2008-01-01: Two Guys, a Girl, and a Penthouse


Randall_icon.gif Kory_icon.gif

With special guest appearances by:

Chris Tango and Ickle Ronniekins

Summary: Randall and Kory meet up just a few minutes before New Year's, only to be dragged away just a few seconds later. Kory's dream session on the subway is discussed.

Date It Happened: January 1, 2008

Two Guys, a Girl, and a Penthouse

Times Square

Crowded Times Square is crowded. Over here, a live band is performing, one of many lined up for the occasion. Over there, a drink is spilled, a spectator uses another as an impromptu lean-to. Randall, for his part, has an arm wrapped around the pole of a streetlight so he can see further, and also because most people who would bump into him will bump into the pole first.

Kory got stuck in the subway. Somebody on the Q train pulled the freaking emergency brake and they were forty minutes stuck in the tunnel. What's worse is that it means underground, she can't send Randall a text to let him know what's going on, or where she is. When the doors finally open, she's up and out at a bolt before anything else goes on. The cab driver asks her if she's completely out of her mind to ask for Times Square.

"As close as you can get, okay?" she asks, frantically thumbing her keypad to let Randall know what happened. "I'll walk the rest."

It always seems to stop going smooth all at once. Randall's phone is charged up and the volume turned up, but just as he reaches to take it out, a tourist couple sideswipes him from the other direction, jostling his elbow. The phone goes skittering across the ground - it isn't damaged, at least, but he has to excuse-me-pardon-me his way over to go get it. (under nasdaq), he eventually texts back.

Kory's carefully done coif is — gone. Sitting in a train with no temperature control has wilted it. Her makeup, at least, still looks nice. She paid the cabbie with a modest tip, wished him a Happy New Year, and got out just as Randall's text arrived. That was three minutes ago; now she's sprinting up Seventh Avenue. Down 43rd street, the better to come up on Times Square near TKTS. It's twenty of twelve, as she texts back her position. "First time I go to Times Square for …New Year's…" she pants, to herself, "…with a date…no less…and…this happens…"

At T minus eighteen, the message is received. TKTS? What's that? To be fair, there are an awful lot of signs competing for attention. Randall makes his way over until his back is up against the wall, then holds the phone up above his head and turns the spotlight on, waving it around for a couple seconds. If Kory happens to spot it, great. If not… well, they've still got some time left.

An awful lot of signs is not even remotely anything approaching an understatement, but TKTS isn't one of those lit up signs. And as the crowding on Times Square goes, it's probably relatively thin because of that. It's a little island where people purchase tickets for the Broadway and off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway productions (such as AJ's) in the city. It's eight minutes to twelve by Ryan Seacrest, who turns it over to Dick Clark. Kory gasps, and then goes sprawling as her heel catches in a chink in the sidewalk. It's only that she has a wrist strap that saves her phone from going flying as she hits the ground. Being a practiced klutz results in only a broken heel and a sheepish expression. "Okay," she whispers to herself. "Fine, 2007. Get it all out of the way now, so 2008 will be a great year." She has to walk slower now, because the heel is sort of hanging on by a thin strap of leather. "Could be worse. I could be running from Jason." She has to smile, or cry from frustration, and it's 20 degrees out. The tears would freeze on her face.

Randall sighs, putting the phone away and continuing to scan the crowd from his sort-of-perch. One advantage of looking too hard for crazy things is that it develops a good eye for real things as well; the hair is different, but the way she moves through the crowd… humidity does nothing to damp that. "Hey, over here!" he calls out, waving a hand. And thus touches off a series of other people randomly shouting and whooping, which may actually help him to be noticed in time.

Kory looks up, horrified, as the crowd begins cheering and shouting. But there's still seven minutes to go. Three minutes of which are used up as she spots Randall standing atop the barriers by TKTS. She murmurs to the person closest to her. He listens, and grins. There's a flurry of texting, but he gets enough people to back up so she has a partially unobstacled path to her boyfriend. Finally, just as the big display starts counting down from sixty, she makes it to his side. "H-hi…" she gasps.

Oh, good, that really was her that he thought he spotted! "Hi yourself," he calls back, hopping down and reaching his hands toward hers. "I am so sorry, we should have met up somewhere else first…"

Kory shrugs, and wraps her arms around him. Running has worn her out, and there's still the matter of a broken heel. As the screen flashes down. "Don't worry about it. I made it. I may need to hit one of the little touristy shops for a pair of shoes, though…" She turns her gaze up at him. "The important thing is we have somebody to kiss when the clock strikes twelve." And it's about to. They're at thirty seconds.

