|Pay It Forward|
|What: X-23 is hungry. She's also broke. And, unfortunately for all involved, steals a hot dog where Spider-Girl can overhear...|
Just another day in NYC's Midtown Center-- the trains keep rolling more or less on time, people go about their business in droves, and friendly neighborhood heroes go on with their friendly neighborhood heroing.
X-23... no, Laura. She's Laura now. *Laura* has just arrived in the city, exiting Grand Central with her hands in her pockets and hood turned up. She hadn't any ID or money for the train trip, but it was amazing how little that mattered when you were willing to somewhat literally catch a train-- and now here she was.
The sights and sounds were nearly overwhelming. her missions had taken her to large cities before, but never New York, and it was something else again. But one thing intruded most on her senses: Food. Laura hadn't eaten since before she jumped on the train, and now the smell of Hot Dog Vendor was making her head spin. Sniffing the air, she tracked her elusive sausage prey to the source... and after a brief pause to gauge her approach, she slides past while the vendor seems inattentive enough and casually lifts herself a lunch, hit-and-run style.
...but not as smoothly as she'd hoped, because the girl freezes briefly in surprise when the shout cuts across the crowd. "'EY! GET BACK HERE AN' PAY FOR THAT!"
Mmm. Hot dogs. Marissa may miss chimichangas, but New York hot dogs have a charm all of their own. By coincidence, she was being handed her lunch right as the other girl...shoplifts. On the one hand, thievery. On the other hand, Marissa honestly can't imagine anyone stealing a hot dog unless they're...desperate. And there are plenty of desperate people on the planet and quite a few of them are, of course, in New York. She does turn to...hrm. Okay. Does she stop her or not? It's a more difficult question than she would have thought, especially as she IS in civs right now.
After a disastrous attempt at buying a new cover for her cell phone earlier in the day, Anya Corazon is ready to try again. She found herself directions to a /different/ Sprint store with her phone, hiked all the way there, and she smiles in relief as she sees not a single god nor goat in sight. /Perfect/.
Anya lifts her hand to open the door and... hears the hotdog vendor. She whips her head around and sees the thief running for it, actually letting out a little whimper before she shoves her phone into her pocket and takes off at a sprint after her. No costume? No problem. Stopping a hot dog thief isn't exactly cowl-level heroics. Should be no problem. Right?
Well... maybe no problem normally. Laura's initial freeze doesn't last long at all. She's just highly allergic to concepts like 'STOP THAT GIRL' and other things the vendor might be shouting, and she's off like a shot, weaving around passerby and scarfing the dog down on the run. It's really quite a good specimen of NYC street dog, though it's somewhat lost on its audience just this second. Laura takes a sharp turn into an alleyway and takes the fence inside in a neat vault. She can tell from the footsteps behind her that *someone* has decided to give chase.
Marissa Sometimes frowns as somebody else takes off after her. Then...she pays for both dogs. Hers and the one Laura took. The vendor blinks, and Marissa shrugs. "Paying it forward. No offense, but only hungry people steal hot dogs." And then she sets off after them at a jog...although not before taking a bite of her own dog. Good street dogs. Now to see if there's anything she can do to defuse things between the shoplifter and whoever that other girl is.
"Aw, c'mon, wait up!" Anya shouts, throwing out her arms for balance as she skids to a halt at the mouth of the alley just in time to see Laura vault the fence. Really. This is the day she's having. She heaves a sigh before giving pursuit, glancing back over her shoulder to make sure noone is looking before she springs up to clear the fence in a neat leap, and this time, she has no problem sticking the landing like she did out on the sidewalk. She hits the ground solidly and resumes her chase. "I'm not gonna take your 'dog or nothin'!"
The Cuckoos have been drifting through the center. They're completely inconspicuous, which is a pity because they look adorable today. People stare, though, so they turn minds away with the image of someone uninteresting. What catches their attention isn't the shouting or someone running past--they don't care about that.
No, it's something else that stops the Cuckoos. The passage of something unique through their sphere of influence. -What was that?- -We don't know.- -Stop and go back.- They turn in unison and follow the disturbance.
Naturally, avoiding attention that will get back to Weapon X is pretty much all over Laura's mind at the moment. It certainly doesn't have much to do with the food theft. Anya's reassurances aren't exactly reassuring, either. But Laura's been through a lot, and of the two, X-23's the one doing a little more of the deciding right now. She shoots out of the alley, neatly vaults a moving car, and vanishes into another alley... and finds no outlet. And no fire escape to climb. She skids to a halt, eyes tracking for another option that doesn't involve the way she came. At least Anya's luck is changing a little? No, don't be silly. This is probably worse than the chase.
Fence. And she still has a hot dog in her hand. Marissa does the logical thing and takes a huge bite of it before climbing the fence, rather more carefully than Anya did. "Stop. I paid for it!" she calls...just as Laura vanishes around a corner. Dang it. Well, maybe the other girl heard and will stop...on the other hand, she'd sort of like to talk to the dog-lifter.
