2009-10-14: W.T.F.



Date: October 14, 2009


Two strangers run into each other at a boutique of W.T.F. And there's a lot of W.T.F. moments.


The Boutique of Irony

"No. fucking. way." Those three words reverberate in the mind of Aaron Michaels as he stares at the little apparel boutique in the middle of what used to be the musical monument of the Underdog, the Aleston Hall of Music. With how well the place was burned into his memory, there is simply no way he could have the address wrong, especially since, with the exception of the restaurant on one side of the boutique and the bank on the other, everything else is as he remembers it from a year ago.

"No. fucking. way." He lets out a gasp of disbelief and shakes his head at the sight. Perhaps the Universe's anything-but-subtle irony is that the mannequin in the window into which he stares is dressed almost precisely as he is. At least, it's the same black long coat (complete with crimson velvet lining) and likely the same faux-faded jeans— though Aaron's are actually faded. Aaron wears a zippered sweatshirt overtop a charcoal tea rather than the more fashionable button-up, and he lacks of the blue scarf, too.

It's actually some time of staring before he finally actually walks in the store, and once he's in there, he really has no idea why he's there. He meant to go and get closure— take a look at the place his life was forever changed, but clearly that's not happening. So, unsure of what to do, and feeling a modicum of embarrassment consider that he was likely seen by not only patrons and staff alike, he wanders the boutique in search of something, though what he is not yet sure of.

"You are the spitting image of that mannequin in the window," a raspy voice suddenly says from behind him. No audible footsteps heralded the young woman, but with his distraction, that really shouldn't be much of a surprise. Gillian stands in a violet dress that hangs down past her knees, a belt tied to accent her waist, and the front cut low enough that it shows off the cleavage that she has. Her shoes are even stylish. In fact…

Her outfit looks just like a girl mannequin standing in the window right next to the one he's dressed like. Only hers is more exact. Only major difference is the ribbon in her hair.

"We got that in common," she adds, with a hint of a laugh, dimples on her cheeks showing up for a moment, before she waves a hand near his neck. "Missing the scarf, though."

"And the right type of shirt." Aaron turns, curious about the sudden company he's attained without looking. Frankly, if she hadn't spoke up, they could have nearly touched and he'd not have noticed. "And you…. work here? Because you're so perfectly attired. You could pose in the window. And if you don't work here," he says, looking towards the back of the mannequins, "That's just freakishly weird. Like, creepy coincidence weird. I mean, how often does it happen that two total strangers bump into each other in a store, dressed just like the mannequins in the store window? Like the movie Mannequin, or something." Thought of the scarf brings an idle hand up to his throat, which he rubs at absently. Every now and then, he swears he can still taste the smoke.

He clears his throat. "Not sure if blue's the right colour, though. Matches my eyes, sure, but you kinda want your eyes to stand out, you know?" And with bright sapphires like him, who would want to mute them by wearing the matching colour?

"I like the clothes here," Gillian says, looking away and stepping back a bit toward one of the clothes racks. For a moment it looks like she should have bumped it, but it doesn't move any— she must know the place well enough to avoid collisions. "But no, I don't work here." Liking the clothes and working in the boutique are very different things. No name tag on her dress, and she doesn't look like she's interested in helping anyone else, really.

"You're right, though. Blue and blue would just— it would draw away from your eyes. Make them look less blue. You should try one of the other ones." With that she moves, shifting through the aisles until she can find the rack, looking back to make sure he's following. "They got green and red and black— I somehow don't see green working well with the outfit. Maybe red."

"Don't think I'm wearing enough black?" Aaron remarks, swiping the red one from the rack. "Enough dark colours, this is clearly the only one that will work because green just ain't my colour." He takes a quick glance to the mannequin and then wraps the scarf around his throat in a similar fashion to it. "How do I look? Mannequin-like?" He gives a quirky, faux-grin. "Or maybe Mannequin-lite, you know, since I'm missing the right kind of shirt?" Which is fine by him, since he's perfectly comfortable in his presently unzippered sweatshirt and charcoal tee.