Randall glances down and makes a face. "Yeah, guess you're right. Hey, what do you call this new hairstyle? I haven't seen it before." So much for the idea of him having any sense of high style. He looks around again, this time trying to spot exactly where the ball's going to come down; if it's lit up, then so are a million other things right nearby.

Kory glances up at the wilted mess of what once would have been very, very expensive curls, if not for the fact that one of her dog-walking clients did her hair for free. "Something Chris—" but she cuts herself off, spotting Randall casting about for the ball, and points directly at it. "There!" It becomes obvious why she picked this spot. It's pretty near a straight line as the crowd begins counting down with the billboard flashing the last few seconds of the year. The ball is nearly to the rooftop as there's so little time left. "TEN! NINE…"

The rest of the crowd here is similarly well-prepared. Drinks, noisemakers, confetti, and lots and lots of dates are all on display and ready to go. And steadicams with nation-wide satellite links are there to capture it all for posterity. Heedless of the red, white and blue paper streamers that begin to rain down, Randall steps in to complete the kiss. "THREE! TWO!"

"ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!" The Ball completes its descent, and the 2008 sign lights up atop Times Square, as Kory flings her arms around Randall's neck to kiss him with some significant enthusiasm. The clinch is short-lived, though, because her phone has begun vibrating vigorously. Startled, Kory looks down at it. "I called my family already," she says, bewildered and then checks the display. A 911 code is displayed from a number she recognizes. An astonished stare gives way to a resigned sigh, as Kory turns her eyes up to Randall's face again. "Did you have any plans in particular for the rest of this evening?" she asks.

"Yeah, I planned to get to second base," says Randall, without missing a beat. "Why, what's going on? Somebody didn't break in at the Lair, did they?" Because that sort of thing would actually warrant a 911 code at T plus fourteen seconds.

Oh, really? Kory flushes, brilliantly, fetchingly, but doesn't comment on that. "No, it's Chris. Which means he probably needs to leave the apartment and the other Chris isn't there." She holds up a finger, and calls back, with one finger in her ear to muffle out the roaring noise of the crowd. "You what? She what? Are you serious? Chris…! But can't Chris…? He's not." She pinches the bridge of her nose. "Yes, I have a date. I'll ask. No promises." She rings off and bites her lip, looking up at Randall. "One of his clients is en route to the airport, but her hair isn't just right, and her limo's already on its way to his place. And the other Chris is out at the Hamptons MCing a party. So they need me to watch Ickle Ronniekins." Her expression is a study in 'Why Do These Things Always Happen To Me?'

Randall tries to follow along with this as best he can, but mostly just looks blank until the end. Ickle Ronniekins he remembers. "Oh, God. I hope they're paying you triple for the holiday and the short notice. How soon do they expect you to get there?" After all the trouble that's already gone down, he takes it in stride that there's going to be more of it, of some sort or other.

Kory hobbles back toward the less populated area she arrived from and flings out an arm for a taxi. "This hour of the night, going uptown shouldn't take too long," she says, "And I can twist Chris' arm when we get there — that is, if you don't mind?" She turns a coy gaze on him, through her lashes. He did say something about second base, but if the Chrises are out of the apartment for the weekend, that's still inside the realm of possibility.

It is. But not right away. Randall is not joining the People Who Make Out in Front of Pets Club. "I planned to indulge in some grumbling and dirty looks when I got there," he answers. "But yeah, I can deal."

"Oh, there'll be grumbling and dirty looks, I assure you," Kory tells him, as the cab pulls up. She thumbs a text back to Chris, informing him he's paying for the cab, and dinner, and the rest to be negotiated.

Chris Tango's apartment building, Upper West Side

Fortunately, it's as Kory projected. The traffic heading to the upper West side is light. People have already hit the parties they plan to hit. The people still en route are taking the MTA so there's no concern of driving drunk. So they make it to the swank building in only a few moments. The doorman recognizes her and greets her with a cheerful "Happy New Year, Miss Alexander."

"You too, Mr. Pemberton. This is Randall. He's with me." And then onward to the elevator. To the penthouse, yet.

Randall waves to the doorman ("Hi.") before heading onward. It's not his fault they're getting dragged out, in fact he gets sympathy for also being stuck working the New Year's shift. Meanwhile, though, there's an elevator ride to wait through. "So… the other night. The subway?" Oh yeah, that.

