|Dazzled in the Park|
|What: A Celebrity on the Low-Down meets with some fans!|
The sun is shining, the weather is great - not so hot as to be sweaty and disgusting, or so buggy and humid that being amongst anything remotely nature-like would be a mistake. A perfect late-summer day!
Of course, because of that, the park is full. Teenagers, buskers, crafts-types, people playing hooky from work, everyone is just out and about and enjoying life.
Alison is presently roller-skating in a courtyard with a few other people - doing some kind of coordinated dancing/acrobatic/stunts thing on skates with three guys and another girl. With mirrored goggles and her hair slicked straight back and sprayed with a streak of temporary bright blue, she's not /immediately/ recognizable, which is probably the point.
A decent crowd has collected to watch them perform, other people - probably friends - are working a boombox and hats for tips.
Not immediately, unless you are three of her fans... or one of her fans and two sisters. And a very bouncy five-year-old in a ridiculously fancy princess dress, with rhinestone-studded sunglasses and a very lovely tiara.
"Oooh." Lian has no idea who it is but the -skating-. Skating! She dances over that way, towing Sophie by the hand. "I want to do it, Sophie, can we do it?"
"We don't have your skates here, honey." Sophie hitches Lian up on her hip. At the moment, none of them stand out much, being under an illusion.
Phoebe is bouncing almost as much as Lian was. <That's Dazzler!> <We know,> Esme says patiently. <If anyone makes me kiss Tony Stark again, I'm shooting you both,> Sophie grumbles.
"Pleeeeeeezze!" Lian manages to bounce on Sophie's hip.
"We'll watch," Sophie allows. The girls let the illusion slide and there they are, three very tall, very blonde girls in white, one carrying a glittery little girl with black hair and golden skin.
Nate is also in Central Park, peering at the damages that his arrival two weeks ago caused. But sensing the Cuckoos nearby, he heads their way. She thought the girls would have returned Gotham last night. <<Hello, still around, I see.>> He greets telepathically. Although chances are they sensed him before he noticed them.
Being presently in the middle of an arm-bar assisted flip-kick (yes, on roller skates), now would be a REALLY bad time for Ali to be distracted by people arriving. So of course she isn't. But the music is thumping and the skate-crew seems to be working up to some kind of big finish, so maybe she'll be forgiven.
Sophie gives up and puts Lian down again so she can bounce and clap madly. It's dangerous to hold onto her when she gets wound up. "No going on the courtyard," she warns.
"I want to do that, Sophie!" Lian is about to explode with how awesome it all is. "Can I have blue hair? I want blue hair!"
"We'll get you a clip in," Phoebe promises. Today, the girls can be told apart because Phoebe's got a daisy barette on the left side, Esme has one on the right, and Sophie hasn't got one at all.
|"Nate!"| Sophie waves at him--in the world and mentally. |"We're babysitting today."| She seems happy to see him, maybe it's just to have another adult to talk to who isn't already in her head.
Nate does a double take, in the physical world and mentally. <<Babysitting?>> That is a good one. He approaches walking at good pace, spotting Lian and the skaters. Skating, another novel thing for him. "Hey girls," he greets once close enough, "who is the little lady?"
AAannnd big finish! Arm-bar jump splits, somersaults, human pyramid! Bam! Applause, applause, the music stops and the 'assistants' work the rings of the crowd to collect tips while the skaters themselves cool off.
Ali's got a giant bottle of water set aside for that exact purpose, and while she's visibly less sweaty and exhausted than her compatriots, she's definitely happy to not be doing ANYTHING for a little bit.
"I'm Lian and I'm a princess." Lian is happy to introduce herself. She's quite social when she's with the girls. "I'm going to be a skating princess," she adds. "Come -on- Phoebe!" Oh, she knows what side her bread is buttered on. She darts off with Phoebe just a step behind. It's impossible to miss her. She's all purple taffeta and shining rhinestones.
"We were doing a favour for a friend," Sophie explains. "And we started to like it. We'd better keep up." She gestures to Nate to come with them, Esme on one side and Sophie on the other.
"Hi, Lian. I am Nate and... wow, a princess, and skating," he considers for a second and grins, "well, if her highness says so." Not that Lian is paying him attention, already running. He chuckles at Sophie's words, following the blondes, "yes, it shows you like it, and that is also a happy kid."
Pushing her goggles up on top of her head, Ali's a little more recognizable - not that it matters at the moment with a telepath and a toddler making a bee-line right for her. The crowd is starting to disperse, and some of the other skaters are making light conversation amongst themselves and other members of the audience.