"Despite popular belief, there is such a thing as too much black," Gillian states, still smiling in that lopsided way before her hazel eyes shift around to scan the store. There's clerks and customers, but they have a little corner mostly to themselves. Only a young woman looking through the shoes is very close to them, but one of the clerks looks ready to make their way over. "You look better than the mannequin mostly cause you have a face. And more details— and your shirt is better."

There's a pause before she looks back into his eyes. "I recognize you. Weren't you the singer for the Lightbringers?"

Aaron actually laughs at the shirt comment, mainly because here he thought the mannequin had the nicer shirt. "Yeah, I wear grey, black, and blue. Kinda look like a bruise, I guess. Just without the purple." And then she goes and asks the question. Yes, that Aaron Michaels. "Lead singer. Lead guitarist. I'd say was is a fair descriptor. I think if I were publicized now, it would probably be something like…" Aaron trails off, thinking for a moment and then, though quietly doing so, puts on this announcement, raising his hands to punctuate, "Only surviving member of the Lightbringers." And then he looks in thought a moment. "Or not, actually. But Tommy Wilkes quit like, back before the band fell apart in the first place, and he didn't even come to the reunion show, which went up in smoke, by the way." Distasteful humour from the only bandmember who survived the night. A lot of fans managed to get away with their lives. "Which was actually right here."

"Huh— that's gotta be a bite in the ass," Gillian admits, looking around the room and trying to picture a burning music hall. It doesn't quite match anything her memory comes up with, especially since it isn't part of her memory. Not like it's part of his own. "I had heard about it when it happened. It was pretty big news for a few days. Sorry about all your friends." She steps around another rack of clothes, avoiding brushing them again, before she turns around. Despite the genuine sorry in her expression and voice, she seems to have a tough time knowing for sure how to express it. It is a little… difficult. "That explains why you were all… 'w.t.f.' before you came in."

"That's not quite how I'd describe it, but… yeah." It was more like a barbecue. Spitfire from hell. Burns and broken bones later…. "Yeah, I heard it was pretty big news." From the hospital. "Family, friends, bandmates, fiancee, and one hundred and fourty-two fans in a venue of four hundred and sixty people. I don't think there was any way that show could have crashed and burned much worse." It would be funny if it weren't so sad. Aaron quirks a brow at the remark about before he came in, and his index finger sticks out at the back of the mannequins, "What were you doing, watching me from inside while I stared for God knows how long? Yeah, I was pretty w.t.f. Wasn't really expecting the place to have been replaced by a boutique, restaurant, and bank. It was a nice musical venue before it was any of this." Which of course begs the question of where he's been for a whole year. Sure, there was cleanup, but the boutique's not exactly brand new.

For a moment she's glancing off to the side, a far off look in her eyes. Gillian snaps out of it after a second and looks back. "You're handling it pretty well, considering," she admits. The clerk continues over to them, weaving through the racks, but she keeps her eyes on Aaron Michaels of the Lightbringers for the time being. "I had one of your CDs, and I still listen to it occassionally when I'm stuck on the night shift." Library night shifts are worse than most things, cause she's the only one there. Just her and the books. And the occassional security guard when there's been an incident. A rare incident. "My name's Gillian."

"Eight months in Manhattan Psychiatric will do that to a person," Aaron quips, though he really does wonder why he's talking so openly to a stranger. Oh wait, he learned to do that with the therapists…. "Meds aren't bad, either." Moving around, he finally notices the clerk nearing them and can't help but roll his eyes a bit. Probably got a problem with him wearing the red scarf, which he promptly removes, though continues to hold in his hands. With regards to one of his CDs, he can't help but chuckle slightly. "You're one of the few. I think we had three hundred demos pressed. Cost a fair penny as I recall. We were toying with the idea of a more formal album release, but things blew up.

"Gillian. Is that like Madonna, or is a last name forthcoming?" The mysteriousness seems to get that quirky smile of his back. "It's only fair— you know so much about me." Granted, that's only because he's been unusually forthcoming, a good sign considering his lack of outside social contact, and is a former pseudo-celebrity. "Night shift, though. That's gotta suck. You can't go out and party. Not that I do much partying, but if I did, I'd so invite you." He shakes his head, "Oh God, I'm sorry, that was so not appropriate, wasn't it?"