"Hmm?" She's seemingly forgotten all of it. All of it but one sentence which she dearly hopes wasn't just a line she's heard used dozens of times before — on other girls. "…Oh, yeah. I do that sometimes when can't sleep. Helps me drift off. I think my dad used to do it when I was little. The motion would relax me," Kory tells Randall, leaning against him without hesitation since the elevator is empty save the two of them.

Randall wraps his arms around Kory's waist, glancing around briefly to make sure he knows which walls to lean against in a pinch. There's been little or nothing in the way of drinks, but just that much crowding gives off the same effect after a while. "I meant the part about… Tuxedo Junction." Yeah. Awkward.

"Tux—?" Kory repeats, and then her eyes widen. Then they narrow. What does he know? She has been trying for weeks to work up the nerve to tell him. "What?" she says to him. "Was I talking in my sleep?" No. She never said a word. Officer Mitchell, on the other hand…well, yeah.

She really was asleep? That wasn't just a cover story? Well, she had sunglasses on, so she might have been. "Your friend was. The policeman in danger of becoming a social statistic." He turns Kory around in his arms, meeting her gaze as if to say: you don't really think this is going to scare me off, do you?

Kory looks up at him. Those big, pretty eyes, as the line goes. And he has her. Dead to rights. "I…you…he was?" She can't help but stammer. People usually rationalize away any connection between her and another person. Randall's not just any person; she knows that. She should've realized he'd figure it out. "I…well, you know, he kind of needed somebody to talk to," she murmurs, beginning to tremble a little.

But the elevator doors open on a small hallway with only six doors.

The other thing she should've realized - if she were awake that night, which he's now finding out she wasn't - is that he would be the opposite of scared. He probably would've come to feel as strongly about Kory anyway, but that moved the schedule up a bit. But there's that short hallway— which means there's going to be Other People any second now, assuming they didn't just leave the dog behind and assume she'd let herself in. "Okay," he murmurs, "I'll be all nosy and stuff later. Let's get in character."

Kory squeezes his hand and tiptoes to kiss him briefly before they step out of the lift. "If I know Chris, he'll be out of here in a flurry of glitter once we get inside. And then…we can talk." Gravity. But not scary gravity. He's right here. He knows at least a little that she's not as ordinary as she appears. And he hasn't gone anywhere. Even after knowing the Lair is a people-with-powers magnet. He can be trusted. She gives up the ghost on the shoes now that they're safely indoors and on a carpeted hallway, and carries them to the door, rapping four times on the door in a practiced cadence.

Randall walks over to the other side of the door— and crosses his arms over his chest. Oh yeah, he does have a genuine grievance, still; he could have been having this conversation somewhere a lot more personal, rather than someone else's personal. So let's rattle Glitter Boy's cage in return: "It's the fuzz, open up this door right now!"

"What? Coming, coming!" Chris Tango is a tall, thin, elegant, nattily dressed, extremely gay man. He has on a tux that is ecru with cream accents and a brilliant red cummerbund, bowtie and scarf hanging loosely over his neck. He manages to pull off this rather garish combination. He opens the door and his horrified, confused expression changes instantly to a grateful smile. But on a quick once-over of the pair, his grateful smile freezes, then falls off. "Good GAWD, Iah!" he gasps, dramatically. "What happened to your hair? You looked incredible when you left here!" Except for the hair and shoes, she still does look pretty nice, all things considered.

Chris glances back into the apartment, and grits his teeth. "And I don't have the time to fix it for your —" at which point he seems to finally, genuinely catch on it's not the police standing there beside her. "Oh, you must be the big date. Hi. Chris Tango. Nice to meet you." He's got a satchel in his gloved hand, but the other one, the right, is offered to Randall, with a shrewd look that assumes, incorrectly, he now knows what happened to Kory's hair. "I'm really sorry to do this on New Year's Eve. You know I wouldn't have called if it wasn't an emergency!" He gives Kory big, blue puppy dog eyes. "But it's Shakira."

Randall blinks. Something happened to her hair? They never did get around to settling that topic earlier. Well, from the sound of it, Brokeback would know better than he would. "Uh, yeah, you too." He unfolds his arms and extends a handshake, still noticeably skeptical— but yeah, Shakira = Nationally Famous = probably a major career move for him. "Remember, triple overtime," he adds, glancing sidelong at Kory.