Ali gives one of them some sort of complicated looking secret handshake thing with one hand that ends in a hip-bump and a finger-gun, laughing and then turning around and... oh look, people! "Hello?"
Lian skids to a halt, suddenly overcome with shyness, and Phoebe skids a little--a feat on those high heels--to keep from bumping into her. Instead, she scoops Lian up in her arms.
"Hi." Phoebe's not much better off. Eee, Dazzler! "She really liked the skating, that's all." Dazzler--Alison--doesn't seem to want to be recognized so Phoebe will pretend she doesn't know it's really her.
Sophie slips an arm through Nate's as though he were one of her sisters. |"We saw this woman sing recently, and Phoebe's quite taken with her,"| she says. Esme takes his other arm the same way--seems they've assimilated him as a fellow telepath. |"It appears that it's polite to pretend we don't know it's her until she says so,"| Esme adds with the internal eyeroll of still not getting why people are so private all the time.
Nate is assimilated, woot. No complains from his side, the day is clearly getting better. He glances at Dazzler, but of course fails to recognize her. <<Why would she dislike to be recognized if you know each other? Is she disguised or something?>> Nate, of course, clueless.
"Awww, thanks!" Ali says to Lian -- she may be not advertising herself as 'LOOK AT ME, I'M DAZZLER!' but she DID just participate in a performance. "I like your dress, purple and sparkly some of my favorites." She even wiggles her fingers a little bit at Lian. Phoebe gets a bit of side-eye. "You look familiar... where have I seen you before?"
"We were at your concert in Gotham and my sister kissed Tony Stark and..." |"PHOEBE!"| "...someone put something in her drink, we think. That must have been it. So we had to go," Phoebe finishes up hastily. Almost finished. "We don't... do things like that. We've never even been to one of those shows before but it was lovely."
"How come I didn't go?" Lian crosses her arms and pouts at Phoebe.
"It was past your bedtime, darling," Esme says as the others catch up. |"She's quite famous,"| Esme is saying to Nate at the same time. |"It's... some kind of custom. Politeness."| Makes no sense. Sophie is still trying not to die of embarrassment right now.
"This is Lian," Phoebe says, pointing at the little girl she holds. "I'm Phoebe. That's Esme and Sophie, my sisters, and our friend Nate."
Nate follows the telepathic banter and has to choke a laugh at Sophie's reaction. He is just snickering when Phoebe introduces him, and nods to Dazzler, since Esme and Sophie have his arms "hello, nice skating," not that he knows a thing about skating, but it looked very good to him. <<Hmm, I don't think she is hiding, Esme>>. He comments mentally.
"Nice to meet all of you," Alison offers - a little taken aback by the rest of the group and the ... sheer identicalness of the other two girls. "Glad you liked the show. It wasn't really supposed to get that big, but then Tony Stark showed up and turned the whole thing into a... well, a success. You gotta watch out for your drinks at those kinds of parties, though -- if you didn't watch it get poured, you shouldn't have any. You're lucky your sisters were with you!"
|"She's not really, that's the thing. You're just supposed to pretend if you're polite."| Esme sounds disgruntled. |"Open secrets are a big thing, apparently."| They really don't like secrets.
"We're always together," Phoebe says. "Is this... this skating thing... it's part of your act?"
"I want to try," Lian declares.
"We'll see when we get home and get your skates, honey," Sophie says. Yes, taking care of the baby is excellent cover for being horrendously humiliated. |"I'm still mad at you, Esme,"| she grumps.
Nate looks vaguely distracted, the telepathic conversation is getting confusing. But since he does not know who is Alison, there is no danger he recognizes her, anyway. He considers checking the singer's mind, but pretty sure the girls wouldn't see it as polite. "Will you hit me if I ask who is Tony Stark?" He asks Sophie. Because yes, that /one/ was amusing.
"Sometimes," Alison STARTS to answer Phoebe properly. "It tends to come off better during big sh--" and then SLOWLY she turns to look at Nate with widened eyes. An eyebrow goes RIGHT UP. "You're from a parallel dimension, right?" It's totally meant to signify her horror that someone actually doesn't know who /Stark/ is. A joke! A poke in the ego!
The girls can't help laughing at that. "Well..." Sophie looks at Nate.
"Even -I- know who Tony Stark is," Lian chirps. "He's Iron Man an' he likes -all- the ladies!"
"Well, but I /am/ from a parallel dimension, I just got to this one two weeks ago," protests Nate. He has no reason to conceal it either. "Never heard of Iron Man until a week ago either. He is that armoured guy in the Avengers group, right?"