To be honest, Anya is not sure why she's still chasing her. The hot dog is gone, and if she heard the shout behind her correctly, the hot dog was paid for. No harm, no foul.
So why the hell is Anya following this girl across TRAFFIC? She awkwardly dances around the back of the car Laura vaulted with a rather unladylike swear in Spanish, waving off the drivers now rolling down their windows to have a good old shout at the damned kids playing in the road on her way through. Ignore 'em! SHE'S GOT A HARMLESS PETTY THIEF TO CATCH. For justice!
Into the alley Anya follows, and when she sees there's no outlet, she lets herself come skidding to a halt. Oh, good. The thief is cornered. This always ends well, right? She holds up her hands, blowing a bit of hair out of her face. Try to look tired, Anya, normal people would be winded right now. "It's okay! Someone covered the 'dog, you're fine! We're fine. Right?"
The Cuckoos are baffled as to why other people are chasing the very source of all the thoughts that interest them. The two girls doing the chasing, there's nothing much interesting about their minds on first glance. Hidden powers, random secrets, nothing worth seeing right now. What matters is their intent.
- |"We can't let them get that one."| |"She might tell."| |"She's scared."| |"Don't draw attention."| - Carefully, they reach out and brush Laura's mind.
- |"We ran, too."| |"We once were Weapon Fourteen, now we are not."| |"The ones following you are just curious."| |"They're no one."| -
Cornered, but unwilling to bare claws without compelling reason, Laura doesn't have a lot of options she can see, aside from pacing the dead-end like a caged tiger and watch Anya with suspicious eyes. "Then why are you here?" she asks pointedly. Then her eyes go wide, as she feels the Cuckoos brush her mind, eyes darting about like she's looking for the source. She scowls. "Fine." she's... technically not talking to Anya. But then again, who else could she be talking to?
Marissa Sometimes is oblivious to the cuckoos. She comes into the alleyway, making sure her hands are visible. "Hi. I paid for the dog. Is there anything else small I could do? I don't have a lot of money, but..." There's definitely sympathy in her tone for Laura. Who seems very tense, too, and thus Marissa stays back, whilst measuring the distance between her and Anya and Laura.
Anya keeps her hands up -- see, they're empty! Everybody's happy! -- and seems to pause when Laura asks the question. Her eyes dart left, then return to her. "I don't know. You ran?" she replies helplessly, shrugging without lowering her hands. She looks over her shoulder when Marissa catches up, her expression brightening. Ah! The good samaratin! She is blissfully unaware of the telepathic trio making their way closer.
The Cuckoos let their minds mostly drift back to the business of staying very hidden. Nothing going on here. They're close enough to hear the conversation going on but staying out of eye-line of all three girls.
- |"We are here, just around the corner,"| Sophie says, letting her voice emerge while Esme and Phoebe make sure they haven't been spotted and that no one is following Laura. |"We are searching for any who might follow you. We have hidden for two years, we do not want exposure."| -
What exactly is she doing in an alleyway talking to these girls? Insofar as she is, anyway. It doesn't really make any sense to Laura, and it certainly doens't make any sense to X-23, who by any sort of measure would have popped her claws and had done with the situation in one fashion or another by now. This... being her own person thing is confusing and bothersome.
Laura really doesn't have a good response for Anya's reasoning. Far easier for now to wave Marissa off. "I'm fine," she bites out, even if it's less than convincing. She can't help but agree with the myterious mind-voices-- her periodic scenting the air smells only some sort of strange earnest concern and the kind of tension she'd expect if she had herself cornered in an alley. The telepathic... quintriplets? whatever... they've piqued her interest, yet if they're telling the truth... well, she won't bring attention to them. She shakes her head a little. "Really. I'm fine," she manages to drag out. What do people say to each other at times like this, anyway. "You should... do whatever you were doing." Before she slipped up. Aggravating to make a mistake so quickly.
Marissa Sometimes lets out a breath. "Okay. I had to offer. I have things to pay forward." She flickers a grin, fully understanding the pride that might keep somebody on the streets from accepting any more help. It's probably pride, anyway. She's still oblivious to the triplets, fortunately.
Anya glances between Laura and Marissa, thinking. She isn't used to chases just... ending this neatly. Usually there's a rousing round of fisticuffs or a police car or something to put a definitive period on things. This is weird. Slowly, she lets her hands fall back to her sides. "If you're sure," she says towards Laura, her tone uncertain. And confused. Yes. Confused. "I do still need to duck into the store." She WILL get that stupid phone cover if it's the last thing she does. It is no longer an idle want, but the principle of the thing.
- |"Currency. We will give you some,"| the invisible voices say to Laura. |"It is rare for people to offer it."| |"We take it,"| someone else chimes in. |"You will adjust."| The speaker sounds completely confident. |"We can tell."| -
Laura Kinney relaxes. Slightly, anyway. She really doesn't know how to deal with people so well, and it shows. Between the Triplet commentary and odd generosity, and the pair in front of her, very little makes sense. She gets the feeling like a normal person would say something in this situation, now that it's coming to a close without... well, meddling or similar pressuring. But she hasn't the first idea exactly what she's missing. So instead she just sort of gives them a twitchy nod and can't keep the relief from her face, seeing them willing to drop it. The few people she'd talked to on her trip here? Could NOT stop asking questions, like they needed to fill every empty space around them with nosiness. This is a surprise, though not an unwelcome one, entirely-- but she still doesn't really know what to do with it.
