2007-07-10: Two of a Kind

Starring:

Rafe_icon.gif Tamara_icon.gif

Summary: Insight meets illusion, and reality becomes even more subjective.

Date It Happened: July 10th, 2007

Two of a Kind


Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

The night is darkening — not quite /late/, but certainly late enough that a child alone wandering Central Park is something of an odd sight. And yet — here there is one, short and skinny and teetering with precarious balance atop one of the many large rocks scattered alongside the paths. His hair is scruffy and his sneakers scuffed and worn, and a backpack that looks rather too large for his small frame is causing further unbalance as it tugs backwards at his shoulders. There's an instrument case — saxophone, if one has any familiarity with such things — propped against the rock's base. Rafe's attention is focused outward, though, off at another rock in the distance, something shiny glinting in the stone despite the fact that in the dark evening there is really not much light to /cause/ such a glint.

Where there was one child, there soon are two. The girl making her way across the grass is not much older than Rafe, and if she isn't as small as he, she isn't exactly much bigger either. Her dark green shirt fits in well with the shadows, as do black shorts; her shoes /used/ to be light-colored, but that was in better days. The canvas bag she carries, on the other hand, looks quite new - and her rather neglected hair and exposed skin are both visible enough, even in the gloom. Blue eyes study Rafe as Tamara walks, a hint of a line drawn across her brow. But that doesn't stop the older teen from coming up behind him, pressing a gentle hand against the backpack - the intent to take a bit of the weight, reducing the forces pulling the boy in all directions. The better not to fall. "Don't forget to watch /yourself/," Tamara points out, tone amiable rather than truly chiding.

Rafe's dark eyes widen with surprise, and he rocks slightly backwards, the backpack's weight pressing more heavily against Tamara's hand before he adjusts his position to something more stable. The look he turns on the girl is brightly curious, head tilted to one side. "I'd need another one of me to do /that/," he says with a crinkle of his nose and a wide grin, "and I misplaced my other me tonight. I've only got two eyes and they're already really busy watching way cooler things."

For her part, Tamara takes the shifting weight of the backpack against her hand in stride; she doesn't really even seem to notice as such, just compensates. "Maybe not that far." The crease deepens into a thoughtful frown, even if the expression doesn't last very long. "I'd watch for you, but the mirror didn't like it much," is her reply. "So it's just a little bit. Do you mind?"

"I don't mind anything at all. You could watch me or watch something way cooler, too —" And here Rafe's arm lifts, one finger pointing across to the distant rock. "You can be king, you know, if you pull the sword from the stone. — Do mirrors have /feelings/? Mine only talk, they never listen."

Smiling softly, Tamara shakes her head at the boy. "It should stay somewhere where it isn't mist. The rock seems to hold it okay." Blue eyes glint above a light grin. "Maybe the rock's already king." She tilts her head as he continues, lips pursing thoughtfully. Continuing to provide support to Rafe throughout. "I… think so. Sometimes it felt empty. Sometimes it was just broken."

"You think the rock could be king?" Rafe's eyes widen still further, intrigued by this concept. "Maybe we're /all/ king. — Then who would be queen? I could be queen. I bet a crown would get heavy. I had one, once. — Here!" Rafe slips one strap of the backpack off his shoulder, moving the pack around front so he can unzip it and dig through. A brief moment of searching turns up a crown — large and, indeed, heavy, although it appears to be studded not with jewels but with shattered fragments of a broken mirror. Rafe frowns at it for a moment, puzzled, before offering it to Tamara. "Broken, but not empty. Here. You can be queen, too. But you don't get the sword — you shouldn't play with those, they're dangerous."

Tamara accepts the crown without any apparent surprise, tapping her fingernails against a piece of glass. "So are mirrors," she points out. "The sword isn't necessary." The girl turns the circle of gold slowly around in her hands, quiet for a moment. "The crown's too heavy. It'd sink very fast in the river. Plop! on the bottom. But it is fitting." She holds it back out to the boy.