Dazzler just... blinks. A few times. Because, well. SHE was KIDDING. "No joke, huh? Well, welcome from the whenever and wherever, I guess? Jeeze and I thought my life was weird. Having an okay time of it?" In the meantime, she's sort of also looking considering at Lian while waiting for Nate's answer and giving Phoebe sort of an 'Is he for real?' look. "Hey, do you wanna see something else cool?"
Phoebe just gives Dazzler a little smile and nod like, 'Hey, all in a normal day around here!' Esme backs her up with a nod and an identical smile.
"I do!" Lian puts her hand up when she answers the question. With her other hand she pushes up her sparkly sunglasses to make sure she sees -everything-. "What are you gonna show?"
"Thank you. And yes, it is nice here," he grins. Alison might have been teasing, but since she asked... why not admit the truth? "I am seeing pretty cool things all the time, and I am not getting tired of them." To the Cuckoos, he offers the equivalent to a sad smile, <<really? I have no secrets, and no reason to hide. Hmm, maybe she will think I am crazy, or joking. I doubt it will become important.>>
Alison takes off one of the bracelets she's wearing - it's got little square mirrors on it so it's particularly sparkly today, and then straightens it out. "You ever see a Slap Bracelet before? /I/ think they're pretty cool." She grins at Nate while she holds the bracelet out to Lian.
"It's so shiny!" Lian's easy to impress. She squeaks and holds out an arm.
|"You're right."| Sophie seems sad, herself. |"We hate lying."|
Phoebe thinks it's pretty cool, herself. She's just as fond of cool, shiny things.
Nate chuckles again. Lian happiness is infectious, small wonder the sisters are in such a good mood. "Who are Lian's parents?" There must be quite the story for the child to have ended under the Cuckoos' care. Meanwhile he does the telepathic equivalent to give Sophie a comforting hug. He also had to hide for years, and hated it.
One light tap of the bracelet against Lian's wrist, and the shiny mirrored thing makes a 'crack!' noise and wraps itself perfectly around. "One size fits all! Even if you weighed a million pounds it would still fit. All yours, kiddo!" Courtesy of the Dazzler!
Squee! Lian makes exactly that noise. "Look, Phoebe!" she demands, as though Phoebe had been somewhere else until just this minute. "It made a bracelet!" That is, apparently, the best. No, the BEST. "I can keep it?" It doesn't take much to make a five-year-old happy.
"She only has her father," Esme says quietly. "He works for the military organization, S.H.I.E.L.D."
"Her mother left her," Sophie adds. "We understand--though we don't officially know--that it was difficult for him to get permission to raise her."
Nate's eyes narrow when Alison finally mentions her name. Dazzler? He pales a bit. It takes him a moment to register the sister's words. "A... soldier, then? I am curious about how you meet him. But I guess that story can wait."
"You can keep it!" Ali confirms with a bright grin. "Matches your tiara better than it matches my goggles!" Standing back up, she looks over at Nate, brow raised again. "You okay dude, you look like you just saw a ghost or something?"
The girls are equally concerned. They don't show it on the outside, merely looking a little curious, but their gestalt mind is warm and supportive. They feel rather protective of their new friend.
Lian is oblivious. She has a totally new awesome thing, OMG, for serious! "Sophie, take a picture and send it to Daddy, come on!"
The gestalt is quite nimble enough to worry about Nate and take a Starkphone photo at the same time. There we go, a quick photo of Lian and her new bracelet--in all her princessly glory--being held by Phoebe and, incidentally, standing right next to Dazzler. The places this kid goes!
"Yes. Or something," admits Nate. This time he is skipping being totally sincere because he does not want to freak out the singer. Besides, the name could be a coincidence. Instead he grins at Lian and stands aside as they take the picture.
"Riiiight. What, did your Sliders-extra Multidimensional Counterpart of me try to kill you or something?" Dazzler even SMILES for the Camera -- she's not hiding, she's just trying to be low-key, you know? "You're already from somewhere else and said as much, why not go all the way y'know?"
The girls don't like that much. Esme and Sophie lean into Nate comfortingly--they're inveterate cuddlers with everyone who's 'theirs'. "Perhaps he doesn't want to bring the matter up in front of someone too young to understand," Sophie says, before Esme says something less diplomatic.
"Who?" Lian says with all the tact of the average tank. "Who's too young? I'm -five-!" She holds out a hand to demonstrate exactly how freakin' many that is. Five, people. That is way more than a baby.
"I think she was with the X-Men. A freedom fighter, not a singer," replies Nate. Hey, Alison asked. It is not as if he is going into gory details with Lian around. "It could be a coincidence of names, though... unless you can shoot lasers through your fingers. Can you?" Also, the blonde sisters are back, and hmm... distracting him. Okay, he can live with it.