Marissa Sometimes glances at Anya. "I think we should leave her alone. I can guess how she probably feels." Whoever the other girl is...Marissa saw her leap the fence. She's pretty...agile. And anything like that intrigues Marissa, especially right now.
"You're probably right," Anya admits. Okay. She can go get her phone cover. She will accept this. She offers Laura an uncertain (but warm enough) smile before she turns to start back out of the alley, reaching up to hitch her backpack a little more securely to her shoulders. "Was nice of you to spring for the hotdog," she adds to Marissa, glancing over.
Laura Kinney is conflicted about that suggestion-- and no offense, but she trusts strange mind-voices not at all. Still, she edges to the mouth of the alley when Marissa and Anya move off, peering around the corner and checking the street like she expects a sniper team. Maybe she does. Convinced she's not about to get jumped, she turns onto the street in the opposite direction as the samaritans, stripping the jacket and hoodie off, tyoing the latter around her waist and reversing he jacket before dragging it back on, then shakes her hair out. It looks... different enough from the girl that swiped the hot dog. It'll do. She's curious enough about these... other Weapons to keep herself to an alert saunter, sniffing the air.
Marissa Sometimes heads in a different direction. Munching on what's left of her dog. "I thought for a moment that might turn into fisticuffs. Glad it didn't." She then offers, "I'm Marissa." Maybe Anya, at least, will be sociable.
"You and me both. It's been one of those days," Anya replies with a tired sigh, before she reaches out to shake the offered hand. "Anya. Nice to meet you. I need to swing back by the Sprint store, if you want to come along," she offers, smiling cheerfully. Her day is looking up, and it will continue to do so, right up until she realizes the time. Six o'clock. The store? Is closed.
"What are you actually looking for?" Marissa asks, curiously, glancing at the...well...time as she follows Anya back to the now-closed store.
Laura becomes aware of someone walking beside her, as though that person had been there before and she was only just noticing. The person smells like flowers with an undertone of warm femininity. One person, several voices.
- |"You're very perceptive."| |"You'll learn to read people."| Something bumps Laura's hand, a thick, wrapped bundle of bills. |"We help you so that none of us get taken."| |"We paid a high price to be here."| |"This is not charity."| |"Strategy."| -
Laura's other senses probably help a little, but she still jumps a bit, hand coming up, and nearly pops her claws. It's just... so eerie. She looks down at the bills that find their way into her hand, decidedly perturbed... but she doesn't argue. It wasn't pride-- it was suspicion. But clearly if these... girls? Yes, at least they smell like it, which is good enough. If they were after her, it wouldn't be necessary to ply her with assistance like this. Laura pockets the money and nods once. "Right. What now?" This is like business. She can understand business.
"A new cover for my phone," Anya replies, digging her phone out of her pocket so that she can show Marissa the wear and tear the current cover has endured. Being a superhero's phone is, apparently, a hard life. "I think it's due." She takes a quick glance at the screen before she goes to put it away... and stops. And stares at the clock. 6:03pm. What.
"Let me guess. It closed at six. Okay..." She tugs out a cellphone herself. It's in an expensive-looking case with the StarkTech logo on it and when she opens it? Dang. Looks suspiciously like the latest S-phone. She lifts it closer to her mouth. "I need a phone or computer store that is open until at least 7pm." "Searching." (Why, yes, it does have Siri. On steroids. This one understands British accents).
- |"You should find a place to stay."| Someone offers Laura some kind of direction... or map... with safe places to go marked on it. |"Do not sleep on the street."| |"You may be found."| |"The police can be unpleasant."| |"Pay for your room."| |"Watch the television."| |"Learn."| -
There's a pause and then, - |"If you wish, we will be in this place two days for now."| |"We keep moving."| |"So should you."| |"If you are here, we will speak with you."| |"Otherwise."| |"You do not exist."| -
Laura does NOT need to be told to keep moving. But her slight irritation at that point of advice is soothed by the rest of it. She really hadn't realized how little she wanted to be completely on her own until she wasn't. And the implicit agreement at the end is comforting. "Likewise," she murmurs quietly. She doesn't see any reason they should otherwise exist, either. Lab rats need to stick together, even when they don't. "You know how to find me." If they need her for some reason. It's a start.
"This is not my day," Anya groans, clicking the screen off before shoving the phone back in her pocket. She gives Marissa's a curious look when she pulls it out and... well. Keeping the Phone Lust off of her face is a challenge. Look at that thing. It probably has a sunroof or rocket launchers or something. "Oh, that's okay. I can come back out tomorrow, it isn't /that/ dire." She does, however, quietly put Loki's name on her 'most hated arch-nemesis' list. Jerk.