"I got mine on Ebay. I had an art print that this guy really wanted and he traded it for one of your CDs. I'd been to a concert or two, before— everything happened," Gillian admits, looking back to check where the clerk happens to be, before she looks back at his eyes again. "The prices sky rocketed after the accident, too, so I'm glad I got mine when I did," she admits. There's no awkward commentary on his stay in the psych-ward. It's understandable considering what he'd been through, but… there's that smile again. "Last name's Harper. And you could definitely invite me out to a party sometime. You'll just have to let me know when and where and if I'm not otherwise occupied, I'll be there. You may not be much of the party type, but I am."

"Gillian Harper. I'll have to remember that. And I never said I wasn't the party type. Just said I don't do much partying," Aaron says, almost defensively but mostly just to clarify. Of course, he knows that, chances are, he won't much like partying anymore anyway. He's far more reserved than he ever was and fame doesn't really suit his tastes much. "Yeah, when the entire band dies, record sales usually go through the roof. I guess the same can be said when almost all of them die, not to mention over a hundred fans." Sure, it's morbid, but he's accepted it to the point that he can say it matter-of-factly even though it might make others cringe. "Good to know you didn't get ripped off. I could sign it for you, at some point if you wanted. Trying to work on some new material, but all of this hasn't been too conducive to my creative processes, and I was never a particularly good lyricist, so it's been very slow going." Plus, he's been out of the psychiatric hospital less than a week.

"If you got something to write on, I can give you my number," Gillian says, without the normal kind of hesitation. Then again getting a CD signed would probably be a big deal, if she's one of the few fans who got their hands on one of those rare CDs. "You can show me how much of a party type you really are." Dark hair falls out of the ribbon a bit, falling into her face, but she reaches up and pushes it away, before she glances back down the racks of clothes, and steps aside, so the clerk can make her way to Aaron.

"Do you need any help?" the clerk asks, in that sugary sweet smile of a salesman who would rather be somewhere else, but she's supposed to see if someone wants help.

"One of the old habits of being a musician. Always, always have something to write on," Aaron remarks, pulling out a small notepad and a pen from his coat pocket, red scarf draped over a pair of faux-faded jeans. "Oh no, no thank you, I'm good. Unless Gilly here needs anything. Be to the front in a minute to buy this scarf, though." He speaks all the while writing his own number on one page. "No, that's not right." He has to pull out his phone and quickly take a peak at the phone number for it before he writes it down correctly. Clearly he hasn't had it long. Then he offers both pad and pen, along with the sheet his number's on, to Gillian so she can reciprocate.

There's a sudden opening of her mouth when he starts to write his own number down. It's one of those universal unspoken gestures for 'hey— wait'. But she doesn't get to say it. Instead she looks at the clerk, and then back at the man writing down his number and then she goes, "You know what, I gotta go. It was really nice to meet you!" And then she's suddenly moving between the clothing racks and towards… the back of the store.

The clerk seems a little confused for a moment, and then says, "That scarf looks great on you. I'm glad you found what you wanted." By the time he has a chance to chase after the girl in the violet dress, she seems to have disappeared.

Aaron didn't actually get anything he wanted, not really. At least, nothing he came intending to get. Closure for a year-old disaster can't be had in a place unrecognizable as the site where his entire life changed. Instead, he meets a mysterious girl who offers her number, and then when he offers his own, she flips and leaves. To say he's not startled by her running towards the back of the store would be an understatement. He moves to follow her, "Nice to meet you…." Sure enough, no sign. With a sigh, he walks back to the rack after pocketing his notepad and pen, and grabs the scarf. "God damnit," he says, and his curse is punctuated by a loud crack, though he and a few others can't quite figure out what. He pays for the scarf, and when he goes to model it briefly in the window with his mannequin double and the mannequin in the violet dress, he sees what made the sound. A great big crack in the window separates the two mannequins. "What. the. fuck?"

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