"So I guessed right then, Alternate Universe Me. I'm no X-Man, though," Ali says, just because that needs clarifying. "I leave the Freedom Fighting to the ones who use their fists to Fight for Freedom. There's plenty of people who /look/ for a fight to get their jollies, I ain't one of 'em."
"My daddy hits bad people," Lian says happily. "He likes hitting people. And shooting them with arrows! And he likes girls. He likes these girls." She pats Phoebe's chest companionably without the slightest hint that she knows where her little hand is. "He looks at them funny."
The girls can't really keep a straight face after that. Sophie hides her face in Nate's shoulder as she bursts into giggles, Esme covers her mouth with her hand, Phoebe bites her lip and turns an interesting shade of crimson.
"It is nice to have a choice, hmm?" replies Nate to Alison's words, tilting his head. Lian's answer is better, though. Impossible to stay serious. He grins at the toddler. "Seems everybody likes these girls. They are... hmm, made of diamonds."
"Are they?" Ali looks archly at the girls. "They look a little warm to be made of diamonds to me," she says dryly. "Is that something you should be spreading around, even if it is? I'm publicly known as a mutant and you're willing to tell people you're from another universe, but you should try to let other people tell their own tales eh?"
"He meant it as a compliment, I'm sure," Sophie says easily. "He knows what secrets we need to keep," Esme adds. "All of them," Phoebe agrees. "We don't hide things from our friends."
"Don't be silly," Lian says, making a face. "They're just girls." Really, where do people get these ideas? Like -five- being a baby and things like that.
"It was a compliment, but I'm not in the mood to talk about my past or anyone else," decides Nate. "I came to the part to check something. I better do it while I have daylight. I will be around, though... and give you a phone call later, hmm?" He extricates himself carefully from Esme and Sophie, and waves goodbye to Lian. "Take care, and have fun."
"Nice to meet you, Nate," Ali offers with a wave as the young dude takes his leave, and then Lian gets her attention. "Oh, /Lian/, honey," Ali says, smiling at the girl. "No matter what Gwen Stefani tells anyone, NOBODY is /just/ an anything! What people show the world and what people are and what they do don't define them separately, it all works together as an awesomely bangin' whole! Don't ever think anyone is 'just' an anything, there's always something more to find." Which might be a bit much for a 5-year-old, but hey!
The girls wave goodbye to Nate. |"Call us, yes!"| they say.
Lian looks at Dazzler like she's a little touched. "They're triplets," she points out to Dazzler, in case she hadn't noticed. "But they're just girl triplets."
Phoebe laughs and kisses Lian's cheek. "You're such a good girl, Lian."
"Yep," Ali says, giving one of those 'Oy, kids,' parents tend to get, but grins. "That's it exactly."
"It was lovely to see you again," Sophie says, offering Dazzler her hand. "We love the rollerskating thing, we've never done it ourselves."
"I know how," Lian crows. "I can teach you." Oh boy. Knowing something that grownups don't. Awesome.
"You're very talented," Esme adds. The girls are getting better at sounding as though they've got separate minds. That's something.
"We'd love to see you again sometime," Phoebe says. "Will you be performing again?"
"Oh, count on it. Got some things going on in the background to try and work things out," Dazzler grins, shaking the offered hand. "I've made a few new friends since my gloriously backfired 'coming out', so, hopefully I'll be able to navigate whatever anti-mutant parasites crawl out of the woodwork."
"Do you really have to worry about them so?" "Is it safe for you to be out like this?" "It might be safer to hide." That's what the girls do.
"My daddy will protect you," Lian offers generously.
"Tried hiding for a while, don't care for all the dark thoughts it brings on. Not good songwriting material," Ali sys - a bit flippant. "Hide from trouble and you never handle it, it just chases you down and bangs on your doors. If you don't stand up for yourself, who will?"
A couple of her skating buds call her name then, and Ali turns back to smile. "Hey look, I've got to go. But it was nice meeting you all. You take care, ok? See you at my next concert!"
"We'll be there," the girls promise. Phoebe is squeeing in their heads and Esme tries to stifle her before Sophie intervenes. |"Remember what happened last time!"| Yes, that went so badly.
"Bye bye," Lian calls, waving as the girls carry her away. "Thank you!" She reaches for Sophie. time for a new sister! "Can I go to the concert, too? And Daddy?"
"I'm sure Daddy will let you go if it's in the day," Sophie says. "And I'm even more sure he'd like to come, too."