not that Randall is going to complain about the idea, but what's the proper next step? The few times he's gotten this close with anyone else — and a couple years have gone by since then — everyone was too young and confused to do more than just throw themselves into it. As a means of buying time, he looks around again to work out where the couch has ended up.

There is no couch. It got donated to the Salvation Army because she was, y'know, abducted from it, and thus, the furniture with the associated memory is no longer welcome in her house. But Kory's nothing if not perceptive. Awkward? A little. Because she hasn't even gotten past the 'fervent kissing' stage herself. "Did you want to put on a DVD?" she asks. "I've got the TV set up in one of the back rooms." Because, yeah, Hiro's extremely generous, and this apartment takes up one quarter of the floor it's on.

Randall arches a brow. "One of?" Just how much of a Batcave is this place, anyway? Well, he'll apparently have a chance to find out for himself. "Uh, yeah, a DVD sounds good. I thought I saw some early Red Dwarf while the boxes were being unloaded?"

"Oh, yeah, those. Gift from my brother. I've only ever seen the one episode," Kory confirms, taking Randall by the hand and leading him into the room more-or-less designated the media room.

Randall looks impish, all of a sudden. "Oh, really now. Remind me to thank him— after making sure he's got both arms tied behind his back first." Yes, he still remembers that particular bloody nose, but never mind that now; there's hours of British snarkiness to be appreciated. First things first.

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