"You heard the man," Kory says, frowning at Chris. "I gave up champagne, all-night dancing, and some really good hors d'oeuvres to watch Ickle Ronniekins."

Chris smiles, still shrewd, and runs a hand through his white hair. "No, you didn't," he tells her. "Chris is meeting me at the airport, and we're gonna fly with her to St. Croix. So you get our champagne and really good hors d'oeuvres. And whatever else you want. Triple overtime, and if you want to order up — it's on me, for crashing your party." He gives Randall a long look. "You'll do," he says, with a nod. "Break her heart, though, and I will not be responsible for how our Ickle Ronniekins takes the bad news."

Kory rolls her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, go do your rockstar's hair already," she tells him and gives him a shove. "You have your diffuser. You have your combs. The Glowbys. Her right brand of hairspray?" This goes on for a moment or two. Chris gasps and does run back for something. Sure, now, he has all he needs, he kisses Kory on the cheek, and steps out, tossing her the keys. "If you need anything that's not here, call Pemberton and have him order it for you. See you in five days or so. Guest room's already made up!" And then he's racing for the elevator himself.

Kory shuts the door on him, and smiles coyly at Randall. "Okay…so…um—" she was about to ask where were we, but the dog was roused from his doze by the window by his master's commotion and has come over to sniff curiously at Randall.

Damning with faint praise. Randall narrows his eyes further at the hairdresser, but otherwise leaves off and lets him finish rushing off to his big break. He's just about to say something himself when the dog wanders over, so now he has to crouch down and deal with that. "Hey there, remember me?" A hand is held out, but he doesn't reach out to pet Ronnie or scratch behind his ears. Maybe he's a cat person, God forbid.

Ronnie does recognize the scent, after a moment. A deep, rumbling noise, not quite a bark. Apparently he just wanted to make sure Master and Lady Not Master were okay. He lumbers back to his warm spot by the fireplace and lies down.

Kory drops the shoes, and gets out of her coat. "Okay. Now where were we?" she asks, since Ronnie appears to be willing to sleep awhile longer.

Randall spares the apartment itself a quick look for later reference— but no, there's important business at hand. Important enough that he dragged himself literally across the country to pursue it. "We… um. Well, as I understand it, it turns out you and I are in the same boat." Wait. What?

The apartment is swank, and well appointed. Chris Lindy, Chris Tango's boyfriend, is an interior designer. And it shows. But that subject will not immediately go discussed. Kory tilts her head at Randall, though, settling onto the thick, plush couch by the fire. Nice to warm up. "I'm sorry, we what?" Now she's confused again. That seemed non sequitous.

The thick, plush, full-body-length couch. By the fire. Nice to warm up by— but no, there really is important business at hand. This would be going much differently if he hadn't happened to stay sober. "You know I've been looking for magic, right? Well… I can see it. A little bit. Sometimes." He sounds sheepish himself; he should have explained more clearly what he can do, or rather what he thinks he can.

Kory sits bolt upright, and meets his gaze. "You — can see it?" she repeats, shaking her head. Not incredulously. She remembers him saying something about Portia's music. "Oh…I follow, now. Seeing gifts is your gift, then? Is…is that how you figured out he was actually having a conversation and not just talking in his sleep?" There. Walls down. An admission.

Randall nods slowly. "I think so… but it's pretty weak, at least compared to some I've seen. This one person could bring plants back to life— one touch, and bam, they'd change within seconds." That was the first one he spotted here, and should be safely anonymous with all the other details filed off. "I didn't spot yours at first, but then I listened some more to his side and took another look, and… yeah."

Kory reaches a hand to pat the cushions and encourage Randall over to the sofa beside her. "Oh," she says, wide-eyed. "That's one I haven't encountered. But…um. Yeah. So. There you go. You spotted me. It's not something I get to use very often, you might imagine." A heartbeat, and she adds, "And now you know why I don't sleep. I don't need more than a couple hours a night, usually."

Randall nods slowly, heading over to the couch and settling down there. "Because you end up getting it in bits and pieces during the day? Or are you just wired— differently, to go along with it? If it ever went out of control…" Maybe it's a good thing that she's been staying sober, too.

"Oh, no," Kory shakes her head. "I've been like this all my life. At least the not needing to sleep part. The rest happened when I was a teenager. I've had enough practice that shouldn't be a concern. The only time it ever went out of control…" and she closes her eyes, shuddering. Not a time she likes to remember. Her arms wrap around herself as if she were suddenly standing outside in the 20 degree night with the Hudson Hawk blowing up the sleeves of her coat.