"No, no, it'd float." Rafe sets the crown on his head — or, more accurately, above his head, where it hovers just over his hair. "It doesn't /want/ to get lost in the river. If it were broken /and/ lost that'd just be too sad." He smiles, bright, and the crown glints, too, source-less light reflecting off the mirror-shards. "And tonight isn't a night for sad."

Tilting her head, Tamara peers at the floating crown. "No, it doesn't. I tried not to let it get lost. It got hard to find sometimes. I think yours floated better." Rafe's expression evokes a smile from the girl, if perhaps not quite so brilliant a one. "No, it wasn't," she agrees, head bobbing once. "It's a night for stars. Stars aren't sad, even if they can be cold."

"They say New York eats the stars, but I always see them. Did you lose something in the river? I can get it back. I'm good at finding things. I found the stars. Tonight could be a night for stars." Rafe lets his backpack drop, heedless of the fact that, still open, it topples off the rock and spills its contents over the grass — mostly, the detritus of itinerant life: a few grungy articles of clothing, a toothbrush, a towel — a sketchpad, too, and a large number of coloured pencils, and a number of assorted small trinkets that appear to have nothing more in common than being /shiny/. Hands now freed, Rafe claps them together once, tilting his head back to look up at a sky that does indeed appear far more star-encrusted than New York's light pollution ever allows. "Stars, maybe. I didn't think stars before. Tonight is a night for music. Music /and/ stars."

The boy's words earn him a rueful smile. "The river eats everything. Even the mirror can't always find things. And the mirror has the shadows to ask." Her tone suggests that, if the shadows can't find it, no one can. Tamara withdraws her hand the moment before Rafe lets the backpack go, stepping away to collect the scattered colored pencils. At least the ones that are on the verge of getting lost in the grass; they all get swept into a not-so-neat pile. But at least they're all together. "Do stars like sharing with music? I suppose they're too far up to be jealous."

"I think you need to find a kinder river. Where I come from the rivers can be cruel. So far this city's been shiny." Rafe flops down on his stomach, peering over the edge of his rock to look at the pile of coloured pencils. His brow furrows in faint puzzlement as he looks at the spilled contents of his own backpack, but the expression smoothes out into another smile as his gaze transfers from the items to Tamara. (The crown, now forgotten, has vanished.) "We could ask them, but I think the stars are pretty generous with their nights. They share them with the whole /world/ — and maybe they like hearing music, too!"

"There's only one river," Tamara says, shaking her head slowly. She watches as Rafe studies the scattered objects; picking up a pencil - yellow - she holds it out to him. "Sometimes it got better, but rivers are hard to move." The absence of the crown is not noticed, or at least not remarked upon. "Maybe they like the attention." The girl rubs her free hand across her face, looking slightly fatigued.

Rafe sits up again, legs folding cross-legged beneath him as he leans out to reach for the pencil, fingers curling around the wooden barrel in a tight grip. "Rivers always move, they never stop." His head cocks to one side, and then he uncurls himself and hops down from the rock to shovel his belongings inelegantly back into his bag, though he leaves it open against the rock and curls his arms protectively around the saxophone case instead. "You look tired. I could play you a lullaby. The stars need one, too. I promised them."

"I know." About the river or the lullaby? Tamara doesn't clarify either way. She sits down on the grass, contemplating the unfortunate bag briefly. A faint smile pulls at her lips, before she redirects her attention back to Rafe. "The shadows didn't listen, but the music's pretty. And promises are important," the girl concludes with a definite nod.

"I keep my promises," Rafe replies with a grin, head tipping back briefly to look up at the stars. "At least, with the stars. They /know/ if you lie to them." And with that, he opens his case — the saxophone inside is, at least, very well taken care of in contrast to the rest of his general scruffiness. He slips a reed into the mouthpiece and flexes his fingers before starting to play. His expression shifts as he starts, looking somewhat abstracted and faraway — the tune he picks is, indeed, a lullaby, the melody quietly soothing, fingers moving over his keys with easy familiarity.

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