There's another way to draw Randall closer. Leaning closer, he rests his hands on Kory's shoulders. "Ssh… whatever happened, you made it through okay. And hey, I saw what you were doing with that cop, you've probably tipped a lot of balances like that."

Kory reaches up to gentle his face with her fingers; both hands. "Theoretically," she agrees. That future she saw — no telling for sure that it's been truly averted for good and all. "But you're right. I'm okay." She ducks her head a little at the praise. "Well, y'know. I'm a geek. I had to get around to 'great power and great responsibility' sooner or later. And …well, there are only certain conditions under which I can do that."

Randall smirks. "Just don't show up one day and suddenly be wearing a lot of black. And expecting me to bake for you." It helps to be able to talk these things over with someone who at least knows the basics of the subculture that fantasizes about it. "Does Lee know about you? Who else—" No, that's probably asking too much, this early. "I mean, how many others have you met?"

"Lee knows," Kory nods. "I was ready to kill him after seeing in Ninth Wonders he has an ability. And that I had to find out that way. I've known him since we were all kids, and all he ever did was scoff at comics and powers." Which would explain why she didn't tell him until she knew he had a power. "And — oh, gee. I …a bunch, now. A good few, yeah." She takes her hands down from his face, though. "And that's a promise. The only Endless I have something in common with is Dream. Plus, I hate solid black."

"What's Endless Dream?" Randall asks. "And what's Endless have to do with Venom, anyway— is it just 'my teenage suffering has no end'?" With a sigh, he leans back and rubs his eyes. "I do wish sometimes that I could do something a little more direct. Sometimes it feels like I'm trying to dig my way out of Sing Sing with a teaspoon, you know?"

Kory giggles, and what little tension remaining in her breaks up entirely. "Oh — we misaligned your genres. You meant Venom, and I thought you meant Death." She stops laughing, though, as Randall describes his own situation. "I'm sorry," she murmurs, eyes and expression softening. "It must be really annoying not knowing if your geiger counter's registering properly every time."

Randall scratches his head. "I know a few Deaths-- there's Discworld, and Judge Death, and one I've seen on a T-shirt but I don't know where she's from." That would be the one, as it happens. "And— yeah, it kind of is. I pick up other things, here and there, but there's a lot of pieces to put together."

Kory leans over and lies with her head in Randall's lap, looking up at him. "I don't know if they're all meant to be put together as such," she tells him, letting her eyes drift closed. She's not sleepy -- obviously — but she's enjoying the comfort of his presence and the fact that a weight of a secret is no longer between them. "That there's somebody whose power fits with mine, and ours fit with somebody else's." Although that's already happened. But just the once, and it was weird for all concerned. "Maybe there isn't a pattern?"

Randall shakes his head, even as he instinctively begins to stroke Kory's humidified hair back into some semblance of its proper place. "Some parts might be random, but others… they look like a pattern, anyway. Have you ever seen the Tree of Life, from the Kaballah? The layout of the city seems to fit with it— the Lair and Enlightenment are right about at the balancing point in the middle."

Mmm, that's nice. "Maybe," she allows. "But from what I've seen it isn't as serene as all that." She has read the Kaballah, yes. Among umpty-ump other things in that apartment full of books. "Near as I can tell, though, it's people just trying to live their lives and stay out of sight. Because there are people watching who would prefer people like us to be working for them." The idea scares her; more than, but tonight, it's easier to hold that at bay. "Or safely out of the way, maybe."

Randall sighs. "That's true. Of course, it's true of other things, too… One good thing about all the comics and movies and all, at least they give people some point of reference to work with. If it were something completely alien, then people would really be scared of it."

"You know better," Kory murmurs dreamily. "People fear what they don't understand. And they hate what they fear." Maximilian, a Vampire in Brooklyn. Point illustrated monthly in each issue of X-Men. "So, I guess the hiding is a natural reaction to all we see in the media."

Randall leans down, stealing another kiss before Kory has a chance to nod off for the evening. Morning. Gweepning. Whatever. "I know, you're right… but there's enough people trusting each other, at least, that you're able to know about a real group, and not just a few people here and there. That tells me it's working out all right."

There's no danger of Kory nodding off. Not for several hours now. Though she does return the kiss with interest. "Uh-huh," she tells him. "We're looking out for each other." So, probably, are the bad guys, but she forcibly pushes that thought away. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way, what was that you were saying about second base…?"

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